This study explores biology undergraduates’ misconceptions about genetic drift. We use qualitative and quantitative methods to describe students’ definitions, identify common misconceptions, and examine differences before and after instruction on genetic drift. We identify and describe five overarching categories that include 16 distinct misconceptions about genetic drift. The accuracy of students’ conceptions ranges considerably, from responses indicating only superficial, if any, knowledge of any aspect of evolution to responses indicating knowledge of genetic drift but confusion about the nuances of genetic drift. After instruction, a significantly greater number of responses indicate some knowledge of genetic drift ( p = 0.005), but 74.6% of responses still contain at least one misconception. We conclude by presenting a framework that organizes how students’ conceptions of genetic drift change with instruction. We also articulate three hypotheses regarding undergraduates’ conceptions of evolution in general and genetic drift in particular. We propose that: 1) students begin with undeveloped conceptions of evolution that do not recognize different mechanisms of change; 2) students develop more complex, but still inaccurate, conceptual frameworks that reflect experience with vocabulary but still lack deep understanding; and 3) some new misconceptions about genetic drift emerge as students comprehend more about evolution.