Major Requirements

Course Requirements for the Biology Major

The distribution requirements for the biology major expose the student to many biological disciplines. By the time of graduation, the biology major should be familiar with the form, physiology, heredity, development, evolution, and ecological relationships of a variety of organisms.

The successful completion of the following courses in biology is required of all majors. These courses include the following:

2 - Biology 125 and Biology 126. All biology majors must take these 2 courses before they may take any other courses in the department (with exceptions noted in the College Catalog).

  • Biology 125 (Genes, Evolution, and Development), offered Fall and Winter. Sophomore priority. Laboratory required.
  • Biology 126 (Cellular Energetics, Metabolism, and Ecology), offered Winter and Spring. Sophomore priority. Laboratory required.

3 - One course from each of the 3 groups listed below. Be aware that some of these courses are offered on an alternate-year basis.

3 - Three electives, which may include 6 credits of Independent Research, one data interpretation course, or any of the courses in the groups listed below.

1 - Critical Reading and Analysis of Primary Literature (Biology 399).

1 - The Senior Integrative Exercise (Biology 400).  Note: In the term in which you enroll in Biology 399, you must also register for Biology 400 (2 credits). In spring term you again must register for Biology 400 (1 credit).

Note that there are four additional conditions that apply to the biology courses that fulfill the requirements for the major.

  • One course from each of the following groups including their laboratories if offered and where listed separately. If the lab is not offered in a particular year, the course will still count towards the major:
    • Molecular and Cell Biology (Biology 240/241, 278, 280/281, 310/311, 380/381, 382/383*)
    • Organismic Biology (Biology 234/235, 238/239, 242/243, 252/253, 309, 332/333, 342/343, 344, 386/387)
    • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (Biology 238/239, 248, 250, 307, 308, 321/322, 338/339, 350, 352/353, 358*)
  • At least one course must have an emphasis on data interpretation. Such courses include Biology 358, 382/383, 385 and all of the junior/senior seminars (Biology 364-379, and 389). This course may also count as an elective.
  • Courses that have a separate, 2-credit laboratory may be counted towards the major only if both the lecture and laboratory sections of the course are taken concurrently. If the lab is not offered in a particular year, the course will still count towards the major.
  • All courses used to fulfill the requirements for the major must be taken for a grade and passed with a "C-" or better.

Because of the close interrelationship of Biology to other sciences, supporting work in other areas is necessary. The minimum requirement includes:

  • Physics: One five-week Newtonian mechanics course, 131, and one of the following five-week courses: 151 or 152; OR one six-week introductory physics course: Physics 143, 144, or 145; OR Mathematics 215; OR Computer Science 111. Please note that Math 115 (Stats) does NOT count towards the Bio major; if you take Math 115 you will be unable to enroll in Math 215. Math 215 (Stats) DOES count towards the Bio major; and
  • Chemistry 123 or 128; and
  • Chemistry 224 or 233.

The need for additional courses in allied sciences and mathematics will vary with the professional plans of the student.

Physics 165 is recommended for students preparing for the MCAT. Mathematics 215 is recommended for students with strong interests in disciplines with quantitative experimentation, such as ecology and population genetics.