Majoring & Minoring

The Biology Department offers majors and minors for the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees. The Department also supports the Environmental Studies Program and provides core natural science laboratory courses for all students.

Every year, multiple students in our department pursue further education (either a Master’s or a Ph.D.) in various graduate school programs.  Others go on to get professional degrees in the medical, dental or veterinary fields.  We support these professional goals through curriculum planning assistance, testing information, and career guidance.

MAJOR - Click for basic degree plans

Requirements for a major in Biology for the BS and BA degrees are:

A. Introductory Courses: Living Systems (50-123) accompanied by Investigations into Living Systems (50-121) and Molecular and Population Genetics (50-133) with Investigations into Genetics (50-131).

B. Methods Courses: Ecology and Evolution (50-222) and Cell and Molecular (50-232).

NOTE: Note that 50-123 and 50-133 courses replace the previous mini-course structure (BIO50-102, 112, 122, and 162).  Biology majors must have completed with a grade of at least C- before enrolling in any additional above-introductory level Biology course.


C. Any four (BA) or five (BS) upper levels with the additional requirements that: (a) a minimum of two (BA) or three (BS) of the courses selected must include a laboratory component and (b) at least one course must be taken from areas of cellular/molecular and ecology and evolution.

D. Upon recommendation of your advisor, up to two of the following courses may be substituted for courses in B above. Three credit hours of Research in Biology may contribute to hours toward Capstone Seminar in E below. These courses do not count under any specific subdiscipline.

50-303, 304 Selected Topics

50-983 Honors Biology

E. The capstone experience includes successful completion of one of two Capstone Seminar options and  participation in the Biology Senior Assessment.  As a content assessment of the major, seniors take the Major Field Test in Biology as part of the Biology Senior Assessment. The Biology Department absorbs the costs for the students to take this test. 

BIOLOGY CAPSTONE SEMINAR (50-991 OR 50-994 depending on research experience). Topics vary by interest, but biology students will expand their knowledge of the scientific literature and present their work to their peers. Biology majors that have pursued at least three hours of credit in Research in Biology (BIO50-973) will have the opportunity to synthesize and present their work in an integrated one credit hour version of the seminar. Biology majors that have not pursued three hours of credit in Research in Biology (BIO50-973) will take the four-hour version of the seminar. Accordingly, the Biology Capstone may involve group and/or individual research projects. The seminar will also provide time and preparation for all students to take the Biology Major Field Test (MFT) and complete both written and oral presentations of their work. Pre-requisite: Senior Standing.


In addition to A, B, and C above, those taking the BS degree must also complete:

  • Mathematics: 52-154 (Calculus I) and 52-114 (Statistics)
  • Chemistry: First-year sequence with labs (51-154 and 51-164 or 51-174 and 51-214)
  • Both semesters of Organic Chemistry with labs (51-314/11 and 51-324/21)
  • Along with a year of Physics with labs (53-154, 53-164)

In addition to A, B, and C above, those taking the BA degree also must complete:

  • Chemistry: First-year sequence (51-154 and 51-164, or 51-174 and 51-214), and First-semester Organic Chemistry 51-314 and 52-114 (Statistics)

A minor in Biology must include: 50-121/3 and 50-131/3; and enough courses from “B” and “C” above to total 10 semester hours above the introductory level. At least one of these courses must include a laboratory component.

Methods classes for a particular area (Ecology and Evolution or Cell/Molecular) are required for upper-level courses.