The curriculum of the Biology Department is designed to introduce the student to the breadth of the discipline of biology and to provide the foundation for further study in biology. A core sequence of courses introduces the student to genetics, cell biology, organismal biology, and ecology. The student may then choose elective courses in areas relevant to his career interests. The biology major is designed to prepare the student for graduate or professional work in biology, as well as other careers such as law or business.

We emphasize the process of biological science through course content, laboratory and field work, independent study, and summer research with faculty. The capstone course, BIO-401 Senior Seminar, immerses the student in the primary literature in biology and hones the skills needed for critical analysis of new information in biology.

For the non-major, we offer a number of opportunities to study biology. For the student looking for a laboratory course for distribution, BIO-101 Human Biology introduces the basic concepts of biology by examining the biology of humans. This course can also be used as an entry point for additional work in biology since it is a prerequisite for several courses in the department. BIO-102 Plants & Human Affairs, BIO-151 Intro to Evolution, and irregularly offered special topics courses at the 100 level (BIO-177 Special Topics (without Lab) or BIO-178 Special Topics (with Lab.) are also designed for non-majors.

Requirements for the Major

Introductory Courses: 1
BIO-111General Biology I1
BIO-112General Biology II1
Genetics and Cell Biology: 2
BIO-212Cell Biology1
Ecology: 3
Organismal Biology: 4
Select one from the following:1
Comp Anatomy & Embry
Biol of Invertebrates
Vascular Plants
Senior Seminar: 5
BIO-401Senior Seminar1
Biology Electives2
Total Credits9
Collateral Requirements
PHY-109Motion and Waves1
or PHY-110 Fluids and Fields
or PHY-111 General Physics I
CHE-111General Chemistry1
CHE-221Organic Chemistry I1
Total Credits3

These courses should be completed during the freshman year.


Should be completed during the sophomore year.


Normally completed during the first semester of either the junior or senior year


To be completed before taking comprehensive exams


Usually, BIO-401 Senior Seminar is taken during the fall semester of the senior year. Students who will be off-campus during the first semester of their senior year should take BIO-401 Senior Seminar during the fall semester of their junior year.

Supporting the Biology Curriculum

Biology majors must complete 2 additional course credits for a total of nine course credits in biology. These credits may be compiled from the following:

BIO-221Comp Anatomy & Embry1
BIO-222Biol of Invertebrates1
BIO-224Vascular Plants1
BIO-311Molecular Genetics1
BIO-313Advanced Ecology1
BIO-314Developmental Biology1
BIO-315Organismal Physiology1
BIO-316Evolution of Dev. Mechanisms1
BIO-351Evolution of Populations1
BIO-387Independent Study0.5
BIO-388Independent Study0.5

Because most of these courses (BIO-221 Comp Anatomy & Embry, BIO-222 Biol of Invertebrates, BIO-224 Vascular Plants, BIO-225 Microbiology, BIO-226 Parasitology, BIO-311 Molecular Genetics,BIO-313 Advanced Ecology, BIO-314 Developmental Biology, BIO-315 Organismal Physiology, BIO-316 Evolution of Dev. Mechanisms, BIO-351 Evolution of Populations) are offered in alternate years, students must carefully plan their curriculum (in consultation with a Biology Department faculty member). In some years, one or more special topics courses (BIO-371 Special Topics) may be offered and may be used to complete the major. Descriptions of these courses will be provided to students and advisors before pre- registration.

Students interested in biological research are encouraged to undertake Independent Study (BIO-387 Independent Study, BIO-388 Independent Study) during their junior or senior year. Well-prepared students may begin Biology Independent Study before their junior year.

Beyond the nine course credits required for the biology major, students may include two additional biology course credits to satisfy graduation requirements. Students interested in graduate school in biology are encouraged to consider this option.

Supporting Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics/Computer Science Curricula

PHY-109 Motion and WavesPHY-110 Fluids and Fields, or PHY-111 General Physics I  and CHE-111 General Chemistry and CHE-221 Organic Chemistry I are required for Biology majors. Biology majors may not use the CC/NC option for these co-requisites. Usually CHE-111 General Chemistry and CHE-211 Chemical Structure & Reactivity are taken during the sophomore year; and Physics and CHE-221 Organic Chemistry I and CHE-321 Organic Chemistry II are typically taken during the junior year. Students intending to proceed to a professional or a graduate school should plan to include MAT-110 Calc. I With Pre-Calc. Review or MAT-111 Calculus I, a second physics course, and CHE-211 Chemical Structure & Reactivity, CHE-321 Organic Chemistry II, and CHE-331 Adv Analytical Chem or CHE-361 Biochemistry (depending on interests) in their curriculum. MAT-112 Calculus II, CSC-111 Intro to Programming, and a statistics course (MAT-254 Statistical Models or DV3-252 Stats Soc Sciences) may be important support courses for some Biology majors. Students are encouraged to consult with an academic advisor or the Chair to determine the appropriate plan of study.

Comprehensive Exam in Biology

Students must pass a two-day written comprehensive exam in biology. On the first day, students write on a series of recent papers from the primary literature, drawing upon the breadth and depth of their knowledge of biology. On the second day, they answer a series of questions on specific courses. Students must complete BIO-211 Genetics,BIO-212 Cell Biology, BIO-213 Ecology and their organismal biology course on campus before the spring of their senior year.

Off-Campus Study

Students who wish to take biology courses at other institutions to be credited towards graduation should first discuss their options with their advisor and then obtain permission from the Biology department chair.

Summer Field Study

Scholarship funds are available through the Lucy B. Graves Fund as scholarships for students to study at marine biological laboratories. The Robert O. Petty Fund and the E.W. Olive Fund support internships in field biology. Interested students should talk with the department chair.

Requirements for the Minor

BIO-111General Biology I1
BIO-112General Biology II1
Three additional course credits in Biology3
At least one of these courses must be a course in organismal biology from the following:
Comp Anatomy & Embry
Biol of Invertebrates
Vascular Plants
Total Credits5

Students who wish to initiate a biology minor via the BIO-101 Human Biology course will complete four additional courses, including an organismal course. 

Anne Bost

Patrick Burton

Bradley E Carlson

Amanda Ingram (chair)

Erika Sorensen-Kamakian

Heidi Walsh

Eric J Wetzel

Secondary Licensure Program

The Department of Education Studies offers a minor in Education Studies, and an additional licensure preparation program for students interested in becoming licensed to teach at the secondary level (middle and high school grades 5-12). With a major in this department and a minor in Education Studies, students may also choose to complete the licensure preparation program by applying in the spring of the junior year. For more information about the licensure program, students are advised to meet with faculty in the Department of Education Studies. Requirements for the minor and licensure preparation program are outlined in the Department of Education Studies section of the Academic Bulletin.