Biology - Requirements

For a 129-credit to 143-credit major in biology, students complete the following:

Year One
BI 170-171 General Biology I and II 8 credits
CH 111-112 General Chemistry I and II 8 credits
MA 119 Applied Calculus I or MA 171 Calculus I 3-4 credits
MA 120 Applied Calculus II or MA 172 Calculus II* 3-4 credits
Core curriculum courses 12 credits
Subtotal: 34 to 36 credits

Year Two

BI 172 General Biology III 4 credits
CH 211-212 Organic Chemistry I and II 8 credits
PS 15-16 General Physics I and II** 8 credits
Biology block elective (see below) 3-4 credits
Core curriculum courses 12 credits
Subtotal: 35 to 36 credits
Year Three***
Biology block elective (see below) 6 to 8 credits
Biology electives*** 6 to 8 credits
General electives 6 to 8 credits
Core curriculum courses 12 credits
Subtotal: 30 to 36 credits
Year Four***
Biology electives**** 3 to 4 credits
Biology capstone elective 3 credits
General electives 12 to 16 credits
Core curriculum courses 12 credits
Subtotal: 30 to 35 credits

*Alternatively, MA 217 Accelerated Statistics may be substituted for the second math requirement.
**Physics may be taken in second or third year.
***The sequence for biology block electives and general electives shown here are only suggestions. You may arrange them differently.
****Various upper-level courses may be double-counted toward the departmental concentrations in molecular biology or marine science.

Biology Block Electives and Additional Requirements

During the sophomore (second semester) through senior years of the degree, a minimum of six biology courses and a capstone experience (described below) are required. To ensure breadth of exposure, at least one course must be taken from each of the following three blocks. The three remaining biology course electives may be any 200- or 300-level courses from the blocks listed below. Four of the six courses taken during the sophomore (second semester) through senior years must include a laboratory component.

Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology Block
BI 261 Genetics
BI 327 Cell Biology
BI 342 Developmental Biology
BI 352 Fundamentals of Microbiology
BI 354 Molecular Biology
BI 357 General Virology
BI 358 Recombinant DNA Technology

Biochemistry and Physiology Block
BI 107-108 Human Anatomy and Physiology*
BI 251 Human Nutrition
BI 262 Human Physiology
BI 310 Community Nutrition
BI 313 Comparative Physiology
BI 314 Endocrinology
BI 315 Anatomy: Form & Function
BI 317 Introduction to Epidemiology & Applied Biostatistics
BI 324 Biochemistry I
BI 325 Biochemistry II
BI 330 Nutrient Metabolism
BI 356 Immunology
BI 369 Plant Biology: Morphology, Biochemistry, and Physiology

Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Science Block
BI 260 Ecology
BI 318 Vertebrate Zoology
BI 319 Zoology Field Experience
BI 362 Marine Invertebrate Zoology
BI 364 Freshwater Ecology
BI 365 Evolutionary Biology
BI 366 Ornithology
BI 372 Environmental Toxicology
BI 375 Biochemical Ecology

* BI 107 and BI 108 may be taken by students pursuing allied health programs, where this course is required. This full-year sequence will count as one Biochemistry and Physiology block upper-level elective with lab; however, they cannot count for the major if BI 262 Human Physiology or BI 313 Comparative Physiology has been taken previously and will instead be recorded as extra biology electives.  Permission of the department chair is required.

The choice of block electives, advanced biology electives, and general electives inside or outside the department varies according to a student's career objective and interest. Students make their choices after consultation with appropriate department advisors. Students interested in molecular biology may, for example, take advanced courses to fulfill a concentration in molecular biology.

Students interested in graduate, medical, dental, or allied health schools may select electives that meet the requirements for admission to graduate or professional schools. Students interested in science writing or teaching in biology may choose to earn minors in English or education.

The Capstone Seminar

During their capstone experience, students connect the diverse experience and knowledge they have acquired as biology majors, focusing these skills on examining in depth, a specific topic. In a small class setting (10-12 students maximum), students and the professor delve deeply into the chosen topic, assessing the peer-reviewed literature and most current trends around the particular subject. Students bring their breadth of knowledge to the discussion, and apply what they have learned over the course of their academic training to critically analyze the arguments and experiments presented in the literature. In most cases, students will be responsible for presenting a paper to the class, driving the content of discussion and debate with their fellow students and instructor. The capstone is a reading extensive experience, and, by definition, shows that the biology major is able to synthesize and apply their knowledge to examine interesting questions.

To maximize the value of the capstone experience, students enroll in an upper-level seminar course (BI 381, BI 382, or BI 383) during their senior year. See course descriptions for topics.

Research and Internship Experience

Faculty research specializations provide opportunities for qualified students to participate in laboratory research or library investigations in their chosen interest areas under a professor's guidance. Internships at off-campus institutions can also be arranged for qualified students. These opportunities expand and enhance the biology program's numerous possibilities for individualization.

Students intending to continue their studies in graduate school should consider participating in two or more terms of research. All on-campus research experiences require pre-arrangement with a faculty research advisor.

Off-campus research or internship experiences require an on-campus faculty mentor and approval from the department chair or internship director. Prior consultation is required to assure that the particular activity meets the requirements of the biology major curriculum.

Research and internship experiences are extra courses and do not count towards the biology major degree requirements.

Biology Major with a Concentration in Molecular Biology

In addition to the requirements noted above, students take four courses from the molecular, cell, and developmental biology block. BI 325 Biochemistry II and BI 356 Immunology may also be accepted. Interested students should consult with Dr. Phyllis Braun for advisement and completion of appropriate paperwork.

Biology Major with a Concentration in Marine Science

In addition to the requirements noted above, students take four courses from the marine sciences. Interested students should consult with Dr. Diane Brousseau for advisement and completion of appropriate paperwork.

BI 78 Introduction to Marine Science
BI 362 Marine Invertebrate Zoology
BI 383 Ecology Block Seminar

  • Principles of Aquaculture
  • Coral Reef Ecology
  • Ecology of the North Atlantic Coast

BI 391-394 Biology Research
BI 397-398 Biology Internship

Biology Major with a Minor in Educational Studies and the 5-year Teacher Education Program

Biology majors who elect a minor in Educational Studies and who have been admitted to the 5-year Integrated Bachelors-Masters Degree and Teacher Certification program should consult with Dr. Olivia Harriott, education advisor and Dr. Patricia Calderwood, director of the 5-year certificate program to insure that appropriate thought and reflection on their choices for upper division biology curriculum be made in assuring the best outcome for this unique 5-year program.

Minor in Biology

For an 18-20-credit minor in biology, students complete the following:

  1. BI 170, 171, and 172 General Biology (12 credits); and
  2. any two 3- or 4-credit biology courses numbered 200 or greater from the biology block electives.

Double counting is not allowed.

Please note many upper level biology courses require 4 semesters of Chemistry as prerequisites.


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