Biology - Requirements

Biology Major

For a 129-credit to 141-credit major in biology, students complete the following:

Year One
BI 170-171 General Biology I and II, 8 credits
CH 111-112 General Inorganic Chemistry I and II, 8 credits
MA 119-1201 or MA 170-1711 Applied Calculus I and II, 6 credits
Core curriculum courses, 12 credits
Subtotal: 34 credits

Year Two
BI 172 General Biology III, 4 credits
CH 211 Organic Chemistry I, 4 credits
CH 212 Organic Chemistry II, 4 credits
Biology block elective (see below), 3-4 credits
Core curriculum courses, 12 credits
Subtotal: 27 to 28 credits

Year Three*
PS 15-16 General Physics I and II2, 8 credits
Biology block elective (see course page), 6 to 8 credits
Biology electives3, 6 to 8 credits
General electives, 6 to 8 credits
Core curriculum courses, 12 credits
Subtotal: 38 to 44 credits

Year Four*
Biology electives3, 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

1Alternatively, MA 217 Accelerated Statistics may be taken as second math course.
2Physics may be taken in the third or fourth year. 
3Various upper-level courses may be double-counted toward the departmental concentrations in molecular biology or marine science.

*The sequence for biology block electives and biology electives, shown here are only suggestions. You may arrange them differently.

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 (7 courses)

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

Physiology, Morphology, and Biochemistry Block (10 courses)

BI 107-108 Anatomy & Physiology*
BI 262 Human Physiology
BI 313 Comparative Physiology
BI 314 Endocrinology
BI 315 Anatomy: Form & Function
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 (12 courses)

BI 260 Ecology
BI 318 Vertebrate Zoology
BI 319 Zoology Field Experience
BI 321 Animal Behavior
BI 362 Marine Invertebrate Zoology
BI 364 Freshwater Ecology
BI 365 Evolutionary Biology
BI 366 Ornithology
BI 368 Plant Biology: Evolution, Diversity, and Environment
BI 370 Environmental Health and Safety
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. Taking both semesters will count as one Physiology, Morphology and Biochemistry block two upper-level elective with lab. Permission of the department chair is required. This sequence may NOT count towards the biology major if BI 262 Human Physiology has been taken previously and will instead be an additional course in biology. 

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.

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.

The Capstone Experience

During their capstone experience, students connect the diverse experience and knowledge they acquire as biology majors, focusing these newly acquired 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 satisfy the capstone requirement, students in their senior year may choose from the following special topics:

  • BI 381 - Molecular, Cell and Developmental Block topics
  • BI 382 - Physiology, Morphology and Biochemistry topics
  • BI 383 - Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Science topics

Research and Internship Experiences

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 prior approval from a student's faculty mentor or advisor. Off-campus internship experiences require an on-campus faculty mentor and approval from the department chair. Prior consultation is required to assure that the particular activity is acceptable and earns credit for the experience.

Research and internship experiences are extra courses and do not count towards the biology major degree requirements.  To complete a research or internship experience, students register with permission in the following:

  • BI 391-394 - Biology Research I, II, III, and IV
  • BI 397-398 - Biology Internship

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 324 Biochemistry I, 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 80 Tropical 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.

Biology Minor 

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

  1. BI 170, 171, and 172 General Biology (12 credits)
  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.