Biological Sciences

The biological sciences major is intended for students interested broadly in the area of biology. By selection of suitable courses, in consultation with your academic advisor, students can emphasize any specific area of biology. Students are encouraged to complete at least four courses with laboratory work in any of the biology departments.


To review graduation requirements for the major, please refer to the Undergraduate Catalog and the Major Requirements Worksheet for your catalog year. To look up your catalog year and keep track of graduation requirements, review your Academic Requirements Report in Student Admin. Catalog year is found at the top of your Academic Requirements Report.

Students can earn a BS or BA degree in this major.

Major Requirements

Students must complete at least 36 credits from any EEB, MCB, or PNB course at the 2000 level or higher. Six credits must be at the 3000 level or higher. The 36 credits must include courses from the major requirements below.

Notes: A maximum of three independent study credits from EEB 3899; MCB 3899, 4896, 4989; and PNB 3299 may count toward the 36 credits. A maximum of eight 2000-level or above transfer credits in EEB, MCB, or PNB may count toward the major with approval of the respective department. PNB 2264 and 2265 cannot count toward the 36-credit requirement.

Introductory Biology Courses

Complete all of the following:

  • BIOL 1107. Principles of Biology I (4 credits) and
  • BIOL 1108. Principles of Biology II (4 credits) or BIOL 1110 Intro to Botany (4 credits)

Cells and Molecules Core Requirement

Complete one of the following courses:

  • MCB 2000. Introduction to Biochemistry (4 credits) or
  • MCB 2210. Cell Biology (3 credits) or MCB 2215. Honors Cell Biology (3 credits) or
  • MCB 2610. Fundamentals of Microbiology (4 credits)

Ecology Core Requirement

Complete one of the following courses: EEB 2244 or 2244W. General Ecology (4 credits)

Evolution Core Requirement

Complete one of the following courses: EEB 2245 or 2245W. Evolutionary Biology (3-4 credits)

Genetics Core Requirement

Complete one of the following courses: MCB 2400. Human Genetics or MCB 2410. Genetics (3 credits)

Physiology Core Requirement

Complete one of the following:

  • PNB 2250. Animal Physiology (3 credits) or
  • PNB 2274 and 2275. Enhanced Human Physiology & Anatomy (8 credits total)

Writing in the Major

Complete at least one of the following:

  • BIOL 3520W. Ethical Perspectives in Biological Research and Technology
  • EEB 2244W. General Ecology
  • EEB 2245W. Evolutionary Biology
  • EEB 3220W. Evolution of Green Plants
  • EEB 3244W. Writing in Ecology
  • EEB 4230W. Methods of Ecology
  • EEB 4276W. Plant Anatomy
  • EEB 4896W. Senior Research Thesis in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • EEB 5335W. Vertebrate Social Behavior
  • MCB 3022W. Human Disease and the Development of Therapeutic Agents
  • MCB 3602W. Introduction to Bioinformatic Tools for Microbial Genome Annotation
  • MCB 3841W. Research Literature in Molecular and Cell Biology
  • MCB 3842W. Current Investigations in Cancer Cell Biology
  • MCB 3843W. Research Literature in Comparative Genomics
  • MCB 3845W. Microbial Diversity, Ecology and Evolution
  • MCB 3996W. Research Thesis in Molecular and Cell Biology
  • MCB 4026W. Advanced Biochemistry Laboratory
  • MCB 4997W. Honors Research Thesis in Molecular and Cell Biology
  • PNB 3120W. Scientific Writing in Neurobiology
  • PNB 3263WQ. Investigations in Neurobiology
  • PNB 3264W. Molecular Principles of Physiology
  • PNB 4296W. Senior Research Thesis in Physiology and Neurobiology

or any other W course in EEB, MCB, PNB.

Related Courses

Required for Catalog year 2018-2019 and earlier: Complete at least 12 credits of 2000-level or higher related courses. Pick courses from a list of pre-approved biology relateds.

Please view the list of pre-approved related courses on your Academic Requirements Report on Student Admin. Students may also choose courses not included in the pre-approved list, but you must obtain advisor approval.

Additional Notes and Restrictions

  • BIOL 1107 & 1108 (BIOL 1110 may be used in place of BIOL 1108) are required for students with catalog year 2012 and after. BIOL 1107 & 1108 can be taken in either order.
  • Math 1131 & 1132 (Calculus I and II) are the only math requirements for the BS degree. Students typically start the calculus sequence during their sophomore year.
  • CHEM 2443 & 2444 (Organic Chemistry) are not required but many biology students (especially those on the pre-med/pre-dental track) take these courses, which can count as related courses (catalog year 2018 and prior). CHEM 2443 is not recommended for first-semester freshmen.
  • Physics is typically taken in junior year and is required for the BS degree.
  • A maximum of 8 2000-level or above transfer credits in EEB, MCB, or PNB can count towards the 36 credits in the major.
  • A maximum of 3 independent study credits from EEB 3899, MCB 3899, MCB 3989, MCB 4989, or PNB 3299 can count toward the 36 credits in the major.
  • Use the Biological Sciences Requirements Worksheet, General Education Audit Sheet, and major sample sequence (below) to keep track of general education requirements and major requirements. These forms list the specific requirements for each catalog year. Visit the Forms page.

Sample Course Sequence

Students majoring in Biological Sciences can earn a BS or BA degree. Candidates must complete the CLAS requirements for a BS or BA to receive their degree. While no sample program can apply to every student, the following example assumes that the student has met the foreign language requirement in high school and is pursuing the BS degree.


First Semester (Fall)

BIOL 1107 OR 11081 (4 credits)
CHEM 1127Q or 1124Q (4 credits)
Gen Ed (3 credits)
First-year writing or Gen Ed (3-4 credits)
UNIV 1800 (FYE) (1 credit)

Total credits: 15-16

Second Semester (Spring)

BIOL 1108 or 1107 (4 credits)
CHEM 1128Q or 1125Q (3-4 credits)
Gen Ed or Elective (3 credits)
Gen Ed or First-year writing (3 credits)
Total credits: 13-15

Third Semester (Fall)

EEB/MCB/PNB core course2 (3-4 credits)
MATH 1131Q (4 credits)
CHEM 1126Q or Elective3 (3 credits)
Non-Major Writing (W) course (3 credits)

Total credits: 13-14

Fourth Semester (Spring)

EEB/MCB/PNB core course (3-4 credits)
Gen Ed (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits)
MATH 1132Q (3 credits)
Gen Ed (3 credits)
Total credits: 16-17

Fifth Semester (Fall)

PHYS 1401Q or 1201Q (4 credits)
EEB/MCB/PNB core course (3-4 credits)
EEB/MCB/PNB core course (3-4 credits)
Gen Ed (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits)

Total credits: 16-18

Sixth Semester (Spring)

PHYS 1402Q or 1202Q (4 credits)
EEB/MCB/PNB core course (3-4 credits)
EEB/MCB/PNB course (3-4 credits)
Gen Ed (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits)

Total credits: 16-18

Seventh Semester (Fall)

3000+ EEB/MCB/PNB course4 (3-4 credits)
EEB/MCB/PNB core course (3 credits)
Biology writing (W) course (1-4 credits)
Gen Ed (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits)

Total credits: 13-17

Eighth Semester (Spring)

3000+ EEB/MCB/PNB course (3-4 credits)
EEB/MCB/PNB course (3 credits)
EEB/MCB/PNB course (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits)

Total credits: 15-16


1Biology 1110. Introduction to Botany, may be taken in place of BIOL 1108. Pre-dent students should take 1108.

2BIOL majors must take 36 credits of EEB, MCB, and PNB coursework including one course from each of the following core areas:

  1. Ecology: EEB 2244/W
  2. Evolution: EEB 2245/W
  3. Genetics: MCB 2400 Human Genetics, or MCB 2410 Genetics
  4. Physiology: PNB 2250. Animal Physiology, or both PNB 2274 and 2275. Enhanced Human Physiology & Anatomy
  5. Cells & Molecules: MCB 2000. Introduction to Biochemistry or MCB 2210. Cell Biology or MCB 2215. Honors Cell Biology or MCB 2610. Fundamentals of Microbiology.

** PNB 2264-2265 (and PNB 92501) does not count towards the major in biological sciences.

3Students interested in pursuing medicine or dentistry should take: CHEM 2443-2444. Organic Chemistry, and CHEM 2445. Organic Chemistry Laboratory.

4Other than BIOL 2289 and BIOL 3520W, all courses that fulfill the 36-credit group for biological sciences are offered as EEB, MCB, and PNB courses. At least six credits must be 3000 level or higher. Students may apply no more than three independent study (EEB 3899, MCB 3189, MCB 3899, MCB 3989, MCB 4989, PNB 3299) credits and eight transfer credits toward the 36-credit requirement.