Program Overview

The Biology Department offers both a major and a minor in biology and participates in several joint programs, including Molecular Biology, Neuroscience. Environmental Analysis, and Public Policy Analysis in Biology.

The Biology major provides a broad background in biological subject areas, principles, and practices, while providing the opportunity to specialize in a particular biological sub-discipline, such as evolutionary biology or cell and molecular biology.

The curriculum emphasizes not just what is known about biology, but how biologists acquire that knowledge. Taking advantage of the department's facilities, biology courses provide both laboratory and field experience with the processes of biological inquiry and experience in the logical problem-solving that characterizes scientific investigation. Thus, a major in biology provides students not only with an understanding of living organisms but also with skills that would be useful in any career in which logical deduction and problem-solving play important roles

The culmination of the major is the department's senior exercise, in which each student develops an original biological investigation of a problem of his or her choice. Students electing the experimental thesis option then carry out the research plan, while students electing the proposal option write up the proposed investigation as a formal grant proposal.

Most Biology majors pursue graduate work in biology or the health professions, but many others enter a variety of careers in government service, business, law, journalism, public health, secondary school teaching, environmental consulting, conservation, or biotechnology.

Suggested First-year Schedule

The Biology Department recommends that students interested in pursuing Biology for a major or minor take the following courses listed in the first year:

Fall Semester Spring Semester
Chemistry 1a or 51 Chemistry 1b
Biology 40 Biology 41C or 41E

This first-year schedule is also desirable for students contemplating majors in Molecular Biology, Neuroscience or Biology/Public Policy Analysis.