Biology Major Requirements

Download the Senior Review/Course Design Form for biology major course requirements:

The requirements for the biology major fall into three categories. Basic courses provide the academic foundation of the major. Electives allow in-depth examination of areas of particular individual interest and the associated laboratories provide hands-on experiences. A senior course provides an opportunity to critically analyze the primary research literature of the discipline and to present results publicly in oral and written form. Please read the footnote in the Course Design/Senior Review Form carefully.

Minimum Course Requirements for BS in Biology

Basic (35 credits)
50:120:101, 107 General Biology I (3) and Lab (1)
50:120:102, 108 General Biology II (3) and Lab (1)
50:160:115-116, 125-126 Chemical Principles I,II (3,3) and Lab (1,1)
50:160:335, 339 Organic Chemistry I (4) and Lab (1)*
50:640:121 Unified Calculus I (4)
50:750:203-204, 205-206 General Physics I,II (3,3) and Lab (1,1)
50:120:283 Principles and Practices of Quantitative Biology (3)
Elective (25-30 credits)
seven lecture courses
four laboratory courses
Senior Writing (3 credits)
50:120:399 Current Topics in Biology (3)


*50:160:336, 340 Organic Chemistry,II (4) and Lab (1) are recommended for pre-Med students. Two courses of Organic Chemistry are required for the admission to many Medical Schools.

Senior Review Forms: Alternative to Degree Navigator

Because of these changes and other issues with Degree Navigator, for Biology majors, the department recommends you follow your progress through the major requirements by using the Senior Review Form. The Senior Review Form is not just for seniors, but should be used by all Biology students to track their progress through the degree. The form is fillable, so it can be electronically completed and sent to your advisor with questions, to confirm your efficient progress toward your Biology degree.

Degree Navigator is not sufficient to clear you for graduation. Only the Biology Department Chair can clear you to graduate. If all the courses on the Senior Review Form are filled in (completed), the chair will be able to write an official statement for your records that all Biology requirements have been met and you are cleared to graduate, or identify specific courses that still need to be completed before clearance to graduate is granted.

Advising Tips

All current biology majors have an assigned professional advisor.

  1. Never take three labs with a full load of other courses (16 credits). You might be able to finish quicker, but your grades may suffer.
  2. If you don’t have Chem. Principles yet, take it this year and Organic in the summer. Another course commonly taken by bio students in the summer is Physics
  3. Always register as early as possible.
  4. No course is ever absolutely closed, only instructors can close a course. All instructors have Special Permission Numbers that can override the registrar limits (class size). If a course appears closed, email or phone the instructor, effectively and politely explain your problem and request a Special Permission Number override. Except #7 below
  5. Even if a course is closed and the instructor won’t let you in, check back frequently with the online registration site during the semester break, because if another student drops, a slot will open that you can take.
  6. If all else fails, ask if there is a waiting list, then show up on the first day of class. Persistence pays off!!
  7. Missing Pre-requisites can be a big problem. You cannot get into a class without your prereq being correctly transferred to your official transcript. You must complete the Department Evaluation/Revision of Transfer Form.
  8. If you are planning to apply a medical school, this document may help you planning your courses.