So, You Want To Be a Biology Major?
It takes 13 to 17 courses to major in Biology. Let’s get started planning!
First things first:
Are you currently enrolled in Gen Chem 1 (CHM111)? No?!?!
You better fix that fast because it’s typically only offered in fall, and if you don’t get it now, you might wind up a fifth-year senior. Especially, if you’re on the pre-health track!
Start the BioCore!
Now that the CHM111 panic is over, what about biology?
Biology majors take the 2 course biology BioCore. Starting this fall or spring (spring is fine if you want to take some time to get used to college life), take BIO150. The following semester, take BIO160. After completing the BioCore, look at the 200 level courses for ones that go a bit deeper into the fields you are interested in or that are the pre-requisites to a 300 level Biology course you might want.
Try to finish the BioCore and 200-level BIO courses by fall of your junior year, or you’ll limit opportunities for upper level biology courses. Want to take those cool sounding field courses in places like Belize? Then get those pre- and co-requirements done!
Knock off those co-requirements!
Our majors take additional courses in other departments that complement our biology courses.
• BS majors must take 5 co-requirements: Gen Chem 1 (CHM111), an approved data analysis course and three additional courses in math, computer science or the physical sciences (Division V). Some of those courses have pre-requisites too; for instance, you will need MTH111 before taking physics.
• BA majors must take 5 additional courses as co-requisites. The 5 courses are chosen with help from a Biology major adviser.
• Biology majors on the pre-health track need to take 4 semesters of chemistry and 2 semesters of physics. Those courses ALSO count as your co-requirements in biology!
Choose your flavor!
For your first year or so, the basic requirements are the same for both BA and BS majors. Eventually you need to choose which major you want to pursue. There are some differences in co-requirements as indicated above, including a much broader list of courses that satisfy the co-reqs for the BA. Another key difference is in research, internships and other special projects (see below).
• We encourage BA students to develop a curriculum that reflects their interests and career paths. Wanna be a pre-law Biology major? We can do that! Neuro-ethicist? Sure!
• The BS is more grounded in the sciences and is a good choice for folks thinking about medical school and graduate school.
Which flavor is right for you? If you’re thinking medical school, by the time you take the required courses you’re most of the way to the BS in biology. If you’re interested in other life avenues you may not need the extra math and physical science, and the BA will work just fine.
Take MORE biology!!
You need 34 hours of biology to get either degree. Besides our 8 hour BioCore, you need 26 more hours of 200 and 300 level courses. That’s about 8 more courses. At least three of these courses must be 300 level courses with labs—look for courses listed as four hours or as three hours plus a lab, some of which, like biochemistry, let you add the lab in a later semester. Aside from that, this part is entirely yours to design!
Two things to watch for. First, some 300 level courses may require a 200 level course. Second, not all 300 level courses are offered every semester, or even every year. If there’s something you especially want to take, pay attention to its prerequisites and to when it’s offered.
Research, internships and special projects
Both BA and BS students must complete a research or special project. Research is required for the BS degree. The Undergraduate Research Committee maintains a list of approved laboratories (everyone in Biology and BMB!) to get research credit.
You can do research for course credit in labs in the biology department, and in several departments here on Reynolda campus or downtown at the medical center. So as you go through BioCore, think about what types of research sound fun, and talk to your major advisor after you declare. Start looking for opportunities sooner, not later.
Project options are broader for BA students. They can take part in traditional independent lab and field research just like BS students. We also encourage internships and special projects where students apply their knowledge of biology to areas such as law, policy, journalism or advocacy.
So, You Want To Be a Biology Minor?
It takes about 4-5 courses to minor in Biology, two of those being the BioCore. You need an additional 10 hours of Biology, including one 4 hour 300 lab course. Easy-peasy!
Why major or minor in Biology?
Our lobby is covered with fossils.
Prepare for graduate school in everything from molecular biology to climate change biology.
Meet our giant metal fruit fly.
Our IT guy is cool and helps you hook your computer up to twitchy frog legs.
Work with tomatoes – eat your experiment!
We have a fleet of drones.
Travel to interesting field sites – Belize, the outer banks, Florida, Peru!
We have a bat cave!
Become a science journalist.
The Biology Department has a pet turkey.
We have the two nicest administrative assistants on campus.
Use deadly chemicals (safely) and laugh at danger!
Do you like spiders and snakes?
Elephants? Fish? Bacteria? Worms? Flies? Birds? Bees? Yeast? Viruses?
You can learn about disease, pestilence and death.
Become a biology teacher. Or a patent lawyer.
A tree species planted behind Winston Hall, once thought extinct, was found in China in 1944.
One of our faculty members is a magician.
We have world experts on things like bot flies, beetles, and birds with blue feet.
Learn interesting cocktail party talk like “Did you know that proline is really an imino acid?”
Three words: Beta Beta Beta.
You can even go into a medical profession with a Biology degree!