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Majors & Minors

Course Catalog


Biology is the scientific study of living things. Therefore the major and minor in biology are designed to introduce students to the methodology of science while providing a broad exposure to the diversity of life at all levels. Students may also, through their choice of upper-level classes, explore specific areas of interest, such as cell and molecular biology, organismal biology, or ecology and evolutionary biology. In addition to its standard course offerings, the department offers numerous opportunities for collaborative research and learning with faculty. For example, internships and other research opportunities, both on and off-campus, are available during the January Winter Term and in the summer. Many students also spend a semester away from campus, either in an off-campus study program, such as the School for Field Studies, Denmark International Study, the School for International Training, or as an intern at such institutions as Oak Ridge or Argonne National Laboratories, Harvard Medical School, or the Mayo Clinic.

Requirements for a major


Total courses required Ten and one-half (including CHEM 120)
Core courses BIO 135, BIO 145, BIO 215, BIO 450.
Other required courses CHEM 120, required as a prerequisite for BIO 215. The remaining six Biology courses can be selected from any of the approved courses for the major, with a minimum of three courses at the 300 or 400 level.
Number 300 and 400 level courses Three
Senior requirement and capstone experience The senior requirement consists of the completion of BIO 450 with a grade of C- or better.
Additional information No more than two courses from off-campus programs can count toward the major. It is recommended that biology majors take a minimum of two courses in chemistry, a year of physics and a semester of calculus or statistics. Course work in computer science is also desirable.
Writing in the Major

Biologists must write clear, compelling prose to describe and explain complex patterns and processes. They must also present data graphically and verbally to inform and engage other scientists and the public. Good writing in biology is usually concise and precise, conveying information effectively without relying heavily on emotion.

Biological inquiry and writing are both collaborative endeavors. Writing collaboratively requires practice, so in many of our courses, students work together to produce co-authored reports describing their experimental results. Drafts, revisions, and peer reviews are important steps in the process of writing polished prose in biology.

Although the Biology Department does not require a specific course that emphasizes writing in biology, almost all upper-level classes in biology require one or more types of writing. Students in upper-level biology courses will write many of the following:

  • Project proposals
  • Lab reports
  • Response papers
  • Review papers
  • Research posters

As part of the senior seminar capstone experience, the department may ask students to organize a portfolio of their previous written work.

Requirements for a minor


Total courses required Seven
Core courses BIO 135, BIO 145, BIO 215
Other required courses CHEM 120, required as a prerequisite for BIO 215. The remaining three Biology courses must be at the 200 level or above with a minimum of one course at the 300 or 400 level.
Number 300 and 400 level courses One