Academic Planning: Biology

Please note that students who major in biology may have a cellular/molecular focus OR an environmental focus. Many biology majors also pursue graduate or professional programs (medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, etc.) For this reason, there are 10 Things to Consider instead of the standard 5 and you will find three sample plans, as well as a biology program organizational chart.

Additional information on pre-professional programs.


  1. Biology Majors must take General Chemistry I & II in the first year (fall, spring). Note: this depends on each individual’s Math placement test score. Students who need to take Basic Algebra must do so before taking General Chemistry (there are no exceptions). If this happens, students should talk to a biology adviser.
  2. Biology Majors must take Cell Biology and Organic Chemistry in fall of the second year.
  3. Biology Majors must take Biology 1111 Fundamentals of Genetics, Evolution, and Development in the first year; preferably, in the fall.
  4. Biology Majors must take math in their first year. This requires knowing the math program and the student’s directions and abilities, and cannot be summarized briefly. Calculus courses require Pre-Calculus (one or two courses) unless the placement score puts the student directly into Calculus. Biology majors should probably take Survey of Calculus (Math 1021), but if they are going to take General Physics then they need Calculus I and Calculus II, hence Pre-Calculus II. This would include students thinking of going into biochemistry. Advisers need to know what programs (graduate, professional, etc.) want calculus-based general physics, which take algebra-based principles of physics, which don’t care, and what Chemistry courses the students will take.
  5. Biology Majors must take statistics; Stat 2601 is preferred. Introduction to Statistics (Stat 1601) is acceptable but lacks some methods biologists often use. Complete Statistics before taking Ecology.
  6. Take Biological Communications I (Biol 3700) in spring of the second year, if possible; if not, take it as soon as possible (see #7).
  7. Biology Majors must take Biology 4901 both semesters senior year. Biology 3701 is a pre-requisite (which requires Biology 3700) that should be completed by the end of junior year.
  8. Plan ahead for 4XXX electives and pay attention to their pre-requisites. Some courses require just 2xxx prerequisites, some higher, but none require 4xxx prerequisites. Most electives are offered alternate years. Biochemistry, Genetics, and Microbiology are annuals. Faculty leaves and/or sabbaticals may change class offerings so discuss your plans with biology faculty.
  9. Students planning for a professional program should indicate this when they declare a major, as it strongly affects course planning.
  10. Students who have had advisers from other fields say it’s important to meet with a biologist to plan their program, even if they are not the official adviser.