Major Requirements & Related Programs

The Biology Major

Biology Options

There are 7 options for those who wish to study Biology. For those who want broad training in the entire field, the department recommends the Biology Major. For those who want to focus on a specific subfield, the department recommends considering one of the tracks outlined below. Each of these 5 tracks requires concentrated study in one of the four subfields and provides strong training for graduate study in that subfield.  The requirements for each track include completion of all the requirements for a Biology Major. For those who want to focus on environmental biology, the department recommends the Environmental Biology Major, which provides strong training for graduate study in environmental biology.

Mission Statement

A student graduating with a major in biology should be well educated in the history of scientific discovery in biology, the logical and statistical procedures used to formulate and to test biological hypotheses, and technical skills needed for conducting contemporary biological research. Majors should appreciate the hierarchical nature of biological complexity, and the major structures and functions emerging at the molecular, cellular, organismal, populational and ecosystem levels. At least one dimension of contemporary research should be understood in sufficient detail that the student could describe the major hypotheses currently being tested and demonstrate familiarity with techniques used to test those hypotheses. Mastery of the material will be evident in a student's ability to critique published data, identifying ambiguities and uncertainties in conclusions drawn from those data, and in understanding the societal importance of the research. A student attaining these goals will be prepared to make creative contributions to biology through independent research and/or teaching, and will be ready for graduate training in biological research, education, health care, industrial biotechnology, and the computational, legal and business careers related to biotechnology. A major should appreciate the importance of biological knowledge for solving societal problems.

Biology Student Handbook

In addition to the details provided below, students are encouraged to review the Undergraduate Biology Student Handbook for details about major requirements and other key information.

Biology Major Requirements

Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics Requirements

In addition to Chem 111A-112A and the accompanying laboratory courses Chem 151-152, biology majors are required to take Chem 261 and either Chem 262 or Chem 401; Physics 117A-118A (or Physics 197-198); Math 132 (Calculus II) and one of the following: Math 2200, Math 233, or Math 3200. Courses taken in University College, Washington University's evening school, do not meet these or any other major requirements.  Students who plan to take physical chemistry must take Math 233 (Calculus III).  Math 2200 or 3200 (Elementary Probability and Statistics; required for tracks in Ecology and Evolution track and in Genomics and Computational Biology, see pp. 4-5) and Math 322 (Biostatistics) are valuable, particularly in research. 

Majors ordinarily begin work in biology with Biol 2960 in spring of freshman year*. After completing Chem 111A-112A and the accompanying laboratories Chem 151-152, also taken during the first year, students proceed to Biol 2970 and then upper-level classes in the sophomore year, accompanied by organic chemistry (Chem 261-262). Biol 2960 and Biol 2970 are required for majors and appropriate in sequence for premedical and predental students with other majors.

A typical program for the first two years looks like this:

Fall - Year One Spring - Year One Fall - Year Two Spring - Year Two
Chem 111A (3) Chem 112A (3) Chem 261 (4) Chem 262 (4)
Bio elective* (optional) Bio 2960 (4) Bio 2970 (4) (Bio 2960 pre-req) Bio 3XX (2-4) (Bio 2970 pre-req)
Math 132 (3) Math 233 or Math 2200 (3)    
Chem (Lab) 151 (2) Chem (Lab) 152 (2)    
Distribution (3) or English Comp 100 (3) Distribution (3) or English Comp 100 (3) Distributions (6) Distributions (6)
Distribution (3)      

* Optional biology courses of interest to prospective majors are offered in fall of freshman year: Biol 112 (Introduction to Problem-Based Learning in Biology), Biol 1260 (The Secret Lives of Plants), Biol 171 (Neuroscience Futures I), Biol 1770 (Genetics and Behavior of Dog Breeds), Biol 181 (Introduction to Cutting-Edge Research in Biology), Biol 1811 (Research and Conservation in Zoos and Botanical Gardens), Biol 191 (Phage Hunters Laboratory), Biol 2010 (The Science of Biotechnology), Biol 2431 (Missouri's Natural Heritage), Biol 2950 (Introduction to Environmental Biology).

Advanced Biology Requirement

At least eighteen units in advanced Biology courses (numbered 300 or above) are required.  Courses that may be counted toward these 18 units are listed following Biol 2960 and Biol 2970 in the section "Courses for Biology-Major Credit' beginning on page 44.  At least one course in each of three distribution areas (A-C) and an advanced laboratory course must be taken; each of these courses counts toward the required 18 advanced biology units. Up to 6 units of Bio 500 may be counted toward the 18 advanced biology units.

Three Areas of Biology Required (Fall 2018 offerings in bold):

  • Area A: Plant Biology and Genetic Engineering (Biol 3041); Cell Biology (Biol 334); Eukaryotic Genomes (Biol 3371); Microbiology (Biol 349); Immunology (Biol 424)Infectious Diseases: History, Pathology, and Prevention (4492); General Biochemistry (Biol 451)General Biochemistry I (Biol 4810); General Biochemistry II (Biol 4820)
  • Area B: Endocrinology (Biol 3151); Principles in Human Physiology (Biol 328); Principles of the Nervous System (Biol 3411); Introduction to Neuroethology (Biol 3421); Genes, Brains and Behavior (Biol 3422); How Plants Work: Physiology, Growth and Metabolism (Biol 4023); Biological Clocks (Biol 4030); Developmental Biology (Biol 4071); Principles of Human Anatomy and Development (Biol 4580)
  • Area C: Evolution (Biol 3501)Behavioral Ecology (372); Introduction to Ecology (Biol 381); Population Genetics and Microevolution (Biol 4181); Macroevolution (Biol 4182); Molecular Evolution (Biol 4183); Community Ecology (Biol 419); *Behavioral Ecology (Biol 472)

Laboratory Requirements

An upper-level laboratory course chosen from the following list is required for the biology major.  Students planning to pursue research careers in the biomedical sciences are strongly urged to take additional laboratory courses. NOTE: Biology 500 does not satisfy the laboratory course requirement for the biology major.

Provides two units of lab credit:

  • Biol 3110 Vertebrate Structure Laboratory (fall)
  • Biol 3491 Microbiology Laboratory (fall, spring)
  • Biol 3492 Laboratory Experiments with Eukaryotic Microbes (spring)*
  • Biol 3493 Bacterial Bioprospecting and Biotechnology (spring)
  • Biol 360 Biophysics Laboratory (fall)
  • Biol 373 Laboratory on the Evolution of Animal Behavior (fall)
  • Biol 404 Laboratory of Neurophysiology (fall)*
  • Biol 4193 Experimental Ecology Laboratory (spring)*
  • Biol 4241 Immunology Laboratory (fall/spring)*
  • Biol 4342/434W Research Explorations in Genomics (spring)*
  • Biol 437 Lab on DNA Manipulation (fall/summer session 1)
  • Biol 4520 Protein Function in Model Cellular Systems (fall)*
  • Biol 4522 Laboratory in Protein Biochemistry (spring)
  • Biol 4523 Molecular Methods in Enzyme Analysis (fall)
  • Biol 4524 Structural Bioinformatics of Proteins (fall)

*Enrollment requires advance permission of the instructor.

Grades

All courses counted toward major requirements must be taken for a letter grade if a letter grade is offered. A grade of C- or better must be earned in all of these courses.

Declaration and Advising

Students can declare a major in Biology online through WebSTAC under Major Programs. Upon declaring a major in biology, typically during sophomore year, a student gets a major advisor from the Biology Department faculty. Students can request specific Biology major advisors when placing a major declaration request.  Each student then consults both a four-year advisor and a Biology major advisor each semester. Major advisors typically discuss course schedules, academic progress, career objectives, pre-professional testing (e.g. MCAT, GRE), medical-school applications, research interests, and internships. An academic program and extracurricular endeavors are thereby personally tailored to each student.  Students interested in health professions (e.g. medical, dental, and veterinary schools) should consult the Pre-Health Advising Program to get a pre-health advisor.

Ecology and Evolution Track

Track Requirements

Core Requirements

Biology Chemistry Math Physics
Biol 2960 Chem 111A & 112A Math 132 Phys 117 or 197
Biol 2970 Chem 115 & 152 Math 2200 or 3200* Phys 118 or 198
  Chem 261 & 262    

*bold type indicates core courses not necessarily required by the generic biology major

Advanced Laboratory Requirement

One of the following:

  • Biol 373 Laboratory on the Evolution of Animal Behavior
  • Biol 4193 Experimental Ecology Laboratory
  • Biol 437 Laboratory on DNA manipulation
  • Biol 4342 Research Explorations in Genomics

Advanced Evolution and Ecology Electives

Students whose main interest is ecology should take at least two ecological electives and one evolutionary elective; students whose main interest is evolution should take at least two evolutionary electives and one ecological elective.

Ecology:

  • *Biol 372 Behavioral Ecology
  • Biol 381 Introduction to Ecology
  • Biol 419 Community Ecology
  • *Biol 472 Behavioral Ecology

* A student may not take both Biol 372 and Biol 472 for credit

Evolution

  • Biol 3501 Evolution
  • Biol 4181 Population Genetics and Microevolution
  • Biol 4182 Macroevolution
  • Biol 4183 Molecular Evolution

Outside Elective Courses

Analytical Methodology (select one):

  • CSE 131 Computer Science I
  • Math 322 Biostatistics

Earth and Planetary Sciences (select one):

  • EPSc 201 Earth and the Environment
  • EPSc 323 Biogeochemistry

Biology Major Areas A&B Electives

Students should select one course each from biology major areas A and B outlined in the Advanced Biology Requirement section under Biology Major above, according to personal interests.

Genomics and Computational Biology Track

Track Requirements

Core Requirements

Biology Chemistry Math Physics
Biol 2960 Chem 111A & 112A Math 132 Phys 117 or 197
Biol 2970 Chem 151 & 152 Math 2200 or 3200* Phys 118 or 198
Biol 3371, 4183, or 548 Chem 261 & 262    

*bold type indicates core courses not necessarily required by the generic biology major

Advanced Laboratory Requirement

One of the following:

  • Biol 3492 Laboratory Experiments with Eukaryotic Microbes
  • Biol 4342 Research Explorations in Genomics
  • Biol 437 Laboratory on DNA Manipulation
  • Biol 4524 Structural Bioinformatics of Protein

Electives

Recommended Advanced Biology Electives

  • Biol 334 Cell Biology (major area A)
  • Biol 349/1 Microbiology with Microbiology Laboratory (major area A)
  • Biol 3422 Genes, Brains and Behavior (major area B)
  • Biol 4030 Biological Clocks (major area B)
  • Biol 4181 Population Genetics and Microevolution (major area C)
  • Biol 4183 Molecular Evolution (major area C)
  • Biol 4810 General Biochemistry I (major area A)

Biology Major Areas A, B & C Electives

Students should select one course each from biology major areas A, B and C according to personal interests (see recommended advanced biology electives under the Biology Major above).

Outside Elective Courses

Required:

  • CSE 131 Computer Science I
  • CSE 247 Algorithms and Data Structures

Recommended:

  • Math 217 Differential Equations
  • Math 309 Matrix Algebra
  • Strongly Recommended: CSE 240 Logic and Discrete Mathematics

Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Track

Track Requirements

Core Requirements

Biology Chemistry** Math Physics
Biol 2960 Chem 111A & 112A Math 132 Phys 117 or 197
Biol 2970 Chem 151 & 152 Math 233 or 2200 or 3200 Phys 118 or 198
Biol 4810* Chem 261 & 262    
Biol 4820*      

*bold type indicates core courses not required by the generic biology major

** students planning to enter PhD programs in biochemistry should note that many such programs require physical chemistry (Chem 401 & 402; prerequisite Math 233)

Advanced Biology Requirement

One of the following:

  • Biol 334 Cell Biology
  • Biol 3371 Eukaryotic Genomes
  • Biol 349 Microbiology

Advanced Laboratory Requirement

One of the following:

  • Biol 3491 Microbiology Laboratory
  • Biol 3492 Laboratory Experiments with Eukaryotic Microbes
  • Biol 3493 Bacterial Bioprospecting and Biotechnology
  • Biol 4342 Research Exploration in Genomics
  • Biol 437   Laboratory on DNA Manipulation
  • Biol 4241 Immunology Laboratory
  • Biol 4520 Protein Function in Model Cellular Systems
  • Biol 4522 Laboratory in Protein Biochemistry
  • Biol 4523 Molecular Methods in Enzyme Analysis
  • Biol 4524 Structural Bioinformatics of Proteins

Electives

Recommended Advanced Biology Electives

  • Biol 3041 Plant Bio & Genetic Engineering
  • Biol 4023 How Plants Work (major area B)
  • Biol 4071 Developmental Biology (major area B)
  • Biol 4183 Molecular Evolution (major area C)
  • Biol 4832 Molecular Mechanisms of Photosynthesis and Respiration
  • Biol 4833 Protein Biochemistry
  • Biol 5312 Macromolecular Interactions

Biology Major Area B & C Electives

Students should select one course each from biology major areas B and C according to personal interests (see recommended advanced biology electives under the Biology Major above).

Neuroscience Track

Track Requirements

Core Requirements

Biology Chemistry Math Physics
Biol 2960 Chem 111A & 112B Math 132 Phys 117 or 197
Biol 2970 Chem 151 & 152

Math 233 or 2200 or 3200

Phys 118 or 98
Biol 3058 Chem 261 & 262    

Advanced Laboratory Requirement

Choose one of the following laboratory pathways:

Laboratory Pathway 1 (choose one of the following courses):

  • Biol 404 Laboratory of Neurophysiology (enrollment by prior permission of instructor, contact Erin Gerrity gerrity@wustl.edu for waitlist details)
  • Biol 360 Biophysics Laboratory* (enrollment by registration priority on WebSTAC)
  • Biol 373 Laboratory on the Evolution of Animal Behavior (enrollment by registration priority on WebSTAC)

Laboratory Pathway 2:

Any other upper-level biology laboratory course on the list of approved laboratory courses for the Biology Major (see the Laboratory Requirement section under the Biology Major above) plus 6 credits of Biol 500N and/or Biol 500U (Independent Research in Neuroscience).

Advanced Biology Requirements

Choose one in each area:

Area A: Biol 334 Cell Biology; Biol 451 Biochemistry; Biol 4810 Gen. Biochemistry I; Biol 4820 Gen. Biochemistry II

Area B: Biol 3411 Principles of the Nervous System

Area C: One course from the Advanced Biology Requirements Area C listed under the Major Requirements above.

Electives

Advanced Biology Elective

Select at least one of the following:

  • Biol 3110 Vertebrate Structure Laboratory*
  • Biol 3151 Endocrinology
  • Biol 328 Principles in Human Physiology
  • Biol 3371 Eukaryotic Genomes
  • Biol 3421 Introduction to Neuroethology
  • Biol 3422 Genes, Brains and Behavior
  • Biol 4030 Biological Clocks
  • Biol 437   Laboratory on DNA Manipulation*
  • Biol 4580 Principles of Human Anatomy and Development

Outside Elective Courses

Select at least one Psychology or Physics course from the following list:

Psychology (pre-req: Psych 100)

  • Psych 330 Sensory and Perception
  • Psych 360 Cognitive Psychology
  • Psych 3604/4604 Cognitive Neuroscience

Physics (pre-req: Phys 117/197 or Phys 118/198)

  • Phys 350 Physics of the Brain
  • Phys 355 Physics of Vision
  • Phys (Biology) 360 Biophysics Lab *

*These laboratory courses may count toward the Advanced Laboratory Requirement or toward an Advanced Elective requirement but not simultaneously toward both requirements.

Encouraged Seminar Courses in Neuroscience

  • Biol 171   First-Year Opportunity: Neuroscience Futures 1: How do we learn about the brain?
  • Biol 4934 Neuroscience Futures 2

Declaring a Major

Students may declare a major program in the neuroscience track through WebSTAC. A declared major in the track does not guarantee eventual enrollment in laboratory courses Biol 404 Laboratory of Neurophysiology (prior permission of instructor is required for enrollment, contact Erin Gerrity for waitlist details), Biol 360 Biophysics Laboratory (enrollment by registration priority on WebSTAC) or Biol 373 Laboratory on the Evolution of Animal Behavior (enrollment by registration priority on WebSTAC). The laboratory requirement for the neuroscience track can be met by any of the other courses approved for upper-level laboratory credit in biology (see above under the Biology Major details) provided that a student also has 6 credits for Biol 500N/U (Independent Research in Neuroscience). To register for Biol 500N/U, see instructions at https://pages.wustl.edu/Bio_200-500_independent_research.

Current juniors who were admitted into the Neuroscience Track major prior to July 2018 should confirm with Erin Gerrity prior to April 2019 about their intended enrollment in Biology 404 during their senior year in Fall 2019. These students have already received permission to enroll in Biology 404 in Fall 2019. These students can also elect to satisfy their Advanced Laboratory Requirement in Neuroscience using any of the other options described above.

Students who already have credit for Biology 500/500A/500S/500T for independent research in neuroscience can request a waiver allowing them to have their prior Biology 500 credit count toward the Biology 500N/500U requirement. Waiver requests can be submitted to Patrick Clark.

Undergraduate WashU Neuroscience Major Options

For students with interests in Neuroscience, there are several distinct choices in Arts & Sciences. For those with broad interests in several areas of Neuroscience, either a double major or a major and minor in two of the programs listed below should be considered.

Additional WashU Neuroscience Websites

Microbiology Track

Track Requirements

Core Requirements

Biology Chemistry Math Physics
Biol 2960 Chem 111A & 112A Math 132 Phys 117 or 197
Biol 2970 Chem 151 & 152 Math 2200 or 3200 Phys 118 or 198
Biol 349* Chem 261 & 262    
Biol 451 or Biol 4810/4820      

*bold type indicates core courses not required by the generic biology major; enrollment in Biol 349 is highly recommended at the Sophomore level, as Biol 349 is a prerequisite for multiple courses in the Track

Advanced Laboratory Requirement

At least one of the following:

  • Biol 3491 Microbiology Laboratory
  • Biol 3492 Laboratory Experiments with Eukaryotic Microbes
  • Biol 3493 Bacterial Bioprospecting and Biotechnology
  • Biol 437 Laboratory on DNA Manipulation
  • Biol 4520 Protein Function in Model Cellular Systems

Electives

Advanced Microbiology Electives

At least one of the following:

  • Biol 4492 Infectious Disease: History, Pathology & Prevention
  • Biol 4832 Molecular Mechanisms of Photosynthesis and Respiration
  • Biol 5426 Infectious Disease Gateway: Translational and Public Health

Allied Elective Courses

At least one of the following:

  • Biol 191 AMP: Phage Hunters* & Biol 192 AMP: Phage Bioinformatics*
  • Biol 424 Immunology
  • Chem 453 Bioorganic Chemistry
  • EPSC 323 Biogeochemistry

*Both Biol 191 and Biol 192 must be taken for Track credit

Biology Major Areas B&C Electives

Students should select one course each from biology major areas B and C, outlined under the Advanced Biology Requirement for the Biology Major above. Biol 3501 Evolution is highly recommended for Area C.

Total upper-level (300+) credits earned in major-track biology courses and allied electives must be at least 24.

Major in Environmental Biology

Students interested in environmental biology typically take Biol 2950 (Introduction to Environmental Biology) during fall of the freshman year, although it may be taken later. Students planning to take Biol 2960 in spring of freshman year should begin the chemistry courses (Chem 111A and Chem 151) in fall of freshman year. A 400-level class to be required for Latin honors in Environmental Biology will be introduced at a later time.

Environmental Biology Requirements

Core Requirements

  • EPSC 201 Earth and the Environment (4 credits, lecture and lab)
  • Biol 2950 Introduction to Environmental Biology (3 credits)
  • Biol 2960 Introduction to Biology (4 credits, lecture and lab)
  • Biol 2970 Introduction to Biology (4 credits, lecture and lab)
  • Chem 111A/151 General Chemistry (5 credits, lecture and lab)
  • Chem 112A/152 General Chemistry (5 credits, lecture and lab)
  • Math 131 Calculus 1 (3 credits)
  • Math 132 Calculus 2 (3 credits)
  • Phys 117A /197 Physics 1 (4 credits)
  • Biol 381 Intro to Ecology (3 credits)

One of the following Chemistry courses:

  • Chem 261 Organic Chemistry 1 (4 credits, lecture and lab)
  • EPSC 323 Biogeochemistry (3 credits)
  • EECE 210 Introduction to Environmental Engineering (3 credits)
  • EECE 505 Aquatic Chemistry (3 credits)
  • EECE 531 Environmental Organic Chemistry (3 credits)

One of the following courses in Statistics, GIS

  • Math 2200 Elementary Probability and Statistics (3 credits)
  • Math 3200 Biostatistics (3 credits)
  • ENST 380 Applications in GIS (3 credits)

One Upper-Level Biology Lab Course

  • Any lab course is acceptable; we recommend: Biol 4193 Experimental Ecology Lab (4 credits, writing intensive)

One of the following BIOL 300+ courses (Area A and B in Biology)

  • Biol 3041 Plant Biology and Genetic Engineering
  • Biol 3151 Endocrinology
  • Biol 328 Principles in Human Physiology
  • Biol 334 Cell Biology
  • Biol 3411 Principles of the Nervous System
  • Biol 3421 Introduction to Neuroethology
  • Biol 3422 Genes, Brains and Behavior
  • Biol 349 Microbiology
  • Biol 4023 How Plants Work: Physiology, Growth and Metabolism
  • Biol 4030 Biological Clocks
  • Biol 451/4810 General Biochemistry

One of the following Biol 300+ (Area C in Biology)

  • Biol 3501 Evolution
  • *Biol 372 OR 472 Behavioral Ecology
  • Biol 4181 Population Genetics and Microevolution
  • Biol 4182 Macroevolution
  • Biol 419 Community Ecology

One additional Biol 300+ major-track course (must be at least 3 credits; may include Biol 500)

  • Biology course offerings

One of the following EPSC 300+ courses

  • EPSC 323 Biogeochemistry (only if not already taken for chemistry requirement)
  • EPSC 352 Earth Materials
  • EPSC 353 Earth Forces
  • EPSC 385 Earth History
  • EPSC 408 Earth's Atmosphere and Global Climate
  • EPSC 409 Surface Processes
  • EPSC 413 Introduction To Soil Science
  • EPSC 422 Sedimentary Geology
  • EPSC 428 Hydrology
  • EPSC 443 Methods in Biogeochemistry
  • EPSC 444 Environmental Geochemistry

The Biology Minor

Students can declare a minor in Biology online through WebSTAC under Major Programs. All requests require department approval and are typically completed within a few days of the request. Supervising staff members are in the Biology Student Affairs office.

Minor Requirements

Required Introductory Courses

The Biology Minor requires two introductory courses in Biology (Biol 2960 and Biol 2970) and the following courses in Chemistry: Chem 111A, 112A, 151, 152 and 261.  Chem 111A must be completed prior to enrollment in Biol 2960. Chem 112A must be taken concurrently with or prior to Biol 2960 and must be completed prior to enrollment in Biol 2970.

Elective Courses

The Biology Minor required 10 advanced units in biology selected from the following:

  • BIOL 3010     BIOTECHNOLOGY PROJECT
  • BIOL 3041     PLANT BIO. & GENETIC ENGINEERING
  • BIOL 3058     PHYSIOLOGICAL CONTROL SYSTEMS
  • BIOL 3100     R WORKSHOP IN BIOLOGY
  • BIOL 3110     VERTEBRATE STRUCTURE LAB
  • BIOL 3151     ENDOCRINOLOGY
  • BIOL 328       PRINCIPLES IN HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY
  • BIOL 334       CELL BIOLOGY
  • BIOL 3371     EUKARYOTIC GENOMES
  • BIOL 3411     PRINCIPLES OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
  • BIOL 3421     INTRODUCTION TO NEUROETHOLOGY
  • BIOL 3422     GENES, BRAINS AND BEHAVIOR
  • BIOL 347       DARWIN AND EVOLUTIONARY CONTROVERSIES
  • BIOL 349       MICROBIOLOGY
  • BIOL 3491     MICROBIOLOGY LABORATORY
  • BIOL 3492     LABORATORY EUKARYOTIC MICROBES
  • BIOL 3493     BACTERIAL BIOPROSPECTING BIOTECH
  • BIOL 3501     EVOLUTION
  • BIOL 360       BIOPHYSICS LABORATORY
  • BIOL 372**    BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY
  • BIOL 373       LAB EVOLUTION ANIMAL BEHAVIOR
  • BIOL 381       INTRODUCTION TO ECOLOGY
  • BIOL 4023     HOW PLANTS WORK: PHYSIOLOGY etc.
  • BIOL 4030     BIOLOGICAL CLOCKS
  • BIOL 404       LAB OF NEUROPHYSIOLOGY
  • BIOL 4071     DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY
  • BIOL 4181     POPULATION GENETICS & MICROEVOL.
  • BIOL 4182     MACROEVOLUTION
  • BIOL 4183     MOLECULAR EVOLUTION
  • BIOL 419       COMMUNITY ECOLOGY
  • BIOL 4193     EXPERIMENTAL ECOLOGY LABORATORY
  • BIOL 424       IMMUNOLOGY
  • BIOL 4241     IMMUNOLOGY LABORATORY
  • BIOL 4270     PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING IN BIOMED.
  • BIOL 4331     ALGAE: CELL BIOLOGY/MOLECULAR EVO.
  • BIOL 4342*   RESEARCH EXPLORATIONS IN GENOMICS
  • BIOL 437       LAB ON DNA MANIPULATION
  • BIOL 4492     INFECTIOUS DISEASES
  • BIOL 451       GENERAL BIOCHEMISTRY
  • BIOL 4520     PROTEIN FUNCTION MODEL CELL SYSTEM
  • BIOL 4522     LABORATORY IN PROTEIN BIOCHEMISTRY
  • BIOL 4523     MOLECULAR METHOD ENZYME ANALYSIS
  • BIOL 4524     STRUCTURAL BIOINFORMATICS PROTEINS
  • BIOL 4580     PRINCIPLES OF HUMAN ANATOMY
  • BIOL 472**    BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY
  • BIOL 4810     GENERAL BIOCHEMISTRY I
  • BIOL 4820     GENERAL BIOCHEMISTRY II
  • BIOL 4830     BIOENERGY
  • BIOL 4832     PHOTOSYNTHESIS & RESPIRATION
  • BIOL 4833     PROTEIN BIOCHEMISTRY

*Writing-intensive course Biol 434W may be substituted for Biol 4342.
** A student may not take both Biol 372 and Biol 472 for credit.

Grades

All courses utilized for the Biology minor (including chemistry) must be taken for a letter grade. A grade of C- or better must be earned in all of these courses.

Honors & Research Emphasis

Honors

To qualify for Latin honors in biology a student must meet the following requirements. For requirements 1, 2, and 3, only courses taken at Washington University are considered.

1. B+ average (3.3) or better in biology courses.

2. Cumulative average of B+ (3.3) or better in the related science subjects required (math, chemistry, and physics)

3. Overall 3.65 average.

4. Completion of the Research Emphasis

Research Emphasis

An optional research emphasis pertains equally to students completing the biology major with or without one of the optional tracks. The research emphasis and an appropriate grade performance qualify a student for Latin honors. A student who fulfills the research emphasis but does not meet the grade requirements for honors receives a research milestone on the transcript. The research emphasis comprises the following work in addition to the biology major requirements.

1. Six units of independent work (Bio 500). In most cases, independent study leading to a research emphasis starts no later than spring of the junior year.  Most students work full time on this research during the summer following their junior year and complete their work during the senior year.

2. A paper written by the student and judged by the mentor to be worthy of recognition. The paper should be written in the style of a scientific article for a professional journal, with abstract, introduction, materials and methods, results, and discussion.  The research thesis should reflect substantial effort. The introduction should put the work into biological context and thoroughly review the relevant literature. The methods section should be more extensive than a journal article's and should demonstrate that the student understands the methods used. Results and discussion may be combined or presented separately. Tables, figures, and bibliographies should be used to present results and should be in standard journal-style form. Extensive or complete results are not required for a thesis to be acceptable. Discussion of incomplete results and problems encountered may be appropriate when experiments have not yielded significant results.  Because a student rarely completely solves a problem within the available time, an indication of what should be done next is often appropriate.

3. The certification of the student's thesis, by their mentor, using the Thesis Certification Form.  IMPORTANT: No candidate is approved for graduation with a research emphasis in biology unless all requirements are met. An oral examination may be held at the discretion of the Department.

4. Presentation of the honors thesis work in the form of a poster or short talk at the spring Undergraduate Research Symposium.

TIMETABLE - Research theses are due the Monday following spring break of the senior year. (Students graduating in December have a different deadline - consult Patrick Clark.) To have an acceptable thesis, students must begin writing and submit draft versions of each part of their honors thesis to their mentors to get feedback well before this deadline. Students should consult their mentors about an appropriate timetable by the end of the Fall semester of senior year. Generally, writing should begin no later than January (start of spring semester) and preliminary drafts of sections should be presented to mentors for feedback beginning early in February. There should be several rounds of revision and discussion among the mentor, possibly others in the lab (bench mentor and others who are familiar with the project) and the student to generate the final version. The process is akin to writing a manuscript for publication, and students should seek advice as would any researcher presenting results for publication. Mentor approval is required on the final version. If a mentor has not seen and approved the final version prior to the deadline, the department will NOT recommend the student for a research emphasis. The spring Undergraduate Research Symposium is normally scheduled between the last day of spring semester classes and the start of final examinations. If any delay or problem in submitting an acceptable thesis by the deadline is anticipated/suspected, a student and/or mentor must discuss the problem with the department (begin by notifying Patrick Clark) as soon as possible.

Explore the Undergraduate Research section of our website for additional information and resources.

Courses from Other Universities

Some courses from other universities may substitute for Washington University courses. Such substitutions must be approved by the Biology Department prior to enrollment. Contact Allan Larson for approval of biology courses. For approval of chemistry, mathematics and physics courses required by the biology major, contact the home department to ensure that transfer credit will appear on your record with the same course number that we require.

Writing Intensive Courses

The College of Arts and Sciences requires each student to take an upper-level writing-intensive (WI) course (at least 3 credits). Any course formally approved as WI may be used to satisfy this requirement, and a grade of C- or better must be earned.

The following courses in biology may be used to satisfy the WI requirement:

  • Biol 3492 (Laboratory Experiments with Eukaryotic Microbes)
  • Biol 404 (Laboratory of Neurophysiology), Biol 4193 (Experimental Ecology Laboratory)
  • Biol 427 (Problem-Based Learning in the Biomedical Sciences)
  • Biol 434W (Research Explorations in Genomics [Writing Intensive]).

Other writing-intensive courses of particular interest to Biology majors include:

  • EComp 309 (Writing the Natural World)
  • EComp 311 (Exposition)
  • EComp 3112 Exposition: Writing and Medicine
  • EComp 312 (Argumentation)
  • Psych 4046 (Developmental Neuropsychology)

Related Degree Programs

Bioinformatics Minor

Mindful of the emerging opportunities at the interface of biology and computer science, the Department of Biology and Department of Computer Science & Engineering have fashioned the minor in bioinformatics that serves students from both departments as well as other students from the natural sciences and engineering with an interest in this field.

Bioinformatics Minor Details

Biomedical Engineering Major

The School of Engineering and Applied Science offers undergraduate programs in biomedical engineering with tracks in Bioelectrical Systems, Biomechanics, Biomolecular Systems, and Biotechnology. These tracks prepare students for the challenges posed by the integration of biology and engineering  Students take engineering coursework along with biology courses. Biomedical engineering majors with strong interests in Biology may supplement the secondary major with a Biology second major.

Biomedical Engineering Details

Certificate in Renewable Energy and the Environment

This is an organized channel for students who wish to pursue interdisciplinary energy studies in addition to their selected major and/or minor. The program combines academic courses, outreach interactions, hands-on research experiences, and networking opportunities. Courses are organized into three discipline clusters: (1) Social Sciences & Humanities; (2) Architecture; and, (3) Natural Sciences & Engineering. The Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center (PARC) grants the certificate in partnership with the International Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (InCEES).

Renewable Energy & the Environment Details

Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology (PNP) Major and Minor

Philosophy - Neuroscience - Psychology (PNP) is an interdisciplinary program that provides an opportunity to examine the mind from multiple perspectives. In addition to philosophy, neuroscience, and psychology, PNP draws upon other disciplines whose investigations contribute to understanding cognition, such as biology, linguistics, education, and cultural anthropology. Each of the disciplines employs different modes of inquiry to examine various aspects of cognition. For example, from the perspective of neuroscience, investigating the workings of the mind means investigating the workings of the brain; from the perspective of linguistics, we gain insight into the mind by investigating one of its most complex products, namely language; and from the perspective of cultural anthropology, we gain insight into the mind's workings by looking at the workings of society. The goal of the major is for students to develop an understanding of the differences among the approaches used by these disciplines and an appreciation of how they can provide converging perspectives on issues in cognition. PNP may be taken as a first major, second major, or minor.

PNP Program Details

Philosophy of Science Second Major and Minor

These programs are designed for science majors to reinforce their scientific training with knowledge of the conceptual, historical, and philosophical foundations of science. The Philosophy of Science track is available only as a second major in combination with work in one or more of the sciences.

Philosophy of Science Details

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