BA in Biology—Behavioral Biology Specialization

The major in Biology with a specialization in Behavioral Biology (SBB) offers students the opportunity to develop an individualized and interdisciplinary curriculum bridging foundational and advanced coursework in behavioral science in the departments of Biology, Psychological & Brain Sciences, and Anthropology. The specialization builds upon instruction in fundamental principles of the organization of behavior through integrated coursework in biology, psychology and neuroscience, primate behavior, and human biology. It also affords broad knowledge and deep insight into the evolution and ecology of behavior and its hormonal, neural, and genetic regulatory mechanisms. Flexibility in course selection enables students to develop individualized programs. The specialization in Behavioral Biology encourages undergraduate research and prepares students for postgraduate study in basic and biomedical fields.

Requirements

All students entering as freshmen in Fall 2018 and after will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students majoring in Biology with a Specialization in Behavioral Biology (SBB) will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning, as well as some of the requirements in the Intellectual Toolkit. Through SBB elective courses, students may also satisfy some of the requirements in Communication and Diversity, Civic Engagement, and Global Citizenship. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, co-curricular experiences.

The specialization in Behavioral Biology requires a total of 12 courses in biology, psychology, and anthropology. Students must also complete a total of six to seven related courses in chemistry, mathematics/computer science, and physics.

Excluding Introductory Biology courses (CAS BI 107 and BI 108 or equivalents):

  • at least three biology courses must have a laboratory component
  • at least three biology courses must be at the 300+ level
  • at least five biology courses must be taken in the BU Biology Department (or be cross-listed with BI courses in CAS or MET)

Biology course requirements can overlap (e.g., BI 315 simultaneously counts as a breadth requirement, as a lab course, and as a 300+ level course. Nonetheless, BI 315 is only counted as a single course toward fulfillment of the major).

A grade of C or higher is required for major credit in all courses except corequisite chemistry courses. A grade of C– or higher is required for major credit in corequisite chemistry courses.

Course titles and full descriptions are located in the Courses portion of this Bulletin.
 Unless otherwise noted, all courses are 4 credit hours.

Introductory Biology (2 courses)

  • CAS BI 107 (or CGS NS 201)
  • CAS BI 108 (or BI 116)

Foundation Course (1 course)

  • CAS BI 225

Note: It is recommended that BI 225 be taken in the fall semester of sophomore year.

Breadth Requirement (3 courses)

Choose one course in each of the following three areas. A course may not fulfill a breadth requirement and an elective simultaneously.

Cell & Molecular Biology (CM):

  • CAS BI 203 (or BI 213 or BI 218*) or
  • CAS BI 206 (or BI 216)

Note: Of the two CM breadth options, BI 206 or 216 is recommended, unless the student wishes to pursue work in neuroscience, in which case BI 203 is recommended. If both BI 203 and BI 206 are taken, one of the courses can be used to satisfy the breadth requirement and the other can be used to satisfy an additional elective.

Physiology and Neurobiology (PN)

  • CAS BI 315* or
  • CAS BI 325 (or NE 203*)

Ecology, Behavior, Evolution (EBE)

  • CAS BI 407*

* Course will also count toward the three lab requirement.

Primary Electives (2 courses)

Choose two courses from the following list. A course may not count as a primary elective and an additional elective simultaneously.

  • CAS AN 234
  • CAS AN 335
  • CAS BI/NE 230
  • CAS BI/NE 449*
  • CAS BI 502
  • CAS BI 508
  • CAS BI/NE 520
  • CAS BI/NE 542
  • CAS BI/NE 545
  • CAS PS 231
  • CAS PS/NE 337
  • CAS PS/NE 544

* Course will also count toward the three lab requirement.

Additional Electives (4 courses)

Choose four courses from the following list and/or from the eligible courses under the Optional Programs section of this Bulletin page. A course may not count as a primary elective and an additional elective simultaneously.

  • CAS BI 203 or CAS BI 206
  • CAS BI/NE 230
  • CAS BI 260
  • CAS BI 302*
  • CAS BI 303*
  • CAS BI 306*
  • CAS BI 309
  • CAS BI 325 (or NE 203*)
  • CAS BI 414
  • CAS BI/NE 449*
  • CAS BI 504
  • CAS BI 506
  • CAS BI 508
  • CAS BI 515
  • CAS BI 519*
  • CAS BI/NE 520
  • CAS BI/NE 535
  • CAS BI/NE 542
  • CAS BI/NE 545
  • CAS BI 599
  • CAS AN 234
  • CAS AN 263
  • CAS AN 330
  • CAS AN 331
  • CAS AN 333
  • CAS AN 335
  • CAS AN 338
  • CAS AN 339
  • CAS AN 534
  • CAS AN 551
  • CAS AN 552
  • CAS AN 555
  • CAS AN 556
  • CAS AN 558
  • CAS AN 597
  • CAS AN 598
  • CAS PS 231
  • CAS PS 234
  • CAS PS 241
  • CAS PS/NE 333
  • CAS PS 336
  • CAS PS/NE 337
  • CAS PS/NE 338
  • CAS PS/NE 521
  • CAS PS/NE 528
  • CAS PS/NE 544

* Course will also count toward the three lab requirement.

Note: It may be possible to petition other courses, including classes taken in some study abroad programs, to fulfill either primary or additional electives. Please consult with Professor James Traniello on this topic.

Related Requirements (6–7 courses)

Chemistry

Choose one of the following tracks. In selecting a chemistry sequence, please consult with Professor James Traniello.

Standard track (recommended):
  • Choose one of the following general chemistry sequences:
Sequence I Sequence II Sequence III
CAS CH 101 &
CAS CH 102 (or CH 116)
CAS CH 109 &
CAS CH 110
CAS CH 111 &
CAS CH 112

AND

  • Choose one of the following organic chemistry courses: CAS CH 203 (or CH 211 or CH 218)
Alternative track (not acceptable for most pre-health careers):

CAS CH 171^

^ Or any completed general chemistry sequence from the standard track

AND

  • CAS CH 172 or CH 174

Note: It is recommended that the standard track general chemistry sequence (or alternative track’s CH 171 & 172 or CH 171 & 174) be taken concurrently with BI 107 and BI 108 during freshman year. Most Biology majors complete the standard track and continue onto a fourth semester of chemistry (CH 204 or 214), which is a requirement for medical and other professional schools. Students intending to apply to medical school are also advised to take biochemistry (CAS BI 421/422 or CH 373) in their junior or senior year.

Mathematics/Computer Science

Choose a total of two courses from the lists below. At least one course must be calculus or statistics:

Calculus Courses
  • CAS MA 121
  • CAS MA 122
  • CAS MA 123
  • CAS MA 124
  • CAS MA 127
  • CAS MA 129
  • CAS MA 196

Note: Students cannot take more than one of the following for credit: CAS MA 121 or 123; similarly, students cannot take more than one of the following for credit: CAS MA 122, 124, 127, or 129.

Statistics Courses
  • CAS MA 115
  • CAS MA 116
  • CAS MA 213
  • CAS MA 214

Note: MA 113 will not satisfy major requirements. Students cannot take more than one of the following for credit: CAS MA 113, 115, or 213; similarly, students cannot take more than one of the following for credit: CAS MA 116 or 214.

Computer Science Courses
  • CAS CS 105
  • CAS CS 108
  • CAS CS 111

Physics

Choose one of the following sequences:

  • CAS PY 105 & 106 or
  • CAS PY 211 & 106 or
  • CAS PY 211 & 212 or
  • CAS PY 241 & 242

Optional Programs

Marine Semester (MS)

The Marine Semester provides hands-on laboratory and field experience both on campus in our Marine Research Teaching Lab and off campus at field sites in New England and Belize in Central America. The program is offered in the fall semester. Students must meet the prerequisites for the program and apply through the BU Marine Program (BUMP) website. They then select one course during each of four “blocks.” Each block comprises 18–20 class days. All Marine Semester BI-coded courses count as SBB electives and toward the requirement for three lab courses.

Please visit the BUMP website for prerequisites, additional information, and to apply to the Marine Semester. For an updated list of Marine Semester courses, see the Marine Science Bulletin page.

Tropical Ecology Program (TEP)

The Ecuador Tropical Ecology Program provides Behavioral Biology students with an exceptional opportunity to study the behavior of tropical animals in natural environments. The program is offered in the fall and spring semesters. Students must meet the prerequisites for the program and apply on the Study Abroad TEP webpage. The program features four ecology courses based on field research. All the TEP courses count as SBB electives and satisfy the requirement for three lab courses.

CAS BI/GE 438 CAS BI/GE 439 CAS BI/GE 440 CAS BI/GE 441

Please visit the Study Abroad webpage for prerequisites, additional information, and to apply to the Tropical Ecology Program.

Undergraduate Research in Biology

While research is not required by the major, undergrads are encouraged to participate in research during their time at Boston University. Undergraduate research courses are available at all levels and require students to submit an application and receive approval by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Freshman BI 191/192 2 credits
Sophomore BI 291/292 2 credits
Junior BI 391/392 2 or 4 credits
Senior BI 491/492 4 credits

Note: Up to two 4-credit semesters can be used to fulfill major electives (these semesters do not need to be taken consecutively). One of these two semesters can be used toward the three lab requirement. Both 2- and 4-credit research count toward graduation credits.

Seniors may pursue Honors Research in Biology; see information below.

Please visit the Biology Department website for additional information regarding Undergraduate Research in Biology.

Additional Information

Please see the Department of Biology portion of this Bulletin for information on the following topics:

  • Advanced Credit (AP & IB Exams)
  • Department Residency Requirement
  • Intercollege Cross-Registration
  • Premedical Students
  • Study Abroad Programs

Honors in the Major

Honors Research in Biology requires senior standing and an overall GPA of 3.5. Students complete two semesters of 4-credit research (CAS BI 401 & 402) and one semester of the Honors Seminar (CAS BI 497 or 498). In addition, Honors students must complete and defend a written senior thesis.