BA in Biology—Cell Biology, Molecular Biology & Genetics Specialization

Arguably the greatest advances in the biomedical sciences in recent years have come from the areas of Cell Biology, Molecular Biology & Genetics (CMG). These related disciplines have provided a deeper understanding of the molecular basis for the functioning of all living organisms. The Biology major with a specialization in Cell Biology, Molecular Biology & Genetics has been designed for students who wish to focus specifically on these aspects of biology. The specialized knowledge and experience that CMG students gain in one or more CMG disciplines prepares them well for graduate or professional study in the biomedical sciences.

The requirements for the Specialization in Cell Biology, Molecular Biology & Genetics include two introductory biology courses, three foundation courses in cell biology, genetics, and molecular biology, and four courses chosen from a list of advanced electives. Students must also complete the Biology breadth requirement as well as eight related chemistry, mathematics/computer science, and physics courses.

Students must earn a grade of C or higher in all biology, mathematics, and physics courses. A grade of C- or higher is required for credit in the prerequisite and 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.

Following two semesters of introductory biology (CAS BI 107 or CGS NS 201, and BI 108), students fulfill a breadth requirement by selecting at least one course in each of the following areas:

Breadth Requirement Courses

Cell & Molecular Biology (CM):

See Foundation Courses below

Physiology and Neurobiology (PN):

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

Ecology, Behavior, Evolution (EBE):

CAS BI 225
CAS BI 260
CAS BI 303*
CAS BI 306*
CAS BI 309
CAS BI 407*

* Course will also satisfy one of the three-lab requirements.

Foundation Courses (fulfill CM breadth requirement)

All three courses are required for this specialization.

  • CAS BI 213 recommended (or 203)
  • CAS BI 216 recommended (or 206)
  • CAS BI 552

Advanced Electives

Choose four additional courses from the following list and/or from the undergraduate research and non-departmental options below (a maximum of two of the non-departmental courses can be used for advanced elective major credit).

  • CAS BB 522*
  • CAS BI 309
  • CAS BI 311*
  • CAS BI 315*
  • CAS BI 325 (or CAS NE 203*)
  • CAS BI 385
  • CAS BI 410
  • CAS BI 411
  • CAS BI 421*
  • CAS BI 422*
  • CAS BI 445*
  • CAS BI 455
  • CAS BI 481
  • CAS BI 502
  • CAS BI 504
  • CAS BI 513*
  • CAS BI 515
  • CAS BI 525
  • CAS BI 535
  • CAS BI 550*
  • CAS BI 551
  • CAS BI 553
  • CAS BI 554
  • CAS BI 560
  • CAS BI 572
  • CAS BI 576
  • CAS BI 594

*Course will also satisfy one of the three lab requirements.

Note: Among the required core courses and advanced electives, at least three must be at the 300–500 level, and three must have a laboratory component. A 300–500-level course with a laboratory simultaneously counts as one of the biology courses beyond BI 107/108, a 300–500-level, and a laboratory requirement. Nonetheless, it is still counted as a single course toward fulfillment of the major.

Undergraduate Research

While research is not required by the major, undergraduate students are encouraged to participate in research during their time at Boston University.

CAS BI 191/192 or BI 291/292 may be taken for elective credit by freshmen and sophomores, respectively; these courses may only be taken for 2 credits per semester and do not count toward the major.

To receive credit toward the major, research must be done on an approved topic in courses open to juniors and seniors. A maximum of 8 credits (two courses) from the following courses may be counted as advanced electives, but no more than 4 credits (one course) will apply toward the laboratory requirement. Students do not need to take two consecutive semesters of research to apply 8 credits towards the major (e.g., students can take CAS BI 391 and BI 491 and apply all 8 credits towards the major).

  • CAS BI 391, 392 or
  • CAS BI 401, 402 or
  • CAS BI 491, 492

Please visit the Biology Department website for additional information regarding undergraduate research opportunities and instructions on how to apply for credit.


A maximum of two of the following courses can be used as advanced electives for major credit:

  • CAS CH 525
  • ENG BF 527
  • ENG BF 571
  • GMS BT 432

Prerequisite and Corequisite Chemistry Courses

Four courses in chemistry are required (two general chemistry and two organic chemistry) and may be chosen from the following tracks:

  • CAS CH 101/102 (or CH 109/110 or CH 111/112); plus
  • CAS CH 203/204 (or CH 211/212 or CH 203/214)

Required Mathematics or Mathematics/Computer Science Courses

Two courses in mathematics (calculus or statistics) or one course in mathematics and one in computer science, from the list below

Calculus Courses

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

Note: Only one of CAS MA 121 and 123 can be taken for credit; similarly, only one of CAS MA 122, 124, 127, or 129 can be taken for credit.

CAS MA 127 or MA 129 satisfies the two-course mathematics or mathematics/computer science requirement for this major.

Statistics Courses

  • CAS MA 115
  • CAS MA 116
  • CAS MA 213
  • CAS MA 214

Note: Only one of CAS MA 113, 115, or 213 can be taken for credit; similarly, only one of CAS MA 116 or 214 can be taken for credit. MA 113 will not satisfy the CMG major math requirement.

Computer Science Courses

  • CAS CS 105
  • CAS CS 108
  • CAS CS 111

Required Physics Courses

Two courses in physics from one of the following four sequences:

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