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

Many of 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 CMG specialization is designed for students who wish to focus 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 CMG Specialization 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.

After introductory biology, three courses must be lab courses taken in the Biology Department. One semester of 4-credit independent research may be used toward the three-lab requirement.

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.

Introductory Biology (2 courses)

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

Breadth Requirement (2 courses)

Choose one course in each of the following two areas:

Physiology and Neurobiology (PN):

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

Ecology, Behavior, Evolution (EBE):

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

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

Foundation Courses (3 courses)

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

CMG Electives (4 courses)

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/NE 445*
  • CAS BI 455
  • CAS BI 481
  • CAS BI 502
  • CAS BI 504
  • CAS BI 513*
  • CAS BI 515
  • CAS BI/NE 525
  • CAS BI/NE 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: After introductory biology, at least three courses 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.

Non-Departmental Courses

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

Undergraduate Research

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

Freshmen and sophomores may take CAS BI 191/192 or BI 291/292 for 2 credits per semester. These courses will not count toward the major.

Juniors and seniors may take CAS BI 391/392 and BI 491/492 for 4 credits toward the major. 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). A total of 12 credits of directed study may be applied toward graduation credits.

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

Honors Research in Biology (CAS BI 401 & 402) requires an overall GPA of 3.0 and a Biology GPA of 3.5. Students must complete two semesters of research and one semester of the Honors Seminar (CAS BI 497/498). Honors Research requires completion and defense of a written senior thesis.

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

Required Related Science Courses (8 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);
  • CAS CH 203 & 204 (or CH 211 & 212 or CH 203 & 214)

For medical and other professional school admission, some students elect to take biochemistry.

Mathematics/Computer Science

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 127
  • CAS MA 129
  • CAS MA 196

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

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

Additional Information

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

  • Advanced Placement (AP)
  • Department Residency Requirement
  • Intercollege Cross-Registration
  • Premedical Students
  • Study Abroad Programs