BA in Biology
The requirements for the biology major comprise nine courses in the department and seven related chemistry, math/computer science, and physics courses. A grade of C or higher is required for credit toward the major in all of the following: biology courses numbered 191 or higher, required related courses, and optional related courses. A grade of C- or higher is required for credit toward the two prerequisite semesters of Introductory Biology (CAS BI 107, and BI 108 or 118) and prerequisite and corequisite chemistry courses (CAS CH 101/102 or 109/110 or 111/112) and CH 203 (or 211); or CAS CH 171/174 and 273.
Course titles and full descriptions are located in the Courses portion of this bulletin.
Following two prerequisite semesters of Introductory Biology (CAS BI 107, and BI 108 or 118), students fulfill a breadth requirement by selecting at least one course in each of the following areas:
Breadth Requirement Courses:
Cell & Molecular Biology (CM):
- CAS BI 203 or 213
- CAS BI 206 or 216
Physiology and Neurobiology (PN):
- CAS BI 315
- CAS BI 325 or NE 203
Ecology, Behavior, Evolution (EBE):
- CAS BI 260
- CAS BI 303
- CAS BI 306
- CAS BI 309
- CAS BI 407
Biology Elective Courses
7 in total, comprising:
- One each from the above Breadth Requirement Courses (labeled CM, PN, and EBE)
- 4 additional Biology Elective Courses
Note: Of the seven courses taken beyond BI 107 and BI 108 (or 118), including breadth requirement courses, a minimum of five must be taken in the department, 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 toward both requirements.
Undergraduate Research Options
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.
To receive credit toward the major, research must be done on an approved topic.
A maximum of 8 credits (two courses) from the following courses may be counted as biology elective courses, but no more than 4 credits (one course) will apply toward the laboratory requirement.
- CAS BI 391, 392 or
- CAS BI 401, 402 or
- CAS BI 491, 492
Prerequisite and Corequisite Chemistry Courses
Three courses in chemistry are required for the Biology major and may be chosen from the following tracks:
Standard (recommended) track:
- CAS CH 101 (or 109 or 111); plus
- CAS CH 102 (or 110 or 112); plus
- CAS CH 203 (or 211)
Alternative track (not for students interested in the health professions):
- CAS CH 171; plus
- CAS CH 174; plus
- CAS CH 273
Note: CAS CH 101/102 (or 171/174) should be taken concurrently with CAS BI 107/108 (or 107/118). CAS CH 203 (or 211 or 273) is a corequisite for BI 203 and a prerequisite for BI 206. Most biology majors elect to take a fourth semester of chemistry, BI 204 (or 212 or 214), which is a requirement for medical and other professional schools.
Required Mathematics or Computer Science Courses
Two courses in mathematics or one each in calculus and computer science are required for the biology major:
- CAS MA 121 and 122; or
- CAS MA 123 and 124; or
- CAS MA 196; or
- CAS MA 127; or
- CAS MA 129
Note: MA 127 or MA 129 can be taken to satisfy both biology math requirements.
- CAS MA 115 and 116; or
- CAS MA 213 and 214
Computer Science courses:
- CAS CS 108 or
- CAS CS 111
- Any one course in calculus plus any one course in statistics from those listed above.
- Any one course in computer science from those listed above plus any one course in calculus from those listed above.
Required Physics Courses
Two courses in physics:
- CAS PY 105/106 or
- CAS PY 211/212 or
- CAS PY 241/242
Note: A student may take PY 211 and PY 106 to satisfy the physics requirement.
Optional Related Courses
The following related courses may be credited toward the major: CAS BB 522; CAS CH 421, 422; GRS CH 621, 622; CAS ES 452; CAS PS 338; SAR HS 251, 360, 369, 370 (HS 360, 369, and 370 do not fulfill the biology laboratory requirement). No more than two courses outside the Biology Department may count toward the requirement of seven additional biology courses after introductory biology.
Advanced Placement (AP)
A student with an AP examination score of 5 may receive 8 credits and place out of either CAS BI 107 and BI 108 or BI 105 and BI 107 (students are encouraged to take BI 118 if they received a 5 on the AP exam). A score of 4 on the AP examination allows 4 credits (for CAS BI 105, BI 107, or BI 108), depending on the student’s background in biology. AP decisions should be made in consultation with a biology advisor.
The biology major satisfies all premedical requirements except for the second semester of organic chemistry, which can easily be built into a student’s schedule. Premedical students majoring in biology should discuss premedical requirements with their advisors and with the Preprofessional Advising Office (100 Bay State Road, 4th floor) as early as possible.
Modular Medical Integrated Curriculum (MMEDIC) Program
Juniors and seniors who have been admitted to the Modular Medical Integrated Curriculum (MMEDIC) program, with the appropriate prerequisites and approval from the Preprofessional Advising Office (100 Bay State Road, 4th floor), may register for certain courses that have been developed for this program. The MMEDIC program offers an integrated curriculum composed of undergraduate and medical school-related courses that enhance the transition to the curriculum at the School of Medicine. Those interested in early admission to the Boston University School of Medicine through the MMEDIC program should apply in the Preprofessional Advising Office at the beginning of the second semester of their sophomore year.
The following courses may count toward credit for the biology major for students enrolled in the MMEDIC program: GMS AN 722, BI 751, MI 701 & MI 702 (both courses must be taken to receive biology credit), MI 713, PH 730, and PH 731.
Note: Students enrolled in the MMEDIC program may petition for up to three MMEDIC courses to be accepted toward the biology major. MMEDIC students must take a minimum of four non-MMEDIC courses beyond the introductory level in the Department of Biology in order to fulfill the department’s residency requirement.
Transfer Students Entering with Advanced Standing
Transfer students must take at least five principal courses beyond the introductory level in the Department of Biology to satisfy residency and major requirements listed above.