BA in Biology
The Biology major provides students with a breadth of understanding across the full range of biological disciplines as well as an opportunity to explore one of several specialized areas in greater depth. Required coursework for the major and different specializations establish a core of fundamental knowledge in biology and related sciences. Students build on this foundation through a variety of lecture, laboratory, field, and seminar courses that offer them the opportunity to focus on specific disciplines. The development of laboratory and field skills is encouraged through elective participation in the extensive, cutting-edge research activities of the department’s faculty. Students graduate with the skills and intellectual base for employment in the burgeoning life sciences job market or for further education, including both graduate programs and professional schools.
The requirements for the Biology major include nine courses in biology and seven related chemistry, math/computer science, and physics courses.
Students must earn a grade of C or higher in all biology, mathematics or computer science, 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 required courses are 4 credit hours.
The nine required biology courses are distributed as follows:
- Two semesters of Introductory Biology:
- CAS BI 107 or CGS NS 201, and CAS BI 108
- A three-course Breadth Requirement that students fulfill by selecting one course in each of the following three areas:
- Cell & Molecular Biology (CM)
- CAS BI 203 (or BI 213)
- CAS BI 206 (or BI 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*
- Cell & Molecular Biology (CM)
*Course will also count toward the three-lab requirement.
- Four additional Biology elective courses
Note: Of the seven courses taken beyond BI 107 and BI 108, including Breadth Requirement courses, a minimum of five must be taken in the department (that is, have a BI course designation), 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 counts as all of the following: one of the seven biology courses beyond BI 107/108, one of three 300–500-level courses, and one of three lab courses beyond BI 107/108.
The following courses do not count toward the major in Biology:
- CAS BI 105
- CAS BI 106
- CAS BI 111
- CAS BI 114
- CAS BI 119
- CAS BI 196
- CAS BI 211
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 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 biology elective courses, 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 toward the major (e.g., students can take CAS BI 391 and BI 491 and apply all 8 credits toward the major).
- 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 medical school or other health-related professions):
- CAS CH 171; plus
- CAS CH 174; plus
- CAS CH 273
Note: It is recommended that CAS CH 101/102 (or 171/174) be taken concurrently with CAS BI 107/108 freshman year, if possible. 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, CH 204 (or 212 or 214), which is a requirement for medical and other professional schools.
Required Mathematics or Mathematics/Computer Science Courses
Two courses in mathematics (calculus or statistics) or one course in mathematics and one in computer science are required from the list below:
- 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.
- 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.
Computer Science courses:
- CAS CS 105
- CAS CS 108
- CAS CS 111
Required Physics Courses
Two courses in physics are required 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
Optional Related Courses
A maximum of two courses outside the Biology Department may count toward the requirement of seven additional biology courses after introductory biology.
The following related courses may be credited toward the major:
- CAS BB 522
- CAS PS 338
- GMS BT 404
- GMS BT 426 (NOT accepted toward laboratory requirement)
- GMS BT 432
- GMS BT 456
- GMS BT 465
- SAR HS 251
- SAR HS 360 (NOT accepted toward laboratory requirement)
- SAR HS 369 (NOT accepted toward laboratory requirement)
- SAR HS 370 (NOT accepted toward laboratory requirement)
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 108 or CAS BI 105 and 107. Students are nonetheless encouraged to take BI 108 even if they received a 5 on the AP exam. A score of 4 on the AP exam allows a student to place out of 4 credits (for CAS BI 105, 107, or 108), depending on the student’s background in biology and area of interest. 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 director of the program, 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 facilitate 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 through the Preprofessional Advising office (100 Bay State Road, 4th Floor) at the beginning of the second semester of their sophomore year.
The following courses may count toward the biology major for students enrolled in the MMEDIC program:
- GMS AN 722
- GMS BI 751
- GMS MI 713
- GMS PH 730
- GMS 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.