Introduction to Undergraduate Programs

The undergraduate programs in biology provide excellent preparation for graduate or professional school programs and for careers in industry and governmental agencies. Students who graduate from these programs are well prepared for medical, dental, or veterinary schools, or to enter the many specialized graduate programs in the biological sciences.
Students who wish to declare a major or minor in the Biology Department should schedule an appointment with the undergraduate services coordinator Ruth Milne (email:; office phone:216.368.4301; Office Location: DeGrace 206).

The Biology Department offers four different majors:

Bachelor of Arts in Biology. Requirements of Biology GA in General Bulletin

The Biology BA degree program provides a general background in biology and has the most flexible scheduling of the three biology degrees offered. It is especially recommended for students who are pre-professional, have multiple majors, intend to study abroad or participate in an internship program, or have significant extracurricular commitments (e.g., varsity athletics, student government, Greek life, or other campus involvement). Since the Biology BA degree does not formally require undergraduate research, students interested in graduate research careers should plan to take at least one semester of undergraduate research as an elective during their senior year.

Bachelor of Science in Biology: Requirements for Biology BS in General Bulletin

The Biology BS degree program has a core of foundation courses and provides options for specialization in a variety of areas. The Biology BS program is intended to prepare students for work as traditional bench or field research scientists. In addition to a general background in biology (the same as provided for Biology BA), the Biology BS program requires two semesters of undergraduate research, plus additional courses in quantitative methods (computer programming, statistics, data analysis) and physical chemistry. The research may be done at the university or at any of its affiliated institutions; the department does not formally place students in laboratories. Because of the extra coursework and research requirements, the Biology BS may present scheduling challenges to students who wish to pursue multiple majors, study abroad, internships, or significant extracurricular activities. Early, careful planning in consultation with the major advisor is essential to stay on schedule.

Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience: Requirements for Neuroscience BS in General Bulletin

Neuroscience is the study of the structure and function of the nervous system at the molecular, cellular, and systems levels, and of how the nervous system controls cognition, emotions, and behavior. The BS in Neuroscience is a collaborative major developed by the Department of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Neurosciences in the School of Medicine. This degree provides both breadth and depth of understanding of these topics, and equips students to pursue multiple career paths. The field of neuroscience is both interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, using concepts and methods from biology, biophysics, chemistry, cognitive science, computer science, engineering, physiology, and psychology. The BS in Neuroscience allows students who are interested in nervous system structure and function to explore this area from multiple perspectives. Two semesters of independent research are required.

Systems Biology Bachelor of Science: Requirements of Systems Biology BS in General Bulletin

Systems biology is a rapidly emerging area of research activity at the interface of mathematics, computer science, and the biological sciences. Many modern areas of biology research (e.g., biochemical, neural, behavioral, and ecosystem networks) require the mastery of advanced quantitative and computational skills. The Systems Biology BS degree program is intended to provide the quantitative and multidisciplinary understanding that is necessary for work in these areas. This skill set is different from that produced by traditional undergraduate programs in biology. Consequently, the Systems Biology BS program adds two core courses (in modeling and analysis of biological systems) beyond the three core lecture courses in the Biology BA and Biology BS programs, as well as foundation courses from computer science and advanced mathematics. The traditional biology core laboratory courses are not required, but may be taken as electives. Undergraduate research is strongly recommended but not formally required.

Minor in Biology: Requirements of the Biology Minor in General Bulletin

Students who study biology primarily in support of another major, or to fulfill pre-health career requirements while pursuing a non-biology major, may formalize their study with a biology minor.