The Major

Biology Major Requirements

The curriculum for biology majors consists of two core sequences: 1) a Math and Physical Sciences Core of courses required of all majors, and 2) a very flexible Biological Sciences Core that allows students to explore the diversity of biology.

As part of their general education requirements, Biology majors must also complete an Integrative Experience requirement.

The department also offers a Biology Minor.

The major requirements consist of at least 67 credits, with a minimum grade of C- required in courses in the Math and Physical Sciences Core, and a minimum grade of C in all other courses counted toward the major requirements. The requirements are described below and can also be viewed on a summary checklist.

I. Math and Physical Sciences Core (30 credits)

A. PHYSIC 131 and 132 Introductory Physics;

B. CHEM 111 and 112 General Chemistry for Science and Engineering Majors;

C. CHEM 261, 262, and 269 Organic Chem/Organic Lab for Nonmajors;

D. One of the following courses:

STATISTC 240 Intro to Statistics;
RES ECON 212 Intro Statistics for Social Science;
ANTHRO 281 Statistics in Anthropology with R.

E. One of the following courses:

MATH 127 Calculus for Life & Social Sciences;
MATH 128 Calculus for Life & Social Sciences;
STATIS 501 Methods of Applied Statistics;
CMPSCI 119 Introduction to Programming;
CMPSCI 121 Introduction to Problem Solving with Computers.

II. Biological Science Core (37 credits)

A. BIOL 151 and 152 Introductory Biology;

B. BIOL 153 Intro Biology Lab;

Note: Biology majors must achieve a grade of C or better in BIOL 151, 152 and 153 before additional Biology courses may be taken.

C. BIOL 312 Writing in Biology.

D. At least 25 additional credits in biological science courses numbered 200 or above, chosen from a list of approved courses. These credits must include:

i. at least 13 credits in courses numbered 315 and above;
ii. at least two courses with a laboratory or field component;
iII. at least one course in four of the following five areas:

  • Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Cellular Biology and Development
  • Physiology
  • Evolution and Biodiversity
  • Ecology and Behavior

The 25 additional credits may include up to 3 credits of Independent Study, up to 3 credits of Undergraduate Teaching Practicum in a Biology Department course, and up to 6 credits from an off-campus internship approved by and enrolled though Career Services. However, no more than 6 total credits from these sources (independent study, teaching practicum, internship) may be counted toward the 25 additional credits. Note that Biol 494LI, required as part of the Integrative Experience requirement, does not count toward the 25 additional credits.

The 25 additional credits MUST be taken at UMass Amherst. Note that this stipulation means that we do not accept courses taken in other departments at UMass Amherst (with the exception of the non-Biology UMass courses that are on the list of approved courses), or at other colleges. (Exceptions: With advance approval from his or her advisor, a student may substitute 500-level courses taken in a UMass Amherst department other than the Biology Department, Five College courses, or courses taken as part of a study-abroad program.)