2018-2019 University Catalogue 
    Jun 16, 2024  
2018-2019 University Catalogue [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biology Major

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The Department of Biology offers a major program designed to provide students with a common conceptual foundation through two required courses and an opportunity to pursue breadth and specialization through an extensive selection of elective course offerings, seminars, and research tutorials. Questions about requirements may be directed to the department chair.

For more information about the department, honors/high honors, transfer credit, etc., visit the biology department  page.


Students must complete for credit a minimum of nine courses in the department, plus CHEM 101 -CHEM 102  (or CHEM 111 ). It is strongly recommended that chemistry requirements be taken in the first year, concurrently with beginning biology courses. A biology major can begin the program either by taking a topic-based course (BIOL 101 -BIOL 102 ) or by enrolling in one of the two 180-level courses required for the major (see below). 

All majors are required to take BIOL 181 - Evolution, Ecology, and Diversity ; and BIOL 182 - Molecules, Cells, and Genes . BIOL 182 is generally taken during the second semester of the first year or during the sophomore year because it requires CHEM 101 . Students must complete BIOL 181  and BIOL 182  and their credit-bearing laboratory components with a minimum grade of C– to proceed with major requirements.

All majors must also take at least one process-oriented course numbered BIOL 201–BIOL 206 and the accompanying lab. These courses immerse students in the process by which biologists ask questions and communicate new information, and completing any one such course serves as a gateway to all courses numbered 330 or higher within the major. The 200-level course requirement is typically completed in the sophomore year. Normally, these 200-level courses require completion of both BIOL 181  and BIOL 182 .

Students are also required to complete a one-credit research experience. Normally, this will be satisfied with a research tutorial (a course numbered BIOL 470-490). Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of the Colgate Study Group (BIOL 393 and BIOL 493) may also be used to satisfy this requirement. With prior approval by the biology department, a senior-level independent study course or capstone experience in another department may be used to fulfill the research requirement.

The remainder of the nine biology courses required for the major can be selected from any of the elective courses offered in the department (excluding BIOL 291 , BIOL 391 , and BIOL 491 ); at least four of these courses must be at the 300 level or above, and two of those must have a required lab component. No more than four courses at the 100 or 200 level may count toward the nine courses required for the major. Only one course numbered BIOL 470 or higher can be counted toward the nine courses. The elective courses are found listed as biology 300- and 400-level courses; GEOL 215  also serves as an elective biology course.

Biology majors are strongly encouraged to attend biology seminars that are held approximately biweekly each semester. Students enrolled in biology courses numbered 470 or higher are expected to attend all biology seminars during the term of enrollment.

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