Major Requirements

Students pursuing a degree in Biology must satisfy the following requirements: 

Admission Requirements

Applicants planning to undertake the biology major must present credits for one year of chemistry and four years in mathematics. One course in biology, one year of physics, and three years of a second language are strongly recommended. Students with less than a B average in high school science, mathematics, and languages or with any course deficiency should seek the advice of the Admissions Office and the Biology Department before beginning their studies. A diagnostic chemistry examination is required of all students beginning a science curriculum at Saint Mary's. This examination is administered by the Deparment of Chemistry before the start of classes each fall and is designed to detect important deficiencies in a student's background. In some cases, the student may be advised to correct any deficiencies before undertaking the biology major curriculum. This can often be done within a four year stay at Saint Mary's but may require summer school attendance.  

Major Requirements

Lower Division

  • Mathematics 27-28 ( or equivalent, e.g. Math 38);
  • Chemistry 8, 9 (lab), 10, 11 (lab)
  • Physics 10, 11, 20 (lab), 21 (lab)
  • Physics 1, 2 (lab), 3, 4 (lab)
  • Biology 1, 1L , 2, 2L

Lower-division requirements for split majors must be determined by consultation between the student and his/her advisor, and approved by the chairs of the departments involved. 

Upper Division

The following upper-division courses are required for a major in Biology: Chemistry 104, 105 (lab), 125 (lab), 106 and 107 (lab)

The Biology major must include seven upper division biology courses, at least five of which must include a laboratory component. In order to develop a broad background and to experience major areas of study within the disciplines, biology majors are required to take at least one course from Groups II, III and IV. The remainder of the seven required may come from any group. 

  • Group I Genetics and Ecology: Biology 105, 125;
  • Group II Organismal: Biology 100, 102, 110, 113, 122, 127, 128, 144, 146;
  • Group III Cellular/Molecular: Biology 130, 132, 135, 137, 139;
  • Group IV Evolution and Ecology: Biology 113, 115, 120, 142, 152; or
  • Group V Electives: Biology 116, 119, 192, 193, 194

All split majors with biology as the predominant area must be arranged by petition. They must have a clear emphasis, a direction and show relatedness among the courses chosen. The specific upper-division courses selected for any major must be arranged between the student and his/her advisor and be approved by the chairs of both departments involved. 

Prerequisite Grade

Any course listed in this department with a prerequisite assumes a grade of C- or better in the prerequisite course. 

Suggested Biology Major Program

A suggested four-year program of study for a major in biology is available from department faculty. Faculty advisors should be consulted on a regular basis to assist in selecting courses and arranging specific curricula relating to fulfillment of major and core curriculum requirements, as well as particular career goals and personal interests. Students majoring in science should be particularly alert to the language proficiency requirement. Students may select courses of their choice for remaining electives. It is important to note that upper-division courses are offered in alternate years.