VCU Bulletins

Biology, Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Special requirements

The curriculum for a Bachelor of Science in Biology requires a minimum of 120 credits, with at least 40 of those credits in biology or other approved courses. A cumulative GPA of 2.0 for biology courses is required. At least five laboratory experiences must be taken from all biology courses; only one of these may be BIOL 492 Independent Study or BIOL 495 Research and Thesis. Registration in BIOL 492 or BIOL 495 must be for a minimum of two credit hours to count as one of the six required laboratory experiences. A maximum total of six credits for all undergraduate research in biology (BIOL 292, 492 and 495) may be applied to the major. A maximum of four credits of BIOL 496 Biology Preceptorship may be applied to the major if repeated with a different course. No more than eight credits of the 100-level (or introductory level) biology courses can be applied to the major.

A minimum grade of C in BIOL 151, BIOL 152, BIOZ 151, BIOZ 152, BIOL 200, BIOL 300, BIOL 310, BIOL 317 and BIOL 318 is required to successfully complete the B.S. in Biology.

The four-year curriculum in biology prepares students for graduate study in biology, for employment in laboratory or field programs in private industry or government agencies and for teaching in secondary schools. This curriculum also prepares students for admission into schools of medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine, and into allied health programs.

Degree requirements for Biology, Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Learning outcomes

Upon completing this program, students will know and know how to do the following:

Knowledge base
Students will demonstrate knowledge of evolutionary processes and the functions and interactions of cells, organisms and species.

Communication skills
Students will demonstrate oral and written communication skills needed for professional careers in the field of biology.

Critical-thinking skills
Students will demonstrate critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills.

Method and inquiry
Students will demonstrate knowledge in the methods of inquiry and research in biology.

General Education requirements (32-46 credits) Credits
University Core Education Curriculum (minimum 21 credits)
UNIV 111 Focused Inquiry I 3
UNIV 112 Focused Inquiry II 3
UNIV 200 Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 3
Approved humanities/fine arts 3
Approved natural/physical sciences 3-4
Approved quantitative literacy 3-4
Approved social/behavioral sciences 3-4
Additional College of Humanities and Sciences requirements (11-23 credits)  
HUMS 202 Choices in a Consumer Society 1
Approved H&S diverse and global communities 3
Approved H&S general education electives 6-8
Approved H&S human, social and political behavior (fulfills University Core social/behavioral sciences)  
Approved H&S literature and civilization (fulfills University Core humanities/fine arts)  
Approved H&S science and technology (fulfills University Core natural/physical sciences)  
Experiential fine arts (course offered by the School of the Arts) 1-3
Foreign language through the 102 level (by course or placement) 0-8

Collateral requirements (32-35 credits)  
CHEM 101-102 General Chemistry 6
CHEZ 101 General Chemistry Laboratory I 1
CHEZ 102 General Chemistry Laboratory II 1
CHEM 301-302 Organic Chemistry 6
CHEZ 301 Organic Chemistry Laboratory I 2
CHEZ 302 Organic Chemistry Laboratory II 2
MATH 151 Precalculus Mathematics or higher (by course or placement) (fulfills quantitative literacy)  
PHYS 201 General Physics or PHYS 207 University Physics I 4-5
PHYS 202 General Physics or PHYS 208 University Physics II 4-5
STAT 210 Basic Practice of Statistics 3
STAT course (numbered 314 or above) or MATH 200 Calculus with Analytic Geometry 3-4
Major requirements (minimum 40 credits)  
Biocore (24-27 credits)  
  BIOL 151 Introduction to Biological Science I 3
  BIOZ 151 Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory I* 1
  BIOL 152 Introduction to Biological Science II 3
  BIOZ 152 Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory II** 1
  BIOL 200 Quantitative Biology 3
  BIOL 300 Cell and Molecular Biology 3
  BIOL 310 Genetics 3
  BIOL 317 Ecology 3
  BIOL 318 Evolution 3
  BIOL 475 Biology Capstone Seminar, BIOZ 476 Biology Capstone Laboratory or BIOL 477 Biology Capstone Experience (capstone) 1-4
*BNFO/LFSC 251 approved course substitute; **BNFO/LFSC 252 approved course substitute  
Biology electives (13-16 credits)  
  Select from all biology (BIOL and BIOZ) courses applicable to the biology major and biochemistry (CHEM 403). All majors must complete at minimum three additional upper-level biology lab courses. The laboratory experiences may be fulfilled by a separate laboratory section (BIOZ) or by laboratory hours included in a lecture-based (BIOL) course. Not all courses are offered each semester. BIOL courses at the 500 level are available to seniors and graduate students only.  
  Other biology electives (to satisfy the 40 biology credits required for the major)  
Open electives (0-16 credits)  
Open electives 0-16
Total 120

Biology electives

Courses marked with an asterisk (*) include laboratory hours and may be used to satisfy laboratory requirements.

BIOL 291 Topics in Biology
BIOZ 291 Topics in Biology Laboratory
BIOL 292 Independent Study
BIOL 302 Animal Embryology*
BIOL 303 Microbiology
BIOZ 303 Microbiology Laboratory
BIOL 307 Aquatic Ecology
BIOZ 307 Aquatic Ecology Laboratory
BIOL 308 Vertebrate Histology*
BIOL 309 Entomology*
BIOZ 310 Laboratory in Genetics
BIOL 312 Invertebrate Zoology
BIOZ 312 Invertebrate Zoology Laboratory
BIOL 313 Vertebrate Natural History
BIOZ 313 Vertebrate Natural History Laboratory
BIOL 314 Animal Reproduction
BIOZ 317 Ecology Laboratory
BIOL 320 Biology of the Seed Plant*
BIOL 321 Plant Development
BIOZ 321 Plant Development Laboratory
BIOL 322 Economic Botany
BIOL 323 Plant Physiology
BIOL 325 Fungal Biology*
BIOL 332/ENVS 330 Environmental Pollution
BIOL 333 Evolution of the Angiosperms
BIOL 335 Global Change Biology
BIOL 341/ANTH 301 Human Evolution
BIOZ 341/ANTZ 301 Human Evolution Laboratory
BIOL 351/BNFO 301 Introduction to Bioinformatics
BIOL 361 Biomedical Research
BIOL 391 Topics in Biology
BIOL/BNFO/MATH 380 Introduction to Mathematical Biology*
BIOZ 391 Topics in Biology Laboratory
BIOL 392 Introduction to Research
BIOL 401 Applied and Environmental Microbiology
BIOL 402 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy*
BIOL/ANTH 403 Primatology
BIOL 411 Animal Physiology
BIOL 413 Parasitology
BIOL 415 Mangrove Avian Field Ecology
BIOL 416 Ornithology
BIOZ 416 Ornithology Laboratory
BIOL 417 Mammalogy*
BIOL 422 Forest Ecology *
BIOL 425 Field Botany*
BIOL 431 Introduction to Marine Biology
BIOL 435 Herpetology
BIOL/FRSC 438 Forensic Molecular Biology
BIOZ/FRSZ 438 Forensic Molecular Biology Laboratory
BIOL 440 Developmental Biology
BIOL 445 Neurobiology and Behavior*
BIOL 448 Neuroscience
BIOL 450 Biology of Cancer I and II
BIOL 451 Biology of Cancer I and II*
BIOL 455 Immunology
BIOL 460 Human Evolutionary Genetics
BIOL 489 Communicating Research
BIOL 490 Presenting Research
BIOL 491 Topics in Biology
BIOZ 491 Topics in Biology Laboratory
BIOL 492 Independent Study
BIOL 493 Biology Internship
BIOL 495 Research and Thesis
BIOL 496 Biology Preceptorship
BIOL 497 Ecological Service Learning
BIOL/MICR 502 Microbial Biotechnology
BIOL 503 Fish Biology*
BIOL 507 Aquatic Microbiology
BIOL 508 Barrier Island Ecology
BIOL 509 Microbial Ecology
BIOL 510 Conservation Biology
BIOL 514 Stream Ecology
BIOL/HGEN 516 Population Genetics
BIOL 518 Plant Ecology
BIOL 520 Population Ecology
BIOL 521 Community Ecology
BIOL 522 Evolution and Speciation
BIOL 524 Endocrinology
BIOL 530/HGEN 501 Human Genetics
BIOL 532 Water Pollution Biology
BIOL 535 Wetlands Ecology*
BIOL 540/BNFO 540 Fundamentals of Molecular Genetics
BIOL 545/LFSC 510 Biological Complexity
BIOL 548/LFSC 520 Bioinformatic Technologies
BIOL 550 Ecological Genetics
BIOL 560 Conservation Medicine
BIOL 565 Advances in Cell Signaling
BIOL 591 Special Topics in Biology
CHEM 403 Biochemistry I
LFSC 301 Integrative Life Science Research

Courses not applicable to the major
The following courses are not applicable toward the biology major requirements, but may be used as general electives toward the bachelor’s degree:
BIOL 101 Biological Concepts
BIOZ 101 Biological Concepts Laboratory
BIOL 103 Environmental Science
BIOL 201 Human Biology
BIOZ 201 Human Biology Laboratory
BIOL 205 Basic Human Anatomy
BIOL 209 Medical Microbiology
BIOZ 209 Medical Microbiology Laboratory
BIOL 217 Principles of Nutrition
PHIS 206 Human Physiology
PHIZ 206 Human Physiology Laboratory

Click here to download a sample outline. [PDF]

Transfer students

Transfer students intending to major in biology must satisfy all biology major course requirements and complete a minimum of 15 credits of VCU biology courses at the 300-, 400- or 500-level.

Extended Teacher Preparation Program

Biology majors interested in teaching careers in secondary education can enroll in the Extended Teacher Preparation Program, which simultaneously awards a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in teaching. For more information about this program, jointly administered by the College of Humanities and Sciences and the School of Education, contact the School of Educations Student Services Center.

Honors in biology

Biology majors may graduate with honors in biology. To qualify, students must have overall and biology GPAs of at least 3.5 and must complete the following courses in this sequence: BIOL 392 Introduction to Research, at least four credits of BIOL 495 Research and Thesis and BIOL 490 Research Seminar. Grades of A or B must be earned in each of the listed courses. Students who qualify will have the notation “Honors in Biology” placed on their transcript. Students must meet all Department of Biology requirements for graduation. Students should consult with their academic advisers to create a program suitable to their particular needs and interests.



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