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A Degree With Impact

Spelman College Biology Major Jasmine EatmanAt Spelman College, biology is more than simply learning about the human anatomy and how living organisms function. When Spelman students pursue a degree in biology, they also receive an education with impact, earning them the distinction of becoming global citizens. Through study abroad opportunities, many students travel to countries such as Australia, South Africa, Japan, India, China, England, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Spain. While in those countries, students study the marvels of marine biology, explore unique sea life, help create safe water facilities, build hospitals and schools in Africa, and also perform research on maternal/child health. Such study abroad opportunities serve to debunk the myth that biology students are too busy to participate in activities normally associated with nonscience majors.

Meet Spelman's Biology  Faculty

Major Requirements

Required Courses

A major in biology consists of 42 semester hours of coursework in biology. The course of study for the major in biology (B.S.) is described below. Please refer to the latest College Bulletin for full requirements and course descriptions.

• Bio 110 Biological Communities, Evolution and Biodiversity (4) 
• Bio 115 Organismal Form and Function (4)
• Bio 120 Cellular Biology (4)
• Bio 125 Molecular Biology (4)
• Bio 285 Sophomore Seminar (1)• Bio 485 Senior Seminar (1)

Elective Courses

Students must complete a total of 24 elective credits in biology, including at least one course from each of four organizational levels (Population, Organismal, Cellular and Molecular), and at least one course from each of three skills emphases (Literacy, Experimental, Analytical/technical). Elective courses designated in each of these categories will be published prior to registration each semester.

Elective credits may also be filled by other appropriate courses such as
  1.  Upper level biology courses (300 or higher) at other AUC institutions;
  2.  Up to 4 hours of coursework in other disciplines relevant to biology training (examples might include History of Medicine, Biostatistics, Biomedical Ethics, Epidemiology, etc.);
  3. Up to 4 hours of elective credit through independent research, BIO 487, with approval of a faculty supervisor and the department chair.
All biology electives taken outside of the biology department or at AUC institutions must receive prior approval from the department chair.

Cognate Courses

Biology majors must complete the following cognate courses with a grade of C or better:

  • One year of General Chemistry with lab: CHE 111, CHE 111L, CHE 112, CHE 112L
  • One year of Organic Chemistry with lab: CHE 231, CHE 233L, CHE 232, CHE 234L
  • Two semesters of Mathematics selected from the following: MAT 211, MAT 212, MAT 205
  • One year of General Physics with lab: PHY 111, PHY 112
Computer Science
  • One semester of Computer Science for science majors – CIS111 or higher



Disciplinary Breadth
1. understand functional categories of biological organization and interconnections among them
2. develop a solid foundation of basic biological concepts that inform scientific understanding
3. understand how evolutionary mechanisms apply in molecular, cellular, organismal and community level dynamics

Scientific Literacy
1. develop skills of observation and critical reading of texts and environments
2. interpret representations of data and models
3. understand hypotheses and conclusions
4. identify gaps in knowledge
5. formulate scientific questions
6. recognize synthesis of new ideas

Communication Skills
1. develop skills to interpret and construct a scientifically based argument
2. develop oral communication skills for formal presentations and informal scientific discourse
3. develop facility with scientific writing and model making

Analyzing Scientific Data and Results
1. interpret quantitative and qualitative representations of data in tabular, graphical or descriptive form 2. identify significant trends in scientific data
3. evaluate scientific results in terms of original hypothesis
4. apply statistical analysis to scientific interpretation

Science as an Experimental Process
1. synthesize scientific hypothesis and derived research questions
2. design hypothesis-driven, controlled experiments
3. construct appropriate data sets
4. critique experimental approaches

Developing Technical Expertise
1. develop proficiency in accurate data collection
2. conduct proper calibration and use of scientific instrumentation
3. develop appropriate use of scientific techniques in experimental design

Science as a Way of Knowing
1. understanding the process of science compared to other modes of inquiry
2. integrating scientific knowledge and biology within a social, political or historical context
3. recognizing both the potential and limitations of scientific application

Integrated Identity
1. exploring intersections of identity as Spelman biology majors
2. reflecting on how academic preparation and professional aspirations impact their worldview
3. Reflect on how their worldview impacts their professional and academic aspirations and their value system

Plan of Study

Stay on top of what you need to know to excel and thrive as a biology major at Spelman College. The following forms are in PDF format. You will need to download the free version of Adobe Acrobat to access the information.
  • Plan of Study Sequence
  • Biology Elective Course List
  • Course Audit Form
  • SAWOK Elective Approval Form
  • SAWOK List of Courses

Neuroscience Program

Neuroscience BS/MS Program

In partnership with the Neuroscience Institute of Morehouse School of Medicine, Spelman College’s Department of Biology offers a novel five-year BS/MS program in neuroscience, the only program like this in the country.

This unique dual-degree program is designed to provide undergraduates with neuroscience research training early in their academic careers. Participants finish with Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Degree in Neuroscience.

According to the latest National Science Foundation data (2015), of the 1100 neuroscience Ph.D.s awarded, 30 were to African Americans. On average, 52% of these degrees went to women. So at best, there may be 15 African-American women with this training.

What Can You Do With This Major?

If you study biology, you can pursue a career in various fields such as: 

  • Agricultural technologist
  • Agrology technician
  • Aquaculture technician
  • Bacteriology technician
  • Bioanalyst
  • Biogeographer
  • Biological laboratory technologist
  • Biostatistician
  • Biotechnologist
  • Botanical technician
  • Conservation officer
  • Environmental educator
  • Environmental impact assessor
  • Fish and wildlife officer
  • Fish hatchery technician
  • Food science technologist
  • Forensic biologist
  • Horticulturalist
  • Hydrometric technologist
  • Interpretive naturalist
  • Microbiology quality control technologist
  • Park warden
  • Pathology assistant
  • Pharmaceutical sales representative
  • Plant breeding technician
  • Pollution control technologist
  • Science policy analyst
  • Seed technologist
  • Soil conservationist
  • Toxicologist
  • Wildlife manager

Alumna Spotlight

Sheena D. Brown, Ph.D., MSCR
Assessment Director and Associate Professor | Meharry Medical College Physician Assistant Sciences Program

Dr. Brown currently serves as the assessment dIrector for the Meharry Medical College Physician Assistant Sciences Program and had more than nine years of experience in PA education. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular and Systems Pharmacology and Master of Science in Clinical Research from Emory University. She is also a proud graduate of Spelman College where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She has over 15 years of translational and clinical research experience in the areas of pediatric asthma, health disparities, and alcohol-induced lung injury.

She has also served as the principal investigator and project director of a HRSA-funded Primary Care Training and Enhancement Grant. The primary goal of this funding was to increase the number of public health trained PAs providing evidence-based primary medical care to Georgia’s rural and medically underserved communities and increase student diversity through recruitment of persons from rural and/or medically underserved communities, underrepresented minorities (URMs), and veterans.


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