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Biology Major

At the completion of the bachelor of science degree in the department of biology, a graduate will have acquired an understanding of major biological concepts and awareness of how these are connected with areas of the biological, physical and social sciences.


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.

Required Courses
• 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


Biology majors will gain specific knowledge and skills in the following core competencies:

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

Please refer to the latest College Bulletin for full requirements and course descriptions.

Contact Us

Biology Department
Science Center

Additional Contact Info

College Bulletin