Department Requirements

Information for Biology Majors:

Requirements for the Minor in Biology. The minor consists of five courses in the department exclusive of independent study and courses below the 1100 level. Minors are required to complete Biology 1102 or 1109, and two courses to be taken from two of three core groups.

Requirements for the Major in Biology. The major consists of eight courses in the department exclusive of independent study and courses below the 1100 level. Majors are required to complete Biology 1102 or 1109, and three of the twelve core courses. Core courses are divided into three groups. One course must be taken from each group. Majors are also required to complete four elective courses above 1100, at least two of which have to be above 2499.  Students who begin the biology curriculum at the 2000 level are required to complete five elective courses above 1100, at least two of which have to be higher than 2499.  Advanced placement credits (AP) may not be used to fulfill any of the course requirements for the major.

Group 1

Bio 2112: Genetics and Molecular Biology
Bio 2135: Neurobiology
Bio 2175: Developmental Biology
Bio 2118: Microbiology
Bio 2124: Biochemistry and Cell Biology

Group 2

Bio 2210: Plant Ecophysiology
Bio 2135: Neurobiology
Bio 2214: Comparative Physiology
Bio 2175: Developmental Biology

Group 3

Bio 2315: Behavioral Ecology and Population Biology
Bio 2316: Evolution
Bio 2319: Biology of Marine Organisms
Bio 2325: Biodiversity and Conservation Science
Bio 2330  Marine Molecular Ecology and Evolution

Majors must also complete the following four courses: 1092, 1102, 1109 or above in Chemistry; one course above 1100 from each of two different departments that could include Computer Science, Earth and Oceanographic Sciences, Physics or Mathematics (above 1299) (Psychology 2520 can be counted towards this requirement); and one course in Mathematics above 1299 or one course above 1999, exclusive of independent study, in any of the natural sciences (division "a" courses, including Biology). Students are advised to complete Biology 1102 or 1109 and most of the non-Biology courses by the end of the sophomore year.  

Four courses

  • Chemistry 1092, 1102, 1109, or above
  • Two courses - each one from a different department:
    • Computer Science (above 1100)
    • EOS (above 1100)
    • Physics (above 1100)
    • Math (above 1299)
    • Psychology 2520
  • One other course:
    • Any natural science (above 1999, including Biology, exclusive of independent study) Natural sciences are division “a” courses or Math (above 1299)


Students in the Classes of 2016-2019 may follow the above requirements for non-Biology courses or choose to follow these previous requirements - Majors must also complete, Mathematics 1700 (or above) OR Math 1600 and one of the following: Math 1300, Psych 2520. Additional requirements are Physics 1130 (or any physics course that has a prerequisite of Physics 1130), Chemistry 1092, Chemistry 1102 or Chemistry 1109, and Chemistry 2250.

  • Math 1700 (or above) OR Math 1600 plus Statistics (Math 1300 or Psych 2520)
  • Chemistry 1102 or 1109
  • Chemistry 2250
  • Physics 1130 OR any course that has Physics 1130 as a prerequisite


Students are advised to complete Biology 1102 or 1109 and the non-Biology course requirements by the end of the sophomore year.

Students planning postgraduate education in science or the health professions should note that graduate and professional schools are likely to have additional admissions requirements in mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

Advanced placement credits may not be used to fulfill any of the course requirements for the major.

Only one D grade is allowed in all courses required for the major/minor. This D must be offset by an A or B grade in another course also required for the major/minor.

Students may not count Credit/D/Fail courses toward the Biology major or minor.

Students should check in with Pam Bryer (Hatch 206B) at either the end of their junior year or the beginning of their senior year as to their progress towards the major requirements.

Biology Majors are encouraged to attend the department seminars offered throughout the fall and spring semesters.


To learn more about independent study and honors research in Biology, you can talk with faculty in the Biology Department or consult the Requirements for Honors webpage: http://www.bowdoin.edu/biology/requirements/honors-requirements.shtml