The Major

Biology Major Requirements

The curriculum for biology majors consists of two core sequences: 1) a Math and Physical Sciences Core of courses required of all majors, and 2) a very flexible Biological Sciences Core that allows students to explore the diversity of biology.

The department also offers a Biology Minor.

The major requirements consist of at least 65 credits, with a minimum grade of C- required in courses in the Math and Physical Sciences Core, and a minimum grade of C in all other courses counted toward the major requirements. The requirements are described below and can also be viewed on a summary checklist.

Note: students considering a double major should be sure to read the stipulation described at the bottom of this page.

I. Math and Physical Sciences Core (30 credits)

A. PHYSIC 131 and 132 Introductory Physics;

B. CHEM 111 and 112 General Chemistry for Science and Engineering Majors;

C. CHEM 261, 262, and 269 Organic Chem/Organic Lab for Nonmajors;

D. One of the following courses:

STATISTC 240 Intro to Statistics;
RES ECON 212 Intro Statistics for Social Science;

E. One of the following courses:

MATH 127 Calculus for Life & Social Sciences;
MATH 128 Calculus for Life & Social Sciences;
STATIS 501 Methods of Applied Statistics;
CMPSCI 121 Introduction to Problem Solving with Computers.

II. Biological Science Core (35 credits)

A. BIOL 151 and 152 Introductory Biology;

B. BIOL 153 Intro Biology Lab;

Note: Biology majors must achieve a grade of C or better in BIOL 151, 152 and 153 before additional Biology courses may be taken.

C. BIOL 312 Writing in Biology.

D. At least 25 additional credits in biological science courses numbered 200 or above, chosen from a list of approved courses. These credits must include:

i. at least 13 credits in courses numbered 300 and above;
ii. at least one course related to plant biology and one course related to animal biology;
iii. at least two courses with a laboratory or field component;
iv. at least one course in four of the following five areas:

  • Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Cellular Biology and Development
  • Physiology
  • Evolution and Biodiversity
  • Ecology and Behavior

The 25 additional credits may include up to three credits of Independent Study. In addition, the credits may also include up to 3 credits of Undergraduate Teaching Practicum in a Biology Department course.

The 25 additional credits MUST be taken in the Biology Department of UMass Amherst. Note that this stipulation excludes courses taken while on exchange, in other departments at UMass Amherst, or at other colleges. (Exception: With advance approval from his or her advisor, a student may substitute a 500-level course taken outside the UMass Amherst Biology Department for a course applied toward the 25 additional credits.)

For students pursuing a DOUBLE MAJOR, the 25 additional credits may NOT include any Biology course that is used to fulfill a requirement of the other major.