Apr 17, 2021  
Undergraduate Record 2007-2008 
Undergraduate Record 2007-2008 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Human Biology

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Requirements for Major

The major has six basic components:

  1. Core courses                                             9 credits
  2. Biology electives                                        6 credits
  3. Statistics                                                    3 credits
  4. Independent Research or Study                3 credits
  5. Capstone Seminar Course and Thesis       6 credits
  6. Related courses                                        12 credits

Core Courses

 Each student must complete the following courses:


Students considering the human biology major should complete the following prerequisites for BIOL 300 and BIOL 301 during their first two years: BIOL 201, BIOL 202, CHEM 141/141L (or CHEM 181/181L), CHEM 142/142L (or CHEM 182/182L). Advanced placement credit can substitute for one or more of these prerequisites as appropriate.

GPA Requirement for Distinction

All students must maintain an overall GPA of at least a 3.400, and a cumulative GPA of at least a 3.400 in all courses counted towards the major, throughout the fourth year in order for distinction to be awarded with the degree.

Biology Electives

Each student must complete two additional BIOL courses (6 hours) at the 300 level or higher. Selected topics (BIOL 385 or BIOL 386) or independent research (BIOL 491-498) courses cannot be used to satisfy this requirement. These courses will be chosen based on the student’s interests and in consultation with a faculty advisor.


Each student must complete a 3-credit course in statistics. Any one of the following courses will satisfy this requirement: STAT 110, STAT 212, SOC 311, PSYC 305, PSYC 306, ECON 371, ANTH 589, EVSC 503.

Independent Research or Study

Each student must complete two semesters of independent research (HBIO 497 and HBIO 498) for a total of 3 credits applied toward the major. Projects may be pursued in any department of the College of Arts and Sciences and must be completed under the direction of two faculty advisors, one of whom will be from the Biology department. Projects proposed for outside the College will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. This research will provide the foundation for the student’s thesis and will be completed during the fourth year. Students are encouraged, however, to begin research in their third year. All students must submit a Thesis Declaration Form, approved by both faculty advisors, to the co-directors of the program by the beginning of the first semester, fourth year.

Capstone Seminar Course and Thesis

Students will complete 6 credits consisting of HBIO 481 and HBIO 482 during their fourth year. The thesis will be a substantial, independent year-long project that builds upon the student’s coursework and independent research or study.

Related Courses

Each student must complete four upper-level (300 level or higher; 200-level courses may be submitted for the area requirements in certain cases with prior approval from the major advisor) courses (12 credits) that integrate biology with the social sciences and/or humanities. While all courses applied to the major must be relevant to human biology, students are encouraged to take a wide range of courses to round out their studies. Courses will be chosen by the student in consultation with a faculty advisor and will provide an in depth exposure to a particular area of concentration. It is assumed that each student will develop a unique focus of study, examining their topic of interest from a variety of disciplines. This coursework and independent research or study will be the basis for the student’s thesis. Examples of area concentrations students could develop include, but are not limited to:

Area Concentration in Bioethics

This area concentration might focus on an ethical and philosophical discourse of biomedical research and practice with respect to all participants in the medical/society partnership. Examples of courses that could be taken include PHIL 359 Research Ethics, RELG 386 Human Bodies and Parts as Property, and PHIL 453 Ethics in Human Reproduction.

Area Concentration in Science, Technology and Public Policy

This area concentration could be designed to examine historical and contemporary issues in the process, conduct and applications of science and technology, in terms of both general societal implications and policy issues. Courses that could be taken include HIEU 332 The Scientific Revolution, EVSC 465 Environmental Policy making in the United States, and PHIL 546 Philosophy of Science.

Area Concentration in Health Care Policy/Global Health

This area concentration could be developed in many ways; for example, it could focus on different health care policy and resource allocation systems or issues of justice and global responsibility. Potential courses include ECON 416 Economics of Health Care, PHIL 365 Justice and Health Care, or SOC 426 Health Care Systems.


Interested students currently in their fourth semester in the College of Arts and Sciences are invited to apply for admission to the Human Biology major. As this is a distinguished major, the program will admit only 20 new students a year and all applicants must have attained, and majors must maintain, a 3.400 or higher cumulative grade point average. It is highly recommended, but not mandatory, that prospective applicants complete the prerequisites for BIOL 300 and BIOL 301, and complete at least one of the core courses by the end of their second year. Students interested in applying to the major should submit:

  1. An official copy of the student’s transcript.
  2. A one page statement describing the student’s purpose and goals in pursuing this major and how it will prepare them for their immediate post-graduate academic or career plans.
  3. A letter of recommendation from an instructor, faculty advisor or dean.

All application materials should be submitted by March 1, to the Human Biology Program Coordinator, Department of Biology, 229 Gilmer Hall. Applications will be reviewed by the faculty advisory committee. Students accepted into the major will be notified by April 1. This will allow students to declare a major and select courses during the spring semester advising session. The program director holds an informational meeting for prospective majors in early February to answer questions pertaining to the application process and the major.

Additional Information

For more information, contact one of the program directors: Robert Grainger, (434)-982-5495; rmg9p@virginia.edu; or Elizabeth Machunis-Masuoka, (434)-982-5592; eam4n@virginia.edu; Department of Biology, Gilmer Hall, P.O. Box 400328, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4328, www.virginia.edu/humanbiology.

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