Jun 02, 2023  
Undergraduate Record 2012-2013 
Undergraduate Record 2012-2013 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Human Biology

Requirements for the Major

The Distinguised Majors Program in Human Biology requires a minimum total of 39 credit hours applied to the major. These credits are distributed among six basic components:

1. Core Courses 12 Credits
2. Biology & PHS Electives 6 Credits
3. Mathematics/Statistics 3 Credits
4. Thesis Research in Human Biology 2 Credits
5. Capstone Semiar Course and Thesis 4 Credits
6. Electives in Areas of Concentration 12 Credits

Core Courses

All majors are required to complete the following core courses in Bilogy and Religious Studies:

Prerequisites and Scheduling of Core Courses

Students considering the Human Biology major should complete the following basic science prerequisites during their first two years: BIOL 2010, BIOL 2020, CHEM 1410/1411 (or CHEM 1810/1811), and CHEM 1420/1421 (or CHEM 1820/1821) and completion of one or more of the Core courses in  Biology and Religious studies (i.e., BIOL 3000, BIOL 3010, BIOL 3020 and RELG2650) is highly desirable. Completion of all Core courses in  Biology and Religious studies no later than the end of the third year is highly encouraged. Appropriate AP credit can substitute for one or more of these prerequisites. AP credit for calculus/statistics will also be accepted, but students should recognize that they may need a refresher course in this subject depending on their independent research project.

Biology and Public Health Sciences Electives

Each student in the major must complete two additional upper level (3000-level or higher) courses in Biology, one of which is a laboratory. Selected topics (BIOL 3850 or BIOL 3860) or independent research (BIOL 4991-4998) courses cannot be used to satisfy this requirement. Students may substitute a 5000-level Public Health Sciences course for the 3000-level or higher “lecture” course in Biology. These courses will be chosen based on the student’s interests and in consultation with a faculty advisor.


Majors are required to complete at least 3 hours of mathematics/statistics; acceptable courses are:

    MATH 1310, MATH 1320
    STAT 1110, STAT 2559, STAT 2120, SOC 3110, PSYC 3005, PSYC 3006,
    ECON 3710, ANTH 5589, EVSC 5030

Thesis Research

Each student must complete two semesters of Thesis Research in Human Biology (HBIO 4998 and HBIO 4999) for a total of 2 credits (1 credit each semester) applied toward the major. The first semester is S/U; second semester is graded. Student may elect to start their research in the third year, in which case they will register for Independent Research for Human Biology HBIO 4950 and or HBIO4960 as S/U credit. This does not substitute for the two semesters requirement for Thesis Research (HBIO 4998 and HBIO 4999). 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 Directors of the program by the beginning of the first semester, fourth year.

Capstone Seminar Course and Thesis

In their 4th year majors are required to complete the Capstone series of courses:  HBIO 4810 Capstone Seminar in Human Biology (2 credits) and HBIO 4820 Capstone Seminar and Thesis in Human Biology (2 credits) and complete and submit a written senior thesis. The thesis is a substantial written document that builds upon the student’s coursework and is based upon the student’s independent research and study. Students are also required to present their work at the end of the year at the Human Biology Capstone Symposium.

Related Courses

Each student must complete four upper-level (3000 level or higher) 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 are chosen by the student in consultation with a faculty advisor and help the student develop intellectual depth in an area of concentration usually aligned with their thesis research topic. It is assumed that each student will develop a unique focus of study and therefore a wide range of corsework can be applied. In addition to courses within the college, a number of 5000-level Public Health Sciences course can also be used to fulfill this requirement.

Examples of areas in which students may wish to concentrate their studies are given below. Note this is not an all inclusive list.


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 3590 Research Ethics, RELG 3860 Human Bodies and Parts as Properties, and PHIL 4530 Ethics in Human Reproduction, RELG 4023 Bioethics Internship Seminar, RELJ 3340 Jewish Medical Ethics, RELI 5380 Islamic Biomedical Ethics.

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 3320 The Scientific Revolution, EVSC 4650 Environmental Policymaking, and PHIL 5460 Philosophy of Science.

Health Care Policy/Global Public 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 4160 Economics of Health Care, PHIL 3650 Justice and Health Care, or SOC 4260 Health Care Systems.

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.

College Requirement

All DMP students are required to meet the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences. Students are not exempt from foreign language, humanities, or writing requirements (excepting Echols students). Students must successfully complete the minimum 120 credit hours to graduate. Students are also subject to the same restrictions for taking classes outside of the College as all other students in the College of Arts and Sciences. See the Undergraduate Record for a complete listing of all restrictions and requirements. 


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 15-20 new students a year and all applicants should have attained a 3.40 or higher cumulative grade point average. Once admitted to the major, 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.

It is highly recommended, but not mandatory, that prospective applicants complete the prerequisites in biology, chemistry and math prior to application and 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 mid-March (deadline is annouced annually; check Program website), 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 10. 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 about the program or for specific questions regarding application and admission to the program, please visit the website www.virginia.edu/humanbiology or contact Dr. Michael P. Timko [telephone: (434) 982-5817; e-mail: mpt9g@virginia.edu ].