Jun 19, 2024  
Undergraduate Record 2016-2017 
Undergraduate Record 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Human Biology

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Requirements for the Major

The Distinguished Majors Program in Human Biology requires completion of coursework in six areas totaling a minimum of 40 credit hours applied to the major. The coursework and credits are distributed as follows:

1. Core Courses 13 Credits
2. Science Electives 6 Credits
3. Third year PHS Courses 6 Credits
4. Thesis Research in Human Biology 2 Credits
5. Fourth year Capstone Seminar Series 4 Credits
6. Humanities Electives 9 Credits

Core Courses

All majors are required to complete the following core courses:

Prerequisites and Scheduling of Core Courses

Students interested in the program are encouraged to take RELG 2650 and PHS 2050 during their second year. Completion of all Core courses by no later than the end of the third year is highly encouraged. Students considering the Human Biology major should have complete the following basic science and mathematics/statistics 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); one course in college level Calculus or Statistics. A number of courses are acceptable to meet this requirement. These include:MATH 1310, MATH 1320, STAT 1110, STAT 2559, STAT 2120, SOC 3110, PSYC 3005, PSYC 3006, ECON 3710, ANTH 5589, EVSC 5030.

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.

Required Science Elective Credits (Two courses):

All majors will be required to complete two additional upper level courses in advanced science. Course can be taken from either Biology, Public Health Sciences and appropriated related natural science disciplines. Courses in PHS must be non-policy based classes.

At least one course must be from Biology (BIOL) and at the 3000-level or higher. Selected Public Health Sciences must be at the 5000-level or higher. Students are encouraged to take at least one laboratory based course at the 3000-level or higher.

Students interested in professional school (Medical, Dental, etc) should consider taking BIOL 3030 (Biochemistry) to fulfill this requirement.

Courses in Biology designated as Independent Research in the Life Sciences (BIOL 4910), Independent Research in Biology (4920), Independent Study in Biology (BIOL 4993 – 4995), and Independent Research in Human Biology (HBIO 4950-4960) cannot be used to satisfy this requirement.

Courses taken outside of Biology (e.g., CHEM, ENVS, etc) may not be substituted for BIOL courses to meet this requirement and non-college courses (such as HES courses) can not be applied.

PHS classes fulfilling this requirement must be non-policy based, and approved by the Program Director.

Courses in other Departments within the college, and courses outside of the college (for example, courses taught through the Curry School (e.g., Kinesiology)) require approval by the Program Director.

Biology electives should be chosen based on the student’s interests and in consultation with the Program Director and if relevant their thesis advisor. Students are strongly advised to take biology courses that deal as directly with their research topics as possible.

Required Third Year Coursework in Public Health Sciences:

Fall Term: PHS 5050 Public Health Law, Ethics, & Policy
or approved equivalent course designated by the program

Spring Term: PHS 3130, PHS 5130 Introduction to Public Health Research Methods
or approved equivalent course designated by the program

Human Biology majors are required to complete PHS  and PHS 3130 during their third year, or the approved (designated) alternative classes being offered in their place. PHS  and PHS 3130 are only offered in the Fall and Spring semesters, respectively, so students need to plan their schedule accordingly.

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 graded credit each semester) applied toward the major. 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 Series and Thesis Research (two semesters each)



All Fourth Year Human Biology majors are required to be enrolled in and successfully complete both Fall and Spring semesters of the Capstone Seminar in Human Biology (HBIO 4810 and HBIO 4820) and two semesters of independent research under faculty supervision (HBIO 4998 and HBIO 4999) Both semesters of HBIO 4810 and HBIO 4820 will be letter graded; the first semester of HBIO4998 is graded S/U; the second semester (HBIO 4999) will be letter graded.

Required Humanities Elective Credits: (Three courses)

Majors are required to complete three 3000-level or higher courses from the humanities and social sciences. Courses used to fulfill this requirement are relevant to bioethics, healthcare economics, etc. A wide variety of courses are available that could potentially fulfill this area, but those dealing with bioethics, health economics, global heal policy, etc are preferred.

When in doubt about the applicability of a course to fulfilling this requirement it is best to seek approval from the Program Director in order to assure that the credits will count toward the degree.

A number of 5000-level Public Health Sciences course can also be used to fulfill this requirement.

Examples of courses that could be taken include, but are not limited to the following:

PHIL 3590 Research Ethics, RELG 3860 Human Bodies and Parts as Property, and PHIL 4530 Ethics in Human Reproduction, 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 announced 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 prior to spring and registration for the fall semester. 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 ].

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