Requirements for Bachelor of Arts in Biology
Students selecting the B.A. major must complete the introductory courses, BIOL 201 and 202, before taking upper level courses. Introductory lab courses, BIOL 203 and 204, are also offered as they, or equivalent experiences, are a prerequisite for the required upper-level laboratory courses. Requirements for the B.A. in Biology include the core courses BIOL 300, 301 and 302 (two of which must be taken by the end of the third year) and 13 additional credits in biology at or above the 300 level, including at least three credits of laboratory work. The required laboratory course may be satisfied by a three-credit departmental course, a course taught at Mountain Lake Biological Station, or by two consecutive semesters of independent research (BIOL 491, 492) completed in one laboratory. (Summer research applies if the student has enrolled in BIOL 491, 492.) No more than 6 semester credits toward the B.A. in Biology may be awarded for any combination of independent study and research courses, including BIOL 385, 386 and BIOL 491-498. A maximum of 6 credits from the Department of Environmental Sciences chosen from a list of approved biology-related courses may be included in the upper-level credits for the major. Biology major courses taken elsewhere must be approved and only one-half of the credits, up to a maximum of 6, transferred to the University may be used toward the biology major. The required core courses (Biol 300, 301, and 302) and lab course may not be taken elsewhere (transfer students exempted). While transfer and Environmental Sciences courses may be combined, the total applied towards the major may not exceed 6 credits since a minimum of 16 of the 22 credits of upper-level courses must be chosen from courses offered by the Biology Department at the University of Virginia.
Related courses that are required include two semesters of general chemistry with lab. CHEM 141, 142, plus 141L, 142L, or CHEM 181, 182, plus 181L, 182L meet this requirement. Students with AP chemistry credit for 141 and 142 must still complete the laboratory courses. The laboratory requirement can be met with 141L plus 142L, 181L plus 182L, two higher level lab courses, or the one-semester CHEM 222 course (Solutions Chemistry). Additionally students must take one course in either calculus or statistics (STAT 202, 212 or an equivalent or higher level course in another department).
The overall grade point average for courses at the 300 level and above presented in the major must be 2.000 (C) or better. Students anticipating a career in the biological sciences are advised to take two semesters of organic chemistry with lab (CHEM 241, 242, 241L, 242L), two semesters of physics with lab (PHYS 201, 202, 201L, 202L), and at least one additional math course.
Requirements for Bachelor of Science in Biology
Students selecting the B.S. major must fulfill all of the requirements for the B.A., as noted above and including the same restrictions, plus an additional 11 credits of upper-level biology courses (300 and above). These additional 11 credits must include a second 3-credit laboratory course. In addition, at least 4 of the upper-level courses, including one of the two required lab courses, must be at the 400 or 500-level.
Additional related courses, beyond those required for the B.A., include two semesters of organic chemistry (CHEM 241, 242 or the equivalent), one semester of introductory physics (PHYS 201 or its equivalent), and a second course in math beyond introductory calculus or a statistics course (STAT 202, 212, or an equivalent or higher level course in another department). It is recommended that students interested in a career in the biological sciences take PHYS 202, as well as labs in organic chemistry and physics.
Requirements for Minor
Students selecting biology as their minor subject are required to complete the lower-level introductory courses, BIOL 201, 202, 203 and 204, unless exempted by examination or placement, and three upper-level biology courses (300 and above) of 3 or 4 credits each. The following courses, either singly or in combination, may be used to fulfill no more than one of the three required upper-level courses: BIOL 385, 386 (Selected Topics in Biology), BIOL 395 (Recent Advances in Biology), or BIOL 491-498. Exemption from BIOL 201 and 202 does not imply exemption from BIOL 203 and 204. These laboratory courses, or equivalent experiences, are required. The grade point average for all courses presented for the minor must be 2.000 (C) or better.
Credit for independent research courses may be applied toward the upper-level credits required for the major. Three credits are granted for two semesters of independent research (BIOL 491-498) and six credits are granted for four semesters of independent research. Maximum research credit for either the B.A. or B.S. major is six credits.
Students who score a 4 or a 5 on the AP biology examination will receive six credits for BIOL 201 and 202.
Students may petition to have upper-level transfer credits count toward the biology major. One-half credit will be granted for each credit up to a maximum of six credits. Unique courses that broaden the undergraduate experience (e.g., field courses, marine biology, studies abroad, research opportunities) can receive full transfer credit. Transfer credit will generally not be approved for the required core (BIOL 300, 301, and 302) or laboratory courses. In all cases, prior approval should be arranged with the Biology Department Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Six credits from Department of Environmental Sciences may be applied towards the biology major. These include EVSC 320/320L (Fundamentals of Ecology) and upper level (400+) courses that have EVSC 320 as a prerequisite. Students who complete both CHEM 441 and 442 (Biochemistry) may apply four credits toward the biology major.
Students are urged to broaden their biology training by taking courses from several biology subdisciplines, including development, evolution, physiology, behavior, and conservation.
Students with special academic requirements or experience may seek relief from these regulations by petitioning the Biology Department Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Specialization in Environmental and Biological Conservation
The Biology Department, in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Sciences, offers an opportunity for students to obtain the Bachelor of Arts or Science in Biology with a Specialization in Environmental and Biological Conservation. Candidates for the Specialization must fulfill all the requirements for the biology major. Many of the courses in this Specialization also count towards the major.
The requirements for the Specialization are as follows: two introductory courses in conservation biology (EVSC 222, BIOL 345), a 2 credit seminar in conservation, and an upper level course (BIOL 413). In addition the Specialization requires at least one course in each of the following areas: 1. Biological diversity: a course focused on a particular group of organisms. 2. Environmental diversity: a course focused on a particular habitat. 3. Techniques in conservation: a course focused on policy, statistics modeling, field methods or geo-spatial analysis. 4. Experience in field studies: this can be fulfilled by independent study, or a summer field course at one of the University’s biological stations (Mountain Lake Biological Station, Blandy Experimental Farm), by involvement with the Africa research program in the Environmental Sciences Department, or by an internship with a conservation agency.
Students who are interested in this Specialization should consult with an advisor who is a faculty of the Program in Environmental and Biological Conservation, preferably when declaring their major. EVSC 320 may be substituted for EVSC 322 for students that have already taken advanced classes.
Distinguished Majors Program in Biology
Students with a cumulative grade point average of 3.400 or higher after five semesters may apply to enter the Distinguished Majors Program (DMP). Application for the DMP must be made prior to the beginning of the seventh semester. Provisional admission to students with cumulative grade point averages below 3.400 but above 3.200 will be granted in exceptional cases. Administration of the DMP is the responsibility of the undergraduate committee.
- Completion of 27 credits in upper-level courses approved for the biology major, beyond BIOL 201, 202. (Requirements 2 and 3 are counted toward this requirement.
- Two semesters of BIOL 481, 482 (Seminar in Biological Research).
- A full year’s study in BIOL 491-498 (Independent Research for Distinguished Majors).
- A minimum GPA of 3.400 in all biology courses and overall in the University.
The research work done under BIOL 491-498 must be described in written form. The faculty research supervisor, the director of the distinguished majors program, and the undergraduate committee judge the work and the report. This research project is intended to foster independent thought and develop the student’s critical ability to formulate and conduct scientific research. The written report must be submitted to the director of the distinguished majors program during the student’s last semester in residence.
In addition to a written report, the student is required to give an oral presentation of the research project at the Richard D. Katz Biology Undergraduate Research Symposium held by the Department of Biology and the Undergraduate Biology Association in late April of each year.
The undergraduate committee assumes the responsibility for evaluation of both the written report of the research project and the oral presentation. On the basis of their evaluation, the undergraduate committee recommends to the chair and faculty of the biology department that the degree be awarded:
- with no distinction
- with distinction
- with high distinction
- with highest distinction
The decision of the biology faculty regarding each candidate will be forwarded to the Committee on Special Programs and the university registrar at least ten days before commencement.
For more information, contact the Department of Biology, 229 Gilmer Hall, P.O. Box 400328, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4328; (434) 982-5474; www.virginia.edu/biology
Notes: Biology courses numbered from 100 to 199 are intended to satisfy the College Area Requirements for non-science majors. These courses have no prerequisites.
Biology courses numbered from 201-204 are intended for premed students and for Biology majors who have not earned AP credit in previous biology courses. The lecture courses BIOL 201 and 202 are required for the Biology major but do not count towards upper-level course requirements. The laboratory courses or their high school equivalents, are prerequisites for upper level lab courses. These courses and BIOL 201, 203, 204, 206, 206L, 207, and 207L have no prerequisites.
All 300 level classes require BIOL 201 and 202. All 300 level classes count towards upper level course requirements for Biology majors.
All lecture courses at the 400 level and above, have the prerequisite of at least one of the three core courses (300-302). All laboratory courses have a prerequisite of a 300-level lab; unless a specific prerequisite lab is specified, any 300-level lab will satisfy this prerequisite.