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School of Education

Biology Discipline-Related, Major, and Minor Requirements

Faculty advisors: Professor Melissa Braaten, 226A Teacher Education, mbraaten@wisc.edu; Professor John Rudolph, 226D Teacher Education, 265-3431, jlrudolp@wisc.edu.

Important: The School of Education is now offering a new and innovative teacher licensing program in secondary education. Licensing in middle and high school English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies is now obtained by completing a master’s degree program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Graduates are awarded a master’s degree along with certification in their subject area(s) and certification in English as a Second Language (ESL).

This new structure means that students at UW–Madison become certified to teach these subjects only through graduate-level course work, not as undergraduates.

Information about the new program (e.g., licensing areas, requirements, application process, prerequisite course work and tests, deadlines, and program selection) is available on the Curriculum and Instruction website

Advising staff in the School of Education's Academic Services Office, 139 Education Building, 608-262-1651, can also answer questions and confer with students about the new program.

The discipline-related, major, and minor requirements listed below are provided only for (1) secondary students admitted into the undergraduate program fall 2013 or before, and for (2) elementary education students wishing to complete a minor in this subject.


Discipline-Related Course Requirements

  • Minimum 6 credits Mathematics and/or Statistics, college level, excluding Math 120–132.
  • General Chemistry. Complete either Chem 103 AND 104 General Chemistry, 9; Chem 109 Advanced General Chemistry, 5; OR Chem 115 AND 116 Chemical Principles I and II, 10.
  • General Physics. Complete one two-course sequence from the following: Physics 103/104, 8; Physics 201/202, 10; Physics 207/208, 10

Biology Major Requirements

Complete a minimum of 34 credits. Students complete one of two Biology major options. The credits required for program admission must be chosen from this course work. A minimum of 15 credits of upper-level major course work (numbered 300–699) must be taken in residence on the UW–Madison campus.

Major Option A
  1. Introductory Biology. Complete either:
    Biology 101 Animal Biology, 3, AND Biology 102 Animal Biology Laboratory, 2, AND Botany 130 General Botany, 5
    OR
    Biology 151 Introductory Biology, 5 AND Biology 152 Introductory Biology, 5
    Note: AP Biology scores of 4 or 5 satisfy both the Biology 101 and 102 requirements. AP Biology satisfies Biology 151 if a satisfactory grade is achieved in 152. Consult with an advisor for more information.
  2. Botany/Zoology 466 General Genetics, 3 (usually taken junior year or later)
  3. Electives in Biology. Biology course work numbered 300 and above to include at least one course (2-credit minimum) from each of the following areas: (1) Ecology, Evolution, Genetics, (2) Cell and Molecular Biology, (3) Physiology. At least one of these electives must be a lab or field course. A list of appropriate courses is provided below. Additional courses may, with the consent of a Science Education faculty advisor, be selected to meet the elective requirements. Course work from all of the areas listed above, including electives, must total a minimum of 34 major credits.
Major Option B

Students may also complete the Biology licensing program through participation in the Biology Core (Biocore) Curriculum. The completion of this sequence requires more course work than Option A, and most students enter Biocore in the fall of their sophomore year. Students interested in Biocore should talk with an advisor early in their program to discuss how the Biocore program fits with eligibility requirements for the Secondary Education program. The Biocore program is a four-semester, interdepartmental course sequence providing undergraduates with a broad, solid background for further work in any biologically oriented field of study.

Admission to the Biocore sequence is limited and competitive. For more information, visit the Biocore office, 361 Noland Hall, or the Biocore website.

New students planning to follow the Biocore sequence should not take other introductory biology courses. There is extensive overlap in content of the various introductory courses, and students who take more than one such course may lose credit. Students planning to take the Biocore sequence should take Chem 103–104, 109, or 115 and Math in their freshman year. Math 221 and Chem 104/109/115 and concurrent (fall) or previous registration in Chem 343 (Organic Chemistry) are prerequisites for the first course in the sequence. The entire Biocore sequence and related course work is listed under the heading Biology Core Curriculum in the Letters & Science section of this catalog.

The elements of this program that lead to Biology licensure include:

  • Biocore 301 Evolution, Ecology and Genetics, 3
  • Biocore 303 Cellular Biology, 3
  • Biocore 323 Organismal Biology, 3
  • Biocore 333 Biological Interactions, 3
  • Select two Biocore labs:
    • Biocore 302 Evolution, Ecology and Genetics Laboratory, 2
    • Biocore 304 Cellular Biology Laboratory, 2
    • Biocore 324 Organismal Biology Laboratory, 2

Students complete additional elective course work to reach a minimum of 34 credits. Courses must be numbered 300 and above and include at least one course (2-credit minimum) from each of three areas, (1) ecology, evolution, and genetics, (2) cell and molecular biology, and (3) physiology. At least one of these electives must be a lab (this could be the third Biocore lab) or a field course. A list of appropriate courses is provided below.

Biology Major Electives

Choose one from each area. Starred (*) courses are lab or field courses. Additional courses may, with consent of a science education advisor, be selected to meet the elective requirements.

Area 1: Ecology/Evolution/Genetics
  • Botany 300*, 305*, 330, 332*, 400*, 401*, 402*, 403*, 422, 455*, 460*, 461, 561, 563
  • Zoology 302*, 315, 316*, 330, 350, 351*, 360, 410, 430, 431*, 460*, 510, 511*, 520, 521*, 525, 530, 562
  • Microbiology 607
  • Entomology 331*, 342, 468*, 530 (formerly 550), 532* (formerly 515)
  • Genetics 561, 565, 610, 612, 620, 629
  • Horticulture 501, 561
  • Landscape Architecture 361*
  • Plant Pathology 300*
Area 2: Cell and Molecular Biology 
  • Microbiology 303, 528, 550*, 607, 640
  • Botany 329*, 561, 563
  • Genetics 562, 612
  • Zoology 430, 431*, 570, 572*
Area 3: Physiology 
  • Botany 500
  • Zoology 611, 612*
  • Physiology 335*

Biology Minor Requirements for Secondary and Elementary Education Students

The Biology minor may be completed by students in Secondary Education Science or Elementary Education licensing programs. A minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.75 is required, based on all Biology minor course work taken on the UW–Madison campus. The graduation grade point average may be modified by the last 60 credits rule.

Secondary Education students may select this minor only if completing a major in another Science certification area. It is not possible to be certified only in a minor area. Interested Secondary Education students must apply and be admitted to the Science program. Admission is limited and competitive. See additional information under the major of choice.

All Secondary students, whether completing their first degree or adding on a teaching minor to a prior certification, should expect to complete a methods course, participate in practicum and student teaching experience, and earn passing scores on a content exam to be recommended for certification. Students wishing to complete a minor must consult with the faculty advisor/program coordinator to discuss its field experience component.

Must complete a minimum of 24 credits, including the following:

  • Complete the discipline-related course work for the major.
  • Choose one of the two curricular options for the Biology Major.
  • Complete Biology elective course work from the approved list to reach a minimum of 24 credits. The courses must be numbered 300 and above and include at least one course from two of the following three areas: (1) Ecology, Evolution, Genetics, (2) Cell and Molecular Biology, and (3) Physiology.

This page was updated 9/22/14.