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College of Letters & Science

Biology

Requirements for the Major
Honors in the Major—L&S Requirements
Evolutionary Biology Option
Requirements for the Evolutionary Biology Option
Neurobiology Option
Requirements for the Neurobiology Option

1328 Microbial Sciences Building, 1550 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-890-0677; info@biologymajor.wisc.edu; biologymajor.wisc.edu

The biology major is designed for students with broad interests in the biological sciences. It is intended primarily to: (1) prepare undergraduates for graduate studies in diverse areas of biology; (2) prepare certain preprofessional students (e.g., medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry) for advanced study in the health professions; (3) provide a broad exposure to biology for students who want a general science education as biologists; and (4) serve as initial preparation for students who later choose a more specialized major.

The major is offered by the College of Letters and Science and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Requirements for the Major

In addition to fulfilling all university and college requirements, students must fulfill the following requirements for the biology major.  All L&S students must fulfill the college requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence. All intermediate/advanced biology courses listed below under items 5 and 6 count toward this requirement.

1. Mathematics

Math 171 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I and Math 217 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II  OR Math 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry (5 cr)

AND

Math 222 Calculus and Analytic Geometry (4 cr) OR Stat 301 Introduction to Statistical Methods (3 cr) OR Stat 371 Introduction to Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences (3 cr)

2. Chemistry
a. General Chemistry

Chem 103–104 General Chemistry (4 cr, 5 cr) OR Chem 109 Advanced General Chemistry (5 cr)

b. Organic Chemistry

Chem 343 Introductory Organic Chemistry (3 cr) and Chem 344 Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory (2 cr) and Chem 345 Intermediate Organic Chemistry (3 cr)

3. Physics

Physics 103 and 104 General Physics (4 cr each) OR Physics 201 and 202 General Physics (5 cr each) OR Physics 207 or 208 General Physics (5 cr each)

The total number of credits in sections 4, 5, and 6 must equal at least 31 credits.

4. Introductory Biology Courses

Option A:
Biology/Botany/Zoology 151–152 Introductory Biology (5 cr each); plus one foundational course

Option B:
Biocore 301 (381, effective spring 2014) Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics (3 cr)
Biocore 303 (383, effective spring 2014) Cellular Biology (3 cr)
Biocore 323 (485, effective spring 2014) Organismal Biology (3 cr)
333 (587 effective spring 2014) Biological Interactions (3 cr)
AND two of the following laboratory courses:
Biocore 302 (382, effective spring 2014) Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory (2 cr)
Biocore 304 (384, effective spring 2014) Cellular Biology Laboratory (2 cr)
Biocore 324 (486, effective spring 2014) Organismal Biology Laboratory (2 cr)
[catalog update 9/17/13]

Option C:
Biology/Zoology 101 Animal Biology (3 cr); Biology/Zoology 102 Animal Biology Laboratory (2 cr); Biology/Botany 130 General Botany (5 cr); plus one foundational course

Foundational Courses:
Agronomy 338: Plant Breeding and Biotechnology
Botany/Genetics/Zoology 466 General Genetics
Biochem 501 Introduction to Biochemistry
Bmolchem 503 Human Biochemistry
Microbio 470 Microbial Genetics and Molecular Machines

5. Intermediate/Advanced Biology Courses (13 credits minimum)

A minimum of three courses (at least 13 credits) at the intermediate/advanced level, selected from three of the five areas listed below, are needed to satisfy the biology breadth requirement. These courses must include at least one lab or field course with three hours or more per week of laboratory/field instruction. At least one course must be from category "a" or "b" and at least one course must be from category "c" or "d."  The third course may be selected from any of the five categories not previously chosen. The course or courses used to satisfy any category must be at least, or add up to, 2 credits. Overall the courses taken should span plant, animal, and microbial biology topics.

  1. Cellular and Subcellular Biology
  2. Organismal Biology
  3. Ecology
  4. Evolution and Systematics
  5. Applied Biology, Agriculture and Natural Resources

For course lists, see this link.

6. Laboratory or Field Research Experience (2 credits minimum)

Additional laboratory or field research experience is required. Two credits of directed study or research-based senior thesis in a biological science discipline can count. With advisor approval, these courses can also fulfill the CALS requirement for a capstone experience. 699 credits received simultaneously or prior to introductory biology (section 4 above), such as those received for Biology 152, cannot fulfill these requirements. Also, literature reviews and experiences that are focused on teaching assistance, even if the course number used is a 699 course, are not appropriate. This requirement can also be fulfilled with one or more intermediate/advanced laboratory or field biology courses involving a total of at least of 3 hours/week of lab or field instruction beyond that done for requirement 5. "Hours/week" refers to a normal 16-week semester and courses taken in other formats may be substituted where the total time commitment is equivalent. However, only a subset of the lab/field courses automatically fulfills the CALS requirement for a capstone experience. See capstone policy and list of approved courses

Honors in the Major—L&S Requirements

  1. A GPA of 3.3 in the major and an overall GPA of at least 3.3 in all courses taken at UW–Madison at the time of graduation.
  2. Completion of 13 credits of honors course work in the biological sciences at the intermediate or advanced level. Students may choose one of the following three options:
    1. 13 credits from requirement 5 for honors.
    2. Foundational course for honors and 10 credits from requirement 5 for honors.
    3. Biocore 323 and 333 and 7 credits from requirement 5 for honors.
  3. Completion of 6 credits of Senior Honors Thesis in any of a number of biology departments across campus. The department the thesis is done in will determine requirements (i.e. due date, format).

To apply: First declare the biology major, then pick up an Honors form from either the L&S Honors Office or the Biology Major Office. Before enrolling in an Honors thesis course, the student must produce a two- to three-page, double-spaced thesis proposal that briefly introduces the biological problem and then describes the line of experimentation that is proposed for the thesis work. The student and faculty mentor must sign the proposal before it is submitted to the Biology Major Office. The Biology Major Honors Committee will evaluate the proposal and the student will be notified of its acceptability.

Evolutionary Biology Option

The evolutionary biology option allows biology majors to concentrate their studies in evolution and to have this reflected on their transcript. Since there is no evolutionary biology major available at UW–Madison, this is the only mechanism to indicate specialization in this rapidly growing and popular field. In taking this option students will be able to fulfill their intermediate/advanced biology requirement with courses that emphasize evolutionary biology, ranging from required courses in fundamental evolutionary biology to more advanced optional courses that cover a wide range of evolutionary biology topics. They will also get to take a 1-credit seminar course in evolutionary biology.

Requirements for the Evolutionary Biology Option

In addition to fulfilling all university and college requirements, students must fulfill the following requirements for the biology major with the evolutionary biology option.  All L&S students must fulfill the college requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence. All intermediate/advanced biology courses listed below under items 5, 6 and 7 count toward this requirement.

1. Mathematics

Math 171 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I (5 cr) and Math 217 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II (5 cr) OR Math 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry (5 cr)

AND

Stat 301 Introduction to Statistical Methods (3 cr) OR Stat 371 Introduction to Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences (3 cr)

2. Chemistry
a. General Chemistry

Chem 103–104 General Chemistry (4 cr, 5 cr) OR Chem 109 Advanced General Chemistry (5 cr)

b. Organic Chemistry

Chem 343 Introductory Organic Chemistry (3 cr) and Chem 344 Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory (2 cr) and Chem 345 Intermediate Organic Chemistry (3 cr)

3. Physics

Physics 103 and 104 General Physics (4 cr each) OR Physics 201 and 202 General Physics (5 cr each) OR Physics 207 or 208 General Physics (5 cr each)

The total number of credits in sections 4, 5, 6 and 7 must equal at least 31 credits.

4. Introductory Biology Courses

Option A:
Biology/Botany/Zoology 151–152 Introductory Biology (5 cr each)

Option B:
Biocore 301 (381, effective spring 2014) Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics (3 cr)
Biocore 303 (383, effective spring 2014) Cellular Biology (3 cr)
Biocore 323 (485, effective spring 2014) Organismal Biology (3 cr)
333 (587 effective spring 2014) Biological Interactions (3 cr)
AND two of the following laboratory courses:
Biocore 302 (382, effective spring 2014) Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory (2 cr)
Biocore 304 (384, effective spring 2014) Cellular Biology Laboratory (2 cr)
Biocore 324 (486, effective spring 2014) Organismal Biology Laboratory (2 cr)
[catalog update 9/17/13]

Option C:
Biology/Zoology 101 Animal Biology (3 cr); Biology/Zoology 102 Animal Biology Laboratory (2 cr); Biology/Botany 130 General Botany (5 cr)

Foundational Course:
Botany/Genetics/Zoology 466 General Genetics

5. Intermediate/Advanced Biology Courses (13 credits minimum)

Required:

Anthro/Botany/Zoology 410: Evolutionary Biology (3 cr) 

A minimum of three courses at the intermediate/advanced level, selected from the areas listed below, are needed to satisfy the evolutionary biology breadth requirement. These courses must include at least one lab or field course with three hours or more per week of laboratory/field instruction. At least one course must be from categories "a" or "b," and one must be from category "c" (Botany/Zoology 460: Ecology is recommended), and one must be from category "d." (Note:  Anthro/Botany/Zoology 410 may not be used to fulfill the category d" requirement.)  The courses satisfying these areas are the same as those accepted by the general biology major.

  1. Cellular and Subcellular Biology
  2. Organismal Biology
  3. Ecology
  4. Evolution and Systematics
  5. Applied Biology, Agriculture and Natural Resources

For course lists, see this link

6. Laboratory or Field Research Experience (2 credits minimum)

Additional laboratory or field research experience is required. Two credits of directed study or research-based senior thesis in a biological science discipline can count. With advisor approval, these courses can also fulfill the CALS requirement for a capstone experience. 699 credits received simultaneously or prior to introductory biology (section 4 above), such as those received for Biology 152, cannot fulfill these requirements. Also, literature reviews and experiences that are focused on teaching assistance, even if the course number used is a 699 course, are not appropriate. This requirement can also be fulfilled with one or more intermediate/advanced laboratory or field biology courses involving a total of at least of 3 hours/week of lab or field instruction beyond that done for requirement 5. "Hours/week" refers to a normal 16-week semester and courses taken in other formats may be substituted where the total time commitment is equivalent. However, only a subset of the lab/field courses automatically fulfills the CALS requirement for a capstone experience. See capstone policy and list of approved courses

7. Biology 675 Undergraduate Evolutionary Biology Seminar (1 credit)

This seminar will involve attending the weekly research seminar given in the Evolution Seminar Series and then participating in a roundtable discussion. It will give biology majors who choose the Evolutionary Biology Option an orientation to the range of research questions and methods used in evolutionary biology as well as providing a weekly social gathering. This seminar is best taken in the second semester of the junior year or in the senior year.

Neurobiology Option

The option in neurobiology allows biology majors to concentrate their studies in neurobiology and to have this reflected on their transcript. Since there is no neurobiology major available at UW–Madison, this is the only mechanism to indicate specialization in this rapidly growing and popular field.

Requirements for the Neurobiology Option

In addition to fulfilling all university and college requirements, students must fulfill the following requirements for the biology major with the neurobiology option. All L&S students must fulfill the college requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence. All intermediate/advanced biology courses listed below under items 5, 6 and 7 count toward this requirement.

1. Mathematics

Math 171 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I (5 cr) and Math 217 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II (5 cr) OR Math 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry (5 cr)
AND
Math 222 Calculus and Analytic Geometry (4 cr)  OR Stat 301 Introduction to Statistical Methods (3 cr) OR Stat 371 Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences (3 cr)

2. Chemistry
a. General Chemistry

Chem 103–104 General Chemistry (4 cr, 5 cr) OR Chem 109 Advanced General Chemistry (5 cr)

b. Organic Chemistry

Chem 343 Introductory Organic Chemistry (3 cr) and Chem 344 Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory (2 cr) and Chem 345 Intermediate Organic Chemistry (3 cr)

3. Physics

Physics 103 and 104 General Physics (4 cr each) OR Physics 201 and 202 General Physics (5 cr each) OR Physics 207 or 208 General Physics (5 cr each)

The total number of credits in sections 4, 5, 6, and 7 must equal at least 31 credits.
4. Introductory Biology Courses

Option A:
Biology/Botany/Zoology 151–152: Introductory Biology (5 cr each); plus one foundational course

Option B:
Biocore 301 (381, effective spring 2014) Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics (3 cr)
Biocore 303 (383, effective spring 2014) Cellular Biology (3 cr)
Biocore 323 (485, effective spring 2014) Organismal Biology (3 cr)
333 (587 effective spring 2014) Biological Interactions (3 cr)
AND two of the following laboratory courses:
Biocore 302 (382, effective spring 2014) Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory (2 cr)
Biocore 304 (384, effective spring 2014) Cellular Biology Laboratory (2 cr)
Biocore 324 (486, effective spring 2014) Organismal Biology Laboratory (2 cr)
[catalog update 9/17/13]

Option C:
Biology/Zoology 101 Animal Biology (3 cr); Biology/Zoology 102 Animal Biology Laboratory (2 cr); Biology/Botany 130 General Botany (5 cr); plus one foundational course

Foundational Courses:
Agronomy 338 Plant Breeding and Biotechnology
Botany/Genetics/Zoology 466 General Genetics
Biochem 501 Introduction to Biochemistry
BMolChem 503 Human Biochemistry
Microbio 470 Microbial Genetics and Molecular Machines

5. Intermediate/Advanced Courses (13 credits minimum)

Required:
Neurosci/Psych/Zoology523 Neurobiology AND Neurosci/Psych/Zoology 524 Neurobiology II

At least 13 credits at the intermediate/advanced level are needed to satisfy the biology breadth requirement. In addition to the above two required courses, students must take a minimum of three more courses: one from category "a", one from category "b", and one from categories "c"or "d." The course or courses used to satisfy any category must be at least, or add up to, 2 credits. At least three hours per week of laboratory/field instruction must be taken in intermediate/advanced courses from categories a–f. Additional courses may be taken from categories "a–f" to fulfill the 31-credit requirement.

  1. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology
  2. Systems Neurobiology
  3. Ecology
  4. Evolution and Systematics
  5. Applied Biology, Agriculture and Natural Resources
  6. Other lab courses

For course lists, see this link.

6. Independent Research or Laboratory Experience (2 cr minimum)

Additional laboratory or field research experience is required. Two credits of directed study or research-based senior thesis in a biological science discipline can count. With advisor approval, these courses can also fulfill the CALS requirement for a capstone experience. 699 credits received simultaneously or prior to introductory biology (section 4 above), such as those received for Biology 152, cannot fulfill these requirements. Also, literature reviews and experiences that are focused on teaching assistance, even if the course number used is a 699 course, are not appropriate. This requirement can also be fulfilled with one or more intermediate/advanced laboratory or field biology courses involving a total of at least of 3 hours/week of lab or field instruction beyond that done for requirement 5. "Hours/week" refers to a normal 16-week semester and courses taken in other formats may be substituted where the total time commitment is equivalent. However, only a subset of the lab/field courses automatically fulfills the CALS requirement for a capstone experience. See capstone policy and list of approved courses

7. Neurosci 500 Undergraduate Neurobiology Seminar (1 credit)

This seminar will provide a weekly research seminar given by UW–Madison faculty active in neurobiology or by students in the major and directed specifically to undergraduates. It will give those biology majors who choose the neurobiology option an orientation to the wide range of research questions in modern neurobiology at UW–Madison as well as provide a weekly social gathering. This seminar is best taken the second semester of the junior year or first semester of the senior year.