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Requirements

Advice for Students Interested in Pursuing the Major
Admission to the biology major is by application. There are no grade requirements beyond a minimum C average to apply for admission. Students may apply after they have completed one introductory level biology course with lab and one chemistry or physics course with lab, or two introductory level biology courses with lab. 

To apply, students should click this link to self-enroll in the Biology Application Moodle site.  The site includes information about the required application documents.

Prospective majors with questions should contact Professor Leon Claessens for advising. The department holds open advising sessions each semester and provides additional detailed information about the major on its website. 

Requirements for Bio Majors from the Class of 2020 or later

Major requirements

Course Number(s)

Three course Introduction to Biology Sequence

BIOL 161 , BIOL 162 and BIOL 163.

Five other upper division biology courses, at least three of which must have accompanying labs

Courses must include at least one from three of the four Course Distribution Areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology (BIOL 223, 241, 261, 266, 267, 301, 302, 392)
  • Mechanistic Organismal Biology (BIOL 213, 230, 361, 390)
  • Organismal Diversity (BIOL 220, 250, 255)
  • Ecology and Evolution (BIOL 233, 235, 280, 283, 287, 331, 381)

Two chemistry courses

CHEM 181 plus either CHEM 221 or CHEM 231 (all with labs)

Calculus 1 (or the equivalent)

MATH 135 or equivalent

An approved Holy Cross course in statistics

BIOL 275 or MATH 220

Two additional cognate courses chosen from the approved list maintained by the department

 

 

 

AP or IB credits may not be used to fulfill this requirement.

 

CHEM 221, CHEM 222, CHEM 231, CSCI 131, CSCI 132, CSCI 135, GEOS 150, GEOS 210, GEOS 270, GEOS 310, MATH 136, MATH 241, PHYS 115, PHYS 116, PSYC 221.

 

Students may elect to substitute an upper division biology course (beyond the required five) for one of these cognates

One semester of research for credit may be used toward the upper division biology course requirement with lab. Students may substitute one geoscience course above the 100 level for an upper division biology course. Of the minimum total of eight biology courses required by this curriculum, at least six must be taken at Holy Cross.

Requirements for Bio Majors from the Classes of 2017, 2018 and 2019

These students may opt to follow the requirements listed above, or to complete the curriculum requirements that were in place when they joined the major.

Students must pursue one of two tracks: the Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB) Track or the Ecological, Evolutionary and Organismal (EEOB) Track. Each track requires a minimum of six biology courses beyond the introductory sequence, three of which must have a lab.

Major requirements (CMB Track)

Course Number(s)

The three course Introduction to Biology Sequence

BIOL 161 (or 131), BIOL 162 and BIOL 163 (or 132).

CMB Track – Choice A

  • Two courses from the new cellular and molecular biology distribution area
  • Two courses from any two of the remaining three distribution areas
  • Two additional biology courses

(see distribution course list at the end of this table)

CMB Track – Choice B

  • One course from the new cellular and molecular biology distribution area
  • Genetics or Genetics Analysis
  • Two courses from any two of the remaining three distribution areas
  • Two additional biology courses

(see distribution course list at the end of this table)

CMB Cognates:

  • Either two calculus courses through integration (or AP credit), or one calculus and one approved statistics course*
  • The four course chemistry sequence with labs

 

MATH 133 or 135 and MATH 134 or 136

 

 

CHEM 181 (or chem. dept. approved AP credit), 221, 222, 231

Distribution areas:

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Mechanistic Organismal Biology
  • Organismal Diversity
  • Ecology and Evolution

 

BIOL 223, 241, 266, 267, 301, 302, 392

BIOL 213, 230, 361, 390

BIOL 220, 250, 255

BIOL 233, 235, 280, 283, 287, 331, 381

*Any statistics course taken to meet the mathematics cognate requirement cannot also count toward the total count or distribution of required biology classes.

 

Major requirements (EEOB Track)

Course Number(s)

The three course Introduction to Biology Sequence

BIOL 161 (or 131), BIOL 162 and BIOL 163 (or 132)

Six additional biology courses, including one from each of the four distribution areas

(see distribution course list at the end of this table)

Two complementary courses drawn from either:

  • Genetics or Genetics Analysis
  • Introduction to Geology
  • Geomorphology
  • Watershed Hydrology
  • Organic Chemistry 1 or 2
  • Introductory level physics for science majors.

The complementary courses may be taken from two different areas or they may come from one area

 

BIOL 261, 262

GEOS (BIOL) 150

GEOS(BIOL) 210

GEOS(BIOL) 270 (also listed once as BIOL 299)

CHEM 221 or 222

PHYS 115 (111), 116 (112)

EEOB Cognates

  • Either two calculus courses through integration (or AP credit), or one calculus and one approved statistics course*
  • One year of general chemistry

 

MATH 133 or 135 or Math/CS approved AP and MATH 134 or 136

 

CHEM 181 (or Chemistry approved AP credit) and 231

Distribution areas:

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Mechanistic Organismal Biology
  • Organismal Diversity
  • Ecology and Evolution

 

BIOL 223, 241, 266, 267, 301, 302, 392

BIOL 213, 230, 361, 390

BIOL 220, 250, 255

BIOL 233, 235, 280, 283, 287, 331, 381

* Any statistics course taken to meet the mathematics cognate requirement cannot also count toward the total count or distribution of required biology classes. 

Additional Notes

  • Minor: A minor in geosciences, open to students of any major, is now available. Visit the geosciences website or contact Prof. Sara Mitchell for more information.
  • Department honors: No
  • AP credit: Majors with AP scores in biology do not receive credit toward the minimum number of required major courses nor do they receive advanced standing. Non-major students with AP Biology scores of 4 or 5 receive natural science common credit.