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Biology Major

Biology at Wheaton College

The Department of Biology introduces students to the concepts and characteristics of nature as part of God’s creation. Students who major in Biology are expected to comprehend and integrate biological principles at the molecular, cellular, organismal, population, and ecosystem levels in preparation for teaching, entering the health professions, pursuing graduate work, or entering the biotechnology industry. Students are expected to understand the concepts and processes of biology as a scientific discipline and as an integrative science. The Department of Biology aids students in the development of both Christian and biological perspectives for their careers and practices as stewards of God’s creation.

The biology faculty maintain ongoing research projects and encourage students to participate in collaborative research groups. Research experiences are designed to provide students with opportunities to gain and hone skills pertinent to the processes of scientific investigation and to contribute to current scientific knowledge. Active participation in these experiences develops the student's understanding of the processes of science, encourages critical thinking skills, and improves one's ability to better evaluate published scientific reports. Students who are interested in participating in research should contact individual faculty members.          

Students who complete a Biology major are granted a Bachelor of Science degree unless they request a Bachelor of Arts degree.

We also offer an Honors in Biology Program.

Biology Major Requirements

36 hours of Biology including

BIOL 241 Organization of Life: Genetics and Cell Biology (4)
BIOL 242 Diversity of Life: An Introduction to Zoology and Botany (4)
BIOL 243 Processes of Life: Ecology and Evolution (4)
BIOL 252 Modeling the Systems of Life - a research methods course taken in the sophomore year (4)
BIOL 356 Genetics (4)
BIOL 494 The Integrated Biologist (2) - Senior capstone.

Totaling 22 hours 

14 hours of electives including at least one course from each of three course clusters:

Organization of Life (Cellular)
BIOL 331 Anatomy and Physiology I
BIOL 336 Neurobiology
BIOL 362 Cell and Developmental Biology
BIOL 364 Microbiology and Immunology
BIOL 375 Bioinformatics

Diversity of Life (Organisms)
BIOL 343 Plant Taxonomy
BIOL 344 Economic Botany
BIOL 352 Parasitology
BIOL 364 Microbiology and Immunology
BIOL 365 Marine Biology
BIOL 368 Invertebrate Biology
BIOL 382 Field Natural History

Processes of Life (Systems)
BIOL 321 Human Physiology
BIOL 332 Anatomy and Physiology II
BIOL 336 Neurobiology
BIOL 341 Plant Physiology
BIOL 362 Cell and Developmental Biology
BIOL 365 Marine Biology

*The same course may not be used to meet the requirements for more than one cluster.

16 hours of supporting courses are also required:
A student majoring in biology is required to develop a sound understanding of chemical processes; this requirement is fulfilled in one of two ways: (1) by completion of CHEM 231, CHEM 232, and CHEM 341 and CHEM 342; or (2) by completion of CHEM 231, CHEM 232, CHEM 241, and an additional four credit hours in 1-2 natural sciences course(s) that are not Scientific Issues & Perspectives (SIP) or Advanced Integrative Seminar (AIS) courses.

Students interested in Health Professions may take the following courses among their 14 hours electives: BIOL 317 Biomedical Ethics, BIOL 331 Anatomy and Physiology I, BIOL 332 Anatomy and Physiology II, BIOL 362 Cell and Developmental Biology, and BIOL 364 Microbiology and Immunology. Students interested in medical school must also take one year of physics (PHYS 221/ PHYS 222 or PHYS 231/232), and BIOL/CHEM 461 Biochemistry. PSYC 101 and SOC 115 are highly-recommended social science courses.

Biology Major Requirements + Neuroscience Certificate
Requirements for a Neuroscience Certificate are 24 credit hours. The Neuroscience Certificate requirements include 8 hours core courses + 16 hours electives (includes up to 8 hours Biology courses). 

Neuroscience Core courses (8 hours)
NEUR 241 (4) Foundations of Neuroscience
NEUR 369 (2) Neuroscience Collaborative Research
NEUR 494 (2) Neuroscience Capstone

Electives (16 hours; at least 2 disciplines)
Up to 8 hours from these Biology courses:
BIOL 321 (4) Human Physiology (a Processes of Life cluster course)
BIOL 331 (4) Anatomy & Physiology I (an Organization of Life cluster course)
BIOL 336 (4) Neurobiology (an Organization of Life and Processes of Life cluster course)
BIOL 356 (4) Genetics (a Biology core required course)
BIOL 362 (4) Cell and Developmental Biology (an Organization of Life and Processes of Life cluster course)

At least 8 hours from these courses outside the Biology student’s major:
AHS 351 (4) Human Anatomy
AHS 361 (4) Integrative Human Physiology
AHS 452 (4) Applied Physiology
CHEM 461 (4) General Biochemistry             
CHEM 462 (2) Advanced Biochemistry
CFM 459 (4) Spiritual Formation and the Brain
PHIL 341 (4) Nature of Persons
PSYC 343 (4) Sensation & Perception
PSYC 345 (4) Learning
PSYC 351 (4) Cognition
PSYC 371 (2) Intro to Psychopharmacology

*Biology faculty are prepared to advise students regarding courses that will best prepare them for graduate programs, health professions, or other career objectives.

Requirements for a Minor in Biology are 20 hours, including BIOL 241, BIOL 242, and BIOL 243. The additional 8 hours must include at least 4 credit hours at the 300-level. Unless accepted for the major, Biology General Education classes do not count toward a minor.  

Cross-referenced courses cannot be used for the minor in Biology and cannot be counted toward a Biology major if they are included in the major or minor program of another department.

Students may register for biology elective credit in courses within cooperative programs such as those offered by the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area (ACCA), and listings of courses at the Morton Arboretum and/or the Shedd Aquarium.

Requirements for teacher licensure by the State of Illinois in biology are listed here.

A Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program is available with a Biology major. A combined Bachelor’s/M.A.T. program may be completed in five years and one summer. This combined Bachelor's and Master's program is only available to currently enrolled students. See the Education section for further details.

View the Course Catalog with descriptions of Biology Department Courses.