Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Biology

STUDENTS DECLARING A BA IN BIOLOGY MAJOR AFTER AUGUST 1, 2023 WILL HAVE NEW FOUNDATIONAL COURSE REQUIREMENTS. DETAILS ARE BELOW.

THERE ARE NO CHANGES TO COURSE REQUIREMENTS FOR CURRENT BA IN BIOLOGY MAJORS OR STUDENTS DECLARING THE BA IN BIOLOGY BEFORE AUGUST 1, 2023. CURRENT FOUNDATIONAL COURSE REQUIREMENTS ARE LISTED IN THE MENU AND BA CHECKLIST BELOW.


UPDATE ON BIOCHEMISTRY FOR THE BA DEGREE (07/7/2022)

Starting Fall 2022, biology majors (BA) who are interested in biochemistry should plan to enroll in BIOL 3030, which satisfies the Area 1 (Cell/Molecular Biology) disciplinary requirement. CHEM 4440 will no longer be considered an alternative to taking BIOL 3030 and will no longer be eligible for Area 1 elective credit. Students who complete both CHEM 4410 and CHEM 4420 may apply 3 credits towards their elective credits (Area 1) and three credits towards upper-level electives; note that CHEM 4420 does NOT qualify as an area requirement. Students who completed either CHEM 4410, CHEM 4420 or CHEM 4440 between Fall 2021 and Summer 2022 may apply 3 credits towards their degree as upper-level Biology courses (Area 1).  
 

List of Area Requirements Biology B.A. Checklist (Current Majors)

 

BA MAP (declared before 8/1/23) BA MAP (declared after 8/1/23)

 

BASIC DEGREE REQUIREMENTS:

Foundational Course Requirements (major declared before Aug 1, 2023)

Foundational Course Requirements (major declared before Aug 1, 2023)

Introduction to Biology: The Biology Department offers a two-semester introductory sequence of courses that combine both lecture and laboratory components: BIOL 2100 & 2200. These courses are required for biology majors and partially satisfy most prehealth biology requirements. Biology AP Credit: Students who scored a 5 on the AP Biology examination, or at least a 6 on upper-level examinations in the International Baccalaureate Program, will receive 8 credit hours for BIOL 2100 and BIOL 2200. Students who have completed BME 2104 with a minimal grade of C- are exempt from taking BIOL 2100. Note that credit for BME 2104 does not provide actual credit for BIOL 2100. (Note: BME 2104 does not count towards the 102 credits in the College required for the degree, and it does not satisfy the Natural Science and Mathematics requirement for the College.)

Chemistry: Majors are required to complete two semesters of introductory chemistry with lab. The chemistry requirement may be satisfied by completing CHEM 1410, 1420, 1411, and 1421, or CHEM 1810, 1820, 1811, and 1821, or CHEM 1610, 1620, 1611, and 1621. Students with AP chemistry credit for 1410 and 1420 must still complete the laboratory courses (1411 plus 1421 or 1811 plus 1821 or 1611 plus 1621, or two higher level lab courses). Students planning a career in the biological sciences are also strongly advised to take two semesters of organic chemistry with lab.

Biostatistics: Majors are required to complete either STAT 2020 “Statistics for Biologists” or STAT 2120 “Introduction to Statistical Analysis.”  AP, transfer, or dual enrollment for either STAT 2020 or STAT 2120 may also be used to satisfy this requirement.  STAT 1120, AP, transfer, or dual enrollment credit for STAT 1120 no longer satisfies this requirement.

Calculus: (MATH 1190, 1210, 1220, 1310, or 1320). AP, transfer, or dual enrollment credit for MATH 1210, 1220, 1310, or 1320 satisfies this requirement.

Physics: Students anticipating a career in the biological sciences are strongly advised also to take at least one additional math course, as well as two semesters of physics with lab (PHYS 2010, 2020, 2030, and 2040).

Foundational Course Requirements (major declared after Aug 1, 2023)

Foundational Course Requirements (major declared after Aug 1, 2023)

The following program requirements applies to all students who declare a BA in Biology for the first time on or after August 1, 2023.

Foundational Courses

These required courses at the introductory level provide breadth of learning in the natural sciences, along with experience in quantitative and formal thinking. Because the sciences are fundamentally empirical disciplines, both lecture and laboratory courses are required.

Introductory Biology: As an introduction to biology, majors are required to complete a two-semester introductory sequence of courses with combined lecture and laboratory components, as listed below.  These courses introduce students to the fundamental unit of life, the transmission of biological information, and the generation of biological diversity.

BIOL 2100 - Introduction to Biology with Laboratory: Cell Biology & Genetics                
BIOL 2200 - Introduction to Biology with Laboratory: Organismal and Evolutionary Biology

These courses, together or individually, are common pre-requisites for more advanced courses (3000+ level) in Biology and are ideally completed during a student’s first year at the university.  These two courses satisfy the introductory biology requirement for most pre-health programs.

AP Credit: Students who scored a 5 on the AP Biology examination, or at least a 6 on upper-level examinations in the International Baccalaureate Program, will receive 8 credit hours for BIOL 2100 and BIOL 2200. 

Exemption: Students who complete BME 2104 with a minimal grade of C- are exempt from taking BIOL 2100.  Credit for BME 2104 does not provide credit hours for BIOL 2100. BME 2104 does not count towards the 108 credit hours of courses that must be completed within the College of Arts and Sciences for degree nor does it satisfy other College requirements related to the natural sciences.

Introductory Chemistry: Chemistry is the physical basis of life.  Knowledge of chemistry is essential for understanding and analyzing biological processes.  Majors are required to complete two semesters of introductory chemistry with associated laboratories, as follows.

CHEM 1410 and 1420 - Introductory College Chemistry I and II
CHEM 1411 and 1421 - Introductory College Chemistry Laboratory I and II

The above lecture courses, individually or together, are a common pre-requisite for several Core courses in Biology and are ideally taken during a student’s first year. In most cases, if a choice is necessary, enrollment in introductory chemistry should take priority over enrollment in BIOL 2100 and BIOL 2200. 

CHEM 1810 and CHEM 1811, along with CHEM 1420, is an equivalent course of study and fulfills the introductory chemistry requirement.

AP Credit: Students with AP credit for CHEM 1410 and CHEM 1420 must enroll in the above introductory chemistry laboratory courses (or CHEM 1811), unless specifically granted credit for CHEM 1411 and CHEM 1421; or CHEM 1811. Consult the Department of Chemistry for further information regarding AP Chemistry credit.

Students anticipating a career in the biological sciences are strongly advised to take two semesters of organic chemistry with associated laboratories.

Introductory Physics:  Organisms exist in and are subject to the physical world.  Many techniques in the biological sciences have origins or applications related to physics, making a foundational knowledge of physics essential. Majors are required to complete two semesters of introductory physics with associated laboratories (workshops), as follows.

PHYS 2010 and 2020 - Principles of Physics for Pre-Health Students 1 and 2 
PHYS 2030 and 2040 - Principles of Physics Workshop 1 and 2

The above courses are algebra-based.  Students with a strong quantitative background or who are anticipating additional course work in physics may satisfy this requirement by completing a calculus-based course series (e.g., PHYS 1420, 1429, 2410, and 2419; or PHYS 1425, 1429, 2415, and 2419).

AP Credit: Credit for specific AP exams in Physics may satisfy, in part or whole, the above requirements. 

Statistics and Mathematics:  Formal thinking and quantitative skill are foundational to experimentation and modeling in the life sciences. 

Majors are required to complete one of the following courses in statistics.

STAT 2020 - Statistics for Biologists
STAT 2120 - Introduction to Statistical Analysis.

In addition, majors are required to complete one additional quantitative course from the following list.

MATH 1190 - A Survey of Calculus with Algebra
MATH 1210 - A Survey of Calculus
MATH 1310 - Calculus I
STAT 1601 - Introduction to Data Science with R
STAT 1602 - Introduction to Data Science with Python
STAT 3220 – Introduction to Regression Analysis

Prior to fulfilling this requirement, consider what courses may be requisites for other courses you plan to take.  For example, a student anticipating advanced study in ecology or enrollment in additional mathematics or physical sciences courses is strongly advised to complete MATH 1310.  For other students, knowledge of a programming language may be more imperative than calculus, depending on anticipated course of study or career goal.  Students are encouraged to discuss these options with an academic advisor. 

AP Credit:  AP credit for STAT 2020, STAT 2120, MATH 1190, MATH 1210, or MATH 1310 may be applied to the fulfillment of this requirement.  Credit for STAT 1120 does not satisfy any part of this requirement. 

Does it count?   For questions about courses that may be equivalent but are not listed above, consult the Director of Undergraduate Programs in Biology. To determine if AP or transfer credits are equivalent to requisite courses, consult the department that offers the equivalent course.

Biology "Core" Course Requirements

Biology "Core" Course Requirements

Majors are required to complete BIOL 3000 (Cell Biology), BIOL 3010 (Genetics & Molecular Biology), and BIOL 3020 (Evolution & Ecology). These courses do not need to be taken sequentially or in any specific order; however, two of the core courses should be completed by the end of the third year. Students with AP credit for Introductory Biology, but who have not started taking introductory chemistry, are encouraged to take BIOL 3020 during the spring semester of their first year, since it is the only core course that does not require prior completion of General Chemistry.

A student who receives an 'F' in any of the three core courses must meet with her/his Biology major advisor in order to discuss plans for successfully completing the major. This meeting should take place no later than the end of the first full week of the semester after the 'F' was received. Neglecting to meet with a faculty advisor will result in the student being dropped from the Biology major.  A student who receives two 'F's in any of the core courses will be ineligible to continue in the Biology major.

Upper-Level Biology Course Requirements

Upper-Level Biology Course Requirements

Majors are required to complete a total of 22 hours of upper-level (3000 or above) required + elective biology courses.  The 22 credits for the Biology major include 9 credits for the three core courses (BIOL 3000, 3010 and  3020) and 13 credits of elective courses.  Biology major elective credits must include at least one course (minimum 2 credits) from each of three disciplinary areas of biology:  Cell/Molecular Biology (Area I), Integrative Biology (Area II), Evolution/Ecology (Area III).  List of Biology Courses by Disciplinary Area.

Biology major elective credits must also include a course (minimum 3 credits) that has a laboratory component.  Laboratory courses, including those taught at Mountain Lake Biological Station, can also count toward satisfying a disciplinary requirement. (see the List of Biology Courses by Disciplinary Area).  Alternatively, the lab requirement may be satisfied by two semesters of Independent Research conducted with the same faculty mentor. Summer research, unless enrolled in BIOL 4911-4918, 4910 or 4920, does not satisfy the upper-level lab requirement. Lab courses offered by other departments do not fulfill the Biology major laboratory requirement.  Internships or research experiences copleted at non-academic institutions or other schools do not fulfill the Biology majpr laboratory requirement.

Finally, 16 of the 22 hours of upper-level credits required for the major must be taken from courses listed by the Biology Department. Up to 6 of the 22 upper level credits required for majors may be taken from the following two options outside the Biology Department:

  • Students who complete both CHEM 4410 and CHEM 4420 may apply 3 credits toward the upper-level Biology courses. 
  • Courses from an approved list of biology-related courses offered by the Environmental Sciences Department (e.g. EVSC 3200 Fundamentals of Ecology) may count toward Biology major credits.  List of Biology-related Environmental Sciences Courses   

Restrictions:

Only the first semester of Human Anatomy & Physiology I (BIOL 3410) may be applied toward the Biology major. BIOL 3410 also satisfies the upper level lab requirement and the Area II requirement. The second semester of Human Anatomy & Physiology II (BIOL 3420) cannot be applied toward the Biology major, but can be used as college elective credit and contribute to the overall GPA.

Students who are double-majors in Biology and another department must have 18 Biology credit hours that are not shared with another major. (See Number of Credits on the Declaring a Major page.)

Transfer credits for courses taken at another institution after matriculation at the University of Virginia may be considered for outside elective credit toward the Biology major; however, required core (BIOL 3000, 3010 and 3020) and lab courses must be taken at the University of Virginia.

Grade Point Average    

Grade Point Average

The overall GPA for courses presented for the B.A. degree must be at least 2.000. These courses consist of: BIOL 3000, BIOL 3010, BIOL 3020, a laboratory course (or two semesters of Independent Research), and enough additional 3000 level or higher elective BIOL courses to complete a total of 22 credit hours. [Note that the Requisite courses listed below do not contribute to the Biology Major GPA.]

Summary of Program Requirements

Summary of Program Requirements   

Requisites:

  • BIOL 2100
  • BIOL 2200 
  • CHEM 1410 & 1411 (or CHEM 1610 & 1611 or CHEM 1810 & 1811)
  • CHEM 1420 & 1421 (or CHEM 1620 & 1621 or CHEM 1820 & 1821)
  • STAT 2020 or STAT 2120
  • MATH 1190, 1210, 1220, 1310, or 1320

Major Courses (minimum 22 credits*):

Required Core Courses:

  • BIOL 3000 - 3 cr.
  • BIOL 3010 - 3 cr. 
  •  BIOL 3020 -  3 cr.

Elective Courses (including at least one course from each of the 3 disciplinary areas):

  • BIOL 3XXX/4XXX laboratory elective (required) - 3 cr.
  • BIOL 3XXX/4XXX elective - 3 cr.
  • BIOL 3XXX/4XXX elective - 3 cr.
  • BIOL 3XXX/4XXX elective - 3 cr.

 *Actual total degree credit hours might exceed 22, if laboratory or other elective courses carry 4 credits.

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record represents the official repository for academic program requirements. This publication may be found at  www.virginia.edu/registrar/catalog/ugrad.html