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Grand Valley State University    
2015-2016 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog 
  Sep 23, 2018
2015-2016 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Biology

The biology major is designed to help students gain a comprehensive understanding of the life sciences. The biology faculty believe it is vital for students at the undergraduate level to become familiar with the major principles and unifying concepts of biology. Thus, the curriculum introduces the fundamental areas of biology and still provides flexibility. Students who wish may select from several emphasis areas, including teacher certification, genetics and cell/molecular, premedical, pre-physical therapy, plant biology, animal biology, wildlife biology, aquatic sciences and preveterinary medicine. Any of these areas, in addition to the basic major, may be used as the foundation for graduate study. Biology majors, in consultation with their advisors, are able to tailor programs to fit career needs or interests. All majors must complete 38 credits in biology.

The biology major requires fulfillment of general university degree requirements, biology core requirements, biology cognate requirements, and biology elective requirements.

Requirements for a Major in Biology

Major Cognate Requirements:

B.S. Degree Cognate courses are:

B.A. students must take the listed courses and satisfy the foreign language requirement. The numerical reasoning course requirement of the B.S. degree cognate will be fulfilled with the selection of one of the courses listed under b. Statistics and Mathematics.

c. Physics

Those students planning to attend graduate or professional school, or planning to seek secondary teaching certification are urged to take PHY 220 and 221 or 230 and 231.

Biology Electives

To reach a total of 38 credits from among biology courses numbered 209 or above (except BIO 355) and the following:

Emphases (optional):

1. Teacher Certification Emphasis:

Students preparing to teach in secondary schools must complete the biology major outlined previously. Secondary admission to the College of Education requires at least a 2.7 GPA in the major.

Students with a baccalaureate degree and a major in biology from another institution can be certified to teach by earning at least five credits in the biology department and completing the professional education requirements of the College of Education. The required courses in biology must be approved by the department chair or designee.

2. Premedical, Preosteopathic, and Predental Emphasis:

Students planning careers as physicians and dentists may major in biology. There is no absolute list of required courses for persons seeking admission to medical or dental schools, though some of these schools have more specific course requirements than others. Careful consultation with your faculty advisor throughout the undergraduate program is strongly advised. Initial academic advising for these preprofessional areas is also available through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Academic Advising Center located in Mackinac Hall, (616) 331-8585.

3. Preveterinary Medicine Emphasis:

This emphasis includes all the course requirements currently necessary for admission to the Michigan State University School of Veterinary Medicine. Additionally, MSU encourages applicants to accumulate experience outside the classroom working with veterinary professionals at both the small and large animal level. If you intend to apply to a veterinary school other than MSU, you need to contact that school to see if there are additional requirements. Early consultation with the pre-vet advisor is strongly encouraged. Initial academic advising for this preprofessional area is also available through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Academic Advising Center located in Mackinac Hall, (616) 331-8585.

Students preparing for careers as veterinarians may major in biology. Students electing to complete the Preveterinary Medicine emphasis within the Biology major must complete the following:

              Either BIO 357 - Environmental Microbiology Credits: 4 ;

              OR BOTH

               BMS 212 - Introductory Microbiology Credits: 3  


              BMS 213 - Laboratory in Microbiology Credits: 1 

  • One Animal Biology course from from the following list:

BIO 222 - Natural History of Vertebrates Credits: 3 

BIO 232 - Natural History of Invertebrates Credits: 3 

BIO 302 - Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy Credits: 4 

BIO 352 - Animal Behavior Credits: 3 

BIO 422 - Embryology Credits: 3 

BIO 432 - Comparative Animal Physiology Credits: 4 

  • One Plant Biology course from the approved list of plant biology elective courses required for the BIO major.
  • The following cognate courses:

CHM 115 - Principles of Chemistry I Credits: 4 

CHM 116 - Principles of Chemistry II Credits: 5 

CHM 241 - Organic Chemistry For Life Sciences I Credits: 5 

CHM 242 - Organic Chemistry For Life Sciences II Credits: 4 

CHM 461 - Biochemistry I Credits: 4 

PHY 220 - General Physics I Credits: 5 

PHY 221 - General Physics II Credits: 5 

Students must generally demonstrate competency in college algebra and trigonometry as a prerequisite to veterinary school admission. This requirement can be satisfied in various ways depending on the student and the requirements of specific schools. You should consult with your advisor regarding the best way to meet this requirement while also satisfying the statistics and mathematics cognate requirements for the Biology major.

Nonbiology Students

Nonbiology students may prepare for admission to Michigan State University School of Veterinary Medicine by completing the following courses plus any required pre-requisites and veterinary experience as noted above. Students must have competency in college algebra and trigonometry.  Completion of both MTH 122 and MTH 123, or MTH 125, or MTH 201 fulfills this requirement.

4. Prephysical Therapy Emphasis:

Students planning to apply to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program may select biology as their undergraduate major. The following modifications to the preprofessional sample curriculum, which is printed in the Physical Therapy section of the Grand Valley State University Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog, are strongly recommended to ensure that all requirements are met in the most efficient manner.

Students must take the following courses to complete the biology major.

5. Plant Biology Emphasis

Requires the following as biology electives.

6. Animal Biology Emphasis

Requires the following as biology electives.

7. Wildlife Biology Emphasis

Requires the following as biology electives and the NRM course as a cognate.

8. Aquatic Sciences Emphasis:

The aquatic sciences emphasis provides broad academic training to students with an interest in aquatic sciences. Students selecting the emphasis will complete coursework that covers the two major regional aquatic habitats (lakes and rivers) and the major groups of organisms (fish, plants, invertebrates). The emphasis is specifically designed to prepare students to be particularly competitive for graduate school admission or entry-level positions in the field of aquatic science.

Students will consult with their academic advisor to develop a plan of study that fits their interests and career goals.

All students will complete the following courses:

Additional Courses

All students must also choose at least one course from each of the following three categories:

9. Genetics and Cell/Molecular Emphasis:

Students considering graduate study in one of the specialties relating to cellular and molecular biology or genetics, or pursuing work in the aforementioned fields and/or biotechnology may wish to select the genetics and cell and molecular biology emphasis. The genetics and cell and molecular biology emphasis requires:

Biology Electives

Courses in the biology electives category must include BIO 423 (Plant Biology elective), CMB 426, six credits of 490 and/or 499, 422 or 432 (Animal Biology elective), and two courses chosen from CMB 411, CMB 414, and 416.

Suggested Order of Coursework for a Major in Biology

The CLAS Academic Advising Center has biology curriculum guides for the general major and all emphases.

Click here for the program description.