Skip to Navigation
Skip to main content
Grand Valley State University    
 
    
 
  Dec 12, 2017
 
2017-2018 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 biological sciences. The biology faculty believe it is vital for undergraduate students to understand the unifying concepts and fundamental principles within the breadth of biology. Thus, the core biology curriculum introduces the diverse areas of biology. All students are required to complete an emphasis. Each of the five emphases provides breadth and depth in biology, while allowing students flexibility to specialize in areas of particular interest. In consultation with their biology advisor, students can tailor programs to meet their unique interests, educational goals and career needs. A biology degree can support students intending to pursue graduate or professional degrees in the life sciences, including veterinary and human medicine, as well as careers in highly diverse fields, such as conservation biology, genetic counseling, plant biology, population genetics, aquatic sciences, wildlife ecology, animal behavior, evolutionary biology, microbiology, and sustainable agriculture.

The biology major requires fulfillment of general university degree requirements, biology core requirements (including chemistry, physics, cell and molecular biology, and math/statistics requirements), and biology elective requirements as outlined below for each emphasis. All majors must complete at least 41 credits in biology.

Requirements for a Major in Biology


Biology Core (32 to 34 credits)


Complete one course from each of the following biology elective categories:

  • Category I (Plant Organismal Biology) Credits: 3 to 4
  • Category II (Animal Organismal Biology) Credits: 3 to 4

Biology B.S. students must complete the courses listed above. Biology B.A. students must complete the courses listed above and demonstrate third-semester proficiency in a foreign language.

Students must complete a minimum of 41 credits of biology coursework. If students still do not have 41 credits of biology coursework after completing both the biology core requirements (listed previously) and the requirements for their chosen emphasis (as follows), they should select additional biology courses from the elective categories, BIO Issues courses, credits in research (BIO 499), or internship credit (BIO 490). Students should consult with a biology advisor prior to selecting elective courses.

Additional Requirements for the Biology Major (26 to 28 credits):


a. Chemistry


b. Statistics and Mathematics


Choose one of the following:

Professional and graduate schools generally require a semester of statistics and/or completion of math through trigonometry or calculus. Students should consult an advisor and check requirements of particular programs of interest prior to selecting math and statistics courses.

c. Physics


Students planning to seek secondary teaching certification or acceptance to graduate or professional programs (e.g., Ph.D. programs; medical or veterinary school) should complete PHY 220 and PHY 221 OR PHY 230 and PHY 231.

Excluded and Restricted Courses


The following courses are excluded from the biology major.

The following course may only count toward the biology major with advisor’s permission.

Students may count BIO 357 or BMS 212/213 toward the biology degree, but not both.

Biology Issues Courses


The following courses have been approved to satisfy part of the general education Issues requirement. These courses may count toward the biology major after elective-category requirements are satisfied for the student’s selected emphasis:

Emphases


All biology majors must complete an emphasis within the major (general biology, biomolecular processes, ecology and evolutionary biology, preveterinary medicine, or teacher certification). Students pursuing certification to teach biology in grades 6-12 must complete the emphasis in teacher certification. Students pursuing enrollment in veterinary school should select the emphasis in preveterinary medicine.

Students are encouraged to complete BIO courses of interest beyond the minimum required; these may include BIO courses not listed in the elective categories below. Unrestricted elective credits, i.e., those beyond the 41-credit minimum, will apply toward the GVSU 120 credit-hour baccalaureate degree requirement and additionally may help satisfy general education requirements (e.g., Issues courses). For students desiring more breadth or depth in their major, any additional BIO courses (except those specifically excluded elsewhere) are suggested and will contribute to credits completed in the BIO major.

Students may wish to pursue more specialized study within biology, such as aquatic biology, plant biology, microbiology, animal behavior, evolution, genetics, or conservation biology. The two specialized emphases – ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB) and biomolecular processes – can support many such interests when elective courses are selected carefully. Prior to selecting an emphasis, students should consult with one or more biology faculty members whose expertise supports their interests.

Students should also pursue hands-on professional development through research, internship, volunteer, and other opportunities in field and laboratory settings. Early consultation with an appropriate academic advisor in the biology department is strongly encouraged.

Emphasis in General Biology


The general biology emphasis is appropriate for preprofessional students (other than preveterinary), and students interested in exploring biology broadly. In addition to the requirements outlined above, students in this emphasis must complete the following requirements. Elective courses may only count in one category.

Complete the following courses:

CMB 406 - Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory Credits: 2  

Complete one course from one of the following categories:

  • Category III (Principles of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; 3 to 4 credits) or
  • Category IV (Applied Ecology and Evolution; 3 to 4 credits)

Complete one course from the following category:

  • Category V (Biomolecular Processes; 2 to 4 credits)

Emphasis in Biomolecular Processes


The emphasis in biomolecular processes is appropriate for students interested in microbiology, genetics, cellular biology and molecular biology.  It supports students pursuing careers as laboratory technicians, seeking entry into medical or other health-related professional schools or graduate programs in genetics, microbiology, molecular and cellular biology or related fields, and those wishing to complete a broad biology degree with some specialization in genetics, microbiology, or cellular and molecular biology. In addition to the requirements outlined previously, students in this emphasis must complete the following requirements. Elective courses may only count in one category.

Complete the following courses:

Complete two courses from the following category:

  • Category V (Biomolecular Processes; 2 to 4 credits each)

Emphasis in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


The emphasis in ecology and evolutionary biology is appropriate for students pursuing careers in professions such as aquatic and fisheries biology, animal behavior, wildlife ecology, plant biology, zoology, marine biology, and conservation biology. It is especially appropriate for students intending to apply to graduate programs in ecology, evolutionary biology (including systematics), and related fields. In addition to the requirements outlined previously, students in this emphasis must complete the following requirements. Elective courses may only count in one category.

Complete one course from the following category:

  • Category III (Principles of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; 3 to 4 credits)

Complete one course from one of the following categories:

  • Category III (Principles of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; 3 to 4 credits) or
  • Category IV (Applied Ecology and Evolution; 3 to 4 credits)

Emphasis in Preveterinary Medicine


Students planning careers in veterinary medicine or related fields may prepare for application to professional schools with a biology major by selecting the emphasis in preveterinary medicine after completion of the introductory sequences in biology and chemistry (previously mentioned). Early consultation with an appropriate preprofessional advisor within the biology department is strongly encouraged.

Entrance requirements vary among veterinary schools at different universities. The emphasis in preveterinary medicine is tailored to satisfy application requirements at MSU; students should peruse the application requirements of the specific programs they are considering to ensure requirements are met prior to applying. Entry requirements for particular programs are available on university websites. Because entry into professional programs is highly competitive, students should complete the entry requirements for programs in veterinary medicine offered at multiple universities and be prepared to apply for admission to several. In addition to the requirements outlined previously, students in this emphasis must complete the following requirements. Elective courses may only count in one category.

Complete the following courses:

Complete one of the following:

              OR BOTH

Complete the following courses in chemistry and physics:

Beyond coursework, preveterinary students must gain experience in the profession through volunteer work, internships, or employment; most schools of veterinary medicine require completion of specific hours of small- and large-animal experience prior to application. Research experience and community service (especially involving animal handling or welfare) are also strongly encouraged. Consultation with a biology advisor is essential.

Emphasis in Teacher Certification


Students majoring in biology may obtain Michigan certification to teach biology in grades 6-12. In addition to the requirements outlined above, students pursuing certification to teach biology must complete all the requirements listed below. Elective courses may only count in one category. These are the same requirements as listed in the general biology emphasis, but declaring the teacher certification emphasis is important so that students are identified for advising purposes. Additionally, those seeking teacher certification must complete a teaching minor and a 39-credit professional education program from the College of Education (see the GVSU College of Education website for more information). Secondary admission to the College of Education requires at least a 2.7 GPA in the major.

Complete the following courses:

Complete one course from one of the following categories:

  • Category III (Principles of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; 3 to 4 credits) or
  • Category IV (Applied Ecology and Evolution; 3 to 4 credits)

Complete one course from the following category:

  • Category V (Biomolecular Processes; 2 to 4 credits)

Premedical and other Preprofessional Students


Students planning careers in clinical professions, such as physicians, dentists, and physical therapists may prepare for entry into professional school with a biology major. Students are encouraged to complete the general biology or biomolecular processes emphasis and to pursue opportunities in laboratory-based research and/or clinical experience to best support preparation for such professional studies. Early consultation with an appropriate preprofessional advisor within the biology department or CLAS Academic Advising Center is strongly encouraged. Entrance requirements vary among universities, but most require completion of the following:

Additional coursework required for admission to professional programs may include biochemistry, microbiology, embryology, nutrition, anatomy, physiology, statistics, and/or mathematics beyond college algebra. Entry requirements for particular professional programs are available on university websites. Biology advisors and the CLAS preprofessional advisors can assist students in selecting appropriate courses. Because entry into professional programs is highly competitive, students should complete the entry requirements for programs offered at multiple universities, and be prepared to apply for admission to several programs.

Beyond coursework, applicants are typically required to gain experience in the profession prior to seeking admission; for example, admission requirements for most medical schools require practical experience in a clinical or health care setting. Research experience and community service (especially in areas related to the profession) are also strongly encouraged. Consultation with a biology advisor is essential.

 

Elective Course Categories


  • Category I: Plant Organismal Biology
  • Category II: Animal Organismal Biology
  • Category III: Principles of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Category IV: Applied Ecology & Evolution
  • Category V: Biomolecular Processes

Elective courses must be selected to satisfy emphasis requirements, but also should be selected deliberately, carefully, and in consultation with a biology advisor to support a student’s specific educational and career objectives. Students should meet with their advisor prior to completion of elective coursework. 

Note: some courses appear in more than one category, but a particular course may only satisfy one biology degree requirement.

Category I: Plant Organismal Biology


These courses include a field and/or laboratory component and address the structure, function, development, taxonomy, evolution, or ecology of plants. All students (regardless of emphasis) must complete at least one course from the following:

Category II: Animal Organismal Biology


These courses include a laboratory or field component and significant content addressing the anatomy, physiology, development, and/or life cycles of animals. All biology majors (regardless of emphasis) must complete at least one course from the following:

Category III: Principles of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


These courses include significant content addressing principles of ecology and/or evolutionary biology; these courses may or may not include a laboratory component. See requirements for specific emphases.

Category IV: Applied Ecology & Evolution


These courses include significant content addressing the application of ecological and evolutionary principles to environmental concerns and human endeavors. See elective requirements for specific emphases.

Category V: Biomolecular Processes


These courses include significant content addressing gene function and regulation, microbiology, cellular biology, and/or molecular biology.  See elective requirements for specific emphases.

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.