Majors and Courses


Career opportunities for those who major in biology are numerous.  Besides being one of the traditional preparatory fields for those pursuing careers as health care professionals, Biology is an excellent choice of major for those interested in secondary education, ecology, or the burgeoning genetic engineering industry.  And, of course, the areas of academic and industrial research are open to those who pursue a Ph.D. in the discipline.

These course requirements should be considered a minimum program in biology.  Students wishing to continue their education in biology-related graduate or professional school programs will need to supplement this basic curriculum with additional course work in the natural sciences.  Suggested programs are available, and Keck Science faculty should be consulted for advice at the earliest possible opportunity.


Biology 43L, 44L, Introductory Biology, or Biology 40L, Introduction to Biological Chemistry and Biology 44L, or both semesters of the AISS course
Chemistry 14L, 15L, Basic Principles of Chemistry or Chemistry 40L, Introduction to Biological Chemistry and Chemistry 15L, or 29L, Advanced General Chem, or both semesters of the AISS course
Chemistry 116L, 117L, Organic Chemistry                                                  
Mathematics 30 Calculus I (should be taken before Physics)
Physics 30L, 31L, General Physics (or 33L, 34L, Principles of Physics) (or both semesters of the AISS course)
6 Advanced courses in Biology (at least 3 with lab) 
Biology 191 or 188L/190L or 189L/190L, One or two-semester Thesis in Biology  


One year general biology (usually Biology 43L, 44L, or Biology 40L and 44L), or both semesters of the AISS course; one year of general chemistry (usually Chemistry 14L and 15L, or Chemistry 40L and 15L) or Chemistry 29L, or both semesters of the AISS course; four advanced courses in biology chosen in consultation with a member of the biology faculty to provide a coherent overall program. Must include at least two courses with laboratory.

Major courses may only be substituted with written permission of the biology convener.  Biochemistry, biophysics, and advanced courses in biology at HMC or Pomona may count towards the major with permission of the biology convener.

Keck Science Common Learning Outcomes

Students completing a major in the Keck Science Department should demonstrate the ability to:

1. Use foundational principles to analyze problems in nature.
2. Develop hypotheses and test them using quantitative techniques.
3. Articulate applications of science in the modern world.
4. Effectively communicate scientific concepts both verbally and in writing.

Student Learning Outcomes
The biology major aims to provide students with skills and knowledge to effectively engage and evaluate biological issues and innovations in the wider world, and to prepare them as leaders in research, biotechnology, and health-related career fields.

A Biology Major should be able to:

  • Understand foundational scientific principles and findings in the student's major field of biology.
  • Develop critical thinking and analytical skills by developing specific hypotheses and designing controlled experiments to test those hypotheses.
  • Read, understand and critique original research articles.