Programs of Study

The Biological Sciences impact almost every aspect of modern life, and interface with a multitude of fields and disciplines including the basic sciences and medicine, social sciences, law, and engineering. The study of biology thus provides an ideal preparation for a wide range of careers.

With more than 60 faculty members and approximately 1000 majors, the School of Biological Sciences ranks among the largest undergraduate departments at the University of Utah.

The School of Biological Sciences offers the following undergraduate degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Biology, Bachelor of Science in Biology, Bachelor of Arts in Biology Teaching, Bachelor of Science in Biology Teaching and Honors versions of all of the mentioned degrees. A Biology bachelors degree prepares students for postgraduate education in the health sciences and allied fields, graduate school leading to advanced degrees in the Biological Sciences, and employment in a variety of health- and science-related job opportunities. The Bachelors of Biology Teaching degrees prepare students for a career in teaching biology in secondary schools.

The School of Biological Sciences also offers two degree minors: Biology Teaching and Integrative Human Biology (jointly with the Department of Anthropology).

University General Education & Bachelors Requirements

Biology majors are required to complete all of the University's intellectual exploration and Bachelor degree requirements for science majors (see General Education and Bachelors degree requirements).

Science Core

In addition to the University’s general education requirements, Biology majors (Biology BA/BS) must complete 72 credits of science, including a “Science Core” (math, physics, and chemistry) consisting of:

  • 2 semesters of Calculus [(Math 1170 and 1180) or (Math 1210 and 1220) or (Math 1250 and 1260)]
  • 2 semesters of General Physics [(Phys 2010 or 2110 or 2210) and (Phys 2020 or 2220 or 2220)]
  • 2 semesters of General Chemistry with labs (Chem 1210, 1215, 1220, and 1225)
  • 1 semesters of Organic Chemistry (Chem 2310)*

Note: some professional schools require completion of 2 semesters of organic chemistry with labs prior to admission. Students planning to apply to those programs are encouraged to take Chem 2315, 2320, and 2325, which will count towards the requirement for 72 credits of science.

We do accept AP scores; for more information please see your academic advisor.

Ancillary science requirements for the Biology Teaching degrees differ slightly. See Biology Teaching Worksheet.

The Biology Curriculum


Biology majors are required to take Biol 1610, which serves as an introduction to the breadth of Biology. Biol 1610 is a pre-requisite for many Biology courses. This requirement is waived for students who receive a 5 on the Biology AP exam.

The Biology “core”

Biology majors* must complete 36 credits of approved Biology courses, including a "core" curriculum consisting of six courses (18-20 cr):

  • Biol 1620: Fundamental Principles of Biology II formally known as 2010: Evolution and Diversity of Life (3 cr)
  • Biol 2020: (3 cr) or Biol 2021 (4 cr): Principles of Cell Biology/Science
  • Biol 2030: Principles of Genetics (3 cr)
  • Biol 3410: Ecology and Evolution (3 cr)
  • Biol 3510: Biochemistry I (3 cr)
  • Biol "Form and Function:" Choose one of several "F&F" courses (3-4 cr)
*Biology core reqmts for the Biology Teaching degrees differ slightly. See Biology Teaching Worksheet.

Biology electives

In addition to their core classes, Biology majors* complete at least 18 credits of electives selected from a catalog of over 100 courses see (Biology Master Course List), with topics spanning the breadth of Biology from atoms to ecosystems. Students may select their Biology electives to suit their individual interests and career goals, with the following restrictions. Electives must include:

  • At least 12 cr of upper division Biology courses (numbered 3000-level or higher);
  • At least two 5000-level Biology courses (≥ 2 cr ea); and
  • Four courses with approved laboratory component, totaling 5 lab units see (approved lab courses).

View a sample four year program of study (PDF)

*Biology elective reqmts for the Biology Teaching degrees differ slightly. See Biology Teaching Worksheet.

Optional "emphases" are available for Biology majors.

Students may elect to complete one of three EMPHASES in different fields of Biology.

Worksheets and requirements for biology majors/emphases/minors

Major Requirements BEFORE Fall 2019
Major Requirements STARTING Fall 2019
Biology BS/BA Biology BS/BA
Anatomy & Physiology Emphasis Anatomy & Physiology Emphasis
Biochemistry Emphasis Biochemistry Emphasis
Cell & Molecular Emphasis Cell & Molecular Emphasis
Environmental & Organismal Emphasis Ecology, Evolution, and Environment Emphasis
  Genetics & Genomics Emphasis
  Microbiology Emphasis
  Neurobiology Emphasis
  Plant Biology Emphasis

Students electing to complete an emphasis must fulfill all requirements for a Biology major (including Gen Ed and Bachelors requirements, the Science Core, Biology Core, and Biology elective requirements; see the majors worksheet) but choose their Biology electives to fulfill requirements of their emphasis.

Students who want to design a more flexible degree program can still pursue a BA/BS in Biology without emphasis.

Integrative Human Biology Minor

The IHB minor is an interdisciplinary minor offered jointly by the Department of Anthropology and School of Biological Sciences. Students completing the IHB minor acquire the broad but rigorous background in human biology they will need as professionals in the 21st-century health sciences and many other fields that engage directly with aspects of human adaptation and welfare.
For more information contact the Anthropology advisor.

Undergraduate Research

Biology students are encouraged to participate in faculty-sponsored independent research projects. Students participating in research can register for Biol 4955: Independent research, which can be applied to their electives and lab requirements (a maximum of 3 cr and 2 lab units). Independent student research is also the cornerstone of the Biology Department's Honors program.

Undergraduate Internship

An internship is a great way for students to gain professional experience, enhance learning, and network with potential employers. Biology majors can earn academic credit for qualifying internships through enrollment in BIOL4965, an independent study internship course. Contact the course instructor, Amy Sibul, for more information.

Pre-medicine and other pre-professional programs

The Biology major requirements include many courses in the recommended curricula for pre-professional students (including pre-medicine, pre-dental, and pre-veterinary requirements). Pre-professional students are advised to consult the Biology advising office and Pre-professional advising office for assistance in planning their curriculum.

School of Biological Sciences Scholarships

Several scholarships are available to declared Biology majors. Scholarship information and applications can be obtained from the Biology Advising Office or on-line via the Biology Scholarship information page. Applications are typically due in mid-February.