skip to content

Bachelor of Science in Biology

The undergraduate major in Biology can serve as a stepping-stone for a wide variety of career opportunities. For students planning to attend medical, dental, or veterinary school, or graduate school in biological and applied sciences, the biology major provides a strong foundation in the basic life sciences. This foundation of knowledge, plus laboratory experience, also prepares students well for research and technical positions in universities, government, and industry.

While a major in Biology provides an excellent background for these technical careers, it can also serve as a valuable and satisfying focus of a liberal arts education for those not planning careers in science-related fields. An understanding of basic biological principles is of increasing importance in today's world. A knowledgeable and concerned citizenry is the best guarantee that these issues will be resolved most effectively. Finally, an understanding of the processes of life can heighten our perception and appreciation of the world around us, in terms of its beauty, variety, and uniqueness.

ADVISING

Members of the Biology faculty are available for advising on such academic matters as choice of courses, research, suggested readings, and career plans. The student services office maintains a current list of faculty advisers, advising availability, and research interests.

The student services office staff and BioBridge, the department's peer advising group, are prepared to answer questions on administrative matters, such as requirements for the major, approved out-of-department electives, transfer course evaluations, and petition procedures. This office also distributes the department's Bachelor of Science Handbook, which delineates policies and requirements, as well as other department forms and informational handouts.

Each undergraduate interested in the Biology major is required to select a department faculty adviser as part of the major declaration process.

REQUIREMENTS

Candidates for the general Biology B.S. degree must complete the following, which range from 90-105 total units:

Core Courses—must be taken for a letter grade:

Subject and Catalog Number

Units

BIO 41

5

BIO 42

5

BIO or BIOHOPK 43

5

BIO 44X

5

BIO or BIOHOPK 44Y*

5

may be replaced by 4 units of BIOHOPK 175H

 

* BIO 44Y not required if completing honors program. Failure to complete honors program results in student being required to complete BIO 44Y.

Required Foundational Breadth Courses—two courses may be taken credit/no credit:

Subject and Catalog Number

Units

CHEM 31A,B, or 31X

4-8

CHEM 33, 35, 36, 130*, 131

18

CHEM 135 or 171

3

PHYSICS 21, 22, 23, 24 or 41, 43, 45 or 28, 29

8-12

MATH 19, 20, 21 or 41, 42 or 51**

5-10

*may not also count as foundational breadth

 

One additional Foundational Breadth Course from this list:

 

BIOHOPK 174H***

3

BIO/STATS 141***

4-5

CS 106A or 106X

3-5

MATH 51** or beyond

5

STATS 60/PSYCH 10

5

* May be substituted with MATH 100 or beyond if student is interested in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology.

** May be counted either toward the math requirement or foundational breadth, but not both.

*** If taken to fulfill the foundational breadth requirement, these courses do not count toward the 24 elective unit requirement.

Electives—24 units required, distributed as follows:

Central Menu Areas:

  1. Molecular (Area 1)
    • BIO 104. Advanced Molecular Biology
    • BIO 113. Fundamentals of Molecular Evolution3
    • BIO 118. Genetic Analysis of Biological Processes1
    • BIO 160A. Developmental Biology I1
    • BIO 160B. Developmental Biology II1
    • BIO 188. Biochemistry I
    • BIO 189. Biochemistry II
    • BIO 230. Molecular and Cellular Immunology1
    • CBIO 101. Cancer Biology1
    • CEE 274A. Environmental Microbiology I
  2. Cell/Developmental (Area 2)
    • BIO 118. Genetic Analysis of Biological Processes1
    • BIO 129A. Cellular Dynamics I: Cell Motility and Adhesion
    • BIO 129B. Cellular Dynamics II: Building a Cell
    • BIO 137. Plant Genetics1
    • BIO 154. Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology2
    • BIO 158. Developmental Neurobiology2
    • BIO 160A. Developmental Biology I1
    • BIO 160B. Developmental Biology II1
    • BIO 171. Principles of Cell Cycle Control
    • BIO 230. Molecular and Cellular Immunology1
    • CBIO 101. Cancer Biology1
    • CEE 274A. Environmental Microbiology I
  3. Organismal (Area 3)
    • BIO 112. Human Physiology
    • BIO 153. Cellular Neuroscience
    • BIO 154. Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology2
    • BIO 158. Developmental Neurobiology2
    • BIO 163. Neural Systems and Behavior
    • BIOHOPK 161H. Invertebrate Zoology
    • BIOHOPK 162H. Comparative Animal Physiology
    • BIOHOPK 167H. Nerve, Muscle, and Synapse
    • BIOHOPK 169H. Neurobiology and Behavior
    • BIOHOPK 171H. Ecological and Evolutionary Physiology
    • MI 185. Topics in Microbiology
  4. Ecology and Evolution (Area 4)
    • BIO 101. Ecology
    • BIO 113. Fundamentals of Molecular Evolution
    • BIO 121. Biogeography
    • BIO 136. Evolutionary Paleobiology
    • BIO 143. Evolution
    • BIO 144. Conservation Biology
    • BIO 145. Behavioral Ecology
    • BIOHOPK 163H. Oceanic Biology
    • BIOHOPK 185H. Ecology and Conservation of Kelp Forest Communities
    • BIOHOPK 172H. Marine Ecology
    • CEE 274A. Environmental Microbiology I

1. May be used to satisfy either area I or area II requirement.

2. May be used to satisfy either area II or area III requirement.

3. May be used to satisfy either area I or area IV requirement.

4. May be used to satisfy either area III or area IV requirement.

5. May be used to satisfy area I, area II, or area IV requirement.

Students intending to pursue research careers in biology, especially in ecology, population genetics, or theoretical biology, should be aware that MATH 19, 20, 21, or MATH 41, 42 are minimum mathematics requirements for the B.S. degree in Biology. Substantial additional training in mathematics, including differential equations, linear algebra, and probability theory, is often highly advisable. Students should consult the Biology faculty to discuss individual needs.

Additionally, even though only two or three quarters of physics are required, students should be aware that many graduate and professional schools (for example, Medicine) require a year of general physics with lab. Biology majors are therefore advised to take the year-long physics sequence PHYSICS 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 if they plan to attend graduate or medical school.

For students considering study at Hopkins Marine Station or an overseas program, the department recommends fulfilling as many University General Education Requirements as possible in the first two years at Stanford.

HOPKINS MARINE STATION

For more information on the Hopkins Marine Station, see the "Hopkins Marine Station" section of this bulletin. Students can go to Hopkins as early as Spring Quarter in the sophomore year, and can also go in the junior and/or senior year to take elective courses. Full descriptions of Hopkins Marine Station courses may be viewed on the Stanford Bulletin's Explore Courses web site. The following Hopkins Marine Station courses may be used toward the Biology degree requirements:

Core—

* 4 units count toward the BIO 44Y requirement, with the remaining units counting as research/teaching under the upper-division elective requirement.

Electives—

Research and/or Teaching (maximum 6 units combined)—

See Biology degree requirements above for further information. Many of the Hopkins Marine Station courses may be used to fulfill department major requirements.

TYPICAL SCHEDULE FOR A FOUR-YEAR PROGRAM
FIRST YEAR

Subject and Catalog Number

Qtr. and Units

 

A

W

S

CHEM 31X*, 33, 35, 36. Chemical Principles and Organic Chemistry

4

4

7

MATH 19, 20, 21. Calculus and Analytic Geometry

3

3

4

Freshman requirements, seminars, or GERs

8

8

6

Totals

15

15

17

* This schedule varies slightly if the student takes CHEM 31A,B.

SECOND YEAR

BIO 41. Genetics, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology*

5

 

 

BIO 42. Cell Biology and Animal Physiology*

 

5

 

BIO or BIOHOPK 43. Plant Biology, Evolution, and Ecology*

 

 

5

BIO 44X. Core Experimental Laboratory

 

5

 

BIO or BIOHOPK 44Y. Core Experimental Laboratory

 

 

5

CHEM 130, 131. Organic Chemistry

4

3

 

General Education Requirements

6

5

8

Totals

15

17

18

* Letter grade only.

THIRD YEAR

CHEM 135 (or 171). Physical Chemistry

3

 

 

PHYSICS 21, 22, 23, 24. Introductory Physics

4

4

 

General Education Requirements and/or electives

8

11

15

Totals

15

15

15

FOURTH YEAR

General Education requirements and/or Electives

15

15

15

FIELDS OF STUDY

In addition to the undergraduate major program described above, the department offers these six fields of study for students wishing to concentrate their studies in particular areas of biology:

  1. Biochemistry and Biophysics
  2. Ecology and Evolution
  3. Marine Biology
  4. Microbes and Immunity
  5. Molecular and Cellular Biology
  6. Neurobiology

These fields of study are declared on Axess at the time of the major declaration; they appear on the transcript but not on the diploma. Candidates for the B.S. degree in Biology with a field of study are required to complete the departmental honors program as well as the set of requirements outlined below.

BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS

Candidates for the Biochemistry and Biophysics field of study must complete the following, which range from 99-115 total units:

Core Courses (must be taken for a letter grade):

Subject and Catalog Number

Units

BIO 41

5

BIO 42

5

BIO or BIOHOPK 43

5

Writing in the Major (one of the following):

BIO 44X

5

BIO or BIOHOPK 44Y

5

BIO 145*

4

BIOHOPK175H*

10

* These courses can also be used to count toward the elective requirement.

Required Foundational Breadth Courses (two courses may be taken credit/no credit):

CHEM 31A,B or 31X

4-8

CHEM 33, 35, 36, 130

15

CHEM 135 or 171

3

PHYSICS 41, 43, 45

12

MATH 51, 52

10

STATS 60 or BIO 141

4-5

Required Biology Courses (must be taken for a letter grade):

BIO 104

3

BIO 118

5

BIO 129A or 129B

4

BIO 188

3

Approved Biochemistry and Biophysics Courses (three of the following; must be taken for a letter grade):

APPPHYS 136/BIOC 236

3

APPPHYS 192/292

3

BIO 132/232/APPPHYS/BIOPHYS/MCP 232

4

BIO 152/MCP 222

3

BIO 154/254/NBIO 254

4

BIO 189/289/CHEM 183/CHEMENG 183/283

3

BIO 214/BIOC 224

2-5

BIO 217

4

BIOE/RAD 220

3

BIOMEDIN 210

3

BIOMEDIN/BIOE/GENE 214/CS 274

3-4

BIOPHYS/SBIO 228

3

BIOPHYS/SBIO 241

3-5

CHEM 184

4

CHEM 185

3

EE 268

3

MCP 256

4

PHYSICS 105

4

Electives—7 units required. Electives must be 100-level or above and chosen from the offerings in the Department of Biology, Hopkins Marine Station, or from the list of approved out-of-department electives. Up to 6 units of teaching and research are allowed. Only one course can be taken credit/no credit.

Research Requirement—Admission to the departmental honors program; 10 units of BIO 199, 199X, or BIOHOPK 199H; poster or oral presentation; and honors thesis. Only research units from BIO or BIOHOPK are permitted.

ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION

Candidates for the Ecology and Evolution field of study must complete the following, which range from 97-126 total units:

Core Courses (must be taken for a letter grade):

Subject and Catalog Number

Units

BIO 41

5

BIO 42

5

BIO or BIOHOPK 43

5

BIO 101* or BIOHOPK 172H*

3 or 5

* This course cannot also be used to count toward the elective requirement.

Writing in the Major (one of the following):

BIO 44X

5

BIO or BIOHOPK 44Y

5

BIO 145*

4

BIOHOPK 175H*

10

* This course can also be used to count toward the elective requirement.

Required Foundational Breadth Courses (two courses may be taken credit/no credit):

CHEM 31A,B or 31X

4-8

CHEM 33, 35, 36

11

PHYSICS 21, 22, 23, 24 or 41, 43, 45 or 28, 29

8-12

MATH 41, 42 or 51

5-10

Required Evolutionary Biology Course (one of the following; must be taken for a letter grade):

BIO 113

4

BIO 136

4

BIO 143

3

BIOHOPK 166H

5

Required Quantitative Methods Course (one of the following; must be taken for a letter grade):

BIO 141

4-5

BIOHOPK 174H

3

CS 106A or 106X

3-5

STATS 60 or beyond

5

Electives—30 units required. Only one course can be taken credit/no credit. Electives must be from this approved list: BIO 101, 102, 117, 118, 121, 122, 125, 139, 144, 145, 146, 147, 175, 183, 184, 186, 215, 216; BIOHOPK 161H, 162H***, 163H, 166H, 171H, 172H, 173H*, 174H, 175H***, 182H***, 185H***; CHEM 130, 131; EARTHSYS 144/EESS 164; EESS 134, 158; GES 123, 240; OSPAUSTL 10**, 20**, 30**.

* Only 1 unit can count.

** Only 2 units can count.

***Only 6 units can count.

Research Requirement—Admission to the departmental honors program; 10 units of BIO 199, 199X, or BIOHOPK 199H; poster or oral presentation; and honors thesis. Only research units from BIO or BIOHOPK are permitted.

MARINE BIOLOGY

Candidates for the Marine Biology field of study must complete the following, which range from 92-129 total units:

Core Courses (must be taken for a letter grade):

Subject and Catalog Number

Units

BIO 41

5

BIO 42

5

BIO or BIOHOPK 43

5

Writing in the Major (one of the following):

BIO 44X

5

BIO or BIOHOPK 44Y

5

BIO 145

4

BIOHOPK 175H*

10

* This courses can also be used to count toward the approved courses.

Required Foundational Breadth Courses (two courses may be taken credit/no credit):

CHEM 31A,B or 31X

4-8

CHEM 33, 35, 36, 130, 131

18

PHYSICS 21, 22, 23, 24 or 41, 43, 45 or 28, 29

8-12

MATH 41, 42 or 19, 20, 21 or 51

5-10

STATS 60 or BIO 141 or BIOHOPK 174H

3-5

Required Biology Courses (must be taken for a letter grade):

BIO 101

3

BIO 118

5

BIO 143

3

Approved courses (three of the following; must be taken for a letter grade):

BIOHOPK 161H

5

BIOHOPK 162H

5-8

BIOHOPK 163H

4

BIOHOPK 164H

5

BIOHOPK 166H

5

BIOHOPK 171H

4

BIOHOPK 172H

5

OSPAUSTL 10, 20, and 30

9

Approved courses (one of the following; must be taken for a letter grade):

BIOHOPK 175H

10

BIOHOPK 182H

16

BIOHOPK 184H

16

Research Requirement—Admission to the departmental honors program; 10 units of BIO 199, 199X, or BIOHOPK 199H; poster or oral presentation; and honors thesis. Only research units from BIO or BIOHOPK are permitted.

MICROBES AND IMMUNITY

Candidates for the Microbes and Immunity field of study must complete the following, which range from 87-121 total units:

Core Courses (must be taken for a letter grade):

Subject and Catalog Number

Units

BIO 41

5

BIO 42

5

BIO or BIOHOPK 43

5

Writing in the Major and Introduction to Laboratory Science (one of the following):

BIO 44X

5

BIO or BIOHOPK 44Y

5

BIOHOPK 175H*

10

* This course can also be used to count toward the elective requirement.

Required Foundational Breadth Courses (two courses may be taken credit/no credit):

CHEM 31A,B or 31X

4-8

CHEM 33, 35, 36, 130, 131

18

PHYSICS 21, 22, 23, 24 or 41, 43, 45 or 28, 29

8-12

MATH 19, 20, 21 or 41, 42 or 51

5-10

BIO 141* or BIOHOPK 174H*

3-5

* This course cannot also be used to count toward the elective requirement.

Required Courses in Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular Evolution (four of the following; must be taken for a letter grade):

BIO 113

4

BIO 177

3

BIO 230

4

BIOHOPK 274

9-12

CEE 177

4

CEE 274A

3

CEE 274B

3

CEE 274D

3

IMMUNOL 185

3

IMMUNOL 202

3

MI 104

3

MI 211

3

Required Course in Reading Scientific Literature (one of the following, must be taken for a letter grade):

BIO 178

3

MI 185

3

Electives—12 units required. Electives must be 100-level or above and selected from the offerings in the Department of Biology, Hopkins Marine Station, or from the list of approved out-of-department electives. Up to 6 units of teaching and research are allowed. Only one course can be taken credit/no credit.

Research Requirement—Admission to the departmental honors program; 10 units of BIO 199, 199X, or BIOHOPK 199H; poster or oral presentation; and honors thesis. Only research units from BIO or BIOHOPK are permitted.

MOLECULAR AND CELL BIOLOGY

Candidates for the Molecular and Cell Biology field of study must complete the following, which range from 97-118 total units:

Core Courses (must be taken for a letter grade):

Subject and Catalog Number

Units

BIO 41

5

BIO 42

5

BIO or BIOHOPK 43

5

Writing in the Major (one of the following):

BIO 44X

5

BIO or BIOHOPK 44Y

5

BIO 145*

4

BIOHOPK175H*

10

* These courses can also be used to count toward the elective requirement.

Required Foundational Breadth Courses (two courses may be taken credit/no credit):

CHEM 31A,B or 31X

4-8

CHEM 33, 35, 36, 130, 131

18

CHEM 135 or 171

3

PHYSICS 21, 22, 23, 24 or 41, 43, 45 or 28, 29

8-12

MATH 41, 42 or 19, 20, 21 or 51

10

STATS 60 or BIO 141*

4-5

* This course cannot also be used to count toward the elective requirement.

Required Biology Courses (must be taken for a letter grade):

BIO 104

3

BIO 118

5

BIO 129A, 129B

8

or BIO 160A, 160B

8

Electives—15 units required. Electives must be 100-level or above and selected from the offerings in the Department of Biology, Hopkins Marine Station, or from the list of approved out-of-department electives. Up to 6 units of teaching and research are allowed. Only one course can be taken credit/no credit.

Research Requirement—Admission to the departmental honors program; 10 units of BIO 199, 199X, or BIOHOPK 199H; poster or oral presentation; and honors thesis. Only research units from BIO or BIOHOPK are permitted.

NEUROBIOLOGY

Candidates for the Neurobiology field of study must complete the following, which range from 98-120 total units:

Core Courses (must be taken for a letter grade):

Subject and Catalog Number

Units

BIO 41

5

BIO 42

5

BIO or BIOHOPK 43

5

Writing in the Major (one of the following):

BIO 44X

5

BIO or BIOHOPK 44Y

5

BIO 145*

4

BIOHOPK175H*

10

* These courses can also be used to count toward the elective requirement.

Required Foundational Breadth Courses (two courses may be taken credit/no credit):

CHEM 31A,B or 31X

4-8

CHEM 33, 35, 36, 130, 131

18

PHYSICS 21, 22, 23, 24 or 41, 43, 45 or 28, 29

8-12

MATH 41, 42 or 19, 20, 21 or 51

10

STATS 60 or BIO 141*

4-5

* This course cannot also be used to count toward the elective requirement.

Required Biology Courses (must be taken for a letter grade):

BIO 118 or 104

5

BIO 129A or 129B or 160A or 160B

4

BIO 150 or 163

4-5

BIO 154

4

BIO 158

4

Electives—15 units required. Electives must be at the 100-level or above and selected from the offerings in the Department of Biology, Hopkins Marine Station, or from the list of approved out-of-department electives. Up to 6 units of teaching and/or research are allowed. Only one course can be taken credit/no credit.

Research Requirement—Admission to the departmental honors program; 10 units of BIO 199, 199X, or BIOHOPK 199H; poster or oral presentation; and honors thesis. Only research units from BIO or BIOHOPK are permitted.

HONORS

To graduate with departmental honors, a student must conduct an independent research project typically over the course of at least one year; projects are started no later than Autumn or Winter quarter of the junior year. Research must be done in a Biology Department lab or a lab in the Medical School for which the student has obtained prior approval. Administrative steps include:

  1. Submit an honors proposal to the department's student services office two quarters prior to graduation. For instance, students graduating Spring Quarter must submit petitions no later than mid-Autumn Quarter.
  2. Complete at least 10 units of an approved research project in BIO 199, 199X, or BIOHOPK 199H. Only research units from BIO or BIOHOPK are permitted.
  3. Obtain at least a 3.0 (B) grade point average (GPA) in all Biology major requirements taken at Stanford (foundational breadth, core, and elective courses). Grades earned from teaching (BIO or BIOHOPK 290 and BIO 291) and research (BIOHOPK 175H, 199H; BIO 199, 199X) are not computed into this GPA.
  4. If graduating in June, participate in the Biology Honors Symposium by presenting a poster or giving an oral presentation. The symposium is typically at the end of May. If graduating Autumn, Winter, or Summer Quarter, produce a poster to be displayed at the symposium.
  5. Complete and submit, by the end of the quarter of graduation, two signed and bound copies of an honors thesis approved by at least two readers (one of whom must be from the faculty of the Department of Biology and both must be Academic Council members). In addition, students must submit two copies of the honors thesis abstract (one paper copy and one electronic copy), which include student name, thesis title, research sponsor, and sponsor's department.

Further information on the honors program is available in the student services office in Gilbert 108, as well as on the web at http://biohonors.stanford.edu.

Copyright ©2010 Stanford University | Office of the University Registrar | Academic Year 2010-11 | Terms of Use | Copyright Complaints | Report a Problem with this site.