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Biology

College of the Sciences

Biology Majors & Minor

Start Here

Thank you for your interest in a major in the Department of Biological Sciences!

The Faculty and Staff in the Biology Department look forward to working with you to achieve your educational goals!

All students interested in pursuing a Biology Major, with the exception of those focused on teaching (see below), begin the advising process with our Biology Major Advisor, Mary Cairns Park.  Please send her an email to get started. Mary Cairns Park also advises for health careers, so contact Mary if you are interested in a health career but aren't sure what program is right for you.  

Email: Mary.CairnsPark@cwu.edu

College of the Sciences (COTS) Advising Office Phone: 509-963-1498

If you are interested in a career as a high school biology teacher, contact Ms. Rachel George, Academic Advisor for STEM Teaching. [email: Rachel.George@cwu.edu]

 

How to Become a Biology Major or Minor

Before declaring your major you should: 

1. Research the Biology programs and major specializations on this page, see below.
2. Talk with the Biology and Health Careers Advisor, see above under “Start Here”. 

Ready to Declare a Biology Major? 

Request the appropriate major and specialization using the MyCWU Portal following these instructions. See list below for program codes.

Declaring a Biology Minor? 

Meet with your major advisor to decide if this is right for you, and request the minor using the myCWU Portal following these instructions.  The program code is [BIOL Minor].  Please also complete the Biology Minor Course of Study Worksheet to have elective credits approved, and submit it by email to the Biological Sciences Department biology@cwu.edu.

Want to Change or Drop Your Biology Major, Specialization, or Minor? 

Log back into the MyCWU Portal to drop your declared major / specialization / minor and request to declare a new biology major or specialization following these instructions. If the new major or minor is not in the Biological Sciences Department, go to that department’s website for instructions on how to declare. 

Program Codes:

When declaring your major in myCWU, you must enter one of the program codes listed below:

[BIOLBS] Biology BS (you must also pick one of the following specialization codes):

  • BS, Biomedical Science Specialization [BISC]
  • BS, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Specialization [ECOL]
  • BS, Molecular and Cell Specialization [CAMB]
  • BS, General Specialization [GEBI]

[BIOLBA] Biology BA (does not have specializations) 

[BIOL Minor] Biology Minor (does not have specializations)

Already Declared Your Major?

  1. Save a copy of the Checklist for Majors and the recommended electives for your chosen major and career
  2. Identify and meet with the appropriate faculty mentor (coming soon). 
  3. Check out the biology website for course rotation lists and schedules, research opportunities and funding, scholarships, student clubs and organizations, internships and jobs, and information about our graduate program. 

Biology Major and Minor Degree Options and Requirements 

Students pursuing an undergraduate Biology degree at CWU can earn a Bachelor of Science major (Biology BS), Bachelor of Arts major (Biology BA), or a Biology minor.  Those pursuing a Biology BS major must pick one of the four BS specializations. We recommend that students meet with the Biology and Health Careers Advisor (see above) to help with picking their major.  

Biology major courses are organized into five groups: Structure/Function, Ecology, Evolution, Molecular and Cell and Diversity, as shown in the Current Course Requirements Chart.  All courses in these groups can be used as electives in the BS specializations and the Biology minor.  All courses in the groups, the Variable Credit Courses, and the General Biology Electives can also be used for electives in the BS specializations and Biology minor, as can some non-biology courses (at least 50% of your electives must come from Biology).   

 

Bachelor of Science Degree (BS) Specializations 

The BS Biology Major offers undergraduate students a degree program with depth of training in the biological sciences and supporting fields. This program prepares students for immediate entrance into careers in biological sciences or for graduate work.  The Biology BS has four specializations. The selected specialization will be indicated on a student's transcript.  

BS, General Specialization   

This is the broadest BS specialization. Students take courses from all five groups (see Current Course Requirements Chart) and have a large range of electives to choose from. This program prepares students for immediate entrance into careers in biological sciences or for some graduate and professional schools. 

The BS General Specialization with the following recommended electives is appropriate for students who plant to pursue veterinary school:

BS, Biomedical Science Specialization    

The Biomedical Science Specialization serves students that are interested in pursuing careers in human health (medicine, dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, pharmacy) and veterinary medicine. This specialization allows for the study of human biology, together with a core of fundamental physical science principals (chemistry and physics). Students apply these physical principals to the study of biological systems, which is an essential requirement of professional health programs in medicine, dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, pre-pharmacy and physician assistant programs.  

BS, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Specialization    

Ecology is the study of how organisms interact with their physical and biological environment. Evolution considers how populations change over time to generate the rich diversity of life on earth and is the unifying theory of biology. The Ecology and Evolution Specialization is designed for students broadly interested in basic and applied biology, natural resource management, agriculture, ecological restoration, conservation biology, disease dynamics, animal behavior, and biological research. Students following this specialization will gain experience in natural history, field research, and experimental design. Potential careers may be found in federal, state, and tribal agencies, private environmental consulting firms, research laboratories, and natural history museums. Students interested in graduate study should work closely with their advisor and faculty mentor to tailor this specialization to their particular field of interest. 

BS, Molecular and Cell Biology Specialization    

Molecular and Cell Biology is the study of fundamental processes that form the basis of biological life and the techniques used to study these processes. The study of molecular and cell biology facilitates understanding of a wide variety of disciplines, including genetics, developmental biology, physiology, and evolution of organisms. The goal of the MCB emphasis is to prepare graduates to be competitive in applications for entry into graduate degree programs, professional programs in the biomedical fields, or jobs in biomedical/agricultural research labs in government and industry. 

 

Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree 

The B.A. Biology major is designed for students preparing to incorporate biology into broader careers such as teaching, health sciences (PA, nursing, pre-PT), business, or law. It is also the appropriate major for students seeking endorsement in teaching high school biology. 

Students seeking a Biology BA must complete one year of college/university study or two years of high school study of a single world language. 

A Biology BS is recommended for students who anticipate pursuing a graduate degree in biology, health programs (MD, DO, DVM, DDS, Pharm D.) or biology careers that might require training in a greater depth of biological subdisciplines.  

Teaching Endorsement: 

The BA in Biology partially satisfies the criteria for a teaching endorsement in Biology (5-12), qualifying students to teach biology at the high school, middle, or junior high levels. Students who successfully complete the Biology BA and STEM Teaching Program Major are eligible to apply for Washington State teacher certification. Teacher certification candidates must receive a C grade or higher in all major and STEM Teaching Program courses, have a GPA of at least 3.0 for either the last 45 graded quarter credits or overall CWU / transfer cumulative, and meet all Washington State teacher certification requirements.  

Although most students pursuing high school biology teaching complete the Biology BA, students may also do any of the Biology BS degrees with the STEM Teaching Program Major for teaching certification and endorsement in biology. 

Teaching endorsement students should set up an appointment with STEM teaching advisor, Rachel George, as soon as possible. Email Rachel.George@cwu.edu, call 509-963-2024.  

 

Biology Minor 

We offer a Biology minor for students majoring in other fields.  Also, students in approved teaching endorsement programs (e.g., Chemistry BA) may take this minor with certain approved electives to add a supporting endorsement in biology. Meet with your major advisor to choose Biology Minor electives that are appropriate for your goals. 

All 300 and 400 level BIOL courses, except BIOL 300 and 302, can be used as electives for the Biology Minor without advisor approval if you are not seeking teaching endorsement. 

Teaching endorsement students should set up an appointment with STEM teaching advisor, Rachel George, as soon as possible. Email Rachel.George@cwu.edu, call 509-963-2024. 

Biology Minor Course of Study Worksheet

Forms

Check the Office of the Registrar website for the most up to date forms for Individual Study, Course Substitution, Change of Schedule/Overload, Graduation, etc.

Questions?   

Contact your advisor or biology@cwu.edu with questions. 
Check out the biology website for course rotation lists and schedules, research opportunities and funding, and scholarships. 

 

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