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College of the Sciences
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Department of Biological Sciences
Science Building, Room 338
400 E. University Way
Ellensburg, WA 98926-7537
(509) 963-2731

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Biology Majors & Minor


A Major In Biological Sciences is Central to Your Future

We look forward to working with you to achieve your educational goals!

If you are interested in pursuing a Biology Major at Central Washington University, begin by connecting with a Biology Major Advisor.  All it takes is an email or phone call to the College of the Sciences [COTS] Advising Office and an advisor familiar with our Biology major coursework will be assigned to you.  

COTS Advising Phone: 509-963-1498 

COTS Advising Email

COTS Advising Webpage

  • Contact Ms. Rachel George, Academic Advisor to the STEM Teaching Program if you are interested in a career as a high school biology teacher. 

  • Please see our Health Career Resources webpages for information on health degrees and pre-requisite coursework offered through CWU, as well as advising and faculty mentor contact information for specific health career fields.  
  • Please also see our advising page for transfer students if you are thinking of coming to Central and want to major in Biology.

Ready to Declare a Biology Major?

Before declaring your major you should: 

1. Research the Biology programs and major specializations (listed below).
2. Talk with your Biology or Health Careers Advisor. 
3. Request the appropriate major and specialization using the MyCWU Portal following these instructions [PDF]. See list below for program codes.

Once you declare a Biology major, you will be matched to a Biology Faculty Mentor who can guide you on your specific major specialization, course selection, and career options.  Your Faculty Mentor can help you set a plan geared toward your individual goals.


Ready to Declare a Biology Minor?

We offer a Biology minor for students majoring in other fields.  Meet with your major advisor to decide if this is right for you, and request the minor using the myCWU Portal following these instructions [PDF]

The program code is [BIOLMIN]. 

Once you declare a biology minor, you will be matched with a Biology Faculty Mentor who you can contact for guidance regarding elective selection or any questions you have on the minor. Please also complete the Biology Minor Course of Study Worksheet to have elective credits approved by your Biology Faculty Mentor, and then submit the worksheet by email to the Biological Sciences Department for processing. 

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. Teaching students should meet with STEM Teaching Program Advisor, Rachel George (, to identify a faculty mentor and choose electives. 



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

  • If changing your specialization: Please email the change request to and request a change from your current specialization to your new preferred specialization.  Please include (cc: copy) your Faculty Mentor in this email. 

  • If changing a BIOL BS to a BA (or a BA to a BS): please email the change request to and include (cc: copy) your Faculty Mentor in this email.
  • If dropping your BIOL Major or Minor:  please log into the myCWU Add/Drop Portal and follow the steps in these instructions [PDF]. 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. We advise that you declare and confirm a new major showing on your plan before dropping an old major. This helps avoid issues that may arise with no major listed.

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) 

[BIOLMIN] Biology Minor (does not have specializations)


Have You Already Declared Your Major?

  1. Save a copy of the Checklist for Majors and the recommended electives for your chosen major and career
  2. Meet with your assigned faculty mentor
  3. Review the Current Course Requirements Chart to quickly see all the requirements of Biology specializations. 
  4. Course of Study Worksheets are available for you to fill out and save as a quarterly planning tool.
  5. Health Career Resources website contains resources for students interested in health careers, including recommended coursework and advising contact information.
  6. 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. 
  7. The Office of the Registrar website posts current forms for Individual Study, Course Substitution, Change of Schedule/Overload, Graduation, etc.

Biology Major 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) and faculty mentor for help with picking their major.  

Biology major courses are organized into five groups:  Structure/Function, Ecology, Evolution, Molecular and Cell, and Diversity (see the Current Course Requirements Chart for specific courses within these groups). 
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) and 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. You can take courses from all five course groups and select from a large range of electives. This specialization prepares you for immediate entrance into careers in biological sciences or for some graduate and professional schools, such as veterinary school (see Health Career Resources and Veterinary Medicine for more information).

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, call 509-963-2024.  


Biology Minor

See Declaring a Minor 


The Office of the Registrar website posts current forms for Individual Study, Course Substitution, Change of Schedule/Overload, Graduation, etc.


Contact the biology advisor or with questions. 
The biology website also has information on course rotation lists and course schedules, research opportunities and funding, and scholarships. 

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