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Department of Biological Sciences
Science Building, Room 338
400 E. University Way
Ellensburg, WA 98926-7537
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.
Biological Sciences Department faculty are available to discuss Biology Major course selection, specializations, and career options with you. Faculty can help you set a plan geared toward your individual goals or guide you into an area of biology you may find fulfilling. Please see the Faculty Mentor List for a mentor's quarterly office hours, contact information and area of specialization.
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”.
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].
Please also complete the Biology Minor Course of Study Worksheet to have elective credits approved by the B.A. & Minor Faculty Mentor (see the faculty mentor list for office schedule & contact info), and then submit the worksheet by email to the Biological Sciences Department email@example.com 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 (Rachel.George@cwu.edu), to identify a faculty mentor and choose electives.
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):
[BIOLBA] Biology BA (does not have specializations)
[BIOLMIN] Biology Minor (does not have specializations)
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).
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
The biology website also has information on course rotation lists and course schedules, research opportunities and funding, and scholarships.