Guide to Academic Planning 2018-2019

Biology

(Students interested in any health-related field should also refer to the Health Related Fields guidelines.


Course Planning

First-year Planning

Because a biology major needs a total of about 16 science/math courses by graduation (an average of 4/year) in order to be well-prepared for graduate and professional school programs or for employment, the minimum science load suggested for the first year is three science/math courses (Option 1). Five science/math courses in a given year should be considered a maximal science load. As shown below (Option 2), it is possible to start the biology and chemistry sequences in the sophomore year, but this requires taking more lab courses in the junior and senior years and may delay the timing for taking post-graduate opportunity exams (e.g. MCAT, DAT, GRE, etc.). It is recommended that any science sequence designated I and II be taken sequentially within one academic year. 

First-year students leaning toward or certain they wish to become biology majors should follow the Option 1 schedule and take two biology courses the first year:

  1. BIOL 150 Cell Biology (Fall semester)
  2. BIOL 190 Botany (Spring semester)

It is strongly recommended that these students also take CHEM 110 General Chemistry I* and CHEM 120 General Chemistry II* in their first year and, though not required as part of the major, either MATH 120 Functions and Models or MATH 130 Calculus I, based on the recommendation of the Math Department. Students experiencing difficulty in the first semester should reconsider their load before starting the next semester.  

• We do not allow first year students to take BIOL 250 Genetics and strongly discourage them from taking BIOL 250 Zoology.

First-year students who are less certain about becoming biology majors but wanting to explore that possibility should take at least BIOL 150 Cell Biology. It is highly recommended that these students consider taking either General Chemistry I* and II* or a mathematics course (Functions and Models or Calculus I) during this first year.

Upper-level Planning

Though not required, biology majors should take mathematics through Calculus I (preferably through Calculus II), Chemistry through Organic II (preferably through Biological Chemistry), and physics through General Physics II in order to keep graduate school, professional school, and employment options open. The Biology “core” curriculum is designed so that the five required courses (Cell Biology, Botany, Zoology, Genetics, and Ecology and Evolution) will provide an overview of biology allowing a student to then “specialize” by choosing four electives that best fit their needs. 

We encourage students to plan early if they want to study abroad or perform independent research. This planning will often entail increasing science course loads to ensure adequate course background for research or to compensate for the fact that science courses may not be available in study abroad programs.

We advise students taking courses off-campus to consult a biology faculty member about the selection of those courses. We encourage students to attend Hendrix Biological Society meetings, departmental informational meetings, departmental seminars and other special events.
The following are general guidelines for courses required by many graduate and professional schools. It is recommended that students refer often to the Catalog and to this Guide to Academic Planning and work closely with their academic advisors to ensure adequate course preparation for specific post-graduate programs.

Preparation for graduate school is best achieved by: 

  1. Two years of Biology;
  2. Two courses in General Chemistry* and two courses in Organic Chemistry;
  3. Two courses in Physics;
  4. At least one course in Calculus;
  5. At least one course in Statistics (preferably from either the mathematics or the psychology department).

Independent research experience is highly desirable and will be expected by selective graduate programs. Some graduate schools may require Biochemistry, basic programming skills or, occasionally, a reading knowledge in at least one foreign language. 

Typical Course Sequences
Option 1: Four-year course sequence (suitable for taking the MCAT or other professional exam during the Junior year)

  Fall  Spring 
First Year 
One of the 3 first-year
electives should be
Functions & Models or Calculus I
BIOL 150 Cell Biology
CHEM 110 Gen Chem I*
TEC & Explorations
elective 
BIOL 190 Botany
CHEM 120 Gen Chem II*
elective
elective 
Second Year
CHEM 240 Organic Chemistry I
and CHEM 250 Organic Chemistry II
are suggested as 2 of the 4 second
year electives
BIOL 220 Zoology
Statistics or elective
elective
elective 
BIOL 250 Genetics
Statistics or elective
elective
elective 
Third Year  BIOL 365 Ecology & Evolution
Major elective 1
elective
elective
Major elective 2

elective
elective
elective 

Fourth Year  BIOL 497 Senior Seminar
or elective
Major elective 3
elective
elective 
BIOL 497 Senior Seminar
or elective
Major elective 4
elective
elective 



Option 2: Three-year course sequence

  Fall  Spring 
First Year  elective
elective
elective
elective 
elective
elective
elective
elective 
Second Year  BIOL 150 Cell Biology
CHEM 110 Gen Chem I*
Statistics or elective
elective
BIOL 190 Botany 
CHEM 120 Gen Chem II*
Statistics or elective
elective
Third Year  BIOL 220 Zoology
BIOL 250 Genetics
or
Major elective 1
elective
elective 
BIOL 250 Genetics
or
Major elective 1
Major elective 2
elective
elective 
Fourth Year  BIOL 365 Ecology & Evolution
Major elective 3
elective 
BIOL 497 Senior Seminar

Major elective 4
elective 


*Taking CHEM 150 Accelerated General Chemistry in the fall semester can substitute for the two-course CHEM 110 and CHEM 120 sequence.