Preparing Pre-Major Students

The Undergraduate Program of Biology and Medicine (UPBM) oversees all biology majors. To help you have the best possible experience as a biology major, here are some recommendations on course planning, as well as important information on our unique procedures for declaring a major. As always if you have questions you are welcome to reach out to your advisor.

Course Planning

UPBM is home to nine different major tracks. This allows you to customize your major to suit your interests. While each program is unique, they share a common set of foundational courses that help prepare students for the more specialized, rigorous courses they will take as upper class students. By following this plan you will have more flexibility in your upper-level courses and will be able to graduate on time.

Students preparing to major in biological sciences typically follow the same course schedule for the first three semesters, regardless of which track they decide to pursue. Intended biology majors are strongly recommended to complete both the introductory biology and general chemistry sequences in their first year, and to take genetics and organic chemistry I in the fall of their second year.

First Year

Fall semester courses:

  • Biology introductory course I (select one):
    • BIOL 110L: Principles of Biology I
    • BIOL 112L: Perspectives in Biology I
  • CHEM 131: General Chemistry

Spring semester courses:

  • Biology introductory course II (select one):
    • BIOL 111L: Principles of Biology II
    • BIOL 113L: Perspectives in Biology II
  • CHEM 132: General Chemistry II

Second Year

Fall semester courses:

  • Introductory Genetics (select one):
    • BIOL 190/198P: The Human Genome
    • BIOL 198/198P: Principles of Genetics
  • CHEM 203/207: Organic Chemistry I with Lab

Spring semester courses*:

  • Introductory Biochemistry (select one):
    • BIOL 250: Introduction to Biochemistry
    • BIOL 252: Principles of Biochemistry
  • CHEM 204/208: Organic Chemistry II with Lab

*Only required for the general (BS), cell and developmental biology, microbiology, molecular genetics, and neuroscience tracks.

Declaring a Major

Before filing a Major/Minor Declaration Form with the College, prospective biological science majors should first visit their intended track page and complete the Department Major Declaration Form. This form allows them to meet with their major advisor prior to their official declaration with the College. For more information, please see “Declaring a Major or Minor in Biology” on our advising page.