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Undergraduate Program

Upper-Level Writing (ULW) Requirement

UPBM majors require successful completion of two upper-level writing (ULW) courses. Although students are strongly encouraged to complete both ULW requirements by taking biological science courses (BIO, BCH, MBI), ULW courses within a natural science discipline may also be used to meet one of the requirements, i.e.: CHM 210w. Writing courses within the humanities and social sciences may not be applied to UPBM majors.

While some of the UPBM majors allow students to select their upper-level writing courses, others have specific writing courses that need to be taken.

Majors that allow students to select their own ULW course:

Majors that do not allow students to select their own ULW course:

Please refer to the major requirements page of your intended major for more information on individual requirements.

For the majors who have flexibility in the selection of their ULW courses there are four ways to meet this requirement - by taking:

  • Half-Credit Add-On Writing Courses
  • Two or Four-Credit Writing Intensive Courses
  • Four-Credit Labs with ULW components
  • Bio Science Independent Research (395w) and Independent Study Courses (391w)

See below for further details on each.

Half-Credit (0.5) Add-On Writing Courses

Concurrent or previous enrollment in parent lecture course with permission of instructor is required.

Note: All interested students should email the instructor for permission and IPC for online registration.

  • BIO 202w: Molecular Biology
  • BIO 204w: Principles of Human Physiology
  • BIO 205w: Evolutionary Biology
  • BIO 206w: Eukaryotic Genomes
  • BIO 210w: Molecular Cell Biology l
  • BIO 214w: Biostatistics (cross-listed STT 214)
  • BIO 217w: Principles of Human Anatomy with Lab
  • BIO 220w: Advanced Cell Biology l
  • BIO 222w: Biology of Aging
  • BIO 225w: Laboratory in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (BEB Majors Only)
  • BIO 226w: Developmental Biology
  • BIO 243w: Eukaryotic Gene Regulation
  • BIO 247w: Environmental Animal Physiology
  • BIO 253w: Computational Biology
  • BIO 257w: Applied Genomics
  • BIO 260w: Animal Behavior
  • BIO 263w: Ecology
  • BIO 265w: Molecular Evolution
  • BIO 268w: Laboratory in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology
  • EES 201w: Evolution of the Earth

One, Two, or Four-Credit Writing Intensive Courses

Instruction of these courses are collaborated between the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Center and the Department of Biology faculty. Registration of a parent lecture course is not required.

All interested students should email the instructor for permission and IPC for online registration.


  • BIO/WRT 272w (2-credits) Fall/Spring: Communicating your Professional Identity in Biology
  • BIO/WRT 275w (2-credit): Writing Biological Reviews (Cancelled Fall19 / May use if taken)
  • BIO 276w Technology, Healthcare and "Being Mortal (Fall)


  • BIO/WRT 270w (2-credits): Exploring a Research Topic in Evolution (Cancelled Spring20 / May use if taken)
  • BIO/WRT 272w (2-credits) Fall/Spring: Communicating your Professional Identity in Biology
  • BIO 273w (2-credits): Writing for Grants, Fellowships, and Special Opportunities
  • BIO 274w/WRT 262w (4-credits): Reading and Writing About Research in the Social Natural and Applied Sciences
  • BIO/WRT 396w (.05-credits): Research Paper Writing in Biology -Spring (BIO 395 and submission of figures or instructor permission

NEW:    UPBM majors may use only one of the following to complete the upper-level writing requirement: BIO 274w/WRT 262w, BIO/WRT272w, BIO/WRT396W.

Four-Credit (4.00) Labs with ULW Component Included

In these courses the upper-level writing component is included and registering a separate writing course is not required.

  • BCH 308w: Biochemical and Molecular Biology Techniques - Contact instructor for permission
  • BIO 261w: Genetic Research A* - Spring, Contact instructor for permission
  • MBI 221w: Microbiology Laboratory* - Fall, Register online

Independent Research Biology Science (395w)
Independent Study (391w)

Students may complete their requirement (one or both) by registering for 395w, Independent Research, or 391w, Independent Study. These courses must be within a discipline of the biological sciences (BIO, BCD, IND, MBI, NSC, PHP...) and require completion of a well-written final report that effectively communicates the scientific justification and results of their research. 

In such an independent research writing course, a student works closely with a faculty member and naturally engages in an intense writing process that exceeds the minimum criteria. 

The final report must be a scientific paper at least six pages in length. Upper-level writing documents are expected to undergo at least one cycle of and edits, and rewrite are ideally done with students and research mentors incrementally throughout the semester. 

Please note that upon course completion, the final report is subject to further review by the student's faculty advisor for application to major. Although the faculty mentor (PI) is responsible for the report's adherence to guidelines and grading, the track advisor decides to allow a student to use it to satisfy a writing requirement.

Students with final reports that do not receive approval for application to the major will have the opportunity to take a half-credit research paper writing course (BIO 396w) during the spring semester. Successful completion of 396w will still require the original research advisor (or equivalent) to edit a first draft of the paper for scientific accuracy.

A poster cannot be submitted if the student is using the course to satisfy an upper-level writing requirement.

Additionally, students who take more than one semester of 395 coursework in the same laboratory for upper-level writing credit they will need to submit an entirely new paper at the end of the second semester. While it is appropriate to include work from a previous semester, the second paper must contain at least six pages of new prose.