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The Major

The major in biological sciences is designed to provide a strong basis for understanding the breadth of disciplines in biology while also enabling depth of study in one or more specialized fields. Within this general framework, students construct a course program that matches their interests by choosing among five tracks.

In their first semesters, students are encouraged to enroll in one of the introductory courses (BIO 100–149) and/or an appropriate core course (BIO 150–156) as well as chemistry (CHM 111 or 118).

Requirements

Tracks 1–4

The following are the basic requirements for Tracks 1–4. Each track also has its own requirements (below).

Track 1: Integrative Biology

The full course listing for the Department of Biological Sciences is available for this track. Students are required to complete a second course at the 200- or 300-level in each of the tracks 2–4. Courses that are cross-listed in different tracks can only be counted towards one track.

Track 2: Cells, Physiology, and Development

Students choose a minimum of five 200- or 300-level courses and three laboratories from the following list:

200 level

  • BIO 200 Animal Physiology
  • BIO 202 Cell Biology
  • BIO 204 Microbiology
  • BIO 206 Plant Physiology
  • BIO 230 Genomes and Genetic Analysis
  • BIO 232 Evolutionary Biology
  • BIO 234 Human Genetics
  • BCH 252 Biochemistry I

300 level

  • BIO 300 Neurophysiology
  • BIO 302 Developmental Biology
  • BIO 304 Histology
  • BIO 306 Immunology
  • BIO 308 Introduction to Biological Microscopy
  • BIO 310 Cell and Molecular Neuroscience
  • BIO 320 Colloquium on Molecular Medicine
  • BIO 321 Topics in Microbiology
  • BIO 322 Topics in Cell Biology
  • BIO 323 Topics in Developmental Biology

Track 3: Genetics, Evolution, and Molecular Biosciences

Students choose a minimum of five 200- or 300-level courses and three laboratories from the following list:

200 level

  • BIO 230 Genomes and Genetic Analysis
  • BIO 232 Evolutionary Biology
  • BIO 264 Plant Diversity and Evolution
  • BCH 252 Biochemistry I
  • GEO 231 Invertebrate Paleontology and Paleoecology

300 level

  • BIO 302 Developmental Biology
  • BIO 306 Immunology
  • BIO 310 Cell and Molecular Neuroscience
  • BIO 321 Topics in Microbiology
  • BIO 330 Behavior Genetics
  • BIO 332 Molecular Biology of Eukaryotes
  • BIO 334 Bioinformatics and Comparative Molecular Biology
  • BIO 350 Topics in Molecular Biology
  • BIO 351 Topics in Evolutionary Biology
  • BIO 366 Biogeography
  • BIO 370 Microbial Diversity

Track 4: Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation

Students choose a minimum of five 200- or 300-level courses and three laboratories from the following list:

200 level

  • BIO 232 Evolutionary Biology
  • BIO 260 Invertebrate Diversity
  • BIO 262 Plant Biology
  • BIO 264 Plant Diversity and Evolution
  • BIO 266 Principles of Ecology
  • BIO 268 Marine Ecology
  • BIO 272 Vertebrate Biology
  • GEO 231 Invertebrate Paleontology and Paleoecology

300 level

  • BIO 302 Developmental Biology
  • BIO 362 Animal Behavior
  • BIO 363 Animal Behavior Methods
  • BIO 364 Plant Ecology
  • BIO 366 Biogeography
  • BIO 370 Microbial Diversity
  • BIO 390 Topics in Environmental Biology
  • EGR 315 Ecohydrology

Track 5: Biology and Education

Graduates receive a degree in biological sciences and complete requirements for a Massachusetts Teaching License for high school and middle school biology. To meet the requirements of teaching certification and maintain a rigorous standard for a biological sciences major, this track will require a total of 13 courses instead of the 12 required for the other tracks. This track is designed for the student who plans to become a secondary education teacher in biology. A course in statistics is highly recommended but not required. Students interested in this track should contact Andy Wood, the coordinator of teacher education as soon as possible.

A minimum of seven courses and four labs that count toward biological sciences are required, including:

  • All three core courses (BIO 150, 152, 154)
  • Three additional courses, one each from tracks 2, 3 and 4 and at least one at the 300-level
  • Four laboratories: two affiliated with the core courses and at least one lab at the 300-level
  • Chemistry 111 or 118
  • A total of six education-related courses are required for license in the teaching of biology (5th–8th grades or 8th-12th grades)
  • Each of the following courses are required:
  • EDC 211 Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners (new requirement for 2013-2014 for MA state licensing)
  • EDC 238 Educational Psychology
  • EDC 346 Clinical Internship in Teaching
  • EDC 347 Individual Differences Among Learners
  • EDC 352 Methods of Instruction; student teaching senior year
  • EGR 390 Colloq: Teaching Science, Engineering and Technology
  • EDC 232 (The American Middle School and High School) AND EDC 342 (Growing Up American) (Previously only one of these courses was required for MA state licensing; as of 2013-2014 both are required.)

Advising

Students should choose their advisers, according to their interests, from the department faculty, with the exception that the chair of the Board of Pre-Health Advisers does not serve as a major adviser.

With the approval of the student’s adviser, one course in the major may be graded S/U.

Prospective majors should consult with biology faculty in choosing their courses. In their first semesters, students are encouraged to enroll in one of the introductory courses (BIO 100-149) and/or an appropriate core course (BIO 150-156) as well as chemistry (CHM 111 or 118).

Study Abroad Adviser: Each student should consult their major advisor for any necessary study abroad information and signatures.

Advanced Placement Credit

Students receiving advanced placement on their Smith College transcript for biology (e.g. AP, International Baccalaureate, A Levels) may substitute 200-/300-level courses, one in each of the respective tracks, for the equivalent core courses. Two of these courses must be taken with labs. A total of 12 courses is still required for completion of the major.