Lower Division Courses for New Biology Majors or Potential Majors

Lower division courses for Biology majors include:

  • a three-semester sequence of biology courses,
  • two semesters of chemistry,
  • a year of physics or one semester of geology, and
  • one semester of statistics.

The statistics, chemistry, and biology are normally completed by the end of the sophomore year. Physics or geology should be completed no later than the end of the junior year.

  • There are a number of prerequisites for courses.
  • DON'T take courses for which you are not prepared, but DO begin courses as soon as you are ready for them.
  • DO NOT take Biology 115 (Introduction to Biology), because your major courses will meet G.E. requirements.

GENERAL RULE: All biology majors should take Math 165 (Statistics) for their G.E. math requirement. Those wishing to pursue the B.S. degree may take a precalculus or calculus course first, but they will also need statistics.

What to take during your first semester

If you are eligible for English 101 and G.E. math:

  • Chemistry 115A/116A (General Chemistry and Recitation)
  • Biology 121 (Diversity, Structure and Function OR Biology 122 (Genetics, Evolution and Ecology). These can be taken in any order.
  • Mathematics 165 (Statistics) or Mathematics 161 (Calculus I), if you wish to take mathematics your first semester. You may also consider Mathematics 107 (Precalculus Mathematics) if you will eventually take calculus but are not ready for it.

If you are eligible for G.E. math but not English 101:

  • Chemistry 115A/116A
  • You may take Biology 121 OR 122 but students who are weak in English may experience difficulty.
  • Mathematics 165 or Mathematics 161, if you wish to take mathematics your first semester. You may also consider Mathematics 107 if you will eventually take calculus but are not ready for it.

If you are eligible for English 101 but not G.E. math:

  • Biology 121 OR 122
  • You may also wish to take Chemistry 110 (Preparation for General Chemistry).

If you are not eligible for English 101 or G.E. math:


  • You may take Biology 121 OR 122 if you wish, but students who are weak in English may experience difficulty.
  • You may also wish to take Chemistry 110.

NOTE: Biology 121 and 122 are restricted to majors, but students considering majoring or minoring in Biology are welcome. See the Department of Biology office, Darwin 200, for approval to enroll.