Biology: Major Areas of Study

The Biology Department offers the B.S. degree through its core curriculum and two, optional concentrations to address student interest in the fields of ecology/field biology and molecular biology/ biotechnology. All students complete the core curriculum, which is required for the Biology major. Students interested in further specialization complete the additional requirements for either the Molecular Biology/Biotechnology concentration or the Ecology/Field Biology concentration. Completion of a concentration is noted on the transcript, along with the Biology major.

Core Curriculum
Students who complete the core curriculum will graduate with a B.S. in Biology, but without a specified concentration. Courses in the core curriculum are:

Biology courses:

  1. Biol-160, Principles of Biology
  2. Biol-250, Genetics
  3. Biol-252, Introduction to Physiology
  4. Biol-254, Experimental Biology
  5. Molecular/Cellular requirement:  Biol-354/355L Molecular Cell Biology and lab OR Biol-360, Principles of Microbiology
  6. Systematics requirement:  Biol-312 (Plant Systematics) OR Biol-316 (Vertebrate Zoology)
  7. Organismal requirement:  Biol-310 (Ecology) OR Biol-320 (Animal Behavior)
  8. Biol-342, Survey of Organisms
  9. Biol-344, Evolution
  10. Biol-379 (Experiential Learning in Biology) OR Biol-398/498 (Research) with a grade of C or better
  11. Biol-497, Seminar

Other requirements:

  1. Chem-161/163L (Chemistry for Science Majors) OR Chem-165/167L (Progressive Chemistry)
  2. Chem-221/223L (Organic Chemistry I)
  3. Math-115 Elementary Statistics

Students who complete the above requirements and their General Studies requirements will earn a B.S. in Biology.

 

Concentrations 
The core curriculum provides students with a well-rounded introduction to the biological sciences, and our concentrations recognize students for further coursework taken to increase specialized knowledge in preparation for careers or graduate and professional schools.

  1. Molecular Biology/Biotechnology Concentration
Pre-med and other pre-professional students, as well as students interested in research careers in molecular biology, are encouraged to pursue this concentration. It emphasizes the coursework that would provide a strong foundation for graduate work in the biomedical sciences. To obtain this concentration, students would take the following courses in addition to the core curriculum for the B.S. in Biology:
    1. Three additional courses (two of which must have laboratories), selected from among:

      • Biol-354/355 Molecular Cell Biology (offered every fall)
      • Biol-360 Principles of Microbiology (offered every spring)
      • Biol-325/326L Developmental Biology (offered every other spring)
      • Biol-365 Advanced Cellular and Molecular Biology (offered every other spring)
      • Biol-374 Immunology (offered every other fall)
      • Chem-350 Biochemistry (offered every spring by the Chemistry Department)

      Students who have taken, for example, Principles of Microbiology to meet their core requirements would need to take Molecular Cell Biology, Developmental Biology and one of the three remaining courses to meet this requirement.  We anticipate that additional options will be added to the course list in the near future.

    2. Other requirements:

      1. Chem-222/224L Organic Chemistry II
      2. Chem-231/233L Analytical Chemistry

      Molecular biology requires a greater understanding of chemistry than the two courses in the core requirements can provide.  These additional courses are also required by medical, dental and other pre-professional schools, as well as graduate programs in the biological sciences.

    3. Recommended courses:

      1. At least one semester of calculus (Math 161, 162)
      2. 1 year of physics (Phys-151, 152 OR Phys-161, 162)

      A stronger background in math and physics is needed by students interested in molecular biology.  Physics is required for medical, other pre-professional, and most graduate programs, and calculus is required for most graduate and some pre-professional programs.
      Students who meet the above requirements, complete the core curriculum, and complete their General Studies requirements will earn a “B.S. in Biology with a Concentration in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.”

  2. Ecology/Field Biology Concentration
Students interested in graduate work or research-related positions in ecology, animal behavior, or systematics are encouraged to pursue this concentration. Its emphasis is less applied than that of the Environmental Science major. To obtain this concentration, students would take the following courses in addition to the core curriculum for the B.S. in Biology:
    1. Take three courses from among the following:

      • Biol-310, Ecology (Offered every fall)
      • Biol-320, Animal Behavior (every other fall)
      • Biol-312, Plant Systematics (every fall)
      • Biol-316, Vertebrate Zoology (every other fall)
      • Biol-360, Principles of Microbiology (every spring)
      • ENVS-230, Environmental Analysis (every other fall)
      • CHEM-250/251L Environmental Chemistry with lab (every other year)

      Students who have, for example, taken Ecology and Vertebrate Zoology for their core requirements would need to take three other courses from among the remaining 5 courses in this list.  This concentration requires fewer hours overall than the Molecular Biology/Biotechnology concentration because more of the core curriculum is devoted to classes relevant to this concentration, and many students with an interest in this area will not need additional courses in chemistry. 

    2. Recommended courses

      • Chem-222/224L Organic Chemistry II
      • Chem 231/233L Analytical Chemistry
      • At least one semester of calculus (Math 161, 162)
      • 1 year of physics (Phys-151, 152 OR Phys-161,162)

      Students planning to apply to graduate programs will need to take all of these recommended courses, while students who plan to seek employment after graduation may need only one or two of these courses, depending on the career they plan to pursue.
      Students who meet the above requirements, complete the core curriculum, and complete their General Studies requirements will earn a “B.S. in Biology with a Concentration in Ecology and Field Biology.”

  3. Special Honors in Biology
This honors designation is offered to recognize academically talented students who successfully pursue undergraduate research. Criteria for earning Special Honors in Biology are:
    1. Cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better across all courses.
    2. Cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better across all Biology courses.
    3. Completion of two years of Biology, including Experimental Biology, prior to beginning the research undertaken for “Special Honors” designation. 
    4. Completion of a substantive, largely independent research project under the guidance of a college faculty member or other approved research mentor.  The student, his academic advisor, and the research mentor must complete the approval form for “Special Honors” research.  This form must be approved by the chair of the Biology Department before the research is carried out (see your advisor for a form).  There are several ways to meet this criterion.  Each student will select one of these from the list below. 
      1. Complete at least 2 credits in Research at WVWC no later than the fall of the senior year, with a grade of A- or better. These 2 credits may be taken in the same semester or different semesters; however, if taken in different semesters, the student must earn at least an A- in each semester. The research mentor at WVWC must formally endorse the “Special Honors” designation in writing.

      2. Complete a summer research internship at WVWC. The research mentor at WVWC must formally endorse the “Special Honors” designation in writing, indicating that the work was completed at a level equivalent to A-. 

      3. Complete a summer research internship at another accredited college or university. Students who take this option must present a letter from their research mentor describing the work completed and the importance of the work. The research mentor must also complete an evaluation form, which Wesleyan faculty will use to determine whether the student’s work was completed at a level equivalent to A-.

      4. Complete a summer research internship at a federal or state agency or in an industrial lab. Students who take this option must present a letter from their research mentor describing the work completed and the importance of the work. The research mentor must also complete an evaluation form, which Wesleyan faculty will use to determine whether the student’s work was completed at a level equivalent to A-.
    5. Presentation of the research project, to be evaluated by two members of the WVWC Biology faculty. The student must present the research (no matter where it was carried out) in both written and oral formats, as outlined below.

      1. Students will submit a paper in standard, journal format appropriate to the discipline in which the research was conducted. In order to earn “Special Honors” credit, the paper must earn a grade of A- or better from both faculty evaluators after no more than one rewrite opportunity. The major paper written during Senior Seminar may be used to fulfill this criterion.

      2. Students will present their work orally during Senior Seminar. The student must earn a grade of A- or better from both faculty evaluators in order to meet this requirement.

      All work towards a “Special Honors” designation must be completed by April 1st of the student’s senior year.