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University Catalog
    Western Washington University
  Sep 24, 2017
2014-2015 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biology/Mathematics, BS

Combined major offered by the Department of Biology, College of Science and Engineering and the Department of Mathematics, College of Science and Engineering.

110-111 credits


Biology is the study of living things, an academic endeavor with a basic research focus on seeking answers to questions rather than on applying biological knowledge to solve problems. As scientists, biologists have two prime motivations: (1) intellectual curiosity about biological systems, and (2) the philosophy that creating and disseminating reliable knowledge has intrinsic worth. Thus, we intend for our intensive academic program to stimulate our students’ curiosity and appetite for life-long learning about biology.

The biology curriculum provides an effective combination of knowledge in areas that students can apply to many careers. The supporting courses for the Biology major in math, physics, and chemistry, along with the biology core curriculum at the 200-level and 300-level, plus one 400-level course in evolution, fulfill the goals of a liberal arts education. In 400-level courses students not only pursue interests more specifically, but begin to integrate and apply knowledge, and develop the skills and abilities to pursue careers of their choosing.

“Mathematics reveals hidden patterns that help us understand the world around us. Now much more than arithmetic and geometry, mathematics today is a diverse discipline that deals with data, measurements, and observations from science; with inference, deduction, and proof; and with mathematical models of natural phenomena, of human behavior, and of social systems.

As a practical matter, Mathematics is a science of pattern and order. Its domain is not molecules or cells, but numbers, chance, form, algorithms, and change. As a science of abstract objects, Mathematics relies on logic rather than on observation as its standard of truth, yet employs observation, simulation, and even experimentation as means of discovering truth.” -From Everybody Counts: A Report to the Nation on the Future of Mathematics Education (c) 1989 National Academy of Sciences.

Why Consider a Biology/Mathematics Major?

Biology is an increasingly quantitative discipline, requiring mathematical models to understand complex biological phenomena, and computationally-intensive algorithms to analyze the massive datasets generated by genomics. More than ever, employers in fields such as bioengineering, theoretical biology, ecology, and molecular biology are seeking to hire people equipped to handle the quantitative rigors of modern biology. The Biology/Mathematics B.S. degree enables students to develop a strong background in biology along with a broadly applicable understanding of quantitative and computational approaches to problem-solving, giving graduates from this program a unique and highly sought set of skills.

 Contact Information

Biology Department Chair
Joann Otto
Biology 315

Program Coordinators for Advising
Maren Brinson and Keeley Mathews
Biology 315

Mathematics Department Chair
Tjalling Ypma
Bond Hall 202A

Mathematics Department
Bond Hall 202

 Sample Careers

Populations Researcher | Biostatistician | Research Analyst | Bioinformatics Scientist | Education

 Major/Career Resources

How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

The Biology Department has a two-step process for admission into our degree programs. Phase I students are students who have declared their intent to major in biology and are in the process of completing the introductory biology (BIOL 204, 205, 206) and general chemistry (CHEM 121, 122, 123) series. Admission to Phase II is based on academic performance in the introductory courses. Students must achieve an average grade of 2.9 or higher in their introductory biology and general chemistry courses before they can advance to Phase II and begin taking upper-division coursework.

Biology Phase II status required for admission into 300- and 400-level biology courses.

Grade Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major courses.