Jul 15, 2024  
2019-2020 Catalog 
2019-2020 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biology/Mathematics, BS

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

107-113 credits


Biology is the study of living organisms. As scientists, biologists have three goals: (1) understanding the structure and function of organisms, (2) generating and disseminating reliable data pertaining to biological systems, and (3) developing a deep understanding of the natural world that can inform solutions for the serious environmental, medical, and social concerns facing humanity.

Our goal as educators is to maintain intensive academic programs designed to stimulate curiosity, creativity and life-long critical thinking in students who pursue a liberal arts education in Biology.  All of the B.S. programs in Biology are designed for students who plan to pursue post-graduate study or professional careers in biology or teaching. We have designed these programs to enable students to develop an integrated conceptual foundation in biology, as well as critical thinking skills, quantitative problem-solving abilities, leadership and team-building skills, and scientific research skills.

Each B.S. program features a core curriculum at the 200-level and 300-level, plus one 400-level course in evolution. The primary differences between the emphases lie in the choices of additional upper-division lab and lecture courses that a student takes to 1) gain a depth of knowledge in a focal area, 2) have opportunities to integrate and apply that knowledge in various settings including the lab, the field, and discussions with others, and 3) develop skills and abilities that are tailored to particular interests and career paths.

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 increasingly massive datasets, including those generated by genomics, proteomics, and other new areas in molecular biology. 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
Merrill Peterson
Biology 315

Program Coordinators for Advising
Maren Brinson and Alexis Donnelly
Biology 315

Mathematics Department Chair
Tjalling Ypma
Bond Hall 202A

Mathematics Department
Bond Hall 202

 Sample Careers

Research Analyst | Bioinformaticist | Computational Biologist | Populations Researcher | Education | Research Scientist

 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, BIOL 205, BIOL 206) and general chemistry (CHEM 161, CHEM 162, CHEM 163) 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, whether taken at Western or as equivalent transfer courses before they can advance to Phase II and begin taking upper-division coursework.  In addition to meeting the GPA requirement, eligible students must also attend a Phase II Advancement Session before access to 300 and 400 level biology courses will be granted. These sessions are offered once per quarter prior to course registration for the subsequent term. Discussions during this workshop will cover a variety of topics relevant to students in upper level curriculum. Students are encouraged to visit cse.wwu.edu/biology/advising-0 for more detailed information about the major declaration process and the GPA requirement, including our policies concerning course retakes and the requirements for early admission to Phase II.

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.


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