Department of Biology, College of Science and Engineering
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 Secondary Teaching Emphasis in Biology Major?
The B.S. Biology – Secondary Teaching Emphasis will allow a student to become a secondary school teacher while giving them the flexibility to pursue any other career in biology or continue as a post-baccalaureate student. A diploma granted under this major will indicate “Bachelor of Science”; official transcripts will indicate Biology – Secondary Teaching Emphasis.
To receive a recommendation for state of Washington certification, students must complete a professional preparation program in secondary education. See the Secondary Education section of this catalog for program admission, completion and teacher certification requirements for Woodring College of Education.
A Biology endorsement with a teaching certification will require taking two science methods courses. SCED 481 can be taken prior to admission to Woodring College of Education, but SCED 491 must be taken after admission. Students who elect to complete certification as an undergraduate while completing a Biology Bachelor of Science degree can count these two courses as electives for the BS. To receive a Science endorsement, take GEOL 211 and 212, and ASTR 103 or 113 in addition to the courses listed for the Biology endorsement.
Biology Teacher (if endorsement is completed)
How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):
Admission to the Biology Major is selective and is based upon an application procedure that allows us to gauge students’ preparation (assessed by an entrance exam), prior academic performance (assessed by GPA in prerequisite courses), and academic experiences, motivations, and goals (determined via student responses to focused prompts). Note that neither completion of the prerequisite courses nor attainment of any specific GPA or entrance exam score guarantees admission to Biology Major status.
Students who have begun the introductory biology (BIOL 204, BIOL 205, BIOL 206) series and/or the introductory chemistry series (CHEM 161/175, CHEM 162/176, and CHEM 163/225), but have not yet completed CHEM 163/225 and BIOL 206 are granted pre-major status upon submission of a pre-major declaration card to the Biology Department office in BI 315. Pre-majors are assigned biology faculty advisors and receive helpful announcements regarding registration and other information of use to pre-majors.
Application to the Major
Students may apply to Biology Major status when they: 1) have completed BIOL 204, BIOL 205, CHEM 161/175, and CHEM 162/176 with grades of C- or higher, and 2) have completed the Biology entrance exam. Application involves submitting a completed application form, including responding to prompts about the applicant’s experiences, motivations, and goals. See the Biology Department’s website at cse.wwu.edu/biology for more details, including information about the entrance exam and application prompts, application deadlines and review timeline, and limits on the number of times students can take the entrance exam and apply to the major. The Biology Department’s website at cse.wwu.edu/biology also has information specific to transfer students interested in applying for admission to the Biology Major, such as application eligibility, transfer equivalencies, how and where to take the entrance exam at locations other than WWU, and advice regarding when to apply.
Students are strongly encouraged to apply to the major prior to having completed BIOL 206 and/or CHEM 163/225 to ensure timely progress towards graduation. Admission to the major following a successful application is contingent on completing both BIOL 206 and CHEM 163/225 with a grade of C- or higher.
A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major courses, and for supporting courses for majors.