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 Molecular and Cell Emphasis in the Biology Major?
The B.S. degree in Molecular and Cell Biology places emphasis on the molecular biology and biochemistry of cell functions. The curriculum provides an effective combination of knowledge in areas that students can apply to many careers in a wide variety of settings, from academia to the biotechnology industry to healthcare. The core biology curriculum at the 200-level and 300-levels is supported by courses in math, physics, and chemistry. In upper-level cell and molecular biology courses students pursue specific topics in more depth and develop the skills and abilities to think critically, undertake complex and quantitative problem solving, engage in scientific discussion and work productively and collaboratively in teams. In addition, laboratory courses offer opportunities to gain hands-on experience in experimental approaches and instrumentation used in modern biological research.
Program Coordinators for Advising
Maren Brinson and Alexis Donnelly
Biomedical Research | Pharmaceutical Research | Bioinformatics | Cell Physiology | Forensic Scientist | Genetic Counseling | Geneticist | Medical Doctor | Educator | Lab Technician
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.