Combined major offered by the Department of Biology, College of Science and Engineering and the Department of Mathematics, 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 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.
Research Analyst | Bioinformaticist | Computational Biologist | Populations Researcher | Education
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. Students who have been formally admitted into Western may declare a biology pre-major by filling out the Student Academic Declaration and Change Form. 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.