Jul 22, 2024  
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog 
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog

Biology Minor

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Department of Biology, College of Science and Engineering

44 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 Minor?

A biology minor can offer a solid introductory foundation in the biological sciences by providing training on laboratory equipment and experiences in field- and lab-based research opportunities, while pursuing a major in another scholastic area. Alternative major options often include Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Environmental Science, Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Computer Science, and Mathematics. 

 Contact Information

Department Chair
Lynn Pillitteri
Biology 407

Program Coordinators for Advising
Maren Brinson and Alexis Donnelly
Biology 315

 Sample Careers

Educator | Scientific Illustrator | Science Writer | Public Outreach | Nursing | Physician Assistant | Dental Assistant | Pathology Assistant

 Major/Career Resources


How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

Admission to the Biology Minor is selective and is based upon an application procedure that considers prior academic performance (specifically GPA in prerequisite courses) and student responses to focused prompts. 

Students admitted to the minor have priority registration access to a subset of the upper-division Biology courses that are available to Biology majors. See the Registration Information file under Helpful Links on the Biology Department homepage for more information about which upper-division courses are available to Biology minors during Phase I of registration.

Application to the Minor

Students may apply to Biology Minor status when theyhave completed BIOL 204, BIOL 205, CHEM 161/175, and CHEM 162/176 with grades of C- or higher. Application involves submitting a completed application form, including responding to prompts about the applicant’s experience, motivation, and goals. See the Biology Department’s website at cse.wwu.edu/biology for more details, including information about application prompts, application deadlines and review timeline, and reapplication limits. 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 Minor, such as application eligibility and transfer equivalencies.  

Students are strongly encouraged to apply to the minor prior to having completed BIOL 206 and/or CHEM 163/225 to ensure timely progress towards graduation. Admission to the minor following a successful application is contingent on completing both BIOL 206 and CHEM 163/225 with a grade of C- or higher.

Grade Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s minor courses, and for supporting courses for the minor.


  •   Credits: 5
  •   Credits: 5
  •   Credits: 5
  • Choose one of the following series:

  •         Credits: 5
  •         Credits: 5
  •         Credits: 5
  •         Or

  •         Credits: 5
  •         Credits: 5
  •         Credits: 5
  • 14 credits of upper-level courses

  •     Any upper-level biology course, with the exception of BIOL 348, 349, 395, 444, 494, 495, 496 or 498, can be used to fulfill this requirement.

        Up to 6 upper-division credits may overlap and be applied to both the biology minor and the student’s major degree requirements.

  • Note: BIOL 245 and BIOL 348 may not be counted toward this minor.

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