Biology BA

General Education Requirements

Students must satisfy the university and college general education requirements. Some Biology courses may be used to meet the science and mathematics requirement of the university.

Candidates for the B.A. degree must fulfill the foreign language requirement of the College of Arts and Sciences. There is no foreign language requirement for the B.S. degree.

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Option

Up to 18 credit hours may be taken on a satisfactory/ unsatisfactory (s/u) basis. Excluded from this option are required courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics.

Non-major biology courses

The following 1000 level biology courses do not count toward the biology credit hours required for a major in biology. Moreover, if biology majors take these courses, they are treated as biology courses when computing the 70 credit hours outside of biology needed to be included in the 120 total credit hours required for graduation.

BIOL 1012General Biology (MOTR BIOL 100)3
BIOL 1013General Biology Laboratory1
BIOL 1102Human Biology (MOTR LIFS 150)3
BIOL 1131Human Physiology and Anatomy I4
BIOL 1141Human Physiology and Anatomy II4
BIOL 1162General Microbiology3
BIOL 1999Evolution for Everyone3
BIOL 1202Environmental Biology3

Declaring the Biology Major 

Students seeking to major in biology are first designated as pre-biology majors until they have successfully completed Genetics, BIOL 2012, in residence with a grade of C or better. Students who have completed a Genetics course elsewhere will have to either pass a proficiency examination in Genetics or complete BIOL 2012 in residence with a grade of C or better. Students may then declare biology as their major. BIOL 2012 must be completed successfully within two attempts, including excused withdrawals.

The B.A. degree provides maximum flexibility for biology majors to pursue an undergraduate liberal arts course of study that can lead to professional careers in medicine, allied health, public and environmental health, law, and graduate studies in the life sciences. Candidates must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or better in biology courses. Candidates must also earn a minimum grade of C- in all core courses.

All B.A. degree majors must take at least 40 credit hours, but not more than 50 hours, in appropriate biology course work. A minimum of 18 hours at or above the 2000 level (including one laboratory) must be taken in residence in the UMSL Department of Biology in order to receive a B.A. degree from the College of Arts and Sciences with a major in biology.

Lecture and Seminar Course Requirements

The following biology courses or their equivalents are required:

BIOL 1800Introduction to the Biology Major1
BIOL 1821Introductory Biology: Organisms and the Environment (MOTR BIOL 150L)5
BIOL 1831Introductory Biology: From Molecules to Organisms (MOTR BIOL 150L)5
BIOL 2012Genetics3
BIOL 3302Evolution3
BIOL 3622Cell Biology3
Biological Diversity3-5
Select one of the following diversity courses:
Vertebrate Anatomy
Biology of Plants
Flowering Plant Families: Phylogeny and Diversification
Select one of the following:
Senior Seminar
Curriculum and Methods of Teaching Life Sciences
Total Hours25-29

Elective Courses

Three additional biology lecture courses, at the 2000 level or higher are required. They may be selected from any of the lecture or lecture-laboratory courses offered. Selection of these courses should reflect the career interest of the student. Biology courses taken to fulfill basic skill requirements (e.g., statistics requirement or biochemistry option) can be used to satisfy this requirement).
At least two biology lecture courses taken as part of the core or as electives must be at the 4000 level or higher. No more than one of these higher level courses can be used to fulfill other requirements (e.g., diversity or statistics requirements, or biochemistry option). Biochemistry CHEM 4722 can also be used toward satisfying this requirement.  BIOL 4905 or BIOL 4915 can be applied to the electives requirement but two 4000 level lecture courses are still required.

Laboratory Course Requirements

Three biology laboratory courses at the 2000 level or higher are required. They may be taken from any of the lecture-laboratory or laboratory courses offered. Two credit hours of BIOL 3699, BIOL 4299, BIOL 4905, or BIOL 4915 (no combination of these courses allowed) can be used to fulfill one laboratory requirement. Students may take CHEM 4733 to satisfy one of these laboratory course requirements, but students may not use both BIOL 4713 and CHEM 4733 to fulfill this requirement.

Basic Skills Requirement

A well-rounded biologist needs certain skills outside the biology subject matter. The basic skills requirement is designed to provide the student with a background in communication skills and knowledge in associated science areas.

Communication Skills. Courses in foreign languages and in writing are required for development of the basic communication skills needed to transmit scientific information. The following satisfy this requirement:

Foreign Language
The foreign language requirement of the College of Arts & Sciences fulfills the departmental requirement. 3
ENGL 3160Writing in the Sciences (strongly preferred)3
or ENGL 3100 Junior-Level Writing
Total Hours6

Associated Science Area

The following courses or their equivalents must be successfully completed in science areas related to biology:

PHYSICS 1011Basic Physics I3
PHYSICS 1011LBasic Physics I Laboratory1
PHYSICS 1012Basic Physics II3
PHYSICS 1012LBasic Physics II Laboratory1
CHEM 1111Introductory Chemistry I (MOTR CHEM 150L)5
CHEM 1121Introductory Chemistry II5
CHEM 2612Organic Chemistry I3
Select one of the following:2-3
Quantitative Analysis in Chemistry
Organic Chemistry II
Organic Chemistry Laboratory
Principles of Biochemistry
MATH 1310Elementary Statistical Methods3
MATH 1035Trigonometry2
MATH 1100Basic Calculus3
or MATH 1800 Analytic Geometry and Calculus I
Select one of the following:3-4
Elementary Statistical Methods
Introduction to Probability and Statistics
Total Hours34-36

Research Opportunity

Students in the B.S. Biology degree program who are interested in gaining research experience are encouraged to take a minimum 2 credit hours of undergraduate research, BIOL 4905. The privilege of doing undergraduate research provides students with a first-hand opportunity to experience the research process under the supervision of a faculty member or off-campus scientist. The project normally includes a library search of pertinent literature, laboratory or field experience, and a summary paper and a presentation, all based on an average 8 hr. per week per credit hour for a 15 week semester.

Thesis in Biology Research and the Degree with Distinction

The Department of Biology offers high-achieving students the opportunity to present primary research in the form of a written thesis and to graduate with a Degree with Distinction in Biology. The first step in conducting an undergraduate thesis is to identify a faculty research mentor with whom you can conduct novel research. The mentor, along with two UMSL faculty members, will be readers of the thesis.  Students need a minimum of two semesters, usually more, to conduct research. After students have identified a research mentor and have completed 75 credit hours, they may apply for a Degree with Distinction in Biology.  The final thesis will be written in the form of a scientific manuscript and presented orally in an advertised public forum at least 6 weeks prior to commencement. The readers of the thesis will decide if the thesis merits a Degree with Distinction, and will report their recommendation to the Dean of Arts and Sciences. In addition to fulfilling the coursework required for a B.S. or B.A. in Biology and the thesis itself, students must also fulfill all the requirements for UMSL’s Degree with Distinction.

Academic Tracks within the Major of Biology

Biology majors may choose to focus their elective hours in a particular sub-discipline of biology, or academic track. These tracks are groups of departmental courses that fit within sub-disciplines of biology and are recommendations for students wanting to pursue careers in specific sub-disciplines. Academic tracks are NOT majors and are only intended to serve as guides for courses within a particular area of biology and are represented by current faculty expertise. Selecting an academic track does not prevent a student from taking courses in another track. Students should not expect to take all recommended courses for each academic track. Students may choose not to select an academic track. Currently, the Biology Department offers three academic tracks: Cell and Molecular Biology; Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology; and Pre-professional/Health Sciences.

Cell and Molecular Biology Track
BIOL 2482Microbiology3
BIOL 2483Microbiology Laboratory2
BIOL 4442Developmental Biology3
BIOL 4550Bacterial Pathogenesis3
BIOL 4602Molecular Biology3
BIOL 4614Biotechnology Laboratory I4
BIOL 4615Biotechnology Laboratory II4
BIOL 4622Cellular Basis of Disease3
BIOL 4632Nucleic Acid Structure and Function3
BIOL 4642Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology3
BIOL 4652Virology3
BIOL 4712Biochemistry3
BIOL 4713Techniques in Biochemistry2
BIOL 4842Immunobiology3
Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology Track
BIOL 2102Ecology3
BIOL 2103Ecology Laboratory2
BIOL 2402Vertebrate Anatomy3
BIOL 2403Vertebrate Anatomy Laboratory2
BIOL 2482Microbiology3
BIOL 2483Microbiology Laboratory2
BIOL 2501Biology of Plants5
BIOL 3102Animal Behavior3
BIOL 3103Animal Behavior Laboratory2
BIOL 3202Conservation Biology3
BIOL 3203Conservation Biology Laboratory2
BIOL 3802Vertebrate Physiology3
BIOL 3803Vertebrate Physiology Lab2
BIOL 4102Behavioral Ecology3
BIOL 4122Biometry3
BIOL 4182Population Biology3
BIOL 4192Applications of Geographic Information Systems5
BIOL 4222Tropical Ecology and Conservation3
BIOL 4245Field Biology3
BIOL 4299Practicum in Conservation2
BIOL 4402Ornithology3
BIOL 4403Ornithology Laboratory2
BIOL 4422Entomology3
BIOL 4423Entomology Laboratory2
BIOL 4501Flowering Plant Families: Phylogeny and Diversification5
Pre-professional/Health Sciences Track
BIOL 2402Vertebrate Anatomy3
BIOL 2403Vertebrate Anatomy Laboratory2
BIOL 2482Microbiology3
BIOL 2483Microbiology Laboratory2
BIOL 3802Vertebrate Physiology3
BIOL 3803Vertebrate Physiology Lab2
BIOL 4442Developmental Biology3
BIOL 4550Bacterial Pathogenesis3
BIOL 4602Molecular Biology3
BIOL 4622Cellular Basis of Disease3
BIOL 4652Virology3
BIOL 4712Biochemistry3
BIOL 4822Introduction to Neuroscience3
BIOL 4842Immunobiology3

B.S. Ed. in Secondary Education with Emphasis in Biology

The B.S. Ed. is a professional education degree designed for students who wish to pursue a teaching career in secondary schools.  Much of the discipline-specific coursework parallels the B.A. or B.S. degree in the discipline; however, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) requires specific coursework for teacher certification.  Therefore, students interested in the B.S. Ed. should contact the advising office (OASIS) 314-516-5937 in the College of Education for discipline-specific requirements.  Note:  To obtain teaching certification, DESE requires a 3.0 GPA in the discipline and professional education coursework, as well as a 2.75 GPA overall. 

B.A. or B.S. in Biology with Master’s Level Coursework for Secondary Teacher Certification 

In addition to the B.S. Ed., students may opt to complete a B.A. or B.S. degree in their discipline as an undergraduate, followed by admission to the Graduate School for Master’s level teaching certification.  The College of Education has a one-year accelerated program for post-graduate certification called Teach in 12, or students can choose a traditional path to certification.  Graduate coursework for certification can apply towards a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education, with additional coursework.  Students interested in Master’s Level teacher certification should contact the advising office (OASIS) 314-516-5937 in the College of Education.  Note:  To obtain teaching certification, DESE requires a 3.0 GPA in the discipline and professional education coursework, as well as a 2.75 GPA overall. 

Learning Outcomes

Integrative Knowledge

Graduates will demonstrate a clear understanding of the overriding principles and theorems within and between the content areas of anatomy, botany, cytology, ecology, evolutionary biology, microbiology, physiology, and zoology. Specifically, graduates will demonstrate competency in the following areas:

  • Structure and function of the basic biological units of living organisms
  • Information flow, exchange and storage from parent to offspring or from parent cells to progeny cells.
  • Pathways and transformations of energy and matter that govern metabolism
  • Systems that govern interactions between organisms or between organisms and their environment
  • Biodiversity at the genetic, organismal, community, and global scales
  • Evolution, common ancestry, and changes to biological populations over successive generations.

Laboratory Skills
Scientists not only learn the results of others, they work in the lab to generate new knowledge. Graduates will demonstrate basic skills associated with performing laboratory experiments or field studies in biology following a broad introduction of commonly used equipment and procedures.

Critical Thinking Skills
Graduates will be able to formulate meaningful hypotheses, design experiments to test them, and evaluate data critically, including an appreciation of the potential sources of error associated with laboratory measurements and troubleshooting technical issues.

Scientific Literacy
Graduates will be able to identify the need for information, procure the information from relevant scientific literature publications and databases, and critically evaluate reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias.

Communication Skills
Scientists not only must be able to solve problems, they also must be able to communicate those solutions to others. Graduates of this program demonstrate how to present scientific concepts and information in a clear and accurate manner.  Specifically, graduates will be able to write scientific reports and make effective oral presentations of their results and ideas.

Professional and Research Ethics
Graduates will honestly and objectively evaluate and report data in an ethical and legal manner to promote the values that are essential to scholarly work: trust, accountability, mutual respect, and fairness. By doing so, graduates will come to understand and respect the accepted standards of conduct associated with the scientific profession regarding citation, use of privileged information, integrity of data, and authorship.

Foreign Language

B.A. graduates will demonstrate basic proficiency in speaking, listening, writing and reading in a language in addition to English.

Sample Four Year Plan

First Year
INTDSC 100311BIOL 18215
BIOL 18001CHEM 11115
ENGL 11003MATH 10352
MATH 10303CORE - Communication Proficiency3
CORE- US History & Government3 
EXPLORE - Social Sciences3 
 14 15
Second Year
BIOL 18315BIOL 20123
CHEM 11215BIOL 20132
MATH 11003CHEM 26123
EXPLORE - Humanities and Fine Arts3MATH 13203
 EXPLORE - Social & Behavioral Sciences3
 16 14
Third Year
BIOL 2000+ Biology Lecture Elective3BIOL 2000+ Biology Lecture Elective3
BIOL 2000+ Biology Laboratory Elective2PHYSICS 10123
BIOL 33023PHYSICS 1012L1
CHEM XXXX Chemistry Major Requirement3ENGL 31603
PHYSICS 10113Foreign Language 10015
 15 15
Fourth Year
BIOL 36223BIOL 48892
BIOL XXXX Biology Diversity Elective3BIOL 4XXX 4000-Level Biology Lecture Elective3
BiOL XXXX Biology Laboratory Elective3Foreign Language 21013
FGN LANG 10025Cultural Diversity Requirement3
EXPLORE - Humanities and Fine Arts3EXPLORE - Humanities and Fine Arts3
 EXPLORE - Social Sciences3
 17 17
Total Hours: 123

Please Note: This plan is an example of what a four year plan could look like for a typical student. Placement exam scores in math as well as the completion of coursework may change the plan. It should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor each semester. All requirements are subject to change.