Biology Major and Minor

Major Requirements

Students entering St. Lawrence with an interest in biology should enroll in General Biology (BIOL 101 and 102) during their first year. They should also seek early advisement by a biology faculty member. Biology majors must complete a predetermined set of courses (outlined below). Continuation in upper level biology electives courses requires a grade of 2.0 or higher in BIOL 101 and 102.

Required Courses

Full course descriptions can be found by visiting the Catalog section for the sponsoring department.

I.             Specific Courses

Students must take all of the following courses:

  • BIOL 101 and 102. General Biology.
  • CHEM 103 and 104.  General Chemistry.
  • STAT 113 Applied Statistics or the following two MATH courses: 135. Calculus I. and 136. Calculus II.

II.           Electives

Students take at least 6.75 additional units of biology coursework, of which at least 2 must be at the 300 or 400 level. Students are encouraged to select two electives from each of the following three areas: Cell and Molecular Biology, Organismal Biology, and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Cell/Molecular Biology

231.        Microbiology. (with lab)

245.        Genetics.

250.        Introduction to Cell Biology.

252.        Research Methods in Cell Biology. (with lab)

288.        Introduction to Neuroscience. (with lab)

309.        Biochemistry.

333.        Immunology. (with lab)

350.        Cancer Biology. (with lab)

387.        Cellular Mechanisms of Memory.

388.        Drugs and the Brain. (with lab)

389.        Advanced Neuroscience.

391.        Scanning Electron Microscopy. (with lab)

392.        Research Methods in Fluorescence and Confocal Microscopy. (with lab)

394.        Research Methods in Biochemistry. (with lab)

395.        Research Methods in Molecular Biology. (with lab)

415.        Advanced Biochemistry.

Organismal Biology

209.        Vertebrate Natural History. (with lab)

215.        Fundamentals of Animal Biodiversity. (with lab)

218.        Ornithology. (with lab)

224.        Biology of Plants. (with lab)

226.        Comparative Animal Physiology (with lab)

227.        Mammalogy. (with lab)

231.        Microbiology (with lab)

232.        Laboratory Animals. (with lab)

258.        Ethnobotany. (with lab)

315.        Human Nutrition.

325.        Mycology. (with lab)

341.        Anatomy and Physiology I. (with lab)

351.         Anatomy and Physiology II. (with lab)

353.        Human Embryology.

370.        Hormones, Disease and Development.

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

215.         Fundamentals of Animal Biodiversity. (with lab)

218.        Ornithology. (with lab)

221.        General Ecology. (with lab)

227.        Mammalogy. (with lab)

258.        Ethnobotany. (with lab)

319.        Plant Systematics. (with lab)

330.        Ecology of Lakes and Rivers. (with lab)

335.        Winter Ecology. (with lab)

343.        Evolution. (with lab)

360.        Marine Ecology.

380.        Tropical Ecology.

440.        Conservation Biology. (with lab)

III.          Laboratory Requirement.

Students must complete the laboratory requirement within their elective courses in one of the following ways: 1) five units of course work with a laboratory component; or 2) 3.75 units of course work with a laboratory component and one unit of a lab or field  based SYE; or 3) 2.5 units of course work with a laboratory component and 1.25 units of a research methods course with lecture and laboratory.

Independent Research and the Senior Year Experience

Students who wish to conduct independent research may do so by taking customized research methods courses (BIOL 381 and 382), or as seniors, by taking BIOL 468 and 469 (SYE: Tutorial Research) and BIOL 489 and 490 (SYE: Experimental Research). Students must discuss possible projects with members of the biology faculty. For more detail, see

Honors in Biology

To graduate with honors in biology normally requires 1 unit of independent research and 1 unit of honors -research in different semesters, a 3.5 major GPA, submitting a signed honors nomination form, a thesis, a public presentation, and approval of the honors project committee. A student wishing to be considered for honors in biology should enroll in SYE research (BIOL 468, 469, 489, or 490) during the first semester of research (usually, but not limited to, the fall semester of the senior year) for 1 unit of credit. The student, in consultation with the project advisor, should choose an honors project committee comprised of the project advisor and two other faculty members appropriate to the topic (one of these two may be from another department). This honors committee should be formed as soon as possible in the first semester of research.

At the end of the first semester, the honors project advisor, in consultation with the other members of the honors committee, evaluates a formal research proposal and progress toward the completion of the project. If the project is deemed worthy of honors in biology, the student is nominated as a candidate for honors and submits the honors nomination form to one of the department co-chairs. The student can then enroll in BIOL 499 (SYE: Honors Research) for the second (usually spring) semester for 1 unit of credit. However, only one unit can count toward the minimum requirements of the major.

Honors in the Environmental Studies–Biology Combined Major

To graduate with honors in the environmental studies–biology combined major, students must maintain a GPA of 3.5 or higher in all biology and environmental studies courses and complete an honors research project having an environmental component or emphasis. The timetable and guidelines are the same as for honors in biology, except that the project must be guided by a project committee comprised of at least one faculty member from both environmental studies and biology. Also, the student is nominated for honors by both the environmental studies and biology faculty.

Minor Requirements

The minimum course requirements for a minor in biology are the two semesters of General Biology (BIOL 101 and BIOL 102) plus at least 3.5 additional units of biology courses above the 100 level. At least one of the additional units must be at the 300 level and at least 2.5 of the additional units must have a laboratory component. Independent research courses (BIOL 368, 369, 381, 382, 489, and 490) cannot be used for the biology minor. The department does not require specific courses, but does strongly recommend that minors select courses that provide breadth. Advanced placement for the minor is the same as for the major.