Bs In Biology Coursework

Getting started

Biology majors begin by taking two introductory Biology lecture courses:

  • BIOL-L 111 Foundations of Biology: Diversity, Evolution, and Ecology
  • BIOL-L 112 Foundations of Biology: Biological Mechanisms

These are followed by BIOL-L 113, the introductory Biology Lab.

Because a significant amount of chemistry coursework is required for the Biology B.S. degree, it is important that you begin taking chemistry courses as soon as possible. You may work with one of the academic advisors to determine which beginning chemistry course is appropriate for you (either CHEM-C 103 or CHEM-C 117/127), or you can take the C117 Eligibility Quiz yourself on the website for the Department of Chemistry.

To be successful in the Biology B.S. major, it is important to limit the number of science and math courses that you take each semester. Talk with one of the academic advisors about how to balance your course load.

Tracks and concentrations

Students can choose to pursue either a general Biology B.S. degree, or a Biology B.S. degree with an area of concentration. There are three areas of concentration for you to choose from:

  • Biology of Disease
  • Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics
  • Integrative and Organismal Biology

The fundamental goals of the areas of concentration are the same as those of the general Biology B.S. degree, but choosing an area of concentration will allow you to acquire a deep and coherent education in a specific area of biology. Your introductory courses will help you determine which (if any) area of concentration to pursue.

Upper level coursework

All Biology majors complete 18 to 20 credit hours of core classes in biology, which include courses such as molecular biology, genetics, and evolution. Biology B.S. students also are required to take inorganic and organic chemistry and physics. Keep in mind that you will need a strong foundation in chemistry in order to successfully progress through your intermediate and upper-level biology coursework.

Biology students get to choose many of their upper-level biology courses. Upper-level biology lectures and labs are offered in the following areas: microbiology, biotechnology, biochemistry, ecology, the environment, zoology, and botany. See the list of approved upper-level lectures and labs for course titles.

If you choose to pursue an area of concentration, then you will be required to pick 4 upper-level lectures, including an advanced skills course, and 2 upper-level labs from the approved lecture/lab list for that concentration. If you decide to do the general Biology B.S. degree, then you get to pick 3 upper-level labs and 3 upper-level lectures from the comprehensive list of approved upper-level lectures and labs.

Students interested in continuing their education overseas may want to participate in the Tropical Biology overseas study program (BIOL-L 433) led by IU Biology faculty members. The program is held in Costa Rica over winter break and in the Cayman Islands in the spring. You earn credit for one upper-level biology lab in the general Biology B.S. degree by participating in one of these programs. Talk to an Overseas Study advisor or visit the Overseas Study website for more information.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest with additional majors, minors, or certificates. Biology B.S. majors most commonly pursue the following additional degrees: Neuroscience, Psychology, Animal Behavior, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Human Biology, or Spanish.

Common minors for biology students are psychology, animal behavior, chemistry, social science and medicine, medical sciences, biotechnology, anthropology, and Spanish (or another language). Check your bulletin for more information about these minors.

Working with faculty

When pursuing a degree in Biology, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

Many exciting research opportunities are available to Biology majors at IU Bloomington. Interdisciplinary research in biology and microbiology take place in Indiana University facilities such as the Biocomplexity Institute, the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior (CISAB), and the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics. The nearby Research and Teaching Preserve provides a setting for field-based research in ecology and environmental issues.

A large number of students choose to pursue research positions in faculty labs. Through working in a lab, you get to participate in cutting-edge research, explore your own research interests, build relationships with faculty members, and gain valuable work and research experience.

Students can receive academic credit for their involvement in research by signing up for BIOL-X 490 Independent Study credit hours. See the Biology Department website for more information on ways that you can earn independent study credit.

Undergraduate Research Programs such as the Integrated Freshman Learning Experience (IFLE) and the Science, Technology, and Research Scholars Program (STARS) give students who are especially interested in research the opportunity to start working in a lab as early as their freshman year. Students in IFLE begin research the summer before their freshman year.

You are encouraged to work with a faculty member who specializes in what most interests you. For more information about the exciting research underway in the Department of Biology, visit the department's faculty and research webpages. The academic advisors post relevant research opportunities on the Undergraduate Biology blog.

Biology majors have the opportunity to gain teaching experience by becoming an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA). Introductory biology courses, especially BIOL-L 111 and BIOL-L 112, are large classes with discussion groups; UTAs help to create a small class atmosphere inside a large course. Students may either earn academic credit or be paid for their UTA experience.

Visit the website of the Department of Biology for more information on undergraduate research opportunities, UTAships, and faculty areas of research expertise.


Outstanding students may earn honors in biology by writing and defending an honors thesis on their own original research. Students work with a faculty mentor to develop a research project, assemble a thesis committee, and write their thesis.

To be eligible for departmental honors, students must have conducted their own research over at least two semesters and earned at least 6 credits of BIOL-X 490 devoted to their original project. Students who successfully complete and defend their honors thesis before their thesis committee receive honors in biology upon graduation. Talk with the academic advisors and the faculty for more information.

High achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

The following programs and scholarships are available to incoming freshmen who are interested in research:

For a list of other scholarships and awards that are available, see the Biology Department's website. Biology students may also seek funding for summer research. See the Biology Department's website for more information on summer research opportunities.

The academic advisors post relevant funding opportunities and scholarships on the Undergraduate Biology blog.


Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.

Students have found internship opportunities with organizations such as:

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through The Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you’ll find many resources for both domestic and international internships. It may be possible to earn academic credit for an internship by enrolling in BIOL-X 473 or ASCS-X 373. Job shadowing is another way to learn about a field, and you can receive credit through BIOL-X 473 for one job shadow.

Another resource you can use is the Undergraduate Biology blog, where the Biology academic advisors post relevant opportunities.

Foreign language study

A Biology B.S. student must demonstrate third-semester proficiency in a single foreign language to fulfill the College of Arts and Sciences Foreign Language Requirement. If a student decides to study through the fourth semester (or beyond), this coursework fulfills the IUB General Education World Languages and Cultures requirement.

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 70 languages. 

Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington.

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly globalized world. Biology students often pursue language study and other coursework through the following IU sponsored and co-sponsored programs:

  • Adelaide, Australia
  • Canberra, Australia
  • Wollongong, Australia
  • Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (summer)
  • Santiago, Chile (semester or summer)
  • Costa Rica (winter break or semester)
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Canterbury, England (semester or academic year)
  • Oxford-St. Anne's, England (academic year)
  • Freiburg, Germany (semester or academic year)
  • Legon, Ghana (semester or academic year)
  • Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Istanbul, Turkey

Some biology majors choose a study abroad program where they can find science courses that can be used to fulfill biology major requirements, or they use study abroad as a way to earn credit toward an additional language major or minor. Others choose to take courses that will fulfill IUB General Education or College of Arts and Sciences requirements while they are abroad.

Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Biology faculty, your academic advisor, and the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one. Student organizations include:

Residential Programs and Services at IU offers a variety of learning communities, which allow students to select to live among peers with a common interest. Some of the following learning communities may be of interest to biology students:

For a complete list of Living Learning Centers, Academic Communities, and Thematic Communities, visit the Residential Programs and Services website.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Students and alumni who wish to get involved with a professional organization may be interested in:

Use the Indiana University Library system to search Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, nonprofit organizations, and much more.

Through the major

The Biology B.S. degree provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. Biology students will:

  • Acquire knowledge of foundational biological concepts
  • Apply the scientific process to address biological problems using hypothesis-driven inquiry and experimentation
  • Learn modern lab techniques
  • Design experiments, collect data, and use quantitative reasoning to analyze, interpret, and present data
  • Participate in collaborative interactions to analyze data and solve problems
  • Find and critically evaluate information on biological questions and communicate that information to diverse audiences in both written and oral form
  • Situate biological studies within the greater context of prior published work and identify current gaps in knowledge
  • Develop expertise in a particular area of biological study

See the Department of Biology's Undergraduate Learning Goals for more information.

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following abilities, as identified by the 11 Goals of the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak and write clearly and persuasively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
  • Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
  • Work in a team structure
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Obtain and process relevant information
  • Analyze quantitative data
  • Create and/or edit written reports
  • Obtain technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software programs
  • Ability to persuade or influence others

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisors and career coaches about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with your career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

Use the IU Career Guides to determine if the path you are considering aligns with your short- and long-term goals. These guides were created by career coaches in the Career Development Center. You can search by career cluster or use the “Search by Major” field to look at specific fields related to each major. The various tabs here allow you to browse job titles, ways to get experience, and employers that have hired in the field. There is information about each field's preferred educational preparation, employment opportunities, insider tips, industry-related interview questions, and more.

You might want to take a career course to help you maximize your time at IU. College of Arts and Sciences students should consider taking ASCS-Q 299College to Career III: Market Yourself for the Job and Internship Search. This course teaches the strategies and tools necessary to successfully market the qualifications gained from your Arts and Sciences education, help you achieve career-related goals, and plan for lifelong career development.

The job market

With the increased focus on job growth in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, there are many job opportunities for students with analytical, critical thinking, and research skills.

Students with the Biology B.S. degree take their education in many directions. The skills developed through the major, including lab techniques, designing experiments, and analyzing data, can prepare you especially well for a research-intensive career or graduate program. Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors: research, healthcare, education, biotechnology, business/industry, pharmaceutical sales and research, parks, museums, and government.

Graduates with the Biology B.S. degree may become research assistants, pharmaceutical sales representatives, quality analysts, teachers, technical writers, lab managers, wildlife biologists, and conservation officers, among many other vocations and careers. The upper-level coursework in biology, physics, and chemistry that is required for the Biology B.S. degree allows Biology majors to develop advanced skills that will prepare them for a variety of careers within the sciences.

Talk with the faculty, your academic advisor, your career coach, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the Department of Biology. Ask your advisor about requesting letters of recommendation from faculty, employers, and others who are familiar with your work as an undergraduate.

Career Analytics Platform, also known as 12Twenty, provides major-specific dashboards with real-time information about internship and full-time job locations of our students.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations. The “Occupation Groups” and “Occupation Finder” sections can provide insight into entry-level education requirements and the job outlook for specific fields.

O*Net Online is a site that includes detailed descriptions of the world of work. You can conduct an “Occupation Quick Search” in the top right corner of the homepage, or use the “Career Cluster” search under "Find Occupations" to look at snapshots of different career paths. The Wages and Employment section under each specific career title has information such as projected growth and projected job openings that can be useful.

What Can I Do With This Major? is a site that compiles lists of majors and outlines various careers and strategies for finding employment in numerous fields. The industries featured under each major can be beneficial for brainstorming career options in each major.

Vocational Biographies features over 1,000 career stories of individuals in a variety of fields. The “Career Pathway” and “Career Cluster” sections let you search through common interests for specific career stories. Each story has a box of information on the last page with job outlook, education and training, salary range, and more data that can be useful. Use the following username/password to access this site: username: IndianaUniv  password: zSQhK

Walter Center for Career Achievement First Destination Survey Report has top-level data about College of Arts + Sciences students. It shows success rates by major, as well as the graduate schools, internships, and job offers students have reported through our survey methods.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

Teaching positions give you a chance to hone language and communication skills. Find international English teaching jobs through organizations such as the Center for International Education Exchange, the Institute of International Education, and LanguageCorps.

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.

Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you’ll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

A Biology B.S. degree will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as research, medicine, healthcare, biotechnology, and education. If you are interested in graduate school, start thinking about your options early. To develop the skills you need for graduate study, it is important to make connections and build relationships with faculty and advisors. 

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.

Students who pursue graduate studies in biology have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, medicine and healthcare, business and entrepreneurship, and government organizations.

Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:

Alumni connections

The Department of Biology provides services to alumni through their development office, which organizes departmental events, administers undergraduate departmental scholarships, and publishes an alumni newsletter. We encourage you to stay in touch with the Department of Biology after graduating from IU by sending news about your activities.

The IU College of Arts and Sciences organizes Alumni events. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly, and let others know where your path takes you.

The Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree Program in Biological Sciences emphasizes a more quantitative approach to biology than the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree program. The BS program will help students develop computer and mathematical skills needed for biological sciences in the 21st century. Students opting for BS must take advanced mathematics and computer science courses, including one upper division mathematical biology course. This curriculum is ideal for students who wish to work in industry, in government, or as a researcher or teacher.

Required Coursework

To obtain a Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree in Biological Sciences, students must satisfy the Major Requirements in Biology, the General University Requirements (GUR), and complete a minimum of 128 credits. The requirements for a BS in Biology consist of 38 credits in Biological Sciences plus cognate courses in Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, and Computer Science.

The following requirements define the BS Degree in Biological Sciences. All required courses listed below, including cognate courses, must be completed with a grade of C or better.

 1)  REQUIRED CORE COURSES ~ 12 credits

A.  R120/BIOL 200 Concepts in Biology * (4cr)

*Effective from Fall 2011 ONLY. Currently enrolled students should complete
            General Biology

4 credits +

B.  BIOL 205 Foundations of Ecology & Evolution Lecture (3cr)

3 credits +

C.  BIOL 206 Foundations of Ecology & Evolution Laboratory (1cr)

1 credit +

D.  R120:201 Foundations of Cell & Molecular Biology Lecture (3cr)

3 credits +

E.  R120:202 Foundations of Cell & Molecular Biology Laboratory (1cr)

1 credit = 12cr

 2)  CONCEPT CLUSTERS ~ 13 credits
Majors must complete one course from each of the following four concept cluster categories:

A.  Ecological and Evolutionary Framework (3cr)

  • BIOL 222 Evolution

  • R120:282 Animal Behavior

  • R120:280 Ecology

  • R120:370 Plant Ecology

3 credits +

B.  The Functional Organism (4cr)

  • R120:211 Plant Kingdom

  • R120:335 General Microbiology

  • R120:330 Plant Physiology

  • R120/BIOL 340 Mammalian Physiology

  • R120:342/343 Developmental Biology & Dev. Biol. Laboratory

  • R120:230 Biology of Seed Plants

4 credits +

C.  Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms (3cr)

  • R120:352 Genetics

  • R120:355 Cell Biology

  • R120:356 Molecular Biology

  • R120:360 Biochemistry

3 credits +

D.  Computational Biology (3cr)

  • MATH 371 Physiology and Medicine

  • MATH 372 Population Biology

  • MATH 373 Intro Mathematical Biology

  • MATH 430 Analytical & Computational Neuroscience

  • MATH 431 Systems Computational Neuroscience

3 credits =


 3)  BIOLOGY ELECTIVES ~ 6 credits. 
Majors must complete two courses from the following list of (3cr) biology elective courses: 

  • BIOL 225 Insects in Society

  • R120:325 Animal Parasites

  • BIOL 338 Ecology of the Dining Hall

  • BIOL 341 Introduction to Neurophysiology

  • R120:342 Developmental Biology

  • BIOL 344 Physiological Mechanisms

  • R120:345 Comparative Physiology

  • R120/BIOL 346 Neurobiology

  • R120:350 Immunology

  • R120:365 Human Ecology

  • BIOL 368 Ecology and Evolution of Disease

  • BIOL 375 Conservation Biology

  • BIOL 383 Neural Basis of Behavior

  • R120:402 Biology of Cancer

  • R120:422 Biological Invasions

  • BIOL 440 Cell Biology of Disease

  • R120:445 Endocrinology

  • BIOL 447 Cellular and Systems Neuroscience

  • BIOL 448 Neuropathophysiology

  • R120:455 Molecular Cell Biology

  • R120:456 Virology

  • R120:472 Environmental Assessment

  • BIOL 491 Research and Independent Study

  • BIOL 492 Research and Independent Study

  • R120:493 Seminar in Biology

  • R120:494 Seminar in Biology

  • BIOL 495 Honors Seminar in Biology (BIOL 495)

<···2 courses

3 credits +

3 credits =


Majors must complete at least one4-credit lab in this category:

A.  Four Credit Laboratories (4cr)

  • R120:211 Plant Kingdom

  • R120:227 Biology of Invertebrates

  • R120:230 Biology of Seed Plants

  • R120:285 Comp. Vertebrate Anatomy

  • R120:311 Taxonomy of Vascular Plants

  • R120:313 Mycology

  • R120:325/326 Animal Parasites & Parasitology Laboratory

  • R120:330 Plant Physiology

  • R120:335 General Microbiology

  • R120/BIOL 340 Mammalian Physiology

  • R120:342/343 Developmental Biology & Laboratory

  • R120:405 Microanatomy of Tissues

  • R120:430 Plant Growth and Development

  • BIOL 451 Cell Physiology and Imaging

4 credits +

B.  Three Credit Laboratories (3cr)

  • R120:328 Ecology of Birds

  • R120:371 Field Plant Ecology

  • R120:380 Field Ecology

  • R120:381 Field Animal Ecology

  • BIOL 475 Analytical Field Ecology

  • R120:485 Tropical Field Ecology (2cr)

3 credits =


 5)  COGNATE COURSES ~ 40-41 credits.
Majors must complete all cognate courses in this category:

A.  BNFO 136 Bioinformatics II (3cr)

3 credits +

B.  CHEM 124 General Chemistry Lab (1cr)

C.  CHEM 125 General Chemistry I (3cr)

D.  CHEM 126 General Chemistry II (3cr)

E.  CHEM 243 Organic Chemistry I (3cr)

F.  CHEM 244 Organic Chemistry II (3cr) ·

G.  CHEM 244A Organic Chemistry Lab (2cr)

15 credits +

H.  PHYS 111 Physics I (3cr)

I.  PHYS 111A Physics Lab I (1cr)

J.  PHYS 121 Physics II (3cr)

K.  PHYS 121A Physics Lab II (1cr)

8 credits +

L.   MATH 112 Calculus II (4cr)

M. MATH 211 Calculus III (3cr)

7 credits +

N.  MATH Cognate (3-4cr). 
    O.  Majors must complete one of the following math cognate courses:

  • MATH 222 Differential Equations (4cr)

  • MATH 227 Mathematical Modeling (4cr)

  • MATH 337 Linear Algebra (3cr)

  • MATH 340 Applied Numerical Methods (3cr)

3 or 4 credits

= 36-37cr


  • FRSH SEM Freshman Seminar (0cr)

  • BNFO 135  Bioinformatics I  (3cr)

  • HUM 101 English I (3cr)

  • HUM 102 English II (3cr)

  • MATH 111 Calculus I (4cr)

  • MATH 333 Probability and Statistics (3cr)

  • MGMT 390 Principles of Management (3cr)

19 credits +

  • GUR Elective - 2 Physical Education Elective Courses (1cr each = 2cr)

  • GUR Elective - 3 Free Elective Courses (3cr each = 9cr)

  • GUR Elective - 2 Technical Elective Courses (3cr each = 6cr)

  • GUR Elective - 2 HSS Upper Level Elective Courses (3cr each = 6cr)

  • GUR Elective - 2 Social Sciences Elective Courses (3cr each = 6cr)

  • GUR Elective - 1 English and Cultural History Elective Course (3cr)

  • GUR Elective - HSS Senior Seminar (3cr)

35 credits =


 Category 1-4:  Biology Courses:

38 credits

 Category 5:  Cognate Courses:

36-37 credits

 Category 6:  GUR Courses:

54 credits




BS in Biology Degree Program Information:

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ΔBS in Biology curriculum (PDF)


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