Program of Study (CAS Bulletin)

Departmental Objectives

The department offers students the opportunity to explore the various areas of current biology. The major in Biology is an integrated yet diverse program that builds a solid foundation in modern biology through coursework in molecular biology, cell biology, evolution, genetics, developmental biology, physiology, immunology, genomics, systems biology, computational biology, ecology and environmental biology. From the very outset of their studies, students are exposed to modern concepts and state-of-the-art experimental and analytical methods. Upper-level courses emphasize foundational knowledge as well as laboratory skills, reasoning skills and quantitative skills. Advanced students may register for graduate-level courses, which are most often given in the specialized areas of faculty research.

The department also offers a set of discrete minors in the life sciences, specifically in the areas of molecular and cell biology, genetics, genomics and bioinformatics, and environmental biology. Each minor is designed to hone skills in a particular contemporary area of biology and requires a laboratory experience. The minors permit students to create a course of study that will meet their unique academic and career goals.

This program provides outstanding preparation for careers in research, academia, medicine, dentistry, and related fields. Graduates of the department have a remarkable record of success in acceptance into professional schools and in establishing notable careers in the biomedical sciences.

Other courses offered by the department are designed to acquaint nonscience majors with contemporary issues in biology. Such courses are often topical, addressing problems such as environmental pollution, limits of the earth, and human physiology.

Outstanding and highly motivated students are offered special opportunities for honors work, independent study, summer laboratory research, internships, and other enhancements. Upper-level students may become involved in research projects in faculty laboratories through the many formal and informal opportunities afforded by the department. The department has a tradition of important research accomplishment and contains several specialized research and laboratory facilities that are integrated into the educational programs. These include undergraduate labs in molecular biology, cell biology, experimental physiology, genomics, bioinformatics and ecological analysis. Field studies are carried out at a variety of regional sites. Department faculty are also affiliated with the NYU Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, the NYU Center for Developmental Genetics, NYU Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the NYU School of Medicine, the NYU College of Dentistry, the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Botanical Garden, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Students with questions about majoring in Biology or minoring in a specific area of biology should visit the office of the Department of Biology. Those declaring a major in Biology are assigned a faculty adviser from the department; students meet with that professor to design a program of study, determine course selections, and discuss career goals. The faculty adviser is also available to provide guidance concerning the many options and opportunities afforded by the department for curricular enhancement, including research experiences.

Major (Bachelor of Arts)

The Department offers two tracks. The standard biology track provides the major with a broad background in biology with the laboratory, quantitative and reasoning skills needed for today’s modern biology. The ecology track also provides students with the broad background in modern biology, but with a focus on ecological concepts, approaches and analytical methods.

In addition, students may pursue a major in Global Public Health/Science, with a concentration in Biology (see below).

The following sixteen courses (typically 70 points) completed with grades of C or higher (and a minimum GPA of 2.0 for all courses required by and taken as electives in the major) are required for the major.

To permit the maximal choice of appropriate upper-level courses, we strongly recommend that students take Principles of Biology I and II (BIOL-UA 11, 12), General Chemistry I and II and Laboratories (CHEM-UA 125, 126), and mathematics in their freshman year. Then as sophomores, students in the standard track should take Molecular and Cell Biology (BIOL-UA 21, 22), whereas students in the ecology track should take Fundamentals of Ecology (BIOL-UA 63).

Programs of majors must be approved each term by a department adviser.

Biology standard track

Biology Core Courses (four courses/16 points)

Principles of Biology I: One of the following: Principles of Biology I (BIOL-UA 11) or Principles of Biology I in London (BIOL-UA 9011)

Principles of Biology II: One of the following: Principles of Biology II (BIOL-UA 12) or Principles of Biology II in London (BIOL-UA 9012)

  • NOTE: Biology majors are not required to register into the 1-credit Principles of Biology Lab (BIOL-UA 123).

Molecular and Cell Biology: Molecular and Cell Biology I and II (BIOL-UA 21, 22).

  • NOTE: Students can register into the optional 1-credit Molecular and Cell Biology Lab (BIOL-UA 223) concurrently with MCB-I (BIOL-UA 21).

Five Upper-Level Biology Courses: (five courses/20 points)

Biology majors must complete five additional 4-point upper-level biology courses. In consultation with their adviser or with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, students select at least one course from each of the following four skill categories, plus a fifth elective from any one of the categories:

I. Lab Skill Courses: At the Bench or Research Courses

II. Quantitative Skill Courses: Math, Computer, and Modeling Courses

III. Reasoning Skill Courses: Reading Intensive Courses

IV. Foundational Courses

A current list of courses satisfying each category is maintained on the official web site of the Department of Biology.

Additional Courses Required for Biology Majors who are not in the Ecology Track

Chemistry (four courses/20 points)

General Chemistry I and Laboratory (CHEM-UA 125)
General Chemistry II and Laboratory
(CHEM-UA 126)
Organic Chemistry I and Laboratory
(CHEM-UA 225)
Organic Chemistry II and Laboratory
(CHEM-UA 226)

Physics (two courses/10 points)

General Physics I and II (PHYS-UA 11, 12)

Mathematics (one course/4 points)

Calculus I (MATH-UA 121)

Biology Ecology track

The Ecology track provides students a broad foundation in modern Biology as well as a focused education in ecological concepts, approaches and analytical methods. It is primarily intended for students planning to pursue graduate study in Ecology or a related field.

Ecology Core Courses (four courses/16 points)

Principles of Biology I: One of the following: Principles of Biology I (BIOL-UA 11) or Principles of Biology I in London (BIOL-UA 9011)

Principles of Biology II: One of the following: Principles of Biology II (BIOL-UA 12) or Principles of Biology II in London (BIOL-UA 9012)

  • NOTE: Biology majors in the Ecology track are not required to register into the 1-credit Principles of Biology Lab (BIOL-UA 123).

Molecular and Cell Biology I (BIOL-UA 21)

  • NOTE: Students can register into the optional 1-credit Molecular and Cell Biology Lab (BIOL-UA 223) concurrently with MCB-I (BIOL-UA 21).

Fundamentals of Ecology (BIOL-UA 63)

Five Upper-Level Biology Courses for the Ecology Track: (five courses/20 points)

Biology majors must complete five additional 4-point upper-level biology courses. In consultation with their adviser or with the director of undergraduate studies, students select at least one course from each of the following four skill categories, plus a fifth elective from any one of the categories:

I. Lab Skill Courses: At the Bench or Research Courses

II. Quantitative Skill Courses: Math, Computer, and Modeling Courses

III. Reasoning Skill Courses: Reading Intensive Courses

IV. Foundational Courses

A current list of courses satisfying each category is maintained on the official web site of the Department of Biology. Note that the set of courses that may be used as electives for the Ecology track is not identical to the set that may be used for the standard Biology track.

Additional Courses Required for a Biology Major in the Ecology Track

Chemistry (four courses/20 points)

General Chemistry I and Laboratory (CHEM-UA 125)
General Chemistry II and Laboratory
(CHEM-UA 126)
Organic Chemistry I and Laboratory
(CHEM-UA 225)
Organic Chemistry II and Laboratory
(CHEM-UA 226)

Physics (one course/5 points)

General Physics I (PHYS-UA 11)

Mathematics (two courses/8 points)

Calculus I (MATH-UA 121)
Calculus II
(MATH-UA 122) or Linear Algebra (MATH-UA 140)

Global Public Health/Science Major with Concentration in Biology

The College of Arts and Science (CAS) and the Department of Biology offer students the opportunity to pursue a major that combines Biology and Global Public Health. Students pursuing this combined program will complete courses to fulfill the Global Public Health/Science major, with a concentration in Biology that emphasizes one of the following areas: Genetics and Genomics, Infectious Diseases, or Environmental Health.

Students in this combined major are strongly advised to talk to an advisor in the Department of Biology so that a course plan can be planned. The following are the courses required for the major.

I. Global Public Health Requirements

Health and Society in a Global Context (UGPH-GU 10; 4 credits)
Biostatistics
(BIOL-UA 42; 4 credits)
At the Bench: Epidemiology
(BIOL-UA 49; 4 credits)
Health Policy
(UGPH-GU 40; 4 credits)
Environmental Health
(UGPH-GU 50; 4 credits)
GPH Internship
(UGPH-GU 60; 4 credits)
Advanced foreign language above intermediate Level II
(4 credits)
One semester of study away

II. Biology Requirements

Principles of Biology I (BIOL-UA 11; 4 credits)
Principles of Biology II
(BIOL-UA 12; 4 credits)
Molecular and Cell Biology I
(BIOL-UA 21; 4 credits)
Molecular and Cell Biology II
(BIOL-UA 22; 4 credits)
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
(BIOL-UA 223; 1 credit; optional but strongly recommended)
General Chemistry I
(CHEM-UA 125; 5 credits)
General Chemistry II
(CHEM-UA 126; 5 credits)
Organic Chemistry I
(CHEM-UA 225; 5 credits)
Organic Chemistry II
(CHEM-UA 226; 5 credits)
General Physics I
(PHYS-UA 11; 5 credits)
General Physics II
(PHYS-UA 12; 5 credits)
Calculus I
(MATH-UA 121; 4 credits)

III. Emphasis Area Electives

Two upper-level Biology electives must be chosen within one of these areas:

  1. Genetics and Genomics
  2. Infectious Diseases
  3. Environmental Health

A current list of courses satisfying each area is maintained on the official web site of the Department of Biology.

IV. Electives

Two additional electives must be completed in either the GPH program or in Biology. A current list of courses that will serve as such electives is maintained on the official web site of the Department of Biology.

Minors

The following courses (completed with grades of C or higher and a minimum GPA of 2.0 in all biology courses) are required for the specific minors. Students interested in one of the minors offered in biology should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies as early as possible to plan a course of study that meets their needs. Each minor track consists of five 4-point courses plus one 1-credit course.

Minor in Molecular and Cell Biology: BIOL-UA 11, 12, 21 and 22; either BIOL-UA 123 or BIOL-UA 223; either At the Bench: Applied Molecular Biology (BIOL-UA 36) or At the Bench: Applied Cell Biology (BIOL-UA 37)

Minor in Genetics: BIOL-UA 11, 12 and 21; either BIOL-UA 123 or BIOL-UA 223; either Genetics (BIOL-UA 30) or Quantitative Methods in Human Genetics (BIOL-UA 45); At the Bench: Laboratory in Genetics (BIOL-UA 31)

Minor in Genomics and Bioinformatics: BIOL-UA 11, 12 and 21; either BIOL-UA 123 or BIOL-UA 223; Genome Biology (BIOL-UA 38); one of the following: Microbiology and Microbial Genomics (BIOL-UA 44), Bioinformatics and Genomes (BIOL-GA 1127), or Systems Biology (BIOL-GA 1128)

Minor in Environmental Biology: BIOL-UA 11, 12; BIOL-UA 123, or the equivalent; one of the following laboratory courses: Ecological Field Methods (BIOL-UA 16), Urban Ecology (BIOL-UA 18) or Ecological Analysis with Geographic Information Systems (BIOL-UA 64); two of the following: Evolution (BIOL-UA 58), Fundamentals of Ecology (BIOL-UA 63), Biogeochemistry of Global Change (BIOL-UA 66), or Current Topics in Earth System Sciences (BIOL-UA 332).

Honors Program

Candidates for a degree with honors in biology must have an overall GPA of at least 3.65 and a minimum 3.65 GPA in all science and mathematics courses required for the major. It is the student's responsibility to secure a faculty member to sponsor the research and to provide laboratory space and equipment. All research credits should be completed by the end of the junior year.

Required Courses for Honor’s Program: In addition to the courses required for the Biology major, students must also complete the following three courses (8 credits)

4-Point Research Credit: Either Independent Study (BIOL-UA 997, 998) or Internship (BIOL-UA 980, 981). Department approval of laboratory-based research is required. Research credit must be completed before registering into BIOL-UA 999. Application forms can be picked up at the department.

Becoming a Scientist (BIOL-UA 995): Two-credit course must be taken in the Fall semester before graduation.

Undergraduate Research Thesis Course (BIOL-UA 999):Two-credit course must be taken in the final semester. Students prepare a written thesis based on the research results from their independent study or internship experience and defend the thesis at an oral examination before a faculty committee. Application forms, available at the biology departmental office, must be submitted by the beginning of the final semester.

Graduate Courses

A number of courses in specialized fields are given at the graduate level. Courses at the BIOL-GA 1000 level are available to undergraduates who have the necessary prerequisites. To take any of the relevant BIOL-GA 1000-level graduate courses in Biology, students must obtain the signature of the course instructor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies and have their registration material approved in the department's graduate office.

Advanced Placement

Students who achieve a score of 4 or 5 on the College Entrance Examination Board Advanced Placement Examination are exempted from taking any Principles of Biology sequence. However, because of medical-school requirements, students on the pre-health track should not place out of Principles of Biology.

Suggested Course Plans

For reference, suggested four-year course plans for Biology majors, including those on the pre-health track and those in the Global Public Health/Science major with concentration in Biology, are available on the official web site of the Department of Biology.

Study Away

Opportunities for study away that are appropriate for Biology majors are available on the official web site of the Department of Biology.