The Biology Major

Majoring in Biology

Biology explores the structure, function, and evolution of diverse living systems. It addresses some of the most important issues of our time—genetic engineering, stem cell research, obesity, cancer, and the effects of global warming. Majoring in Biology prepares students to pursue a career in research, teaching, or the allied health sciences. It is also relevant to careers as diverse as environmental policy, law, public health, creative writing, and textbook development.

Students are offered a range of lecture courses that span the molecular, physiological, and ecological levels of organization. Students also complete laboratory courses that help them learn how to design and test hypotheses, use modern scientific equipment, and interpret data. Finally, students learn scientific communication skills by critiquing research articles, writing laboratory reports and research papers, and participating in oral presentations and debates. The department encourages students to become involved in a research project under the guidance of a faculty member at Barnard or elsewhere in New York City.

Student Learning Goals

  1. Acquire knowledge of biological systems, from the molecular to ecological levels of organization.
  2. Understand the evolutionary basis of biology and the dynamic nature of life.
  3. Understand the role of experimentation in biology.
  4. Understand basic methods of experimental design and hypothesis testing.
  5. Develop effective presentation skills.
  6. Develop the ability to write a scientific paper.
  7. Understand statistical approaches to the analysis of data.
  8. Develop skills in critically analyzing primary literature.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an appreciation of the many different life forms on planet Earth.
  2. Have the ability to discuss a biological phenomenon from many different levels of organization (e.g., discuss HIV from the perspective of structure through host immune response to evolutionary and epidemiological issues).
  3. Describe the basic features of Mendelian genetics and the central dogma of molecular biology; understand the basic physiological processes of at least one organism; demonstrate an understanding of population level processes.
  4. Make an oral presentation on either an original research project or a published primary research paper.
  5. Generate a testable hypothesis and develop and execute a controlled experimental design.
  6. Write an original scientific paper and/or a review article.