Major Requirements

Biology: Multiple Majors

There are four possible ways to complete a major within Biology. A student can obtain a general Biology Major or may complete one of the three majors specializing in a level of Biological organization: Cellular and Molecular Biology, Physiology and Organismal Biology, or Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

For more information on related majors with advisors in the Biology Department, click on the following links: 

1. Environmental Biology; run jointly with the Departments of Biology and Environmental Science

2. Neuroscience and Behavior (note that there are two concentrations within this major: Molecular & Cellular Neuroscience and Behavioral Neuroscience); run jointly with the Departments of Biology and Psychology 


Introductory Biology and Genetics
All students complete the 1500-level introductory sequence followed by a course in Genetics:
  • BIOL BC1500 Introduction to Organismal and Evolutionary Biology
  • BIOL BC1501 Introductory Lab in Organismal and Evolutionary Biology
  • BIOL BC1502 Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology
  • BIOL BC1503 Introductory Lab in Cell and Molecular Biology
  • BIOL BC 2100 Molecular and Mendelian Genetics
It is recommended, but not required, that Genetics be taken immediately after completing the 1500-level introductory sequence.

Upper-level Courses

Students must complete five courses from the three categories below. To complete one of the three concentrations, at least 4 courses must be from the appropriate category and at least 1 from another category. To complete the Biology Major without a concentration, the five courses must include at least one course from each of the three categories. Although some courses are listed in multiple categories, a student can only use a course towards one of the categories. Additional Columbia courses that can be used to fulfill the major requirements are provided elsewhere (click here for details).

If a student completes courses which make her eligible for more than one of the four majors then she may select which one is reflected on her transcript. The four majors are summarized in the following table:

Major
Course Selection
Biology
Five courses with at least one course from each of the three categories
Cellular & Molecular Biology
Four courses from the Cell & Molecular Biology category, one from another category.
Physiology & Organismal Biology
Four courses from the Physiology & Organismal Biology category, one from another category.
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Four courses from the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology category, one from another category.
 
Cellular & Molecular Biology
  • BIOL BC2278 Evolution
  • BIOL BC3308 Genomics and Bioinformatics
  • BIOL BC3310 Cell Biology
  • BIOL BC3320 Microbiology
  • BIOL BC3352 Development
  • BIOL BC3362 Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience
  • CHEM BC3282 Biological Chemistry
  • BIOL UN3034 Biotechnology
  • BIOL UN3073 Cellular and Molecular Immunology
  • BIOL UN3310 Virology
Physiology & Organismal Biology
  • BIOL BC2262 Vertebrate Biology
  • BIOL BC2280 Animal Behavior
  • BIOL BC2286 Statistics and Research Design
  • BIOL BC3320 Microbiology
  • BIOL BC3360 Physiology
  • BIOL UN3005 Neurobiology II: Development & Systems
  • EEEB UN3011 Behavioral Biology of Living Primates
  • EEEB UN3208 Explorations in Primate Anatomy
  • EEEB W4112 Ichthyology
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
  • BIOL BC2240 Plant Evolution and Diversity
  • BIOL BC2262 Vertebrate Biology
  • BIOL BC2272 Ecology
  • BIOL BC2278 Evolution
  • BIOL BC2280 Animal Behavior
  • BIOL BC2286 Statistics and Research Design
  • BIOL BC2851 Plants & Profits: The Global Power of Botany
  • BIOL BC3280 Applied Ecology and Evolution
  • EEEB UN3087 Conservation Biology
  • EEEB W4110 Coastal Estuarine Ecology

Three Upper-level Laboratory Courses
Students may take any upper-level Biology lab courses for which they meet the pre- or co-requisite. A year-long research-seminar course may substitute for lab courses, as described below. Students may also take laboratory courses at Columbia (or other institutions) to satisfy the lab requirement, with permission from the Associate Chair.
Guided Research and Seminar (BIOL BC3591 & BIOL BC3592)
Enrollment in the year-long sequence of Guided Research and Seminar can be used to fulfill two upper-level labs. This course is only available as a Fall to Spring sequence.

Senior Capstone Experience

Students complete the Senior Capstone Experience with either of the following two options:

1. One semester of Senior Seminar in Biology (BIOL BC3590)

In Senior Seminar, enrolled students participate in a seminar focusing on primary literature and compose and give a presentation on a senior thesis in the format of a literature review. 

-OR-

2. The year-long Senior Thesis Research and Seminar (BIOL BC3593 & BIOL BC3594)

In Senior Thesis Research and Seminar, students complete an original research project in a lab and compose and give a presentation on a senior thesis in the format of a primary research paper. Students may not be enrolled in both Senior Thesis Research and Seminar AND Guided Research and Seminar (BIOL BC3591 & BIOL BC3592). They may, however, continue a project begun in their sophomore and/or junior years while enrolled in BIOL BC3591/2. 


Chemistry Requirement

All majors, regardless of their track, must complete at least one semester of General Chemistry (with laboratory) and at least one semester of Organic Chemistry (with laboratory).