Program Overview

Biology is the study of life, from the simplest cells to the most complex ecosystems. When you study biology you develop an understanding of your own life and an appreciation for your connection to the natural world.

A biology degree helps open the door to a broad range of fields including health care, food science, public health, biotechnology, conservation and natural resource management. Biology graduates may choose to continue on to professional and graduate programs in health care, research and education.

The biology major provides students with scientific knowledge, laboratory skills, research experience and intellectual training in analytical and quantitative reasoning.

The Bachelor of Science in Biology offers students a comprehensive introduction to the biological sciences with a strong foundation in mathematics and the physical sciences, followed by advanced study in at least one area of student interest. Students earning the Bachelor of Science in Biology are encouraged to include a minor in chemistry, physics or mathematics as part of their program of study.

In addition to the overall University graduation requirements, the biology major BS requires each student to complete 68 credits in the major, including at least 25 upper division Biology credits, at least 25 credits not used for any other major or minor, from Metropolitan State University, and at least 3 credits of 400 or 500 level coursework taken at Metropolitan State as a capstone experience. Students must also complete the biology program exit interview and assessment test during their final semester of classes before graduation.

All prerequisite and required courses must be completed with grades of C- or above. Transfer coursework equivalency is determined by the Natural Sciences Department. Each foundation science course must include at least one credit of professionally supervised laboratory experience with standard undergraduate laboratory equipment and materials. Lower-division (100- and 200-level) courses cannot be used to fulfill upper division core or elective requirements of the major.

More information about this program

Declare Your Program

To be eligible for acceptance to the Biology BS major, students must submit a College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Program Declaration Form when the following is completed:

  • Prerequisite courses
  • Foundation courses

After submission of the Undergraduate Program Declaration Form, students must then complete the Biology Program Assessment Survey.

Declare Your Program Button

Requirements

Courses required for your specific program are listed in the right column on this page. They include prerequisite, foundation, core and elective courses. Contact your advisor with questions concerning your degree plan. 

How Admissions Works

We are looking forward to you joining us. Take the first step by filling out this application.
Course List

Prerequisites

Biology Prerequisites Courses

  • One of the following classes is required:
    • MATH 115 College Algebra
      4 credits

      This course develops the fundamental concepts of algebra with an emphasis on the classification and analysis of linear, quadratic, polynomial, exponential and logarithmic functions. Applications to the natural and social sciences are given throughout. It aims to provide insights into the nature and utility of mathematics, and helps students develop mathematical reasoning skills.

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    • MATH 120 Precalculus
      4 credits

      This course is designed to prepare students for calculus. Topics include polynomial, rational, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions; the algebra of functions; multiple function representations; and an introduction to analytic geometry.

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Requirements ( 120 total credits)

Biology Foundation Courses (39 credits)

  • BIOL 111 General Biology I
    4 credits

    The first semester of the comprehensive first year course in biology. Covers the biochemistry and inner workings of cells, energy metabolism, genetics, cellular physiology, population genetics and evolutionary pattern and process. Laboratory topics include use of the microscope, biochemistry, cell structure and function, genetics, and evolution. Intended for students who are pursuing, or considering, the major in biology or life sciences teaching.

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  • BIOL 112 General Biology II
    4 credits

    The second semester of the comprehensive first year course in biology. Covers the evolution and diversity of life, plant biology, animal biology and ecology. Lab activities include use of the microscope, examination of organisms, and experiments in plant physiology and ecology; may include animal dissection. Intended for biology and life sciences teaching majors.

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  • CHEM 111 General Chemistry I
    4 credits

    The first semester of the comprehensive first year course in chemistry. Covers measurement, stoichiometry, solution chemistry, atomic structure, bonding, molecular structure, molecular visualization, and problem solving. Lab includes basic laboratory techniques, instrumentation, methodology, chemical analysis, and laboratory notebook procedures. The labs are also designed to engage students in critical thinking and concept building and are directly coordinated with the lecture part of the course. Intended for students who are pursuing, or considering, the biology or life sciences teaching major and/or chemistry minor, and qualified students seeking a general education science course with lab.

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  • CHEM 112 General Chemistry II
    4 credits

    The second semester of the comprehensive algebra-based first year course in chemistry. Covers acid/base theory, chemical equilibria, nuclear and electrochemistry, redox reactions, terminology, functional groups, reactivity of organic compounds and an introduction to biochemistry. Includes lab. Intended for students pursuing the biology or life sciences teaching major and/or chemistry minor.

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  • One of the following classes is required:
    • BIOL 211 Principles of Genetics
      4 credits

      This course provides a thorough major's level introduction to genetics and heredity. It will cover the fundamentals of genetic information, its transmission from parents to offspring [heredity], its phenotypic and molecular expression in cells and organisms, replication and repair of genetic material within a cell, and its population impacts. Also included are the modern techniques of genetics including: gene mapping, cloning, genome manipulation and mutation. Knowledge of species' genomes, their genes, their inheritance, and how genes impact individuals and/or populations has rapidly become an integral part of almost every aspect of biology. From public health to ecology - genetics touches all.

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    • BIOL 301 Genetics
      5 credits

      This course covers genetics, heredity and genetic information, its transmission from parents to offspring, its phenotypic and molecular expression in cells and organisms, and its course in populations. Also covers the modern techniques of genetics including gene mapping, cloning, genome manipulation and mutation. Lab included. Intended for biology and life sciences teaching majors.

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  • CHEM 231 Organic Chemistry I
    4 credits

    The first semester of a comprehensive course in organic chemistry. This course covers structure and nomenclature, bonding theory, reaction mechanisms, stereochemistry, reaction kinetics and thermodynamics, instrument methods [e.g. NMR, IR, MS] and the syntheses and reactions of various functional groups of organic compounds. Molecular modeling software is used to assist in visualizing structures and reaction mechanisms, and in the interpretation of various spectra. Intended for biology majors and chemistry minors.

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  • CHEM 231L Organic Chemistry I Lab
    1 credits

    This course provides the laboratory experience to accompany Chem 231 Organic Chemistry I. This course introduces the techniques, specialized equipment, instrumental methods and safety procedures common in an organic lab setting. Students get hands-on experience with the instrumentation, equipment, hazardous material procedures, and multi-step methods employed in the synthesis of larger, more complicated organic structures from simpler molecules.

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  • PHYS 211 Calculus Based Physics I
    5 credits

    This is the first course of a two semester sequence covering the fundamental concepts of physics. This course covers Newton's laws of motion, work, energy, linear momentum, rotational motion, gravity, equilibrium and elasticity, periodic motion, fluid mechanics, temperature, heat, and the laws of thermodynamics. Laboratories emphasize application of physics concepts and quantitative problem solving skills. Intended for science majors and general education students with strong mathematical background.

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200-level Math Requirement

One 200-level math course or set of courses: either MATH 208 Applied Calculus or both MATH 210 Calculus and MATH 211 Calculus II

  • MATH 208 Applied Calculus
    4 credits

    This course provides an overview of the differential calculus for single and multivariable functions and an introduction to the integral calculus and differential equations, with an emphasis on applications to the natural and physical sciences. Particular topics covered in the course include limits, ordinary and partial derivatives, applications of derivatives, definite integrals, fundamental theorem of calculus, applications of definite integrals, models involving differential equations, Eulers method, equilibrium solutions.

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  • MATH 210 Calculus I
    4 credits

    Since its beginnings, calculus has demonstrated itself to be one of humankind's greatest intellectual achievements. This versatile subject has proven useful in solving problems ranging from physics and astronomy to biology and social science. Through a conceptual and theoretical framework this course covers topics in differential calculus including limits, derivatives, derivatives of transcendental functions, applications of differentiation, L'Hopital's rule, implicit differentiation, and related rates.

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  • MATH 211 Calculus II
    4 credits

    This is a continuation of Math 210 Calculus I and a working knowledge of that material is expected. Through a conceptual and theoretical framework this course covers the definite integral, the fundamental theorem of calculus, applications of integration, numerical methods for evaluating integrals, techniques of integration and series.

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Additional Physics or Organic Chemistry Requirement (5 credits)

One course or set of courses: either PHYS 212 Calculus Based Physics II or both CHEM 332 Organic Chemistry II and CHEM 332L Organic Chemistry II Lab

  • PHYS 212 Calculus Based Physics II
    5 credits

    This is the second course of a two semester sequence covering the fundamental concepts of physics. This course covers oscillatory motion, waves, superposition and interference of waves, diffraction, electricity and magnetism, electric circuits, light, mirrors and lenses. Laboratories emphasize application of physics concepts and quantitative problem solving skills. Intended for science majors.

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  • CHEM 332 Organic Chemistry II
    4 credits

    The second semester of a comprehensive course in organic chemistry. This course introduces organic functional groups that include oxygen, nitrogen, and aromatic systems and related reaction mechanisms, multi-step synthetic routes, polymers, and introduce the chemical structures common in many biomolecules. Instrumentals methods (e.g. NMR, IR, MS, UV) are discussed in greater detail, and molecular modeling software used to assist in visualizing structures and reaction mechanisms, and in the interpretation of various spectra. Intended for biology majors and chemistry minors.

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  • CHEM 332L Organic Chemistry II Lab
    1 credits

    This course provides the laboratory experience to accompany CHEM 232 Organic Chemistry II. This course continues the introduction of the techniques, specialized equipment, instrumental methods and safety procedures that was begun in Chem 231 Organic Chem I Lab. Students get hands-on experience with the instrumentation, equipment, hazardous material procedures, and multi-step methods employed in the synthesis of larger, more complicated organic structures from simpler molecules.

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Biology Core Courses: Cell and Molecular (5 credits)

  • One of the following classes is required:
    • BIOL 302 Cell Biology and Histology
      5 credits

      This course covers life in terms of molecules, cells, tissues, and organs, integrating these levels of complexity and focusing on the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms of biological function. Topics include membrane structure and function, trafficking of molecules, the endomembrane system signal transduction pathways, extracellular matrix, and the cell cytoskeleton. Laboratory includes descriptive histology of animal tissues. Intended for biology and life sciences teaching majors.

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    • BIOL 304 Molecular Biology
      5 credits

      This course covers molecular biology, the study of genetic expression at the molecular level-including transcription, translation, and DNA replication emphasizing structure and function, and focusing on how molecular lab techniques elucidate the genetic mechanisms of the cell. Lab includes recombinant DNA, gel electrophoresis, PCR and sterile technique. Intended for biology majors.

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    • CHEM 301 Biochemistry
      5 credits

      This course covers the structure of biologically important compounds (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and enzymes) and their transformations during metabolism. Topics include: enzyme kinematics, chemical reactions (acid/base, reduction/oxidation, hydrolysis, etc.), protein synthesis and regulation, use and interpretation of biochemical information, and problem-solving in biochemistry. Lab includes biochemical methods and techniques and develops skills with laboratory instruments, data collection, and scientific writing. Intended for biology majors and chemistry minors.

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Biology Core Courses: Ecology and Evolutionary (5 credits)

  • One of the following classes is required:
    • BIOL 310 Ecology
      5 credits

      This course covers the science of ecology, focusing on population and community ecology, the investigation of patterns in the distribution and abundance of organisms and the processes responsible. The content and methods of modern ecological research are emphasized. Students read ecological research papers and do field investigations, experiments and computer modeling. Most of the weekly labs take place outdoors. Intended for biology and life sciences teaching majors.

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    • BIOL 312 Evolution
      5 credits

      This course covers the science of evolutionary biology, including population genetics, microevolution, speciation, phylogenetics and macroevolution. The content and methods of modern research in evolutionary biology are emphasized; student read primary source scientific literature. Lab activities include field investigations, lab experiments, and computer modeling. Intended for biology and life sciences teaching majors.

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    • BIOL 316 Behavioral Ecology
      5 credits

      This course covers the science of animal behavioral ecology. The content and methods of modern ecological research are emphasized. Students read research papers in the field of animal behavior and conduct field investigations, experiments and computer modeling. Many of the weekly labs take place outdoors. Intended for biology majors.

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    • ESCI 315 Limnology
      5 credits

      This course covers the biology, chemistry and physics of aquatic habitats with an emphasis on the ecology of lakes in Minnesota. The content and methods of modern limnological research are emphasized. Labs focus on field and lab investigation of water bodies in the metropolitan area. Most of the weekly labs take place outdoors. Intended for biology and life sciences teaching majors and other qualified students.

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Biology Core Courses: Physiology and Organismal (5 credits)

  • One of the following classes is required:
    • BIOL 311 Plant Physiology
      5 credits

      This course covers plant physiology across the range of organisms studied by botanists, including plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria, including the structural and biochemical features that are characteristic of the different taxonomic groups and how these features affect the distribution and abundance of the organisms. The content and methods of current research in plant physiology are emphasized. Lab activities include laboratory and field investigations. Intended for biology majors.

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    • BIOL 322 Comparative Animal Physiology
      5 credits

      This course covers the functions of each of the organ systems of the animal body focusing on the physiological problems experienced by animals and the solutions that have evolved in various animal groups. The course includes an integrated laboratory in which students conduct physiological experiments. Intended for biology majors.

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    • BIOL 324 Invertebrate Biology
      5 credits

      The biology of invertebrate animals, particularly insects and other terrestrial arthropods: their macroevolutionary history, taxonomy, morphology, physiology, behavior, and ecology. Topics may include their identification and roles as pollinators, herbivores, predators and disease vectors in natural, agricultural, and urban ecosystems. The course includes an integrated laboratory with field and laboratory activity. Course intended for biology majors.

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    • BIOL 330 Biology of Microorganisms
      5 credits

      This course covers the taxonomy, structure, function and ecology of microbes including bacteria, viruses, fungi and protista. Additional topics include microbial pathogensis, the response of the mammalian immune system to microbial infection, microbial metabolic diversity and microbial biotechnology. Labs include use of microscope, survey of types of microbes, isolation of microbes from the environment, identification of microbes, staining of bacteria, action of antibiotics and disinfectants, counting of bacteria in food and water and use of microbes in food and beverage production. Intended for biology majors and minors.

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Biology Capstone and Elective Courses (14 credits)

An additional 14 credits of upper-division biology courses chosen from the list of core courses above, the list of elective courses below, and other approved 300- or 400-level biology courses (see advisor for details). Up to 4 credits of BIOL350I/HBIO201/HBIO205 may be counted as elective credit in the Biology major, subject to advisor approval. Each student must take at least 3 credits of 400 or 500 level coursework at Metropolitan State.

  • BIOL 320 Ecosystem and Global Ecology
    5 credits

    This course covers ecosystem theory, nutrient cycling, energy flow, and related global environmental topics including acid rain, greenhouse effect, climate change and mercury pollution. The content and methods of modern ecosystems research are emphasized. Lab activities may include field investigations, lab experiments, and computer modeling. Intended for biology and life sciences teaching majors and other qualified students.

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  • BIOL 406 Biology of Cancer
    3 credits

    Covers the genetic, physiological, and molecular principles underlying the causes and treatments of cancer. Course focuses on the regulatory pathways and their genetic flaws that govern cell proliferation, angiogenesis, malignancy and metastasis. Intended for biology majors in their senior year.

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  • BIOL 415 Pollution Ecology
    3 credits

    This course examines the ecology of environmental pollution from biological, paleolimnological and international perspectives. Topics include acidification, eutrophication, metal and organic contamination, species introductions, and climate change. Students develop skill with structured decision making, risk assessment and public presentation. Intended for biology majors and other qualified students.

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  • BIOL 416 Invasion Biology
    3 credits

    BIOL 416 is intended to serve as an upper division elective within the Biology (B.A. and B.S.) and Environmental Science (B.S.) majors; as such, enrollment is restricted to juniors and seniors within these majors. This advanced lecture course examines the biology of exotic organisms that cause ecological or economic harm upon establishment in a novel environment. Topics include the stages of biological invasion and the ecological processes that mediate them (e.g., propagule pressure, biotic interactions, disturbance), the impacts and management of invasive species, risk assessment and post-invasion evolution. Field trips to local ecosystems may be incorporated.

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  • BIOL 418 GIS for Natural Sciences
    3 credits

    Geographical information systems and their use in biology, particularly ecology and public health. Students learn to use current version of ArcGIS software and apply their knowledge to contemporary problems in the areas of spatial ecology, conservation biology and ecoepidemiology.

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  • BIOL 469 Seminars in Biology
    1 credits

    This course takes advantage of the many scientific seminar presentations offered in the Twin Cities Area by educational institutions such as Metropolitan State University and the University of Minnesota and by non-profit organizations such as the Minnesota Native Plant Society and the St. Paul Audubon Society etc. Each student chooses ten one-hour seminars to attend. This course can, with instructor permission, be taken more than once for credit. Intended for biology majors in their junior or senior year.

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  • BIOL 471 Science Journal Discussion
    0 credits

    This is a course for advanced biology students, centered on the weekly reading and discussion of the current issue of Science. Published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Science is the most widely read scientific journal in the world and every issue contains peer-reviewed research articles, news and reviews from across the spectrum of scientific disciplines with core strength in biological sciences. This course builds student knowledge of current scientific research and issues in biology and develops skills in scientific reading, discussion and presentation at the advanced level.

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  • BIOL 479 Advanced Topics in Biology
    0 credits

    This course covers advanced biological topics that vary from semester to semester. Because the content of each section of this course is different, students may take this course more than once for credit. Intended for biology majors in their junior and senior years.

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  • BIOL 489 Senior Research in Biology
    0 credits

    This course provides students with independent laboratory, field or computer biology research under the supervision of a resident biology faculty member. Students must complete a research proposal and it must be approved by the instructor prior to course registration. Prior successful completion of an upper division course with the instructor is generally required.

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  • BIOL 350I Biology Internship
    0 credits

    Students obtain internships in selected areas of study to gain deeper understand of knowledge, skills and the context of a given field. Site supervisors give guidance and direction to customized internship projects. Faculty members serve as liaisons between the internship sites and the university, providing information to students and potential supervisors and supervising the learning experience. Students should contact the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship (ICES) at Metropolitan State University for more information.

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  • CHEM 421 Medicinal Chemistry
    3 credits

    Medicinal chemistry allows the advanced chemistry student to explore the considerations of drug design and development as well as case studies on how different classes of therapeutic agents act in the human body. Topics include drug targets, drug sources, structure-activity relationships, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and the modern drug discovery pipeline. This class is suggested for those students intending to continue in health sciences.

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