Biology BS

College of Sciences
Undergraduate major / Bachelor of Science

Two students in white lab coats in lab with microscope and faculty

About this program

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.

Student outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Read, analyze, present and interpret quantitative data.  More specifically, students will be able to:
    • Read and interpret a graph
    • Choose the graph type appropriate for a given data set
    • Construct a graph from quantitative data
    • Evaluate the results of a statistical test presented in terms of sample size and p-value
  • Demonstrate competence in Cell and Molecular Biology.  More specifically, students will be able to:
    • Describe in detail the structure of DNA and the process of gene expression
    • Explain and apply the principles of genetic inheritance, mutation and DNA repair 
    • Apply knowledge of cell structure to cell function
  • Demonstrate competence in Ecology and Evolution.  More specifically, students will be able to:
    • Apply the principles of Hardy-Weinberg analysis to population genetics data
    • Apply the principles of exponential growth to population data
    • Calculate and interpret species richness and an index of biodiversity from ecological community data
  • Demonstrate competence in Organismal and Physiological Biology.  More specifically, students will be able to:
    • Apply the principle of structure-function to organismal traits
    • Apply knowledge of how physiological systems can change in both short and long term situations, including homeostatic and pathological situations
    • Read and interpret a phylogenetic diagram
    • Create a phylogenetic diagram given a set of character data

Enrolling in this program

Program eligibility requirements

Students expressing interest in the Biology BS major when they apply for admission to the university will be assigned an academic advisor in the Natural Sciences Department and will be given pre-major status.

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

  • Prerequisite and Pre-major Foundation courses of BIOL 111, BIOL 112, CHEM 111, CHEM 112

All prerequisite and required courses must be completed with grades of C- or above. Transfer coursework equivalency is determined by the Natural Sciences Department.

Current students: Declare your program

Once you’re admitted as an undergraduate student and have met any further requirements your chosen program may have, you may declare a major or declare an optional minor.

Future students: Apply now

Apply to Metropolitan State: Start the journey toward your Biology BS now. Learn about the steps to enroll or, if you have questions about what Metropolitan State can offer you, request information, visit campus or chat with an admissions counselor.

Get started on your Biology BS

Program requirements

Each foundation science course must include at least one semester credit of professionally supervised on-ground 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 in the major.

Course requirements

Prerequisites

One of the following math courses or math assessment placement score above college algebra is required but does not count towards total credits for this major.

Choose one

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.

Full course description for College Algebra

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.

Full course description for Precalculus

Requirements (120 Credits)

Pre-major Foundation (16 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.

Full course description for General Biology I

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.

Full course description for General Biology II

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.

Full course description for General Chemistry I

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.

Full course description for General Chemistry II

Core Requirements
Lower-Division Core

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.

Full course description for Organic Chemistry I

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.

Full course description for Organic Chemistry I Lab

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.

Full course description for Calculus Based Physics I

Genetics

Choose one

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.

Full course description for Principles of Genetics

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.

Full course description for Genetics

Calculus requirement (4-8 credits)

Either one calculus course or set of courses: MATH 208 or both MATH 210 and MATH 211

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.

Full course description for Applied Calculus

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.

Full course description for Calculus I

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.

Full course description for Calculus II

Physics or Organic Chemistry requirement (5 credits)

PHYS 212 or both CHEM 332 and CHEM 332L

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.

Full course description for Calculus Based Physics II

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.

Full course description for Organic Chemistry II

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.

Full course description for Organic Chemistry II Lab

Upper-Division Core (15 credits)
Cell and Molecular (5 credits)

Select one course with lab in each of the three core categories

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.

Full course description for Cell Biology and Histology

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.

Full course description for Molecular Biology

BIOL 307 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.

Full course description for Biochemistry

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.

Full course description for Biochemistry

Ecology and Evolutionary (5 credits)

Choose one

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.

Full course description for Ecology

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.

Full course description for Evolution

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.

Full course description for Behavioral Ecology

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, environmental science and life sciences teaching majors and other qualified students.

Full course description for Limnology

Physiology and Organismal (5 credits)

Choose one

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.

Full course description for Plant Physiology

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.

Full course description for Invertebrate Biology

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.

Full course description for Biology of Microorganisms

Capstone and electives (14 credits)

An additional 14 credits of upper-division Biology courses chosen from core courses above and the list of elective courses below, and other approved 300 or 400 level Biology courses (see advisor for details). Subject to advisor approval, up to 4 credits of HBIO201/HBIO205 or another 200 level biology course may be counted toward this requirement.

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, environmental science, and life sciences teaching majors and other qualified students.

Full course description for Ecosystem and Global Ecology

BIOL 350I Biology Internship

1-9 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.

Full course description for Biology Internship

400 and 500-Level Elective Options

A minimum of three credits is required in this upper division elective category.

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.

Full course description for Biology of Cancer

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.

Full course description for Pollution Ecology

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.

Full course description for Invasion Biology

BIOL 422 Neurophysiology

3 credits

This course will provide a deeper understanding of the physiological properties of the nervous system. We will address the mechanisms underlying electrical activity in neurons, as well as examine the physiology of synapses; the transduction and integration of sensory information; the function of nerve circuits; the trophic and plastic properties of neurons; and the relationship between neuronal activity and behavior. During the semester a few labs will be offered which will apply electrophysiological methods to examine neuronal activity and will include experimental design as well as analysis and presentation of collected data. Throughout the course, we will focus on past and current neurophysiology research and how it contributes to the field of neuroscience. This course is intended as an upper division elective in the Biology Major

Full course description for Neurophysiology

BIOL 426 Comparative Biomechanics

3 credits

Biomechanics is the study of the physical aspects of life, the materials and structures made and used by living things of all kinds, plants, animals, fungi, protista and bacteria. Biomechanics unites the fields of physics, physiology, ecology and engineering in the investigation of biological materials and structures and the structural and functional roles that they play for the organisms that produce them. This includes chitin, cellulose, spider silk, feathers, tooth enamel, wood, bone, arteries, tree branches, porcupine quills and many more. This course is an upper division elective in the Biology major and meets the 400-level capstone course requirement of the major.

Full course description for Comparative Biomechanics

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.

Full course description for Seminars in Biology

BIOL 471 Science Journal Discussion

1-2 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.

Full course description for Science Journal Discussion

BIOL 489 Senior Research in Biology

1-4 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.

Full course description for Senior Research in Biology

BIOL 490H Honors Research Project

1-4 credits

This course provides the capstone experience for students in the biology honors cohort. Student conducts a laboratory or field research project under the supervision of a resident science faculty member. Project includes formal written proposal, instructor approval, performance of appropriate scientific experiment or investigation, data analysis, and presentation of the final results in written and oral form to an appropriate audience. Prior successful completion of an upper division course with the instructor is generally required. Enrollment is limited to students in the Biology Honors cohort. Student must successfully complete 4 credits of BIOL 490H to fulfill requirements for graduation with Biology Honors.

Full course description for Honors Research Project

BIOL 511H Honors Freshwater Ecology and Quality

3 credits

Advanced course in freshwater ecology with applications to water quality assessment and monitoring, lake management, and drinking water supply. Students learn and apply techniques in water quality monitoring and taxonomic methods used in the science of phycology. Course is open to students who have met the criteria and been granted honors biology status, a process administered by the Natural Sciences Department.

Full course description for Honors Freshwater Ecology and Quality

BIOL 512H Honors Insect Ecology and Management

3 credits

This is an advanced course in the study of insect ecology, with particular emphasis on application to the management of pest species of agricultural, medical/veterinary, and urban importance. Topics addressed include, but are not limited to: insect population dynamics and regulation, sampling techniques, insect-plant interactions, disease vector biology, theories and practices of integrated pest management (IPM) and insecticide resistance management (IRM), and insect taxonomy. Students will read and discuss primary literature articles in entomology, and will engage in active field/laboratory exercises in insect ecology and taxonomy. Intended for biology and environmental majors who have taken considerable upper-division classwork in the sciences.

Full course description for Honors Insect Ecology and Management

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.

Full course description for Medicinal Chemistry