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    List of Major Requirements

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    1. Two units in Introductory Organismal Biology: BE105 and/or BE106 and/or BE107
    2. Ecology: BE208
    3. Intro to Molecular and Cellular Biology: MB131
    4. Population Genetics or Genetics Lab: BE280 or MB201
    5. Three units in Chemistry: CH107 and CH108 and CH250
    6. Two units in Mathematics: one unit of calculus and one unit of statistics OR mathematical modeling
    7. Five approved OBE Electives (of which 3 must be upper-level)
    8. Senior capstone experience
      1. Attend 3 OBE-approved seminars and write abstracts
      2. Complete a senior capstone course


    1. Two units in Introductory Organismal Biology:

    • BE105 Biology of Plants
    • BE106 Biology of Animals
    • BE107 Biology of Microbes

    Note: AP/IB credit may count towards a lower level elective or as credit for MB131 (see below), but cannot replace these organismal courses.

     2. BE208 Ecology

     3. MB131 Intro to Molecular and Cellular Biology

    An IB-HL score of 6-7 fulfills this requirement or may count as one lower-level elective credit; a Biology AP score of 5 does not fulfill this requirement but does count as one lower-level elective credit.

     4. BE280 Population Genetics OR MB201 Laboratory in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Genetics OR MB231 Genetics

    Note: In order to take MB231, a student should consult with an MB faculty member to determine if their background is sufficient for this genetics course.

     5. Three units in Chemistry:

    • CH107 General Chemistry
    • CH108 General Chemistry II
    • If you have Chemistry AP or IB credit on your transcript, you may obtain OBE credit by receiving a high score on your bypass exam for CH107 or CH108. While some students are able to bypass CH107, skipping CH108 is rare and not recommended because the lab experience in CH108 helps greatly in future classes. Contact Ted Lindeman ( in Chemistry for more information; also, ask the Chemistry Department to notify your OBE advisor about your score on the bypass exam. 
    • CH250 Structures of Organic Molecules

    Note: Graduate schools often require BOTH CH250 and CH251 Reactions of Organic Molecules.

     6. Two units in Mathematics:

    • One unit of calculus from:
      • MA126 Calculus I
      • MA127 Calculus I and II, accelerated
      • MA129 Calculus II
      • AP or IB credit recognized by the registrar

    Note: choose your calculus course carefully so that you avoid doing mostly review and do not take a course without adequate preparation.  The Math Department recommends the following: 

      • If you have Calculus AB credit on your transcript, take Calculus 2 and not Calculus 1.
      • If you have Calculus BC credit, do not take Calculus 2. If you want to take more math, take a Computer Science class or a higher level math class (ask your advisor for recommendations).
      • If you have IB credit, talk to the Math Department.
      • If you took Calculus in high school but do not have AP or IB credit, talk to the Math Department.
    • One unit of statistics or mathematical modeling from:
      • BE220 Biostatistics and Experimental Design
      • MA256 Mathematical Models in Biology
      • MA117 Probability and Statistics
      • MA217 Probability and Statistical Modeling
      • EV228 Analysis of Environmental Data
      • AP or IB credit recognized by the registrar in statistics.

    Note: While the statistics/modeling requirement is fulfilled by AP credit in statistics, students with this AP credit will benefit from taking BE220.

     7. Five approved OBE Electives:

    • Three of the electives must be upper-level (numbered 300 or higher). Two of these must be BE or BY upper-level courses (one of these must be a capstone course taken during the last 8 blocks before graduation - see capstone options below). The remaining upper-level elective may be a non-BE class at the 300-400 level.
    • All BE courses except BE100 may count as electives. BE280 may count as an upper-level elective if taken after MB201/MB231.
    • All MB courses, excluding non-majors courses, may count as electives. MB109 (FYE) counts as one elective.
    • The following Human Biology & Kinesiology courses may count as electives: HK204, HK304, HK306 and HK321.
    • One unit of elective credit may be CH382, GY205, GY300, EV422, AN201, AN207, or AN306.
    • No more than 2 research blocks (BE309/BE409/BE499) may count as electives.
    • AP/IB credit may count as one unit of lower level elective credit (ask your advisor).

    Note: this list is not exhaustive and you may petition the department to consider other courses to count as electives (there are often new courses during a given year that might count as OBE electives – ask your advisor).

     8. Senior capstone experience 

    Before the end of your senior year, you must:

    • Complete attendance at three OBE-approved seminars, summarize each in an abstract (see example abstract at end of Handbook), and submit each abstract electronically to both Donna Sison and your advisor no later than the first Monday of the block following the block in which the seminar occurred. Students are strongly advised to begin turning in abstracts before their senior year. 

    During your junior and senior years, you must:

    • Complete a senior capstone course (this also counts as one of your five electives) in the last two semesters prior to graduation), in one of the following ways:
      • BE499 Senior Thesis
      • BE409 Advanced Research in Biology (if it meets the requirements described in the section on “Senior Capstone” - ask the faculty member supervising your research). Capstone course options vary from year to year. The current list of approved OBE capstone courses is: BE308 Advanced Ecology, BE332 Animal Behavior, BE365 Plant Physiology, BE366 Comparative Animal Physiology, BE367 Animal Ecology, BE 370 Tropical Forest and Coral Reef Ecology, BE390 Ecology and Biogeography of Patagonia, BE410 Ornithology, BE412 Entomology, BE415 Evolution, BE421 Conservation Biology, BE440 Ecology and Conservation in Tanzania, BE475 Techniques in Molecular Ecology.
      • MB capstone courses may also be used to meet the capstone requirement (ask your advisor).