Entry Requirements for the Major in Biological Sciences

  • Students who wish to declare a major in Biological Sciences must have earned a "C" or better in both semesters of General Biology lecture 01:119:115, 116, and 117  (or previously 01:119:101 and 102), or have received transfer credit for the series, or AP credit for the series.
  • The major is open to students from the School of Arts and Sciences  and from the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.  To declare, students should use the appropriate school link below.
  • To be approved, students must then meet with a Biological Sciences advisor.

SAS Online Major Application         

SEBS Online Major Application


Contemplating a Major in Biological Sciences

  • If you intend to declare Biological Sciences as your major, the division recommends you review and select one of the following sequences of courses to fulfill your Biological Sciences Major requirements:

 "The Traditional Course" Plan    - Students begin General Biology and General Chemistry 

 "Delay Chem I to Spring Semester" Course Plan    

"Delay General Biology to Sophomore Year" Course Plan

  • Please keep in mind that the above course plans are recommendations and we strongly encourage you to meet with the Biological Sciences advisors to discuss your specific academic background and career goals.
  • We encourage students to review your overall school core and credit requirements with appropriate SAS or SEBS Academic Deans. 

Requirements for the Major

  • The major in Biological Sciences, administered through the Division of Life Sciences Office of Undergraduate Instruction, is intended to provide a broad and comprehensive training in modern biology.
  • This course of study is recommended for those who wish to study biology as part of their liberal arts education, preparing them for a career in one of the health professions, graduate studies in biology, a teaching career in secondary schools (courses in education are also required), as well as employment in various areas of the life sciences.
  • A student who wishes to concentrate in a specific area of biology should consider a major offered by one of the departments in the Division of Life Sciences or at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.
  • Faculty advisors are available to assist each student with course selection and program requirements.

The Life Sciences Core Courses and the Life Sciences Electives Requirements for the Biological Sciences Major:

Required Life Sciences Core Courses (49 credits):

  • 01:119:115-116 General Biology (4,4) (formerly 01:119:101 and 102)
  • 01:119:117 Biological Research Laboratory (2) (not required if credit for 01:119:101 and 102)
  • 01:160:161-162 (4,4) or 01:160:163-164 General Chemistry (4,4)
  • 01:160:171 Introduction to Experimentation (1)
  • 01:160:307-308 or 160:315-316 Organic Chemistry (4,4)
  • 01:160:311 Organic Chemistry Laboratory (2)
  • 01:447:380 Genetics (4)
  • 01:640:135,138* (4,4) or 01:640:151-152 Calculus (4,4)
  • 01:750:203-204 General Physics (3,3) **
  • 01:750:205-206 General Physics Laboratory (1,1)**

* Basic Statistics for Research (01:960:401, 3 credits),  Basic Probability and Statistics (01:960:379, 3 credits) or Statistics I and II (01:960:211 and 212) may be substituted for the second semester of Calculus.

** Physics for the Life Sciences (750:193-194) or Extended General Physics (750:201-202) series may be substituted for the requirements for General Physics and labs.

Life Sciences Elective Courses (24 credits) 

List of Approved Life Science Electives 

  • From the list of approved life science electives, students must include at least one three credit (or more) course each from the Cell Biology and Neuroscience (146), Genetics and Microbiology (447), Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (694), and Ecology and Natural Resources (216) subject areas.
  • Generally, acceptable courses will have a year of General Biology as prerequisite; however, there are exceptions. Notably, several courses in the biochemistry area are exempted from this prerequisite. It is imperative for students to consult the published list and/or meet with an advisor.
  • The electives must include at least three laboratory courses (at the 300 or 400 level), or courses with a laboratory component, only one of which may be satisfied by independent research work. General Biology Laboratory and "library research" do not qualify for this requirement.
  • A minimum of six courses (18 credits) must be at the 300 or 400 level. The laboratory associated with Genetics (382 or equivalent), if taken, may be used to satisfy one of the three laboratory requirements. It is highly recommended that students meet with a Biological Sciences advisor when planning their elective courses. It is important that the courses taken complement each other as much as possible and are not merely a collection of unrelated topics.
  • While a distinct advantage of this program is the flexibility it affords the student in designing a course of study in biology, we want to be sure that all of our graduates end up with both a solid foundation in biological sciences as well as an appropriate preparation for their intended post-baccalaureate career.
  • No course at the 100 level may be used to satisfy the Life Sciences elective requirements.
  • A maximum of six credits of independent study/research/honors research may be used toward the 24 elective credits.
  • Please keep in mind that a minimum GPA of 2.8 is required to enroll in an independent study/research course in Biological Sciences.
  •   Research courses can satisfy only one of the three laboratory requirements, regardless of number of credits. An Independent Study course, however, will not satisfy any of the three laboratory requirements.
  •  Courses taken on a pass/fail basis may not be used to satisfy requirements for the major in Biological Sciences (except for during Covid semesters, where it was school policy).
  • Cooperative education credits may not be used to satisfy requirements for the major in Biological Sciences, unless prior approval has been obtained from the Office of Undergraduate Instruction.
  • Please note that no more than two courses with a grade of D may be use to fulfill the requirements of the major.
  • Students must maintain a 2.0 BioSci GPA (includes grades for General Biology I and II and lab, Genetics, and the 24 credits of Life Science Electives portion of the major requirements).
  • Students double majoring in Biological Sciences and another permitted life science major  are required to complete as part of the Bio major requirements,  a minimum of  four  ( 3 credits or more)  approved life science electives  that are not applied toward fulfilling their second life science major requirements.
  •   Double majors should be sure to meet with a Bio Advisor to ensure they understand which four courses will be utilized in fulfilling this requirement, as DN may not accurately reflect restrictions on coursework being applied to both majors. 

SAS Major/Minor Combination Restrictions-

SEBS Major/Minor Combination Restrictions         

  • Credits from cooperative education and Winter Session courses (exceeding 1 credit) may not be used to satisfy requirements for the major in biological sciences.
  • To be applied to the major, Summer Session courses must be offered over a minimum of five weeks. Online courses will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to confirm that they meet departmental learning goals before they may be used to satisfy the requirements for the major. 
  • Given that Biological Sciences is a dynamic and developing field, it is critical that coursework applied to the major must be current.  Thus, any life science elective courses applied to the major in Biological Sciences must be taken within 10 years of graduating.
  • Students must maintain a 2.0 BioSci GPA, which includes the General Biology series, Genetics, and the life science electives, to graduate.
  • Residency Requirement

Residency Requirements

  • A minimum of 20 credits of course work from among General Biology, Genetics and Life Sciences Electives must be completed in residence. In other words, no more than 16 credits in this part of the major requirements may be transferred from any institution outside of Rutgers-New Brunswick.
  • This rule is intended to assure that students receiving degrees from Rutgers - New Brunswick have taken a minimum number of courses in their major with New Brunswick faculty.
  • Please keep in mind that although a course may transfer from another institution into one of the Rutgers-New Brunswick colleges, it will not necessarily be accepted toward the major in Biological Sciences.
  • Therefore, transfer courses must be evaluated and accepted by the Advising Office of the Office of Undergraduate Instruction in order to count toward the major. Any life science elective courses applied to the major in Biological Sciences must be taken within 10 years of graduating.

Worksheet for the Biological Sciences Major

 Biological Sciences Major Worksheet - use this form to keep track of the courses which you have completed for your major.  

Requirements for Honors

  • To qualify for Honors in Biological Sciences, a student must have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or better and an average of 3.4 or better in courses credited toward the biological sciences major at the end of the junior year. 
  • At that time, the student should apply formally to the Advising Office of the Office of Undergraduate Instruction. 
  • Accepted students are expected to complete at least 6 credits in an independent research project, resulting in a thesis, and to pass an oral examination before a faculty committee in the general field of the student’s program of emphasis. 
  • If the research is done in a laboratory outside of Rutgers–New Brunswick, the examination committee must include at least one individual from the Rutgers–New Brunswick faculty.  Honors students must register either for an honors course sequence in life sciences or for a course sequence in a college honors program. 
  • These decisions should be discussed with an adviser. An approval form available in the advising office, must be completed.

Departmental Learning Goals

I. To acquire the appropriate factual and conceptual knowledge that provides students with a foundation to further their education and career in the areas of life science or health science. Students will be able to demonstrate basic knowledge (ex. identify, define, explain…) of the concepts, practices and principles that comprise the biological sciences.

II. To develop data analysis and statistical reasoning skills that prepares students for a society increasing reliant on the use of data and information. Students will be able to interpret/evaluate patterns in data presented in tables, figures, and graphs as well as be able to organize, summarize and present data.

III. To develop the ability to use scientific reasoning as embodied by the structured process commonly known as the scientific method to empower students with the ability to generate and refine knowledge. Students will be able to evaluate and apply the practice of science.

IV. To develop critical thinking and problems solving skills appropriate to prepare students to evaluate, synthesize and generate knowledge that provides them with a competitive advantage to adapt to an evolving, global, and knowledge based society. Students will be able to demonstrate application of higher order thinking (ex. classify, diagnosis, evaluate, synthesize, hypothesize…). Students will develop an understanding of not only the connections within biology but also the connections between biology and other scientific disciplines.