Courses and Requirements

Biology is one of the most popular majors on campus. Courses emphasize hands-on learning, current experimental research, and student-driven inquiry.

Process for declaring a Biology Major

  • Contact a faculty member in the Biology Department about serving as your major advisor. If you have trouble finding a major advisor or don’t know who to ask, contact the Biology chair for advice.
  • Meet with your new major advisor to discuss the Biology major requirements and develop a plan of study on Degreeworks.
  • Send a PDF of your plan of study to the Chair of Biology and submit a Declaration of Major request form, available on the Registrar’s website.

Requirements of the Biology Major

  • Biology 107
  • Biology 108, with accompanying lab
  • Chemistry 125
  • Three (3) 200-level courses, with at least one course in each Content Area:

Content Area 1

Content Area 2

Biol 202: Plant Physiology and Development

Biol 218: Cellular Structure and Function

Biol 228: Animal Physiology*

Biol 232: Developmental Biology

Biol 217: Human Physiology*

Biol 238: Molecular Genetics**

Biol 205: Microbiology

Biol 244: Genetics and Genomics**

Biol 208: Plants and Fungi

Biol 248: Evolutionary Genetics**

Biol 226: Animal Structure and Diversity

Biol 272: Biochemistry

Biol 241: Ecology

Biol 246: Epidemiology

  • *May take only one of these courses
    **May take only one of these courses
  • Two (2) 300-level CLS courses in Biology
  • Half (.5) Unit of Intensive
  • Two (2) Additional courses in consultation with your adviser

    The Biology major requirements include two additional courses. The purpose of this requirement is to encourage students to either explore more deeply within the major, or to augment their study within the natural sciences, or to explore connections between biology and other disciplines. It is the expectation that these courses will be discussed with the major adviser in order that they are thought-out and intentional in their choosing.

    The following is the list of approved, additional courses:

    • Another 200- or 300-level course in Biology
    • A course from the natural sciences division that is not in Biology
    • Other course approved by the adviser

A list of course offerings and general academic requirements are available in the Vassar College Catalogue.

Correlate Sequence

The Biology department also offers a correlate sequence:

Policies on transfer units counting toward the major

  1. Students with transfer of two semesters college-level introductory biology with laboratory who wish to skip Biol-107 & Biol-108 must present transcript, course descriptions, and syllabuses to Biology Chair for assessment.
  2. Up to two units of coursework from off-campus or study-abroad programs may be applied toward the Biology major with the following stipulations:
    • All such courses must be pre-approved for transfer by the major advisor and the Biology Department chair prior to the start of the off-campus program.
    • One unit may substitute for either a 200-level or 300-level course (determined by the Biology chair).
    • One unit may substitute for either one of the “additional” courses, or if appropriate, for the “intensive” requirement.
  3. Students with an AP Biology exam score of 5 or an International Baccalaureate (IB) Biology HL exam score of 6 or 7 may choose to place out of Biology 107. Students must confirm their AP or IB Biology credit with the Coordinator for Biology 108, Mary Ellen Czesak. Students who completed AP Biology, IB Biology, or other advanced courses and either did not take an exam or did not score high enough to place out of Biology 107 may opt to take a departmental placement exam.