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For Students

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 concentration (major) in Biology

  • 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 complete the yellow field of concentration form together.  You can find the yellow card form on the registrar’s website; it is a fillable pdf.
  • Once you have met with your new advisor and have completed the yellow form, email the completed form to the Biology chair.
  • Once the Chair has approved your yellow form, you can complete the major declaration form.

Requirements of the Biology major

Beginning Fall 2019, the Biology department switched to our new major requirements:

Biology 107

Biology 108, with accompanying lab

Chemistry 125

(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: Plant Diversity and Evolution 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

(2) 300 level courses

(1) Unit of Intensive

(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

The following table explains how students will move to the new major requirements:

Class of 2020

The Class of 2020 will switch to the new curriculum with the exception that a student could choose to take a third 300 level course or 1 unit of intensive for the “Intensive” requirement.

Class of 2021 

Will adopt the new curriculum as written, except allowing 105/106 to count as 107/108.

Class of 2022 

Will adopt the new curriculum as written, except allowing 105/106 to count as 107/108.

Class of 2023

New curriculum

Academic requirements and courses 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 may choose to place out of Biol-107 and 108.  Students with an IBHL exam score of 6 or 7 also may choose to place out of Biol-107 and 108. Students must confirm their AP or IB Biology credit with the Dean of Studies Office.  Students who place out of both Biol-107 and 108 must take Chem-125 before enrolling in 200-level Biology courses