Biology Curriculum

  1. Course descriptions
  2. General education requirements
  3. Entry prerequisites
  4. Core requirements
  5. Elective requirements
  6. Petitions

Course descriptions

Follow the links below for descriptions of each course. The biology major can use courses from several different disciplines:

General education requirements

All UW students must complete a common set of general education requirements. As a Biology major, you will have already completed the Natural Science (NSc) and Reasoning (R) requirements by taking chemistry and biology classes, but make sure to plan for completion of the following:

  1. English Composition (C) – 5 credits
  2. Additional Writing (W) – 10 credits
  3. Diversity (DIV) – 5 credits (almost always also fulfills A&H or SSc; was only 3 credits prior to autumn 2023)
  4. Arts & Humanities (A&H) – 15 credits (cannot overlap with SSc)
  5. Social Sciences (SSc) – 15 credits (cannot overlap with A&H)

Entry prerequisites

Visit our Admissions page for information on prerequisite coursework.

Core requirements

Courses cannot apply to more than one requirement for the Biology major, meaning the same course cannot count towards both the core and elective requirements.

  1. Calculus (choose one course)
  2. Statistics (choose one course)
  3. Physics I and II (choose one series)
  4. Genetics
  5. Evolution
  6. Ecology (choose one course)
  7. Cell Biology (choose one course)
    • BBIO 370: Microbiology I + lab
    • BBIO 470: Microbiology II; also fulfills “Additional Writing” (W) general education requirement. BBIO 370 is the normal prerequisite, so this will not often be used for the Cell Biology requirement except in rare cases.
    • BBIO 372: Stem Cells
    • BBIO 380: Cell Biology; occasionally fulfills “Additional Writing” (W) general education requirement in spring quarters. See the course notes on the time schedule to check.
    • Note on transfers: Many community college Microbiology courses are not accepted. Check our Admissions page for more information.
  8. Physiology (choose one course)
  9. Investigative Biology
    • All Biology students must complete at least one biology-related research project.
    • Visit the Investigative Biology page for information on the requirement, how to find research, and step-by-step instructions for making sure that your project fulfills the requirement.
    • Plan EARLY: Start planning for this requirement at least 6 months in advance.

Elective requirements

Biology & Society

You must complete one (1) course for this requirement. This is flexible – if you find a course that seems related to both Biology and Society then you can submit a petition to request for it to count.

Many Biology and Society courses can also fulfill general education credit.

Upper division biology electives

You must complete 20 credits (usually four courses) of upper division (300-level or higher) biology elective coursework. You must choose your electives from at least two out of three of the following categories. Click the category titles to see lists of approved courses.

Miscellaneous Electives

These courses can count as a Biology Elective, but usually do not count towards the “two out of three categories” requirement from above:


Biology-related courses that are not included on the core or elective requirements lists are considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have a syllabus, letter from the instructor, or other detailed description for the class you want to use as an elective, you can submit a petition to request for the course to count.

Some transfer courses never count for Biology major requirements. Visit our Admissions page for information on transfer coursework.