Purpose of Biology Program
The biology program provides diverse training for careers in the biological sciences. The biology curriculum includes content courses required for (1) teacher certification in life science, (2) acceptance to post-graduate studies, and (3) pre-professional studies in preparation for admission to professional schools.
Students will acquire content and skills to enter a variety of biology-related careers such as research, marine biology, wildlife and coastal management, environmental protection, laboratory technician, biotechnology industry, medical or environmental microbiology, technical writing, pharmaceutical sales, careers in the medical, dental, and allied health fields, and science education.
Field and laboratory courses emphasize the development of practical skills in using special materials and equipment. Focus is on enhancement of critical thinking skills, which will prepare the student for careers in the biological sciences as well as in other general areas of employment.
Student Learning Outcomes
- Possess a broad understanding of biology.
- Understand the scientific method and use it to develop and conduct biological experiments.
- Have the skills necessary to successfully communicate biological information to a range of audiences.
The Honors Program
The Honors Program (admission by application only) offers highly motivated students from any academic discipline an enriched program of study in which to develop global perspectives. Appropriate courses approved by both a student’s Biology faculty mentor and Honors advisor may count toward the Biology degree. Thus, a Biology student in the Honors track can usually graduate with no additional course work. For more information, consult the section entitled “Honors Program” near the front of this catalog.
Requirements of the Undergraduate Biology Major
The Bachelor of Science in Biology degree requires a minimum of 120 semester credit hours: 2 are from First-Year Seminars or Professional Skills, 42 are designated University Core Curriculum Program courses, 45-46 are from biology core courses and 30-31 are from biology career track courses. The biology core provides students with a broad biological background and includes coursework in four key areas: mathematics, the chemistry of life/cell biology, form and function, and organismal biology. In each of these areas students select one course from a list of appropriate courses, depending on their interests and choice of biology career track. The biology career track areas are: (A) Ecology, (B) Marine Biology, (C) Cell/Molecular Biology, (D) Microbiology, (E) Organismal Biology and (F) Integrative Biology. Students should select a biology career track as soon as possible after they complete their freshman year and well before they begin their junior year.
I. First-Year Seminars / Professional Skills
Full-time, first-year students are required to take these First-Year Seminar courses:
II. University Core Curriculum Program
*For 4 of the four-hour science and mathematics courses that are required for all Biology students, some or all of the hours may be counted as part of the University Core requirement. For BIOL 1406 , BIOL 1407 , and MATH 2413 , the 3 lecture hours of each will be counted in the Life and Physical Sciences or Mathematics Foundational Areas; and each one-hour laboratory component will be counted in the Component Area Option of the University Core Curriculum. For CHEM 1411 , the 3 lecture hours will be counted in the Component Area Option of the University Core Curriculum, but the 1 laboratory hour will be counted as part of the Biology Core.
III. Biology Core Courses
Students must complete 30-31 additional hours in one of the Biology Tracks to earn the 120 hours necessary for graduation. A minimum of 45 hours of upper-division credit (courses numbered 3000 or 4000) is required to graduate. A minimum grade point average of 2.5 in the major field of study (biology core + biology track) is required to graduate. No “D” or “F” grades will be accepted as credit within the biology core or biology track courses.
IV. Biology Career Tracks
Each biology career track is designed to provide specific background in a biological discipline. The integrative biology track provides a broad background in the biological sciences.
Any track will prepare a student for entry-level biological careers in a variety of academic, governmental, or private sector settings, but many careers will require training beyond the BS degree. A students should consult their faculty mentor to determine the track that is the best fit for their career goals.
Each track consists of 24-25 hours, including a core of required courses and electives. Students are strongly encouraged to consult their faculty mentor for guidance in choosing the electives.
A. Ecology Track
The Ecology Track focuses on interactions between organisms and between organisms and the physical environment. Students choosing this track will be preparing for careers in fields such as agriculture, environmental protection, conservation, natural resource management, and public education.
I. Ecology Core Courses (8 Sem. Hrs.):
II. Ecology Electives (22-23 Sem. Hrs.)
Choose 22-23 hours of approved electives. A total of at least 120 hours is required to graduate with the B.S. degree. (See below for a note about the advanced Mathematics requirement for for Ecology students.)
III. Ecology Advanced Mathematics Requirement:
B. Marine Biology Track
The Marine Biology track focuses on organisms in marine and coastal systems. Students choosing this track will be preparing for careers in fisheries and aquaculture, coastal/marine resource management and conservation, outdoor recreation, and aquatic science.
I. Marine Biology Core Courses (10-12 Sem. Hrs.):
II. Marine Biology Electives (18-21 Sem. Hrs.)
Choose 18-21 hours of approved electives. A total of at least 120 hours is required to graduate with the B.S. degree.
C. Cell/Molecular Biology Track
The Cell/Molecular Biology track focuses on the chemical, cellular, and tissue levels of biological organization. Students choosing this track will be preparing for careers in biotechnology and healthcare professions, research laboratories, biological/pharmaceutical manufacturing and quality control, agricultural testing, and health- or biotechnology-related sales. This track also prepares students for graduate studies in biology, biotechnology and health-related sciences.
I. Cell/Molecular Biology Core Courses (15 Sem. Hrs.):
II. Cell/Molecular Biology Electives (15-16 Sem. Hrs.)
Choose 15-16 hours of approved electives. A total of at least 120 hours is required to graduate with the B.S. degree.
D. Microbiology Track
This Microbiology track focuses on bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa. Many of these organisms are important to industry, agriculture, and health care. Students choosing this track will be preparing for careers in industrial, environmental, medical, public health, and agricultural laboratories, industrial quality control, health care professions, research, biotechnology, and microbiology-related sales.
I. Microbiology Core Courses (23 Sem. Hrs.):
II. Microbiology Electives (7-8 Sem. Hrs.)
Choose 7-8 hours of approved electives. A total of at least 120 hours is required to graduate with the B.S. degree.
E. Organismal Biology Track
The Organismal Biology track focuses on the natural history, ecology, structure, and function of plants and/or animals. Students can choose to emphasize plants or animals, or take courses that result in a broad understanding of both. Students choosing this track will be preparing for careers that include, but are not limited to, wildlife management, fisheries, natural resource management, parks and recreation, biodiversity and conservation, habitat restoration, and agriculture or horticulture. This track also prepares students for graduate studies in biology, wildlife and fisheries sciences, wildlife management, forestry, or taxonomy and systematics.
I. Organismal Biology Core Courses (8 Sem. Hrs.):
II. Organismal Biology Electives (22-23 Sem. Hrs.)
Choose 22-23 hours of approved electives. A total of at least 120 hours is required to graduate with the B.S. degree.
F. Integrative Biology Track
The Integrative Biology track emphasizes the integration of physical factors, cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems in producing functional organisms. Students choosing this track will be preparing for careers in health care, government or academic research, agriculture, or biology sales. This track is also a good choice for students planning to attend graduate school because it provides a great deal of flexibility depending on the student’s interests and career goals.
I. Integrative Biology Core Courses (12 Sem. Hrs.):
II. Integrative Biology Electives (18-19 Sem. Hrs.)
Choose 18-19 hours of approved electives. A total of at least 120 hours is required to graduate with the B.S. degree. (See below for a note about the advanced Mathematics requirement for for Integrative Biology students.)
III. Integrative Biology Advanced Mathematics Requirement:
G. Approved Electives
BIOL 2472 Principles of Botany, or any 3000- or 4000-level Biology course (except BIOL 3471 Padre Island Ecology and BIOL 3472 Marine Biology) can be taken for elective credit. In addition to upper-division Biology (BIOL prefix) courses, students may select courses from the list below. Note that approval of a faculty mentor is required for certain courses (BIOL 4590 Selected Topics or BIOL 4396 Directed Independent Study). Up to 4 semester hours of science electives not on this list can be taken with mentor approval.
Fast Track from Bachelor’s to Master’s Degree
Biology, BS and Biology, MS
The university allows the opportunity for high-achieving students to count a select number of graduate credits toward their undergraduate degree and thereby obtain a graduate degree at an accelerated pace. Students interested in the Fast Track in Biology must meet the following application criteria:
- Currently seeking a BS in Biology at A&M-Corpus Christi.
- Minimum of a 3.0 GPA (with 3.4 GPA in math and science courses) in the last 60 SCH at the time of Fast Track application.
- Classified as a Senior with successful completion of at least 90 SCH, including BIOL 1406, BIOL 1407, BIOL 2371, BIOL 2416, BIOL 2421, BIOL 3428, CHEM 1411, CHEM 1212, MATH 2413, and UCCP 1101-1102 or BIOL 2200.
Students accepted into the Fast Track program will be given permission to enroll in up to six hours of prescribed graduate courses during their last semester of undergraduate studies. The hours for these graduate courses will “double-count” toward both the (120-hour) undergraduate and (36-hour) graduate programs. The BS and MS degrees will be awarded sequentially (i.e., upon completion of each degree) and not simultaneously. Students will be allowed to continue enrollment in the graduate program upon successful completion of the 120-hour undergraduate degree.
Applicants must provide the following at the time of application:
- A completed application form. Application fees are waived for Fast Track applicants.
- Official transcripts of all college and university coursework.
- A faculty member must be willing to serve as the chair of the applicant’s Graduate Advisory Committee and the applicant must include a summary of discussions with faculty members in their essay. Students must contact potential advisors prior to and during the application process to discuss research opportunities in faculty member labs.
- An essay (not more than 1000 words) describing educational and career goals and interests as they relate to program faculty.
- Applicants who do not have a faculty member willing to serve as their committee chair at the time of the transition from BS to MS cannot remain in the program.
- Official GRE scores by the time the student is reclassified to MS.
No criterion is weighted more heavily than any other criterion. Applications received or completed after the deadline for admission during one semester may be considered for admission in the following semester at the applicant’s request. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by email.
A degree candidate who lacks adequate academic preparation may be required by his or her Graduate Advisory Committee to complete undergraduate course work prior to the completion of the MS degree. Such course work (4000-sequence or lower) will be regarded as foundation or prerequisite work and will not count as credit towards the total required for completion of the degree.
Fast Track Curriculum in the Senior Year
During their last semester of undergraduate studies, BS Biology students accepted into the Fast Track will take up to six hours of approved graduate courses. The hours for these graduate courses will “double-count” toward both the (120-hour) undergraduate and (36-hour) graduate programs.
See the Graduate Catalog for a complete description of the degree requirements for the MS in Biology.