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
- Students will possess a broad understanding of biology.
- Students will understand the scientific method and use it to develop and conduct biological experiments.
- Students will 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: 42 are from designated University Core Curriculum Program courses, 56-57 are from biology core courses and 18-19 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
II. Core Curriculum Program***
III. Biology Core Courses
IV. Biology Career Track Courses
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
**Three of these four-hour science and mathematics courses are required for all Biology students: BIOL 1406 , BIOL 1407 , and MATH 2413 . Only the 3 lecture hours of each will apply to the University Core Curriculum. Each one-hour laboratory component will be counted as a Biology Core requirement.
III. Biology Core Courses
Students must complete 24-25 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 2.25 in the major field of study (biology core + biology track) is required to graduate.
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
Choose 16-17 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
Choose 12-15 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
Choose 9-10 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
Choose 1-2 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
Choose 16-17 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
Choose 12-13 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.