Program Structure

Program structure navigation

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  1. Course planning resources
  2. Overlapping coursework
  3. Substitutions and petitions
  4. Prerequisites for major entry
  5. Core requirements
  6. Investigative Biology
  7. Biology and Society
  8. Upper Division Biology Electives
  9. General Education requirements
  10. Credit and GPA requirements

Course planning resources


Overlapping coursework

Important: A single course cannot fulfill more than one prerequisite, core, or elective requirement for the Biology major.

However, a course usually can fulfill a Biology major requirement in addition to:

  • Requirements for other majors and/or minors; and
  • General education requirements

Example: BBIO 380 (Cell Biology)

  • Can fulfill either the “Cell Biology” requirement or an “Upper Division Biology Elective”, but not both.
  • Can also fulfill credit for another program, such as elective credit for the Health Studies major or Health Studies minor.
  • Can also fulfill the “Additional Writing” general education requirement (if taken in a quarter it is offered for writing credit).

If you are not sure if a course can count for multiple requirements, contact the Biology advisor to ask.


Substitutions and petitions

It is sometimes possible to substitute other courses from UW or other institutions in place of the pre-approved courses listed on this page. Visit our Student Forms & Resources page to submit a petition.

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


Prerequisites for major entry

Visit our Admissions page for more information on prerequisite coursework.

  1. General Chemistry Series
    • BCHEM 143 + 144 (General Chemistry I + lab)
    • BCHEM 153 + 154 (General Chemistry II + lab)
    • BCHEM 163 + 164 (General Chemistry III + lab)
  2. Introductory Biology Series
    • BBIO 180 (Introductory Biology I + lab)
    • BBIO 200 (Introductory Biology II + lab)
    • BBIO 220 (Introductory Biology III + lab)

Core requirements

You must complete all of these requirements. When there are multiple options for a requirement, you only need to take one. Additional courses taken after the first can often count towards Upper Division Biology Electives instead.

  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)
  8. Physiology (choose one course)

Investigative Biology

You must complete at least one biology-related research project. There are three main options for completion:

Visit our Investigative Biology page for more detailed information on the requirement, how to find research, and step-by-step instructions for making sure that your research project fulfills the requirement.

Plan EARLY: Start planning for this requirement at least 6 months in advance.


Biology and Society

You must complete one course to fulfill this requirement. Below is a list of pre-approved options.

This requirement is flexible. If you find a course that you think is related to both Biology and Society, then you can submit a petition to request for it to count.

Contact the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences for expected offerings of all BES, BIS, and BISSTS courses.

List of pre-approved courses:


Upper Division Biology Electives

You must complete 20 credits of upper division (300- or 400-level) biology elective coursework. Unless otherwise noted, all elective courses are worth 5 credits. This means that most students will take four elective courses.

Electives fall into three main categories. You must choose your electives from at least two out of three main categories (A, B, or C). You do not need electives from all three main categories.

  • Category A - Ecology/Biodiversity/Evolution Electives
  • Category B - Cellular/Molecular Biology Electives
  • Category C - Physiology/Neurobiology Electives

Contact the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences for expected offerings of all BES, BIS, and BISSTS courses.

Category A - Biodiversity/Ecology/Evolution Electives

Category B - Cellular/Molecular biology Electives

Category C - Physiology/Neurobiology Electives

Miscellaneous Electives

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


General education courses

In addition to the Biology major requirements above, you must also complete the following courses. These courses generally can overlap with core and elective requirements for the major.

  1. English Composition (C). 5 credits (usually 1 course). Cannot overlap with Additional Writing. Common options for Biology majors are:
  2. Additional Writing (W). 10 credits (usually 2 courses). Cannot overlap with English Composition. Common options for Biology majors are:
  3. Diversity (DIV). 3 credits (usually 1 course). Almost always fulfills VLPA or I&S as well.
  4. Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA). 15 credits (usually 3 courses). Cannot overlap with I&S.
  5. Individuals and Societies (I&S). 15 credits (usually 3 courses). Cannot overlap with VLPA.

Credit and GPA requirements

  1. Total credit minimum. You must earn a minimum of 180 college-level credits. This includes both your transfer coursework and any coursework taken at the University of Washington.
  2. Matriculated credit minimum. You must earn a minumum of 45 credits taken as a matriculated student at the University of Washington. 
  3. Senior residency requirement. You must take a minimum of 45 out of your last 60 required credits at the University of Washington Bothell campus.
  4. Minimum GPA. You must earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.00 for your coursework taken at the University of Washington.