Courses may not double count within the major (unless specifically noted otherwise), but courses counted toward the major requirements may also be used to satisfy a university requirement and/or a college requirement. A minimum of 15 credits must be completed in the major that are not used elsewhere. Students must complete a minimum of 31 credits from Introductory Biology, Foundation, Intermediate/Advanced, Seminar (options only) and additional lab/research courses. 

Core Requirements

Mathematics and Statistics

Select one of the following:5-10
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I
and Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
Select one of the following: 13-4
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences


General Chemistry
Select one of the following: 15-9
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
CHEM 343 Introductory Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 344 Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 345 Intermediate Organic Chemistry3


1st semester Physics; select one of the following:4-5
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
2nd semester Physics, select one of the following:4-5
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics

Introductory Biology

Select one of the following options: 110-16
Option A:
Introductory Biology
Introductory Biology
Option B:
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
Cellular Biology
Cellular Biology Laboratory
Organismal Biology
Option C:
Animal Biology
Animal Biology Laboratory
General Botany
Foundational Course 2
Select one of the following:3
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Cellular Biology 3
Plant Breeding and Biotechnology
Principles of Genetics
General Genetics 2
Microbial Genetics & Molecular Machines
Introduction to Biochemistry
General Biochemistry II

Intermediate/Advanced Courses

Minimum of 13 credits required and must include one approved lab course. Approved lab courses are indicated by footnote.
Select one course from categories A or B below. Select one course from categories C or D below. Select one course from category E or from an unused category above.

 A. Cellular and Subcellular Biology

AGRONOMY/​HORT  338 Plant Breeding and Biotechnology3
AGRONOMY/​BOTANY/​HORT  339 Plant Biotechnology: Principles and Techniques I 14
AGRONOMY/​BOTANY/​HORT  340 Plant Cell Culture and Genetic Engineering 14
BIOCHEM 501 Introduction to Biochemistry3
BIOCHEM 507 General Biochemistry I3
BIOCHEM 508 General Biochemistry II3-4
BIOCHEM/​BOTANY  621 Plant Biochemistry3
BOTANY/​ENTOM/​PL PATH  505 Plant-Microbe Interactions: Molecular and Ecological Aspects3
BOTANY/​GENETICS/​HORT  561 Introductory Cytogenetics2-3
GENETICS 466 Principles of Genetics3
GENETICS 467 General Genetics 13

B. Organismal Biology

BIOCORE 486 Organismal Biology Laboratory 12
BOTANY 300 Plant Anatomy 14
BOTANY 305 Plant Morphology and Evolution 14
BOTANY 330 Algae 13
BOTANY/​PL PATH  332 Fungi 14
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL  402 Dendrology 12
BOTANY 500 Plant Physiology 13-4
ENTOM/​ZOOLOGY  302 Introduction to Entomology 14
PL PATH 558 Biology of Plant Pathogens 13

C. Ecology

AGRONOMY/​BOTANY/​SOIL SCI  370 Grassland Ecology3
BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  450 Midwestern Ecological Issues: A Case Study Approach2
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL  455 The Vegetation of Wisconsin 14
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  460 General Ecology 14
BOTANY/​ENTOM/​ZOOLOGY  473 Plant-Insect Interactions3
BOTANY/​ENVIR ST/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  651 Conservation Biology3
F&W ECOL 550 Forest Ecology3
F&W ECOL/​LAND ARC/​ZOOLOGY  565 Principles of Landscape Ecology2
MICROBIO/​AN SCI/​BOTANY  335 The Microbiome of Plants, Animals, and Humans3
PL PATH 300 Introduction to Plant Pathology 14
BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  459 Ecological Techniques for Field Monitoring1-2

D. Evolution and Systematics

ANTHRO/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  410 Evolutionary Biology3
BOTANY 400 Plant Systematics 14
BOTANY 401 Vascular Flora of Wisconsin 14
BOTANY 422 Plant Geography3
BOTANY 563 Phylogenetic Analysis of Molecular Data3
GENETICS 468 General Genetics 23

E. Applied Biology, Agriculture and Natural Resources

A A E/​AGRONOMY/​INTER-AG/​NUTR SCI  350 World Hunger and Malnutrition3
AGRONOMY 300 Cropping Systems3
AGRONOMY 302 Forage Management and Utilization3
AGRONOMY/​HORT  360 Genetically Modified Crops: Science, Regulation & Controversy2
AGRONOMY 377 Cropping Systems of the Tropics3
AGRONOMY/​HORT  501 Principles of Plant Breeding3
AMER IND/​ANTHRO/​BOTANY  474 Ethnobotany3-4
BIOLOGY/​GENETICS  522 Evolution Seminar Series-Undergraduate1
BOTANY 403 Field Collections and Identification1-4
BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  459 Ecological Techniques for Field Monitoring1-2
DY SCI/​INTER-AG  471 Food Production Systems and Sustainability3
F&W ECOL/​HORT/​LAND ARC/​PL PATH  309 Diseases of Trees and Shrubs3
F&W ECOL 410 Principles of Silviculture3
F&W ECOL 415 Tree Physiology3
GENETICS/​HORT  550 Molecular Approaches for Potential Crop Improvement3
HORT/​LAND ARC  263 Landscape Plants I 13
HORT 370 World Vegetable Crops3
HORT 372 Colloquium in Organic Agriculture1
HORT 376 Tropical Horticultural Systems1
HORT 378 Tropical Horticultural Systems International Field Study2
HORT/​PATH-BIO  500 Molecular Biology Techniques 13
LACIS 440 Topics in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies1-4
MED PHYS/​NTP  651 Methods for Neuroimaging Research3
PL PATH/​SOIL SCI  323 Soil Biology3
PL PATH 517 Plant Disease Resistance2-3
ZOOLOGY 500 Undergraduate Neurobiology Seminar1
BIOCORE 587 Biological Interactions3


Undergradute Plant Science Seminar (1 cr minimum)
PL PATH 375 Special Topics (Frontiers in Plant Biology)1-4

Additional lab or Field Research

Select one of the following options:

  1. Take an additional lab or field instruction from categories A–E in the Intermediate/Advanced course lists.
  2. Complete a directed study in a biological science discipline.1
  3. Complete a thesis in biological science.1

Residence and Quality of Work

2.000 GPA in all major courses

2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits, taken in residence 1

15 credits in the major, taken on the UW–Madison campus

Honors in the Major

Once students have declared the biology major, they may apply to pursue Honors in the Major. To apply, students must pick up an Honors form from either the L&S Honors Office at 1401 Observatory Drive or the Biology Major Office at 1550 Linden Drive.  A Senior Honors Thesis is required. Before enrolling in a Senior Honors Thesis course, the student must produce a two- to three-page, double-spaced thesis proposal that briefly introduces the biological problem and then describes the line of experimentation that is proposed for the thesis work. The student and faculty mentor must sign the proposal before it is submitted to the Biology Major Office.

Honors in the Major in Biology: Requirements1

To earn a B.A. or B.S. with Honors in the Major in Biology students must satisfy both the requirements for the major and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 overall university GPA
  • Earn a 3.300 GPA in the major/subject
  • Complete 13 credits of Foundation, and/or intermediate/advanced courses for Honors.
  • Complete an approved two-semester Senior Honors Thesis for a total of 6 credits.