To declare this major, students must be admitted to UW–Madison and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). For information about becoming a CALS first-year or transfer student, see Entering the College.

Students who attend Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences have the option to declare this major at SOAR.  Students may otherwise declare after they have begun their undergraduate studies. For more information, contact the advisor listed under the Advising and Careers tab.

Students who intend to major in Biology in either the College of Letters and Science (L&S) or the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) may not combine this major ("double major") with the Molecular and Cell Biology Major or the Neurobiology Major.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements

In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies, Science, and Capstone), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.

College Requirements for all CALS B.S. Degree Programs

Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.
Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.
First Year Seminar1
International Studies3
Physical Science Fundamentals4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biological Science5
Additional Science (Biological, Physical, or Natural)3
Science Breadth (Biological, Physical, Natural, or Social)3
CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "Major Requirements")

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 15 credits must be completed in the major that are not used elsewhere. Students must complete a minimum of 31 credits of Biological Science courses as detailed below.  Unless specifically stated otherwise, courses may not be used to meet multiple requirements of the major.

In addition to the standard Biology major, there are two Named Options: Biology with a Named Option in Evolutionary Biology and Biology with a Named Option in Plant Biology.  Admissions to the Named Option in Plant Biology is suspended as of Fall 2021.

Students may complete only one Biology major/named option and must declare the option they are pursuing.

Core Requirements

Mathematics and Statistics

Complete one of the following:5-10
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I
and Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
Complete one of the following:3-4
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Total Credits8-14


General Chemistry (Complete one of the following):5-10
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Chemical Principles I
and Chemical Principles II
Organic Chemistry
CHEM 343 Introductory Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 344 Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 345 Intermediate Organic Chemistry3
Total Credits13-18


First semester Physics (complete one of the following):4-5
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
Second semester Physics (complete one of the following):4-5
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
Total Credits8-10

Introductory Biology

For AP Biology policy, as it applies to introductory biology in the biology major, see this link.

Select one of the following options:10-13
Option A:
Introductory Biology
Introductory Biology
Option B:
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
Cellular Biology
Cellular Biology Laboratory
Principles of Physiology
Option C:
Animal Biology
Animal Biology Laboratory
General Botany
Total Credits10-13

Foundation Courses (complete one of the following):

Students may use BIOCORE 381 and BIOCORE 383 toward both Introductory Biology and Foundation.

AGRONOMY/​HORT  338 Plant Breeding and Biotechnology3
BIOCHEM 501 Introduction to Biochemistry3
BIOCHEM 508 General Biochemistry II3-4
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Cellular Biology
GENETICS 466 Principles of Genetics3
GENETICS 468 General Genetics 23
MICROBIO 470 Microbial Genetics & Molecular Machines3

Intermediate/Advanced Courses

Minimum of 13 credits required and must include one approved lab course. Approved lab courses are indicated by footnote. A course taken to meet the Foundation requirement may not also count as an Intermediate/Advanced course.

  • Complete at least two credits from either category A or B.
  • Complete at least two credits from either category C or D.
  • Complete at least two credits from an unused category (A, B, C, D, or E).

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 Engineering3
AN SCI/​DY SCI  362 Veterinary Genetics2
BIOCHEM 501 Introduction to Biochemistry3
BIOCHEM 507 General Biochemistry I3
BIOCHEM 508 General Biochemistry II3-4
BIOCHEM/​NUTR SCI  510 Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism3
BIOCHEM 551 Biochemical Methods 14
BIOCHEM 570 Computational Modeling of Biological Systems3
BIOCHEM/​M M & I  575 Biology of Viruses2
BIOCHEM 601 Protein and Enzyme Structure and Function2
BIOCHEM/​GENETICS/​MICROBIO  612 Prokaryotic Molecular Biology3
BIOCHEM/​GENETICS/​MD GENET  620 Eukaryotic Molecular Biology3
BIOCHEM/​BOTANY  621 Plant Biochemistry3
BIOCHEM 625 Mechanisms of Action of Vitamins and Minerals2
BIOCHEM/​PHMCOL-M/​ZOOLOGY  630 Cellular Signal Transduction Mechanisms3
BMOLCHEM 314 Introduction to Human Biochemistry3
BMOLCHEM 504 Human Biochemistry Laboratory 13
BMOLCHEM/​MICROBIO  668 Microbiology at Atomic Resolution3
BOTANY/​ENTOM/​PL PATH  505 Plant-Microbe Interactions: Molecular and Ecological Aspects3
CRB/​B M E  670 Biology of Heart Disease and Regeneration3
GENETICS 466 Principles of Genetics3
GENETICS 467 General Genetics 13
GENETICS 520 Neurogenetics3
GENETICS 527 Developmental Genetics for Conservation and Regeneration3
MICROBIO 470 Microbial Genetics & Molecular Machines3
MICROBIO/​SOIL SCI  523 Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry3
MICROBIO 551 Capstone Research Project in Microbiology 12
MICROBIO 607 Advanced Microbial Genetics3
M M & I 341 Immunology3
M M & I/​PATH-BIO  528 Immunology3
NEURODPT/​NTP/​ZOOLOGY  616 Lab Course in Neurobiology and Behavior 14
NTP/​NEURODPT  610 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience4
NTP/​NEURODPT  629 Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Memory3
NTP 675 Special Topics (Stem Cell in Neurobiology)1-3
NTP 675 Special Topics (Reproductive Neuroendocrinology)1-3
NTP 675 Special Topics (Molecular Mechanisms of Brain Damage)1-3
ONCOLOGY/​PL PATH  640 General Virology-Multiplication of Viruses3
PHM SCI 558 Laboratory Techniques in Pharmacology and Toxicology 12
ZOOLOGY 470 Introduction to Animal Development3
ZOOLOGY/​PSYCH  523 Neurobiology3
ZOOLOGY 555 Laboratory in Developmental Biology 13
ZOOLOGY 570 Cell Biology3
ZOOLOGY 604 Computer-based Gene and Disease/Disorder Research Lab 12
ZOOLOGY 625 Development of the Nervous System2
ZOOLOGY 655 Modeling Neurodevelopmental Disease3

B. Organismal Biology

AN SCI/​DY SCI  373 Animal Physiology3
AN SCI/​DY SCI  434 Reproductive Physiology 13
AN SCI/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  520 Ornithology3
AN SCI/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  521 Birds of Southern Wisconsin 13
ANAT&PHY 335 Physiology 15
ANAT&PHY 337 Human Anatomy3
ANAT&PHY 338 Human Anatomy Laboratory 12
ANAT&PHY 435 Fundamentals of Human Physiology 15
ANTHRO/​NTP/​PSYCH/​ZOOLOGY  619 Biology of Mind3
BIOCORE 486 Principles of Physiology Laboratory 12
BOTANY 300 Plant Anatomy 14
BOTANY 330 Algae 13
BOTANY/​PL PATH  332 Fungi 14
BOTANY/​PL PATH  333 Biology of the Fungi2
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL  402 Dendrology 12
BOTANY 500 Plant Physiology 13-4
CS&D 503 Neural Mechanisms of Speech, Hearing and Language3
DY SCI 378 Lactation Physiology 13
ENTOM/​ZOOLOGY  302 Introduction to Entomology 14
ENTOM 321 Physiology of Insects3
ENTOM 331 Taxonomy of Mature Insects 14
F&W ECOL 401 Physiological Animal Ecology3
GENETICS 545 Genetics Laboratory 12
GENETICS/​MD GENET  565 Human Genetics3
GEOSCI/​ZOOLOGY  542 Invertebrate Paleontology3
KINES 314 Physiology of Exercise 14
MICROBIO 303 Biology of Microorganisms3
MICROBIO 304 Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory 12
MICROBIO 330 Host-Parasite Interactions3
MICROBIO 526 Physiology of Microorganisms3
M M & I 301 Pathogenic Bacteriology2
M M & I/​ENTOM/​PATH-BIO/​ZOOLOGY  350 Parasitology3
M M & I 410 Medical Mycology2
NTP/​NEURODPT/​PSYCH  611 Systems Neuroscience4
NTP/​ZOOLOGY  620 Neuroethology Seminar2
NTP/​NEURODPT  630 Neuronal Mechanisms for Sensation and Memory in Cerebral Cortex3
NTP 675 Special Topics (Functional Brain Imaging of Cognitive Disorders)1-3
NUTR SCI 431 Nutrition in the Life Span3
NUTR SCI 631 Clinical Nutrition I3
NUTR SCI/​PHM PRAC  672 Herbals, Homeopathy, and Dietary Supplements2-3
ONCOLOGY 401 Introduction to Experimental Oncology2
PATH 404 Pathophysiologic Principles of Human Diseases3
PL PATH 558 Biology of Plant Pathogens 13
PSYCH 406 Psychology of Perception3-4
PSYCH 414 Cognitive Psychology3
PSYCH 454 Behavioral Neuroscience3
PSYCH 513 Hormones, Brain, and Behavior4
PSYCH 606 Hormones and Behavior3
ZOOLOGY 303 Aquatic Invertebrate Biology3
ZOOLOGY 430 Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates 15
ZOOLOGY 603 Endocrinology3-4
ZOOLOGY 611 Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology3
ZOOLOGY 612 Comparative Physiology Laboratory 12

C. Ecology

AGRONOMY/​BOTANY/​SOIL SCI  370 Grassland Ecology3
AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​F&W ECOL/​M&ENVTOX  632 Ecotoxicology: The Chemical Players1
AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​F&W ECOL/​M&ENVTOX  633 Ecotoxicology: Impacts on Individuals1
AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​F&W ECOL/​M&ENVTOX  634 Ecotoxicology: Impacts on Populations, Communities and Ecosystems1
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
ENTOM 450 Basic and Applied Insect Ecology3
ENTOM 451 Basic and Applied Insect Ecology Laboratory1
ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  315 Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources2
ENVIR ST/​LAND ARC  361 Wetlands Ecology3
F&W ECOL 379 Principles of Wildlife Management3
F&W ECOL 550 Forest Ecology3
F&W ECOL/​LAND ARC/​ZOOLOGY  565 Principles of Landscape Ecology2
F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  660 Climate Change Ecology3
GENETICS 528 Banking Animal Biodiversity: International Field Study in Costa Rica1
MICROBIO/​AN SCI/​BOTANY  335 The Microbiome of Plants, Animals, and Humans3
PL PATH 300 Introduction to Plant Pathology 14
PL PATH 315 Plant Microbiomes 14
ZOOLOGY 304 Marine Biology2
ZOOLOGY 316 Laboratory for Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources 12-3
ZOOLOGY 504 Modeling Animal Landscapes3-5
ZOOLOGY/​ENVIR ST  510 Ecology of Fishes3
ZOOLOGY/​ENVIR ST  511 Ecology of Fishes Lab 12

D. Evolution and Systematics

ANTHRO 302 Hominoid Evolution3
ANTHRO 304 Heredity, Environment and Human Populations3
ANTHRO/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  410 Evolutionary Biology3
ANTHRO 411 The Evolution of the Genus, Homo3
ANTHRO 458 Primate Behavioral Ecology3
ANTHRO 603 Seminar in Evolutionary Theory3
BIOLOGY/​GENETICS  522 Communicating Evolutionary Biology2-3
BOTANY 305 Plant Morphology and Evolution 14
BOTANY 400 Plant Systematics 14
BOTANY 401 Vascular Flora of Wisconsin 14
BOTANY 422 Plant Geography3
BOTANY 563 Phylogenetic Analysis of Molecular Data3
ENTOM 432 Taxonomy and Bionomics of Immature Insects 14
ENTOM/​GENETICS/​ZOOLOGY  624 Molecular Ecology3
ENVIR ST/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  360 Extinction of Species3
GENETICS 468 General Genetics 23
GEOSCI/​ZOOLOGY  541 Paleobiology3
MICROBIO 450 Diversity, Ecology and Evolution of Microorganisms3
PSYCH 449 Animal Behavior3
PSYCH 450 Primates and Us: Insights into Human Biology and Behavior3
ZOOLOGY 300 Invertebrate Biology and Evolution3
ZOOLOGY 301 Invertebrate Biology and Evolution Lab 12
ZOOLOGY 425 Behavioral Ecology3

E.  Applied Biology, Agriculture and Natural Resources

A A E/​AGRONOMY/​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 Global Food Production and Health3
AGRONOMY/​HORT  501 Principles of Plant Breeding3
AGRONOMY/​ATM OCN/​SOIL SCI  532 Environmental Biophysics3
AMER IND/​ANTHRO/​BOTANY  474 Ethnobotany3-4
AN SCI/​DY SCI/​NUTR SCI  311 Comparative Animal Nutrition3
AN SCI/​DY SCI  320 Animal Health and Disease3
AN SCI/​DY SCI  361 Introduction to Animal and Veterinary Genetics2
AN SCI/​DY SCI  363 Principles of Animal Breeding2
AN SCI 503 Avian Physiology 13
AN SCI 512 Management for Avian Health 13
BIOCORE 587 Biological Interactions3
BOTANY 403 Field Collections and Identification1-4
DY SCI/​AGRONOMY  471 Food Production Systems and Sustainability3
ENTOM 351 Principles of Economic Entomology3
ENTOM/​ZOOLOGY  371 Medical Entomology 13
ENTOM/​F&W ECOL  500 Insects in Forest Ecosystem Function and Management2
ENVIR ST/​POP HLTH  471 Introduction to Environmental Health3
ENVIR ST/​POP HLTH  502 Air Pollution and Human Health3
F&W ECOL 306 Terrestrial Vertebrates: Life History and Ecology 14
F&W ECOL/​HORT/​LAND ARC/​PL PATH  309 Diseases of Trees and Shrubs3
F&W ECOL 318 Principles of Wildlife Ecology3
F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  335 Human/Animal Relationships: Biological and Philosophical Issues3
F&W ECOL 410 Principles of Silviculture3
F&W ECOL 415 Tree Physiology3
F&W ECOL/​SURG SCI  548 Diseases of Wildlife3
F&W ECOL 561 Wildlife Management Techniques 13
FOOD SCI/​MICROBIO  324 Food Microbiology Laboratory 12
FOOD SCI/​MICROBIO  325 Food Microbiology3
FOOD SCI 532 Integrated Food Manufacturing 14
GENETICS 548 The Genomic Revolution3
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/​AGRONOMY  376 Tropical Horticultural Systems1
HORT 378 Tropical Horticultural Systems International Field Study2
HORT/​PATH-BIO  500 Molecular Biology Techniques 13
M M & I 554 Emerging Infectious Diseases and Bioterrorism2
MICROBIO/​SOIL SCI  425 Environmental Microbiology3
NTP/​MED PHYS  651 Methods for Neuroimaging Research3
NUTR SCI 332 Human Nutritional Needs3
PL PATH/​SOIL SCI  323 Soil Biology3
PL PATH 517 Plant Disease Resistance2-3
SOIL SCI 321 Soils and Environmental Chemistry3
ZOOLOGY 500 Undergraduate Neurobiology Seminar1

Capstone Requirement

Two credits minimum required. With advisor approval, directed study or research-based senior thesis in a biological science discipline can also count. The experience must be completed after the first year of an introductory biology sequence above. The capstone experience will normally be completed during the student’s final two or three semesters. Also, a subset of laboratory courses has been approved for capstone. The following courses, along with 682s and 692s in biological science departments (taken senior year), can be accepted as fulfilling the capstone experience.
ANAT&PHY 435 Fundamentals of Human Physiology5
BIOCORE 486 Principles of Physiology Laboratory 22
BMOLCHEM 504 Human Biochemistry Laboratory3
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL  455 The Vegetation of Wisconsin4
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  460 General Ecology4
BOTANY/​LAND ARC  670 Adaptive Restoration Lab2
ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  511 Ecology of Fishes Lab2
F&W ECOL 599 Wildlife Research Capstone (limited access)3
GENETICS 527 Developmental Genetics for Conservation and Regeneration3
MICROBIO 551 Capstone Research Project in Microbiology2
PL PATH 315 Plant Microbiomes4
ZOOLOGY 316 Laboratory for Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources2-3
ZOOLOGY 555 Laboratory in Developmental Biology3
ZOOLOGY 612 Comparative Physiology Laboratory2

Biology Named Options

Instead of completing the requirements above, students may choose to select one of the options below.

Honors in the Major

Students admitted to the university and to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences are invited to apply to be considered for admission to the CALS Honors Program.

Admission Criteria for New First-Year Students:

  • Complete program application including essay questions

Admission Criteria for Transfer and Continuing UW-Madison Students:

  • UW-Madison cumulative GPA of at least 3.25
  • Complete program application including essay questions

How to Apply

The application is available on the CALS Honors Program website.  Applications are accepted at any time.

New first-year students with accepted applications will automatically be enrolled in Honors in Research. It is possible to switch to Honors in the Major in the student’s first semester on campus after receiving approval from the advisor for that major.  Transfer and continuing students may apply directly to Honors in Research or Honors in the Major (after approval from the major advisor).


All CALS Honors programs have the following requirements:

  • Earn at least a cumulative 3.25 GPA at UW-Madison (some programs have higher requirements)
  • Complete the program-specific requirements listed below
  • Submit completed thesis documentation to CALS Academic Affairs


Honors in the Major in Biology: Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major in Biology, students must satisfy the requirements for the major (above) as well as the following requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 overall university GPA
  • Complete a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis for 6 credits total and present research in a public forum
  • Complete at least 20 credits of Honors coursework from the following sections of the Biology curriculum:
    • Introductory Biology
    • Foundation Courses
    • Intermediate/Advanced Courses
  • At least 6 of the 20 credits of Honors coursework must be from the Intermediate/Advanced Courses requirement


University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Know and understand core concepts that unify the breadth of biological sciences including: evolution; structure and function; information flow, exchange, and storage; pathways for transformations of energy and matter; and systems.
  2. Demonstrate practical skills of a professional biologist including: problem‐solving by engaging the process of science; written and verbal proficiency; laboratory skills; quantitative analysis skills; and teamwork skills.
  3. Graduates will be able to engage and make broader connections to other scientific disciplines and society.

Four-year road maps for the biology major are designed to support biological science major exploration. The road map is a tool to assist you and your advisor in planning your academic career. Use it along with your DARS report and Course Search & Enroll. Your specific program of study could, and probably will, look different. You should customize the road map to fit your unique path at UW–Madison. Consult with your advisor about the best path for you.

Four-year plan

Sample Biology Major—No Option Four-Year Plan

CHEM 103 or 1094-5CHEM 1045
Math Course13-5Math or Statistics3-4
COMM A or Breadth Courses6COMM A or Breadth Courses5-7
First Year Seminar21 
 14-17 13-16
Total Credits 27-33
CHEM 3433CHEM 3442
Math or Statistics (if needed)3-4CHEM 3453
Intro Biology Courses33-5Intro Biology Courses33-5
Breadth Course3Breadth Courses4-6
 12-15 12-16
Total Credits 24-31
PHYSICS 103 or 2074-5PHYSICS 104 or 2084-5
Foundational or Biocore3Biocore or Intermediate/Advanced Biology Courses43-5
Elective Courses5-8Elective Courses5-8
 12-16 12-18
Total Credits 24-34
Intermediate/Advanced Biology Course43-5Intermediate/Advanced Biology Course43-5
Capstone or Research Course2-3Capstone or Research Course2-3
Elective Courses7-10Elective Courses7-10
 12-18 12-18
Total Credits 24-36

Sample Biology Four-Year Plan—Evolutionary Biology Option

CHEM 103 or 1094-5CHEM 1045
Math Course13-5Math or Statistics3-4
COMM A or Breadth Courses6COMM A or Breadth Courses6
First Year Seminar21 
 14-17 14-15
Total Credits 28-32
CHEM 3433CHEM 3453
Math or Statistics (if needed)3-5CHEM 3442
Intro Biology Course35Intro Biology Course35
Breadth Course3Breadth Courses4-6
 14-16 14-16
Total Credits 28-32
PHYSICS 103 or 2074-5PHYSICS 104 or 2084-5
Foundation Course or Biocore3-5ANTHRO/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  4103
Electives5BIOLOGY/​GENETICS  5222-3
 12-15 14-16
Total Credits 26-31
Intermediate/Advanced Biology Course45Intermediate/Advanced Biology Course45
Capstone or Research Course2-3Capstone or Research2-3
Elective Courses5-8Elective Courses5-8
 12-16 12-16
Total Credits 24-32

Sample Biology Four-Year Plan—Plant Biology Option

CHEM 103 or 1094-5CHEM 1045
Math13-5Math or Statistics3-5
COMM A or Breadth6COMM A or Breadth5-6
First Year Seminar21 
 14-17 13-16
Total Credits 27-33
CHEM 3433CHEM 3453
Math or Statistics (if needed)3-5CHEM 3442
Intro Biology Course33-5Intro Biology Course33-5
Breadth Course3Breadth Course4-6
 12-16 12-16
Total Credits 24-32
PHYSICS 103 or 2074-5PHYSICS 104 or 2084-5
Foundation Course or Biocore3-5Biocore or Intermediate/Advanced Plant Biology43-5
Electives5-6Plant Science Seminar1
 12-16 13-16
Total Credits 25-32
Intermediate/Advanced Plant Biology45Intermediate/Advanced Plant Biology45
Capstone or Research2-3Capstone or Research2-3
Plant Science Seminar (if needed)1Plant Science Seminar (if needed)1
 13-17 13-17
Total Credits 26-34


Your advisor is here to guide you through the biology major. We can address your questions and concerns, provide advice, help you create a four-year degree plan that meets your major and professional goals, and connect you to resources. It is important to remember that advising is about the process, and some questions do not have a quick and easy answer. Your advisor will challenge you to self-reflect, to critically think about your goals and strategies, and to develop decision-making skills. For more information about what to expect during your advising appointment, visit UW Undergraduate Advising.

In the biology major, students are assigned to an advisor according to last name. Please schedule an advising appointment here.


The biology major encourages students to begin working on their career exploration and preparation soon after arriving on campus. We partner with the CALS Career Services office to help you leverage the academic skills learned in your major and liberal arts degree, explore and try out different career paths, participate in internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers).

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences graduates are in high demand by employers and graduate programs. It is important to us that our students are career ready at the time of graduation, and we are committed to your success.

Career Resources:

Advising Leadership and Staff

Brian Asen
Sarah Kuba, Program Director
Brittany Magrady
Lydia Odegard
Damien Parks

Biology Major Program Committee

(voting members)

David Baum, Evolutionary Biology Named Option Representative
Briana Burton
Joseph Dillard
Stephen Gammie, L&S Co-Chair
Irwin Goldman, Plant Biology Named Option Representative
Yevgenya Grinblat
Michelle Harris
Sarah Kuba, ex officio
Timothy Paustian, ex officio
Aurelie Rakotondrafara
Sharon Thoma, ex officio
Jae-Hyuk Yu, CALS Co-Chair

The following opportunities can help students connect with other students interested in biology, build relationships with faculty and staff, and contribute to out-of-classroom learning:

  • Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society is an honor and professional organization for undergraduate students in the biological sciences. Its activities are designed to stimulate interest, scholarly attainment, and investigation in the biological sciences, and to promote the dissemination of information and new interpretations among students in life sciences. The society offers its members the unique opportunity to publish their undergraduate work in the pages of its journal, BIOS.
  • Biology majors have the opportunity to go on experiential study abroad programs, where students can immerse themselves in research or global health field experiences. Students can review the Biology Major Advising Page on the International Academic Programs website for information on these and other programs, as well as requirements that can typically be fulfilled abroad and things to consider when incorporating study abroad into an academic plan.
  • Students are encouraged to get involved in research in any life science department. Research can be performed for either course credit or pay, depending on the opportunity. Research opportunities can be identified by inquiring directly with faculty members, reading the Biology Major Newsletter, or announcement on the Student Job Center.