Requirements

Major in Biology

Consonant with the experiential-learning focus of the K-Plan and motivated by the biology department mission, our emphasis on an empirical approach to biology creates an environment in which students develop a strong foundation in biology. We encourage our students to ask and seek answers to probing questions, interpret primary literature, design and perform experiments, and make original observations of biological phenomena. The developmental progression from introductory core courses through upper-level electives prepares students well for the challenges of carrying out their Senior Individualized Projects, presenting results of those projects at our annual Diebold Symposium, and then continuing their education or seeking employment after graduation.

Course Requirements

Please note below the cognate changes for students who matriculate in Fall 2019, and for continuing students who adopt the 2019-2020 catalog.

A minimum of nine biology courses (five required and four electives) and three cognates exclusive of lab credit, all at C- or better are required to complete a major in biology. None of these courses may be completed Credit/No Credit.

A. Biology core requirements:
  • Evolution and Genetics – BIOL112
  • Form and Function with Lab – BIOL 123
  • Ecology and Conservation with Lab – BIOL 224
  • Cell and Molecular Biology with Lab – BIOL 246
  • Senior Seminar – BIOL 490 (partial credit portions spread across Fall, Winter and Spring terms during senior year)

B. Elective courses:

A minimum of four biology electives are required to complete the major in biology. All except Course 1 must be taught by a Kalamazoo College faculty member. Eligible electives are as follows and may be completed in any order:

  • Course 1: course at 200-level or above, or one unit from the following outside sources: AP/IB credit (if score on Biology AP exam is 4 or 5, or score on IB exam is 5 or above)
    Study Abroad course in biology
    Dual enrollment or transfer course in biology
  • Course 2: lab course at 300-level or above
  • Course 3: lab course at 300-level or above
  • Course 4: lab or non-lab course at 300-level or above, or one unit of credit from a biology research SIP

Biology majors are encouraged to complete their Senior Individualized Project in biology.

C. Cognates:

New for students who matriculate in Fall 2019, and for continuing students who adopt the 2019-2020 catalog. Certain career tracks in biology, including medical, professional, and graduate schools, may require additional courses from other departments. For example, most medical schools require applicants to have taken Physics and Organic Chemistry. Majors should be sure to consult with the director of Careers in Health and Medicine and/or a member of the Biology Department in planning courses.

Natural Basis of the Living World

Biology rests upon foundations created by other natural sciences; all Biology majors will engage with another STEM discipline.

One unit from any of the following departments/programs:

  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Mathematics
  • Physics

Human Context of Biology

Biology is a human enterprise, and the conduct and interpretation of science depend on much broader contexts. Our majors will engage with material in the social sciences and humanities in order to better understand these broader social contexts.

One unit from any of the following departments/programs:

  • Anthropology and Sociology
  • Classics
  • Community and Global Health
  • Critical Ethnic Studies
  • Economics and Business History
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Religion
  • Women/Gender/Sexuality

Modes of Expression

Biology has a strong aesthetic component, from how we appreciate and measure nature, to how we communicate our findings and inspire others to learn. In order to enhance and deepen these connections, our majors will engage with the arts and literature.

One unit from any of the following departments/programs:

  • Art/Art History
  • English
  • Music
  • Studio Art
  • Theater Arts

NOTE: the above cognates replace the previous four cognate requirements listed below (for students matriculating prior to Fall 2019 who choose to continue under their entering catalog)

CHEM110 – Chemical Composition & Structure with lab
CHEM120 – Chemical Reactivity with Lab
CHEM210 – Organic Chemistry I with Lab
One of the following: CHEM220 – Organic Chemistry II with Lab or MATH261 – Biostatistics

Comprehensive Examinations

Senior biology majors are required to take a written comprehensive examination as part of BIOL 490.

A typical four-year plan for a biology major at Kalamazoo College 

FIRST YEAR
  • take BIOL112 “Evolution & Genetics” and BIOL123 “Form &Function” (take in either order; offered all terms)
  • if your have a pre-med focus, take CHEM110 /120 + MATH 112 or equivalent
  • explore other disciplines and begin fulfilling your cognates
  • consider lining up a research experience during academic year (BIOL200) or summer
  • consider job shadowing during December or summer break
SOPHOMORE YEAR
  • take BIOL224 “Ecology & Conservation” and BIOL246 “Cell and Molecular Biology” (either order; offered Fall & Spring terms)
  • if pre-med focus, take Organic Chemistry (CHEM 210 /220) and possibly Physics (can also wait to take in later years)
  • take a mid-level bio course elective? (see other ‘200-level’ course offerings)
  • consider lining up a research experience during academic year (BIOL200) or summer
  • consider job shadowing December or summer break
  • explore sophomore spring and junior-year study abroad options

JUNIOR YEAR
  • study abroad one or two terms? YES, it is possible to study abroad and complete all major and pre-med requirements on time!
  • take mid and/or upper-level biology courses for elective requirements
  • line up SIP opportunity (in biology or other discipline)
  • conduct summer SIP work
SENIOR YEAR
  • take BIOL490 Senior Seminar (partial credit all three terms)
  • take upper-level biology courses to complete elective requirements
  • complete senior thesis (fall term if biology thesis)
  • take comprehensive exam (winter term)
  • present senior thesis work at Diebold Symposium
  • plan post-K destination; prepare and submit applications
  • Graduation!

Incoming students take a chemistry placement exam and may be exempted from Chem 110 and begin in Chem 120

Students interested in pursuing graduate or professional programs in biology are encouraged to develop some background in mathematics, physics, and computer science. They should consult with members of the department as early as possible.

Graduate and Professional Programs in Biology

Students interested in pursuing graduate or professional programs in biology are encouraged to develop some background in mathematics, physics, and computer science. They should consult with professors of the department early in their time at the college to discuss appropriate course selections.

Health Sciences Program information

Students who plan careers in health-related fields should consult with Ms. Karika Parker, Director of Health Sciences, early in their academic planning to learn more about courses most appropriate for selected professional programs.

The core pre-professional curriculum includes biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. The remainder of the program consists of a selection from several course sequences designed to meet the admissions requirements of specific professional schools. Pre-professional sequences have been established for human, dental and veterinary medicine, podiatry, chiropractic, physical therapy, physician assistant, nursing, optometry, and pharmacy. Additional curricular sequences can be planned to meet additional pre-professional requirements.