Requirements for the Major in Biology (BIO)

Completion of the major requires appro­ximately 70 credits, including foundational courses in chemistry, mathematics and physics. At least one semester of the two-semester sequences of required courses in calculus, general chemistry lecture, organic chemistry lecture, and physics lecture/lab must be passed with a letter grade of C or higher. Completion of the BIO major requires a minimum of 33 credits of core and advanced courses in biology. A list of advanced courses in biology from other Departments that are accepted for BIO major credit is provided below. All core and advanced courses in biology must be taken for a letter grade and passed with a grade of C or higher with the exception of 400 level Reading, Research and Teaching Practica courses that are graded on an S/U basis. Biology majors must meet the major requirements as published in the official undergraduate Bulletin for the semester in which the student declares the major or minor. Requests for a waiver of major or minor requirements may be granted at the discretion of faculty.

A. Foundational Courses in Related Fields

  1. CHE 129/CHE 130, CHE 132 General Chemistry IA, II or CHE 131, CHE 132 General Chemistry IB, II or CHE 152 Molecular Science I
  2. CHE 133, CHE 134 General Chemistry Laboratory I, II, or CHE 154 Molecular Science Lab I
  3. CHE 321, CHE 322 Organic Chemistry I, IIA or CHE 321, CHE 326 Organic Chemistry I, IIB or CHE 331, 332 Molecular Science II and III 
  4. CHE 327 Organic Chemistry Laboratory or CHE 383 Introductory Synthetic and Spectroscopic Laboratory Techniques
  5. MAT 125, MAT 126 Calculus A, B or MAT 131, MAT 132 Calculus I, II or MAT 141, MAT 142 Honors Calculus I, II or MAT 171 Accelerated Single Variable Calculus or level 8 or 9 on the Mathematics Placement Examination. If students do not place into MAT 125 or 131 on the basis of the math placement examination, MAT 123 is a required course for the major.
  6. PHY 121/PHY 123, PHY 122/PHY 124 Physics for Life Sciences I, II and labs or PHY 125, PHY 126, PHY 127, PHY 133, PHY 134 Classical Physics A, B, C and labs or PHY 131/PHY 133, PHY 132/PHY 134 Classical Physics I, II and labs or PHY 141, PHY 142 Classical Physics I, II: Honors
  7. BIO 211 Statistics and Data Analysis or AMS 110 Probability and Statistics in Life Sciences or AMS 310 Survey of Probability and Statistics

B. Core Courses in Biology

  1. BIO 201 Fundamental of Biology; Organisms to Ecosystems
  2. BIO 202 Fundamentals of Biology: Molecular and Cellular Biology
  3. BIO 203 Fundamentals of Biology: Cellular and Organ Physiology
  4. BIO 204 and BIO 205 Fundamentals of Scientific Inquiry in the Biological Sciences I and IIA or BIO 204 and BIO 207 Fundamentals of Scientific Inquiry in the Biological Sciences IIB

C. Advanced Courses in Biology

The Biology Program offers a large number of advanced courses on a diverse range of topics including both lecture and laboratory courses, as well as a number of 4 credit courses that combine a 3 credit lecture with a 3 hour lab. The advanced BIO courses are listed below in groupings that correspond to four broad areas of biology. Programs of study in the BIO major are organized into 7 Specializations that promote in-depth explorations of different areas while also insuring a breadth of exposure to other areas in the biological sciences. The standard program of study includes 5 advanced BIO lecture courses and 2 advanced BIO laboratory courses. The specific program of advanced courses is dependent on the area of Specialization, and may also include the option to use advanced elective courses from other Departments to count towards the BIO major. The 7 Specializations are: Developmental Genetics; Ecology and Evolution; Environmental Biology; Neuroscience; Interdisciplinary Biology; Quantitative Biology and Bioinformatics, and Bioengineering. The requirements for each Specialization are provided after the list of Advanced BIO courses. A complete list of courses from other Departments that are accepted as advanced electives for the BIO Major is provided after the requirements for the different Specializations.

Advanced BIO Courses:

Area I: Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology:

  • BIO 302 Human Genetics (Lecture)
  • BIO 310 Cell Biology (Lecture)
  • BIO 311 Techniques in Molecular and Cellular Biology (Laboratory)
  • BIO 312 Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (Laboratory)
  • BIO 314 Cancer Biology (Lecture)
  • BIO 315 Microbiology (Lecture)
  • BIO 316 Molecular Immunology (Lecture)
  • BIO 320 General Genetics (Lecture)
  • BIO 361 Biochemistry I (Lecture)
  • BIO 362 Biochemistry II (Lecture)
  • BIO 364 Laboratory Techniques in Cancer Biology (Laboratory)
  • BIO 365 Biochemistry Laboratory (Laboratory)
  • BIO 366 Molecular Microbiology (Laboratory)

Area II: Neurobiology and Physiology

  • BIO 317 Principles of Cellular Signaling (Lecture)
  • BIO 328 Mammalian Physiology (Lecture)
  • BIO 332 Computational Modeling of Physiological Systems (Lecture)
  • BIO 334 Principles of Neurobiology (Lecture)
  • BIO 335 Neurobiology Laboratory (Laboratory)
  • BIO 337 Neurotransmission and Neuromodulation: Implications for Brain Function (Lecture)
  • BIO 338 From Synapse to Circuit: Selforganization of the Brain (Lecture)
  • BIO 339 Molecular Development of the Nervous System (Lecture)

Area III: Organisms

  • BIO 325 Animal Development (Lecture)
  • BIO 327 Developmental Genetics Laboratory (Laboratory)
  • BIO 340 Zoology (Lecture with Laboratory)
  • BIO 341 Plant Diversity (Lecture with Laboratory)
  • BIO 343 Invertebrate Zoology (Lecture with Laboratory)
  • BIO 344 Chordate Zoology (Lecture with Laboratory)
  • BIO 348 Diversity and Evolution of Reptiles and Amphibians (Lecture)
  • BIO 380 Entomology (Lecture with Laboratory)

Area IV: Ecology and Evolution

  • BIO 301 Sustainability of the Long Island Pine Barrens (Lecture)
  • BIO 319 Landscape Ecology Laboratory (Laboratory)
  • BIO 321 Introduction to Ecological Genetics and Genomics (Lecture)
  • BIO 336 Conservation Biology (Lecture)
  • BIO 350 Darwinian Medicine (Lecture)
  • BIO 351 Ecology (Lecture)
  • BIO 352 Ecology Laboratory (Laboratory)
  • BIO 353 Marine Ecology (Lecture)
  • BIO 354 Evolution (Lecture)
  • BIO 356 Applied Ecology and Conservation Biology Laboratory (Laboratory)
  • BIO 358 Biology and Human Social and Sexual Behavior (Lecture)
  • BIO 359 Behavioral Ecology (Lecture)
  • BIO 367 Molecular Diversity Laboratory (Laboratory)
  • BIO 371 Restoration of Aquatic Systems (Lecture with Laboratory)
  • BIO 385 Plant Ecology (Lecture)
  • BIO 386 Ecosystem Ecology and the Global Environment (Lecture)

Advanced Course Requirements for the Specialization in Developmental Genetics

1. BIO 325 Animal Development 

2. BIO 320 General Genetics, or BIO 321 Introduction to Ecological Genetics and Genomics 

3. BIO 327 Developmental Genetics Laboratory 

4. At least one of the following four courses:

5. Two additional advanced BIO lecture courses from either Area I (Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology), or Area II (Neurobiology and Physiology), or Area IV (Ecology and Evolution) or from the list of advanced courses offered by other Departments and accepted for BIO Major credit in these areas.

6. One additional advanced BIO laboratory course from any of the four areas of BIO courses or from the list of advanced courses offered by other Departments and accepted for BIO major credit in these four areas. Note, the elective advanced laboratory course can be replaced by two semesters of independent research for a total of at least 4 credits in a BIO research course.

7. Additional advanced BIO lecture, laboratory, reading, or independent research courses, as needed, for a minimum of 33 credits of core and advanced biology coursework.

Advanced Course Requirements for the Specialization in Ecology and Evolution

1. BIO 351 Ecology 

2. BIO 354 Evolution 

3. One additional advanced BIO lecture course and one advanced BIO laboratory course from either Area III (Organisms), or Area IV (Ecology and Evolution) or from the list of advanced courses offered by other Departments that are accepted for BIO major credit in these two areas. 

Note: 4 credit courses identified as a Lecture with Laboratory may be used to satisfy both requirements. 

4. Two additional advanced BIO lecture courses including at least one from either Area I (Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology), or Area II (Neurobiology and Physiology) or from the list of advanced courses offered by other Departments and accepted for BIO major credit in these two areas. 

5. One advanced BIO laboratory course from either Area I (Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology), or Area II (Neurobiology and Physiology) or from the list of advanced laboratory courses offered by other Departments and accepted for BIO major credit in these two areas. Note, the elective advanced laboratory course can be replaced by two semesters of independent research for a total of at least 4 credits in a BIO research course. 

6. Additional advanced BIO lecture, laboratory, reading, or independent research courses, as needed, for a minimum of 33 credits of core and advanced biology coursework.

Advanced Course Requirements for the Specialization  in Environmental Biology

1. BIO 351 Ecology 

2. One advanced BIO laboratory course from either Area III (Organisms) or Area IV (Ecology and Evolution) or from the list of advanced laboratory courses offered by other Departments and accepted for BIO major credit in these two areas. 

3. Two additional advanced BIO courses from Area IV (Ecology and Evolution) that may include at most one of the advanced courses in Environmental Biology offered by other Departments and accepted for BIO major credit. 

4. Two additional advanced BIO lecture courses from either Area I (Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology), or Area II (Neurobiology and Physiology) or from the list of advanced courses offered by other Departments and accepted for BIO major credit in these two areas. 

5. One advanced BIO laboratory course from either Area I (Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology), or Area II (Neurobiology and Physiology) or from the list of advanced courses offered by other Departments and accepted for BIO major credit in these two areas. Note, the elective advanced laboratory course can be replaced by two semesters of independent research for a total of at least 4 credits in a BIO research course. 

6. Additional advanced BIO lecture, laboratory, reading, or independent research courses, as needed, for a minimum of 33 credits of core and advanced biology coursework.

Advanced Course Requirements for the Specialization in Neuroscience

1. BIO 334 Principles of Neurobiology

2. BIO 335 Neurobiology Laboratory 

3. Two courses from the following list:

4. Two advanced BIO lecture courses from either Area I (Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology), or Area III (Organisms), or Area IV (Ecology and Evolution) or from the list of advanced courses offered by other Departments and accepted for BIO major credit in these three areas. 

5. One advanced BIO laboratory course from either Area I (Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology), or Area III (Organisms), or Area IV (Ecology and Evolution) or from the list of advanced courses offered by other Departments and accepted for BIO major credit in these three areas. Note, the elective advanced laboratory course can be replaced by two semesters of independent research for a total of at least 4 credits in a BIO research course. 

6. Additional advanced BIO lecture, laboratory, reading, or independent research courses, as needed, for a minimum of 33 credits of core and advanced biology coursework.

Advanced Course Requirements for the Specialization  in Interdisciplinary Biology

1. At least one advanced BIO lecture Course in Area I (Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology), and Area II (Neurobiology and Physiology), and Area III (Organisms), and Area IV (Ecology and Evolution) or from the list of advanced courses offered by other Departments and accepted for BIO major credit in these four areas. 

2. Two advanced BIO laboratory courses chosen from two of the four different areas of advanced courses or advanced courses from other Departments and accepted for BIO major credit in these four areas. Note, one advanced laboratory course can be replaced by two semesters of independent research for a total of at least 4 credits in a BIO research course. 

3. A second advanced BIO lecture course in one of the four areas of advanced biology courses or from the list of advanced courses offered by other Departments and accepted for BIO major credit. 

4. Additional advanced BIO lecture, laboratory, reading, or independent research courses, as needed, for a minimum of 33 credits of core and advanced biology coursework.

Advanced Course Requirements for the Specialization in Quantitative Biology and Bioinformatics

Unlike other specializations, the Quantitative Biology and Bioinformatics Specialization requires completion of foundational courses in mathematics that cover differential equations.

1. MAT 127 Calculus C, or MAT 132 Calculus II, or MAT 142 Honors Calculus II, or AMS 161 Applied Calculus II 

2. AMS 333 Mathematical Biology 

3. BIO 332 Computational Modeling of Physiological Systems 

4. BIO 312 Bioinformatics and Computational Biology 

5. At least one of the following four courses:

  • BIO 317 Principles of Cellular Signaling
  • BIO 320 General Genetics
  • BIO 321 Introduction to Ecological Genetics and Genomics
  • CHE 346 Biomolecular Structure and Reactivity

6. Two additional advanced BIO lecture courses from the four areas of BIO courses, including at least one course from either Area III (Organisms), or Area IV (Ecology and Evolution) or from the list of advanced courses offered by other Departments and accepted for BIO Major credit in these four areas. 

7. One additional advanced BIO laboratory course from any of the four areas of BIO courses or from the list of advanced courses offered by other Departments and accepted for BIO Major credit in these four areas. 

8. Additional advanced BIO lecture, laboratory, reading, or independent research courses, as needed, for a minimum of 33 credits of core and advanced biology coursework

Advanced Course Requirements for the Specialization in  Bioengineering

Unlike other specializations, the Bioengineering Specialization requires completion of foundational courses in mathematics that cover differential equations and foundational courses in physics that cover electromagnetism, but does not require a foundational course in statistics (e.g. AMS 110). Students who complete this specialization will qualify to receive a Bioengineering minor (BNG). Students in this specialization must choose from one of three Sub-Specializations as described below.

Common requirements for the Biomedical Engineering Specialization:
1. MAT 127 Calculus C, or MAT 132 Calculus II, or MAT 142 Honors Calculus II 

2. PHY 125, PHY 126, PHY 127, PHY 133, PHY 134 Classical Physics A, B, C and labs or PHY 131/PHY 133, PHY 132/PHY 134 Classical Physics I, II and labs or PHY 141, PHY 142 Classical Physics I, II: Honors 

3. BME 100 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering 

4. One of the following two courses:

5. Two advanced courses chosen from any of the four areas of BIO courses including at least one course with a lecture component and at least one course with a laboratory component. Advanced courses from other Departments and accepted for BIO major credit in the four areas may be used.

Additional requirement for the Sub-Specialization in Biomechanics and Biomaterials

6. MEC 260 Engineering Statics 

7. BME 303 Biomechanics 

8. AMS 261 Applied Calculus III (or equivalent) 

9. One of the following two courses:

  • BME 353 Biomaterials
  • BME 381 Nanofabrication in Biomedical Applications

Additional requirement for the Sub-Specialization in Bioelectricity

6. ESE 271 Electrical Circuit Analysis I 

7. BME 301 Bioelectricity 

8. AMS 210 Applied Linear Algebra (or equivalent) 

9. One of the following three courses:

Additional requirement for the Sub-Specialization in Molecules and Cells

6. BME 304 Genetic Engineering 

7. BME 381 Nanofabrication in Biomedical Applications 

8. Two of the following three courses:

  • BME 371 Biological Microfluidics
  • BME 402 Contemporary Biotechnology
  • BME 404 Essentials of Tissue Engineering

Advanced Courses from other Departments accepted for BIO major credit

The following is a list of courses offered by other Departments that can be used to satisfy advanced course requirements in the BIO Major. These are arranged into the same broad areas of biology as the BIO courses listed above but also including courses in the area of Environmental Biology that can be used for the Specialization in Environmental Biology.

Area I Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology

  • AMS 333 Mathematical Biology (Lecture)
  • BIO 511 Topics in Biotechnology (Laboratory)
  • BIO 515 Current Topics in Microbiology (Laboratory)
  • BME 304 Genetic Engineering (Lecture)
  • BME 404 Essentials of Tissue Engineering (Lecture)
  • CHE 346 Biomolecular Structure and Reactivity (Lecture)
  • HBM 320 General Microbiology (Lecture, not for credit in addition to BIO 315)

Area II Neurobiology and Physiology

  • BCP 401 Principles of Pharmacology (Lecture)
  • BME 301 Bioelectricity (Lecture)
  • BME 303 Biomechanics (Lecture)

Area III Organisms

  • MAR 370 Marine Mammals (Lecture)
  • MAR 371 The Biology and Conservation of Marine Birds and Sea Turtles (Lecture)
  • MAR 375 Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rehabilitation (Lecture)
  • MAR 380 Ichthyology (Lecture with Laboratory)

Area IV Ecology and Evolution

  • ENS 311 Ecosystem Ecology and the Global Environment (Lecture, not for credit in addition to BIO 386)
  • MAR 301 Environmental Microbiology (Lecture with Laboratory)
  • MAR 302 Marine Microbiology and Microbial Ecology (Lecture, not for credit in addition to MAR 301)
  • MAR 303 Long Island Marine Habitats (Lecture with Laboratory)
  • MAR 305 Experimental Marine Biology (Laboratory)
  • MAR 315 Marine Conservation (Lecture)
  • MAR 320 Limnology (Lecture with Laboratory)
  • MAR 366 Plankton Ecology (Lecture)
  • MAR 373 Marine Apex Predators: Ecology and Conservation (Lecture)
  • MAR 384 Diseases of Aquatic Organisms (Lecture)
  • MAR 386 Ecosystem Science for Fisheries Management
  • MAR 388 Tropical Marine Ecology (Lecture with Laboratory)
  • ANP 305 Vertebrate Paleontology of the Turkana Basin (Laboratory, Turkana Basin Institute)
  • ANP 306 Paleoanthropological Discoveries of the Turkana Basin (Lecture with Laboratory, Turkana Basin Institute)
  • ANP 325 Primate Behavior (Lecture, only for major credit if taken in Madagascar)
  • ANP 350 Methods of Studying Primates (Lecture, only for major credit if taken in Madagascar)
  • ANP 391 Topics in Physical Anthropology (Lecture, only for major credit if taken Madagascar)
  • ANT 304 Modern and Ancient Environments of Eastern Africa (Lecture with Laboratory, Turkana Basin Institute)

Environmental Biology (May only be used for the Environmental Biology Specialization)

  • ATM 305 Global Atmospheric Change (Lecture)
  • ATM 397 Air Pollution and its Control (Lecture)
  • MAR 318 Engineering Geology and Coastal Processes (Lecture)
  • MAR 333 Coastal Oceanography (Lecture)

D. Upper-Division Writing Requirement

The advanced writing component of the major in Biology requires approval of either a term paper or a laboratory report written for an advanced course in biological sciences at Stony Brook (including Readings and Research courses).

Students who wish to use material from a participating course should obtain the necessary form and present it to the course director prior to submission of the material. The course director will sign the form and the graded material. The completed form as well as the graded material must be submitted to the Undergraduate Biology Office. The Writing Center will evaluate the submission and contact the student directly if remedial efforts are needed. Students are urged to submit appropriate materials in their junior year, or by the end of their next-to-last term, in order to allow for evaluation and possible revision. Later submissions are considered, but may delay graduation. If material is rejected, the student will be instructed by the Writing Center before resubmitting the paper or material from another biology course.

Students should consult with the department advisor to ensure that their plan for completing the Upper Division Writing Requirement is consistent with  university graduation requirements for General Education.  Students completing the Stony Brook Curriculum (SBC) must complete a course that satisfies the "Write Effectively within One's Discipline" (WRTD) learning objective to graduate.  The Upper Division Writing Requirement is consistent in most cases with the SBC learning outcomes for WRTD.

Honors Programs in Biology and in Biology and Society

Graduation with Honors in Biology or in Biology and Society requires the following:

1. A cumulative grade point average of 3.50 or higher in all courses required for the major.

2. Presentation of an acceptable thesis based on a project involving independent research for credit in an approved Research or Internship Course for at least two semesters written in the form of a paper for a scientific journal. A student interested in becoming a candidate for honors should submit a completed Honors Application to the Undergraduate Biology office as early as possible but no later than the second week of classes in the last semester. (form available at: http://www.stonybrook.edu/biology/current/forms.html). On the application the student identifies the research project and provides an endorsement from their faculty research sponsor along with recommended names of at least two additional faculty members who have agreed to evaluate the written thesis, including at least one faculty member from a department different from that of the research sponsor. Applications approved by the Biology Program are returned to the student for inclusion with the completed thesis research project. The student must present a copy of the finished thesis along with a completed application form indicating written approval by their research sponsor and the two readers at least one week prior to the date of graduation.

Approved Research and Internship Courses:

  • BIO 484 Research in Biology and Society
  • BIO 486 Research in Neurobiology and Physiology
  • BIO 487 Research in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
  • BIO 488 Internship in Biological Sciences
  • BIO 489 Research in Ecology and Evolution
  • MAR 487 Research in Marine Sciences (Environmental Biology Specialization only)
  • MAR 488 Internship in Marine Sciences (Environmental Biology Specialization only)
  • ATM 487 Research in Atmospheric Sciences (Environmental Biology Specialization only)
  • BME 499 Research in Bioengineering (Biomedical Engineering Specialization only)

Requirements for the Minor in Biology (BIO)

Only students with majors other than Biology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Marine Sciences or Marine Vertebrate Biology may elect the Biology minor. Completion of the minor requires at least 20 credits in BIO courses de­signed for the Biology major. All courses for the minor must be taken for a letter grade and must be passed with a grade of C or higher, including at least 9 credits at the 300 level. All advanced courses for the minor must be in BIO major courses taken at Stony Brook. The specific course requirements for the BIO minor are:

1. At least two of the following courses:

  • BIO 201 Fundamentals of Biology: Organisms to Ecosystems
  • BIO 202 Fundamentals of Biology: Cell and Molecular Biology
  • BIO 203 Fundamentals of Biology: Cellular and Organ Physiology

2. Both BIO 204 and BIO 205 Fundamentals of Scientific Inquiry in the Biological Sciences I and IIA or BIO 204 and BIO 207 Fundamentals of Scientific Inquiry in the Biological Sciences I and IIB

3. Advanced lecture, laboratory or lecture/laboratory courses in at least two of the four areas of inquiry (I-IV) listed under the biology major. The list of advanced courses from other Departments that are accepted as substitute electives for the BIO major does not apply to the minor.

4. At least nine credits of 300 level BIO courses. Note, a grade of Satisfactory in at most two credits of biology independent research (BIO 484, BIO 486, BIO 487, BIO 489) and at most one credit of tutorial readings (BIO 444, BIO 446, BIO 447, BIO 449) may be applied toward the minor.

Biology Secondary Teacher Education Program

See the Education and Teacher Certifi­cation entry in the alphabetical listings of Approved Majors, Minors, and Programs.

Application of Transfer Credits to Biology Requirements

Biology courses taken elsewhere apply to major requirements only if authorized by the biology transfer evaluator or if listed as equivalent to a Stony Brook course in official Stony Brook Transfer Guides. Transfer students must take at least 15 of the 33 credits of required core and advanced biology at Stony Brook in courses for majors at the 200 level or higher. At least 12 of the 15 credits must be in BIO-designator courses. Both of the two advanced laboratory experiences must be taken at Stony Brook. Transfer students may satisfy the requirements for courses in related fields with transferred courses, if the courses are approved as being equivalent (even if the number of credits is different).