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BS in Biological Sciences

Degree Program Description

Biology is a broad field centered on the study of living organisms and processes.  While the degree program requires general education courses in behavioral sciences, social sciences, and the humanities, students can specialize their curriculum through their course selections. The main difference between the BS degree and the BA degree is that the BS degree requires more credit hours in biology, chemistry, physics, and math than the BA degree. The curriculum for the BS degree currently has the option of completing a foreign language sequence or substituting one of two tracks for the foreign language requirement. Some of the knowledge that students acquire includes basic sciences necessary for upper-level biological science coursework (i.e., mathematics, statistics, physics, general and organic chemistry), how biologists use mathematical modeling and simulation to describe living systems, and arguments employed by scientists and others in key ethical controversies in biological science and research (for example, stem cell research).   This degree is designed to prepare students for graduate study, professional schools, or direct entry into the workplace. Undergraduates majoring in biological sciences go on to careers in a wide range of fields, including medicine and other health professions, biotechnology, industry, government service, conservation and ecology, and secondary and higher education.

Major Program Requirements

Department Level Requirements must be completed in addition to all university requirements, including general education, and the degree requirements below.

Requirements - Biological Sciences

Requirements for the BA and BS degrees with a major in Biological Sciences include course work in biology and ancillary science departments (chemistry, physics and math). The BS degree program requires more extensive course work, with additional studies in biology and the ancillary sciences. The BA degree program is more flexible and has fewer required courses to accommodate students with dual degrees or minors in other departments. Both degree programs can be used to prepare for graduate study or professional school. Students must also complete college and university graduation requirements, including university general education requirements.

All courses in the major (including ancillary sciences) must be completed with a grade of C- or higher with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading is not acceptable for courses in the major.) At least 12 hours of biology coursework must be taken in residence at MU.

Foreign Language Alternative for students pursuing a BS degree in biological sciences

Students who are pursuing a BS degree with a major in biological sciences may opt to satisfy the foreign language requirement through alternative coursework consisting of at least 12 credits in courses numbered 2000 or above.  These courses may not be used to satisfy other degree requirements.  Students should confer with the Biology Advising Office to ensure that alternative courses meet departmental requirements.  All alternative courses must be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Major Core Requirements Biology
BIO_SC 1500Introduction to Biological Systems with Laboratory5
or BIO_SC 1010
BIO_SC 1020
General Principles and Concepts of Biology
and General Biology Laboratory
(Grades of A or B required for BIO_SC 1010/BIO_SC 1020)
BIO_SC 2200General Genetics4
BIO_SC 2300Introduction to Cell Biology4
Evolutionary Biology (select from):3
Evolution and Ecology
Biological Diversity (select from):3-5
Medical Microbiology and Immunology
Plant Systematics
Invertebrate Zoology
Biology of Fungi
Introductory Entomology
General Microbiology
Capstone course (select one) (complete in last 45 hours):3-5
Undergraduate Research in Biology
and Undergraduate Research in Biology
Honors Research in Biology
and Honors Research in Biology
Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology
Cancer Biology
Human Inherited Diseases
Molecular Ecology
Vertebrate Histology and Microscopic Anatomy
Senior Seminar

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements
CHEM 1320College Chemistry I4
CHEM 1330College Chemistry II4
CHEM 2100Organic Chemistry I3
CHEM 2110Organic Chemistry II3
CHEM 2130Organic Laboratory I2
One Year of General Physics with Laboratory8-10
One semester of calculus and one semester of statistics, selected from the following:5-6
MATH 1400Calculus for Social and Life Sciences I3-5
or MATH 1500 Analytic Geometry and Calculus I
STAT 1200Introductory Statistical Reasoning3
or STAT 1300 Elementary Statistics
or STAT 1400 Elementary Statistics for Life Sciences
or STAT 2500 Introduction to Probability and Statistics I
Total Credits35-40

All courses in the major (including ancillary sciences) must be completed with a grade of C- or higher with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. No more than 5 credits of introductory coursework may be included in the major. At least 12 hours of biology coursework must be taken in residence at MU.

All biology majors must take additional biology courses to total at least 33 credits for the BS degree, of which at least 14 credits must be at the 3000 level or higher.

Elective credits must be in formal courses numbered above 2000 and must include at least one 3000- or 4000-level laboratory course, one 4000-level course, and one WI course at the 3000 or 4000 level in a natural science. BIO_SC 2001BIO_SC 2010BIO_SC 2015BIO_SC 2060, BIO_SC 2100BIO_SC 2150BIO_SC 2950, and BIO_SC 3010 may not be used to satisfy this requirement. MICROB 3200 may not be used to satisfy the laboratory course requirement.,

Independent readings, internships, and problems courses do not apply (i.e., BIO_SC 2940, BIO_SC 2960, BIO_SC 2965H, BIO_SC 4085, and BIO_SC 4960).

Students completing research courses BIO_SC 4950, BIO_SC 4950H, BIO_SC 4952, or BIO_SC 4952H for 6 credits may apply 3 credits toward fulfillment of capstone or biology elective hours for the BS degree.

Students may repeat research courses for a total of 12 hours. Any credits remaining after 3 hours are used as a capstone or an elective in biology will be applied toward total hours to graduate. A maximum of 12 credit hours from the following courses (BIO_SC 2940, BIO_SC 2960, BIO_SC 2965H, BIO_SC 4085, BIO_SC 4950, BIO_SC 4950H, BIO_SC 4952 and BIO_SC 4952H) can be counted toward graduation.

BIOCHM 4270 and BIOCHM 4272 may apply toward fulfillment of biology elective hours for the BA or BS degree.

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Semester Plan

NOTE: These plans are intended only as general guides. Courses outside Biology and Chemistry are provided only for illustrative purposes. Advanced credit or exemption from the Foreign Language requirement and/or advanced credit in non-science courses, along with the interests of each individual student will determine a final combination of courses in each semester that is unique for each student. Note also that the sample schedules in Semester 5 and beyond are left incomplete on purpose because each schedule should be highly individualized at that point.

Plan 1

A student that is exempt from MATH 1100

First Year
CHEM 13204CHEM 13304
ENGLSH 10003BIO_SC 15005
Behavioral Sciences Course3Humanities Course (2000 level)**3
Social Sciences Course (MO State Law)3Social Science Course**3
 14-15 15
Second Year
CHEM 21003CHEM 21103
BIO_SC 22004CHEM 21302
STAT 12003BIO_SC 23004
Second language I or Alternative Track3-4MATH 1400*See Grad Plan for Mathematical Sciences Option3
Elective1-2Second language II or Alternative Track3-4
 14-16 15-16
Third Year
Biology Elective Lab (3000 level)5PHYSCS 12204
PHYSCS 12104Biology Elective3
Second language III or Alternative Track3-4Behavioral Science3
Elective3Humanities (2000 Level)3
 15-16 13
Fourth Year
Biology Capstone3Biology Elective- Writing Intensive3
Biology Diversity4Evolutionary Biology 3
Social Science (2000 level)3Humanities3
Writing Intensive Elective3Elective3
 16 15
Total Credits: 117-122

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Plan 2

A student that needs MATH 1100

First Year
BIO_SC 15005CHEM 13204
MATH 11003ENGLSH 10003
Behavioral Sciences Course3Humanities Course (2000 level)**3
Social Sciences Course (MO State Law)3Social Sciences Course**3
 15 14-15
Second Year
CHEM 13304CHEM 21003
BIO_SC 22004BIO_SC 23004
STAT 12003MATH 14003
Foreign Language or Alternative Track3-4Foreign Language or Alternative Track3-4
 14-15 16-17
Third Year
Biology Elective Lab (3000 level)5PHYSCS 12104
CHEM 21103Biology Elective3
CHEM 21302Behavioral Science3
Foreign Language or Alternative Track3-4Humanities (2000 level)3
Elective 3 
 16-17 13
Fourth Year
Biology Capstone3Biology Elective- Writing Intensive3
PHYSCS 12204Evolutionary Biology3
Social Science (2000 level)3Biology Diversity4
Writing Intensive Elective3Humanities3
 16 16
Total Credits: 120-124

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Degree Audit


The degree audit is an automated report reflecting a student’s academic progress toward the completion of a degree. 

MU students can request a degree audit by logging in to myDegreePlanner.  Students may also access myDegreePlanner via myZou, in the Student Center, click on the Academic Progress Tile, then select Request Degree Audit. The audit automatically pulls in the student’s MU course work, transfer courses and courses in progress.  This is available to current students, admitted students, and those who last attended less than three terms ago.

Past MU students can request a degree audit by contacting the Academic Advising Unit of the division in which they were last enrolled at MU. For contact information, go to https://advising.missouri.edu/contact/.

Prospective students, can access a preliminary MU degree audit via https://www.transferology.com. Information on the college credits already earned will have to be manually entered before it can be evaluated against current degree requirements.

For additional details on degree audits, go to https://registrar.missouri.edu/degrees-audits/degree-audits/.

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Major and Career Exploration

The University of Missouri has many resources to assist you in exploring majors and career possibilities.  For guidance, visit the Majors and Careers website or view specific resources below.

  • If you are considering a change of major or are exploring multiple majors, schedule an appointment with an advisor in the Discovery Center by calling (573)884-9700 or through MU Connect Discovery Center service in you success network.

  • If you have decided on a major, visit an academic advisor in the School or College that you are interested in to discuss the process of declaring the major

  • If you would like to learn more about your career interests, abilities, values and talents, visit the MU Career Center.  No Appointment is necessary to explore career options with one of our staff members.

For additional major and career exploration resources, visit Major & Career Exploration in the catalog.

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