Major in Biology

Students take a variety of required and elective courses in biology, other sciences, and in the Core Curriculum. Please refer to the links above for more detailed descriptions. See especially course Requirements (lists biology courses), research requirements (lists chemistry, mathematics, and physics courses), and the curriculum requirements.

Total Biology Credit Requirement

At least 36 credits in Biology courses numbered 2000 or higher. In addition to the requirements included in the list above, most students also will have to take 3-4 additional credits in biology. Options for earning these credits-besides taking more than the minimum number of upper-level lab courses-include lecture-only courses (3000-level or above), directed research (independent study) courses, senior thesis research, internships, summer field courses, or international study.

The Core Curriculum

See Villanova University Catalog or The Core Curriculum for details


  • Core Humanities Seminar: 2 courses
  • College Ethics: 1 course
  • Fine Arts: 1 course
  • Foreign Language: 2 courses at the intermediate level or beyond
  • History: 2 courses, 1 introductory and 1 advanced
  • Literature: 2 courses, 1 introductory and 1 advanced
  • Mathematics: 1 course
  • Mathematics/Computer Science: 1 course
  • Philosophy: 2 courses, 1 introductory and 1 advanced
  • Theology & Religious Studies: 2 courses, 1 introductory and 1 advanced
  • Social Sciences: 3 courses, 2 introductory and 1 advanced
  • Natural Sciences: 2 courses with labs

Core course requirements in the Natural Sciences and in Mathematics are satisfied by the two semesters of General Biology and two semesters of Calculus required for the biology major. Biology majors must fulfill the special Writing Requirements for Biology majors detailed above. All other Core Curriculum requirements must be fulfilled as stated in the Enchiridion. These include certain distribution requirements (introductory/advanced course pairings; U.S. Culture/Women’s Studies/International Culture diversity courses; Research requirement). In many instances, courses taken to fulfill these additional requirements may also fulfill other core, major, or elective requirements. Consult the Enchiridion or your advisor for more explanation or questions about specific requirements.

Minors & Concentrations

Of the many programs within the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, several are likely to be of special interest to Biology majors. The links below provide additional information about some of these programs. Contact your academic advisor about the advisability and mechanics of completing any of these (or other) minors and concentrations as a supplement to the Biology major.

Integrity in Biology

Biology majors should be particularly aware that in science, even more is at stake than the philosophy behind the Code outlined above–because honesty is essential in scientific practice. In many scientific activities, only the individual investigator knows exactly what was done, what was observed, or which ideas were truly original. Unless each scientist abides by a strict code of ethical conduct, the scientific process will unravel in a destructive spiral of diminished effectiveness and relevance. If scientists can’t trust each other to report methods, results, and ideas honestly, how can the general public have any confidence in our findings and conclusions?

For all the reasons reviewed above, members of the Department of Biology place great importance on academic and scientific integrity. Consequently, we expect each student to adhere strictly to the Code in every facet of all biology courses and all related activities. Students who have violated the Code in biology courses in the recent past have, unfortunately, been disciplined severely–even in situations where the penalties resulted in delay of graduation.

Miscellaneous Requirements

Writing Requirement for Biology Majors (only!)

To fulfill the College of Arts & Sciences Core Curriculum writing requirements, all Biology Majors must complete:

At least two (2) Biology courses numbered 3000 or higher that have been designated as Writing Enriched and

Senior Seminar (BIO 5100)

Other Science Requirements

Two semesters of inorganic chemistry (CHM 1151/CHM 1152) with laboratory (CHM 1103/CHM 1104)

Two semesters of organic chemistry (CHM 2211/CHM 2212) with laboratory (CHM 2201/CHM 2202).

Two semesters of calculus (MAT 1310/MAT 1315).
Though currently not required for the Biology major, statistics is also highly recommended, and is a prerequisite for some graduate and professional programs (e.g., Physical Therapy). Confer with your advisor for additional information and course recommendations.

Two semesters of physics (PHY 1100 /PHY 1102) with laboratory ( PHY 1101/PHY 1103).