May 19, 2024  
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biology, B.A.

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Dr. Joanna B. Mott, Department Head
Phone: (540) 568-6225

Dr. Kyle Seifert, Undergraduate Coordinator
Location: Bioscience Building, Room 2001C

M. Gabriele, N. Garrison, H. Griscom, C. Lantz, C. McMullen, J. Monroe, J. Mott, M. Renfroe, C. Rose, K. Seifert, B. Wiggins, R. Wunderlich, G. Wyngaard

Associate Professors
S. Babcock, M. Bechtel, T. Bloss, J. Brown, C. Cleland, D. Cocking, S. Cresawn, J. Daniel, K. Gobetz, S. Halsell, J. Herrick,
C. May, T. Rife, K. Slekar

Assistant Professors
I. Cooper, K. Cresawn, R. Enke, J. Harsh, K. Kubow, P. Ludwig, D. McLeod, M. Parker, M. Steffen, D. Strong, P. Vasudevan, B. Velayudhan, G. Vidal, M. Walker, L. Wurch

Visiting Assistant Professor
K. Roth

B. Cage, E. Doyle, O. Hyman, T. Hynd, P. Kilkenny, A. Pesce

Mission Statement

The Department of Biology holds as its primary core value a commitment to providing superlative teaching for students. To accomplish this mission, we will create an environment for learning that will include opportunities for undergraduate research, a broadly based academic program, a supportive, diverse and collaborative faculty, an understanding of the process of science and a recognition of the importance of community outreach and involvement.

Career Opportunities and Advanced Fields of Study

  • Anthropology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Biodiversity
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biotechnology
  • Botany
  • Clinical Laboratory Sciences
  • Dentistry
  • Ecology and Environmental Science
  • Epidemiology
  • Forensic Science
  • Forestry
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Graduate School in the Biological Sciences
  • Immunology
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Medicine
  • Microbiology
  • Microscopy
  • Neurobiology
  • Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacology
  • Physical Therapy
  • Physician Assistant
  • Physiology
  • Research Assistant
  • Scientific Writing
  • Secondary Education
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Virology
  • Zoology

Students interested in pursuing any of these career opportunities should contact the biology office. An appropriate adviser will be assigned for mentoring and course selection.

Co-curricular Activities and Organizations

Biology majors participate in activities such as:

  • Weekly departmental seminars
  • Tri-Beta, a national biology society
  • Pre-professional health clubs and honor society
  • EARTH, an environmental action club
  • Summer and academic-year research opportunities
  • Summer courses at biological field stations
  • Internships with various organizations
  • Aiding in teaching as student assistants
  • Presenting papers at meetings
  • Volunteering at Rockingham Memorial Hospital and with the rescue squad

Special Requirements

To be used as prerequisites for biology courses, grades of “C-” or higher should be earned in the following: BIO 140 BIO 150 BIO 240 BIO 250 CHEM 131 CHEM 131L , and CHEM 132 . It is the student’s responsibility to provide evidence to demonstrate that the subject content of the sequence taken is the same as BIO 140  and BIO 150  combined. In order for BIO 270  and BIO 290  credit to be transferred, both semesters of an Anatomy and Physiology course (A&P I and A&P II) must be completed at the “C” or higher level. A single semester of either of these sequences transfers as BIO 000. Practical hands-on experience in the field and/or laboratory is important content of laboratory based courses.

Transfer credit for courses including laboratories will only be awarded for those having skill and application content comparable to that of JMU courses. Upper division biology credits applicable toward the major or minor are transferred as specific courses or as BIO 300 or BIO 426 . Credits not applicable toward the major or minor, but applicable toward the 120 hour degree requirement, are transferred as BIO 000. A maximum of eight credit hours of first year (100) level BIO courses may be applied to the biology major or minor requirements.

Students who declared a major in biology before fall 2016 should consult with their adviser about course requirements.

Degree and Major Requirements

The department offers a four-year B.S. degree program for a major in biology and for a major in biology qualifying for the Secondary Collegiate Professional License. Requirements for the B.A. degree can be met by adding the completion of an intermediate level foreign language and three credit hours in philosophy. Students may not receive dual credit toward the biology major for 300- and 400-level BIO courses that are applied toward the biotechnology major.

Biology majors must complete 40 credit hours of biology courses including 16 credit hours at the 300 and 400 level. Specific requirements include four core courses (BIO 140 BIO 150 BIO 240  and BIO 250 ), at least two upper-division laboratory courses and one course from a list of courses with an emphasis on organismal diversity. In addition, biology majors must complete a set of cognate courses in chemistry, mathematics, statistics and physics that are listed below. Students are encouraged to participate in independent research with a faculty mentor. Credits earned doing research will count toward the biology major but some restrictions apply.

When requested, senior biology majors are expected to participate in program assessment test activities as a graduation requirement. Assessment information helps the department modify the curriculum to meet student needs.

Degree Requirements

Required Courses

  • General Education   41 Credit Hours 1
  • Quantitative requirement (in addition to General Education) 3 Credit Hours 2
  • Scientific Literacy requirement (in addition to General Education) 3-4 Credit Hours 2
  • Biology requirements (listed below) 40 Credit Hours
  • Cognate requirements (listed below) 31-36 Credit Hours

Total: 120 Credit Hours


1 The General Education  program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary.

2 The quantitative and scientific literacy requirements are met by courses required in the major. 

Total: 16 Credit Hours

Additional Biology Course Requirements

Students in the biology major must complete at least 24 credit hours of approved biology courses and at least 16 of these must be at the 300 and 400 levels. Also, one course must be from a group of courses on organismal diversity and two courses must have a laboratory component. Courses in both lists may count for both requirements. Three credits of independent research (BIO 497  and/or BIO 499) may be used for one, but only one, of the laboratory courses.

Choose at least two laboratory courses:

Additional Information

Only one Topics in Biology (BIO 426 /427 ) may fulfill one of the laboratory course and/or organismal requirements. A list of the topics that may be used is available in the biology department office. These can be repeated with a change in topic, but only 12 credits from BIO 426 /427  can be applied toward the 40-hour biology course requirement.

When choosing additional biology courses to complete the 40 credit hour requirement, students are strongly encouraged to discuss their career interests with an adviser who can help select courses best suited to their needs. Students are encouraged to participate in independent research and teaching courses with a faculty mentor, though a maximum of eight credits of BIO 492 BIO 494 BIO 495 ,BIO 496 BIO 497 , BIO 499 and ISCI 450  can be counted toward the biology major.

Cognate Requirements

The following five groups of support courses are required for the biology major. Consult your academic adviser about which courses are appropriate.

Required Courses

Choose one of the following: 3 Credit Hours

Chemistry beyond the minimum requirement is recommended in many areas of biology. Consult with your adviser about which courses are appropriate. Students who take BIO 361  /CHEM 361  in addition to CHEM 242 , CHEM 353 , CHEM 354  or GEOL 355  /CHEM 355  will not have BIO 361  /CHEM 361  applied toward their BIO 300-400-level elective requirements. BIO 361  /CHEM 361  may not be used for both a chemistry cognate and a biology major elective.

Choose one of the following sets of courses: 4-7 Credit Hours

Mathematics beyond the minimum requirement is desirable in many areas of biology. Consult your adviser about which courses are appropriate.

Choose one of the following courses: 3-4 Credit Hours

Statistics beyond the minimum requirement is desirable in many areas of biology. Consult your adviser about which courses are appropriate.

Choose one of the following sets of courses: 8 Credit Hours

Recommended Schedule for Majors

First semester first year biology majors are encouraged to start with a 14-15 hour course load. This will generally include BIO 140 CHEM 131  and CHEM 131L , and/or a math course plus General Education . The work load will then be increased in the second semester based on the level of first semester success.

Total: 29-35 Credit Hours


1 Fulfills General Education: Cluster Three. 

Total: 29-30 Credit Hours

Third Year

  • Upper-level biology laboratory courses 8 Credit Hours
  • Biology elective 3-4 Credit Hours
  • Physics courses 8 Credit Hours
  • General Education : from Clusters Two, Four and Five 7 Credit Hours
  • Electives 6 Credit Hours

Total: 32-33 Credit Hours

Fourth Year

  • Upper-level biology laboratory course 4 Credit Hours
  • Biology electives 9 Credit Hours
  • General Education : from Clusters Two, Four and Five 3 Credit Hours
  • Electives 15 Credit Hours

Total: 31 Credit Hours

Credit by Examination

When evidence of sufficient background or preparation is presented, the Department of Biology offers credit by examination in many of its non-lab courses at the discretion of the course instructor or coordinator. Students seeking such credit should make arrangements with the course instructor or coordinator and obtain approval of the department head.

Teaching Licensure

Biology majors need courses in physics and geology as well as inorganic and organic chemistry for many science education positions.

In addition to the general education and academic major requirements, biology majors desiring secondary teacher licensure must be admitted to teacher education, complete the pre-professional program in secondary education at the undergraduate level and complete the graduate level Master of Arts in Teaching degree.

It is critical that students seeking licensure consult regularly with both their education adviser and their major adviser to support their progression through the programs. For a full description of the program in secondary teaching, refer to the Department of Middle, Secondary and Mathematics Education , in addition to the College of Education .


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