Feb 27, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
    
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog

Biology, B.A.


Program Description


The department offers a four-year B.A. degree program for a major in biology and for a major in biology qualifying for the Secondary Collegiate Professional License and is distinguished from the four-year B.S by two key university requirements (the completion of an intermediate level foreign language and three credit hours in philosophy) and several key program requirements (a capstone experience, writing courses, and required Integrated Science and Technology and Anthropology courses). 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 seeking a BA must complete 36 credit hours of biology courses including 20 credit hours of biology electives, plus a capstone course (3 cr. hr., which may or may not be BIO credit). Specific requirements include 16 credit hours of four core courses (BIO 140 /BIO 140L , BIO 150 /BIO 150L , BIO 240 /BIO 240L  and BIO 250 /BIO 250L ), at least two upper-division laboratory courses, and one course from a list of courses with an emphasis on organismal diversity. In addition, Biology BA majors must complete a set of required cognate courses in chemistry, mathematics/statistics, writing, ISAT and anthropology. Students are encouraged to participate in independent research with a faculty mentor and are required to participate in a capstone experience. Credits earned doing research in biology 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.

Special Requirements


In order for BIO 270 /BIO 270L  and BIO 290 /BIO 290L  credit to be transferred, both semesters of an Anatomy and Physiology course (A&P I and A&P II) must be completed with a minimum grade of ”C” from the same institution. A single semester of either of these sequences transfers as BIO 000. Only BIO 290 /BIO 290L  can be applied toward biology major electives; BIO 270 /BIO 270L  does not apply toward biology electives.

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. Elective biology credits applicable toward the major or minor are transferred as specific courses or as BIO 200 BIO 426  or BIO 427 . 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.

Degree and Major Requirements


Degree Requirements

Credit Hours

General Education 

*41

Foreign Language requirements2

0-14

Philosophy requirement (in addition to General Education courses)

3

Biology Major and Capstone3 requirements

36-39

Cognate requirements

26

University Electives

Total

7-24

*120

Footnotes


1 The General Education  program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. Some requirements are fulfilled by courses within the major. It is strongly recommended that students work with their advisers to identify strategic selections for their general education requirements.  *Cluster 3 (10 credit hours) is entirely covered by the Biology B.A. major requirements, and therefore those credits are accounted for only once in the 120 credit hour total. 
The foreign language requirement may be satisfied by successful completion of the second semester of the intermediate level of the student’s chosen language (typically 232), or by placing out of that language through the Department of Foreign Language, Literatures and Cultures’ placement test.
If the capstone experience is comprised of BIO credit, this can also count toward the 20 credits of BIO electives, reducing the total number of required courses.

Additional Biology Course Requirements: 20 Credit Hours


Students pursuing the B.A. in biology major must complete at least 20 credit hours of approved biology courses and at least 14 of these must be at the 300 and 400 levels. Up to 6 credit hours of 200 level BIO courses may count towards the 20 credit hour requirement, excluding BIO 270 /BIO 270L . At least one BIO course must be from the list of BIO 300-400 level organismal diversity courses, and two, BIO 300-400 level courses must be from the laboratory list. Courses in both organismal diversity and laboratory lists may count for both requirements. Three credits of independent research (BIO 497  and/or BIO 499A /BIO 499B /BIO 499C ) may be used for one, but only one, of the laboratory courses. Students completing the biology major must earn a minimum grade of “C-” in BIO 140 BIO 140L BIO 150 BIO 150L CHEM 131 CHEM 131L  and CHEM 132 .

Choose at least two 300-400 level laboratory courses from the following list:


Additional Information

Only one Topics in Biology (BIO 426 /BIO 427 ) may fulfill one of the laboratory course and/or organismal requirements. These course numbers can be repeated with a change in topic, but only 12 credits from BIO 426 /BIO 427  can be applied toward the 36-hour biology course requirement.

When choosing additional biology courses to complete the 36 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 493 BIO 494 BIO 495 , BIO 496 BIO 497 , BIO 499A /BIO 499B /BIO 499C  and ISCI 450  can be counted toward the biology major.

Capstone Requirement: 3 Credit Hours


Students in the Biology B.A. are required to complete a Capstone experience. The Capstone experience will be decided upon with the input of the student’s faculty adviser. In addition to the courses listed below, capstone experiences may include a study abroad experience, a JMU X-Labs class, or other class as approved by the adviser.1

Total Biology Requirements: 36-39 Credit Hours


Footnote


1 If the capstone course is a BIO course, it may be double-counted toward the 20 hours of biology electives, which accounts for the range of 36-39 biology major credit hours.

Cognate Requirements


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

Chemistry Cognate Requirements: 8 Credit Hours


Note

Additional courses in chemistry (i.e.,CHEM 241. Organic Chemistry I, CHEM 242. Organic Chemistry II, CHEM 353. Environmental Chemistry, CHEM 354. Environmental Chemistry Field Camp, CHEM 355. Geochemistry of Natural Waters, and/or BIO 361. Biochemistry I) are all valuable courses toward careers in biology, and should be discussed with an adviser as elective options based on a student’s career interests.

Mathematics and Statistics Cognate Requirements. 6 Credits.


Choose one in each of the following sets of courses. Mathematics and Statistics beyond the minimum requirement is desirable in many areas of biology. Consult your adviser about which courses are appropriate.

Transdisciplinary Cognate Requirements: 12 Credit Hours


Additional recommended courses will depend on the career goals of the student and should be discussed with the adviser.

Total Cognate Requirements: 26 Credit Hours


Biology Concentrations


Ecology and Environmental Biology Concentration


The biology department offers a concentration within the biology major for students with interest in ecology, field biology, natural resources, environmental biology, conservation biology, evolution, animal behavior and organismal biology. Students choosing a concentration in ecology and environmental biology must meet all of the requirements for the biology major as well as the following additional requirements. Courses for this concentration can also satisfy biology major requirements.

Students must complete at least 20 credit hours from the following list.


With prior approval from the concentration coordinator, BIO 426  and/or BIO 427  may be substituted. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss their career interests with an adviser who can help select courses best suited to their needs. In addition to the courses listed below, a maximum of eight credits of BIO 495 BIO 496 BIO 497  and BIO 499A /BIO 499B /BIO 499C  can be counted toward the EEB concentration.

Footnotes

1 Meets the biology major requirement for an organismal diversity course.
2 Meets one of the biology major requirements for laboratory/field courses.

Students must take two additional cognate courses:


Ecology and Environmental Biology Concentration Additional Information


It is highly recommended that students take additional upper-level degree elective courses in geography/GIS (such as GEOG 466  or GEOG 467 ) and in statistics (such as MATH 322  or MATH 324 ). Students should consult with their adviser about which courses are appropriate.

Ecology and Environmental Biology Concentration Total: 26-28 Credit Hours


Microbiology Concentration


Concentration Coordinator: Steve Cresawn

E-mailcresawsg@jmu.edu

The biology department offers a concentration within the biology major for students with interest in bacteriology, virology, immunology, parasitology and infectious disease. Students choosing a concentration in microbiology must meet all the requirements for the biology major, including the following specific requirements.

Complete a total of at least 18 credit hours from the following courses.

General Microbiology Requirements: 5 Credit Hours


Take all of the following courses:

Laboratory Requirement: 1-3 Credit Hours


Choose at least one of the following laboratory courses:

Footnote

1 Meets one of the biology major requirements for an upper-level BIO 200-300 level laboratory course.

Microbial Requirements: 6 Credit Hours


If a student takes an elective course that is listed in both Microbial Pathogenesis and Microbial Ecology categories below, the course may only satisfy one category requirement, but not both.

Microbial Pathogenesis

Choose at least one of the following courses:

Footnotes

1 Meets one of the biology major requirements for an organismal diversity course.
2 May be used to fulfill either the Microbial Ecology or Microbial Pathogenesis requirement, but not both.

Microbiology Electives: 4-6 Credit Hours


Microbiology courses from any of the above listed courses to reach 18 credit hours.

Microbiology Concentration Total: 18 Credit Hours


Neuroscience Concentration


Concentration Coordinator: George Vidal
E-mail:  vidalgx@jmu.edu

The biology department offers a concentration within the biology major for students with interests in cell and molecular, systems, and behavioral aspects of the nervous system and its functionality. Students choosing a concentration in neuroscience must meet all of the requirements for the biology major in addition to the following requirements. Courses for this concentration can also satisfy biology major requirements.

Choose one: 3 Credit Hours


Footnotes

1 Meets one of the biologoy requirements for a laboratory/field course.
2 BIO 445  and BIO 415 /CSD 415 : The course not taken as part of required neurosciene concentration core may be used to fulfill elective requirements.

Neuroscience Concentration Additional Information


Students should choose additional BIO courses at the 300-400 level, including a course that fulfills the organismal diversity major requirement, and are strongly encouraged to discuss their career interests with an adviser who can help select courses best suited to their needs. With prior approval from the concentration coordinator, BIO 426  and/or BIO 427  may be substituted. It is recommended that students participate in independent research (BIO 497 /BIO 499A /BIO 499B /BIO 499C ) with a faculty mentor. 

Neurosciece Concentration Total: 15-16 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 /BIO 140L 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.

First Year


First Year Total: 28 Credit Hours


Second Year


Second Year Total: 32 Credit Hours


Third Year


  • BIO electives, to include a BIO 300-400 level lab and an organismal diversity course, Credits​​​​​​​10.00
  • Transdisciplinary Cognates, Credits6.00
  • B.A. degree requirements (foreign language) and/or university electives Credits: ​​​​​​​7.00
  • General Education Credits: 7.00​​​​​​​

Third Year Total: 30 Credit Hours


Fourth Year


  • BIO electives, to include a BIO 300-400 level laboratory Credits: 7.00-10.00 (7.00 if Capstone is a BIO course)
  • Capstone experience Credits: 3.00
  • Transdisciplinary Cognates Credits: 3.00
  • General Education and university electives Credits: 14.00-17.00​​

Fourth Year Total: 30 Credit Hours


Program Total: 120 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,geology 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.