Secondary Education - Biology, Bachelor of Science in Education

Department of Biological Sciences

College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

Students who wish to teach middle or high school Biology in the secondary schools (7-12) will find this degree essential. Firmly grounded in Biology, with significant work in teacher preparation through the highly acclaimed NAUTeach science and mathematics teacher certification program, the plan establishes the professional conduit for teaching this exciting subject.

This program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

This program is nationally recognized by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's diversity, liberal studies, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • 96 - 104 units of major requirements which includes at least 33 units of Teacher Preparation coursework requirements.

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements.

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units.

Candidates in this program are required to demonstrate content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and skills, professional knowledge, and professional dispositions to be eligible to enter student teaching or internship placements. 

Content, pedagogical, and professional knowledge or skills, professional dispositions are demonstrated through student (or candidate) performance in all Major Requirement Courses.

Please note that students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Students may transfer up to 69 units of credit from a Maricopa community college. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA 2.5
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 125
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Student Teaching/Supervised Teaching Required
University Honors Program Optional
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

This program may lead to licensure.

Purpose Statement

The NAUTeach program equips secondary mathematics and science students (or teacher candidates) with the knowledge and practices necessary to teach diverse learners in ways that are rigorous, equitable, and responsive to all students. Our program provides a challenging undergraduate progression plan solely designed to prepare mathematics and science teachers for grades 6-12. The program emphasizes the teacher candidate's ability to develop research-based pedagogy through a STEM-focused, field-intensive, rigorous curriculum. Undergraduates are highly supported by Faculty who specialize in mathematics and science education research and who have years of professional classroom experience. Our program is designed for students, with strong skills in mathematics or science, seeking certification to teach biology, chemistry, physics, Earth sciences, general science, or mathematics at the secondary level.

The NAUTeach program, modeled after the successful UTeach program at the University of Texas, provides opportunities for you to:

  • Graduate in four years. Students earn a Bachelor of Science in education in their field of study.
  • Earn dual degrees. Students can earn degrees both in specific fields of science or mathematics and in teaching science or math.
  • Have early classroom teaching immersion. Students are in the K-12 mathematics or science classroom teaching and observing from the first semester and throughout the NAUTeach program to prepare for their capstone student teaching experience.
  • Work cooperatively in a STEM-focused center. Course of study partnered with the department of Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Physics.
  • Experience “student-centered” instruction. Course structure supports deep student understanding of concepts related to teaching, science, and mathematics.
  • Develop numerous STEM-based lessons and a full STEM-based unit. Students teach numerous STEM lessons and a STEM unit at local secondary schools, which build towards a capstone student teaching experience that utilizes the full range of skills and experiences.
  • Engage in educational dialogue and planning. Students plan lessons that promote deep content knowledge, analytical reasoning, creative thought, and the use of appropriate teaching strategies.
  • Use technology to enhance learning. Students experience technology throughout NAUTeach courses and develop lessons that model technology use in 6-12 classrooms.
  • Earn scholarships, internships, and loan forgiveness. Numerous financial opportunities exist for secondary mathematics and science education majors.
  • Inspire future scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to change the world.
Student Learning Outcomes

Outcomes align with Standards from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, the National Science Teaching Association, the Arizona Department of Education Standards, and the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium.
  • Design instruction that develops all students’ abilities to meet academic standards.
  • Reflect on teaching practices including the creation of a classroom environment based on respect and rapport that fosters a positive climate for learning, equity, and excellence.
  • Create and maintain a learning climate that supports the development of all students’ abilities to meet academic standards.
  • Implement and manage instruction that develops all students' abilities to meet academic standards.
  • Assess learning, and communicate results to all students, parents, and other appropriate professionals with respect to all students’ abilities to meet academic standards.
  • Collaborate with colleagues, parents, the community, and other appropriate agencies to design, implement, and support learning that supports all students’ abilities to meet academic standards.
  • Review and evaluate personal performance in order to improve teaching practices through reflection.
  • Develop and nurture current professional knowledge of the teaching/learning process.
  • Provide evidence of student learning through the design and implementation of instruction that makes use of effective communication techniques, is based on student prior knowledge, actively engages students in the learning process, and provides timely high-quality feedback.
  • Reflect on the roles and responsibilities and adhere to the legal and ethical requirements of the profession.
  • In collaboration with other professionals, participate in the design, implementation, and assessment of individual education programs.
  • Provide evidence of meeting the Arizona Professional Teaching Standards by taking the AEPA Secondary Professional Knowledge exam.
  • Core knowledge in the Biological Sciences.
1. Identify, describe, and apply the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, and empirical findings in biology using the fundamental principles of the natural sciences including:
  • The basic molecular and cellular units of structure and function that define all living things.
    • Atoms
    • Molecules
    • Macromolecules: Structure, properties, role, and functions in living systems, their synthesis and breakdown
    • Prokaryotic & Eukaryotic Cell structures, organelle, etc.
    • Homeostasis
    • Specialization and differentiation of cell types
    • Cell Division: Binary Fission and Mitosis
  • The limits and processes of biological systems as they operate through chemical transformations and energy flow in biological systems.
    • Physical and chemical properties of Water and Carbon and their significance for living systems (life)
    • Thermodynamics, chemical reactions, and chemical bonds
    • Enzymes: structure, properties, role, and functions in living systems
    • Photosynthesis
    • Cellular Respiration
  • The theory of evolution and how the diversity of life has evolved on earth and is evolving,
    • Geologic History of Earth
    • Theories on the Origin of Life on Earth
    • Significant biological and geological events in Earth´s history
    • Fossil Record
    • Biological Classification
    • Phylogenetics and Cladistics
    • Evolutionary relationships between organisms
    • Evolution as the unifying principle in biology
  • The four evolutionary/population genetic mechanisms (mutation, migration, selection, drift); molecular, genetic, and environmental bases of variation and inheritance; and how the phenotype of an organism is controlled by its genotype and environment.
    • Meiosis and sexual reproductive processes
    • Patterns of Inheritance, including genotypic and phenotypic frequencies
    • Chromosomal basis of inheritance
    • Extra-nuclear inheritance
    • Solve Genetic Problems
    • Population Genetics (Hardy-Weinberg, etc.)
    • Natural and Artificial Selection
    • Variations in Populations: sources and mechanisms of passing variations across generations.
    • Evolutionary Patterns and mechanisms of Speciation
  • The fundamental principles of the central dogma.
    • Structure and function of Nucleic Acids
    • Structure and function of Genes
    • Mechanisms of Gene Expression
    • Protein Synthesis
    • Mutations: Mechanisms, frequency, impact
    • Genetic diseases and disorders
    • Basic methods of Genetic Engineering and its applications
  • The mechanisms that regulate populations, species interactions in communities, and the major chemical elements that cycle in natural ecosystems.
    • Structure and characteristics of Populations and Communities
    • Behavior patterns of organisms
    • Population Growth Curves and Survivorship Curves
    • Community structure and Ecological Niche
    • Energy Flow and Biogeochemical Cycles
    • Biomes: Geographical distribution; characteristics; typical flora and fauna of different biomes
    • Trophic Levels and roles of different trophic levels
    • Impact of human activities on populations, communities, and ecosystems
    • Impact of human activities on the atmosphere and climate (change)
  • Basic knowledge of animal physiology and anatomy
    • Homeostasis and energy across phyla
    • Anatomy and physiology of human organ systems
  • Broad knowledge of biological diversity and unity of life forms
    • Viruses, Prokaryotes, Protists, and Fungi
    • Major groups of Plants, their reproduction, and life cycles
    • Major groups of Animals, their reproduction, and life cycles

2. Apply scientific and quantitative reasoning in data interpretation and analysis of biological data by:
  • Applying the scientific method, inquiry, and discovery to the study of living systems.
    • Apply methods for collecting, statistically analyzing, and interpreting scientific data with application to problems in biology.
    • Apply quantitative reasoning (e.g., arithmetic algebraic methods or statistical analyses) to biology and related natural sciences.
    • Apply and interpret basic statistical methods and graphically presenting scientific data to communicate scientific findings.
  • General Supporting Competencies.
    • Chemistry: Biochemistry
    • Physics: Light, Sound, Optics, Electricity, Energy and order, Magnetism
    • Earth Sciences: Energy and geochemical cycles, Climate, Oceans, Weather, Natural resources, Changes in the Earth
    • Mathematics: Probability, Statistics

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

    • Be a declared Secondary Education major in this program.
    • Completed Teacher Preparation Course TSM 101 with a Grade of "C" or better.
    • Program Mathematics Foundations requirement with a Grade of "C" or better.
    • The English foundations requirement (ENG 105 or equivalent) with a minimum GPA of 3.0. (If your English GPA is below 3.0, you may take an approved writing course to achieve the 3.0 GPA).
    • A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5
    • Complete and submit IVP Fingerprint Clearance Card; Youth Suicide Prevention Training; Professional Dispositions Modules; Equity Survey; and a Professional Responsibility Survey
Transfer Block
  • Students may transfer up to 69 units of credit from a Maricopa community college. 

Major Requirements
  • This major requires 96 - 104 units distributed as follows:

    • Biology Course Requirements: 35 - 40 units
    • General Science Course Requirements: 28 - 31 units
    • Teacher Preparation Courses: 33 units

    Take the following 96 - 104 units as outlined below:

    • A minimum NAU cumulative GPA of 2.5 is required.
    • For all Major Requirements coursework, a passing grade is required and a Grade of "C" or better is required for courses evaluated on an A-F scale.
    • Additionally, a GPA of 2.5 in major requirements and a grade of “B” or better in at least one of the following two Teacher Preparation courses TSM 350 and TSM 450 is required. TSM 350 and TSM 450 may be repeated with a grade of “C”.
Teacher Preparation
  • Teacher Preparation Courses (33 units with a Grade of "C" or better, except where noted*)

  • Teacher education programs require a student teaching or internship experience. A minimum number of practicum units are also required, which involves supervised field experience with a practicing teacher. These required experiences are embedded in the major requirements courses. 

    Before being accepted to student teaching, the following criteria must be met:

    • Admission to the Professional Education Programs (PEP).
    • GPA and course grade requirements for degree program as stated in Additional Admission and Major Requirements.
    • Complete all BSEd requirements.
    • Pass the appropriate AEPA or NES Subject Knowledge test prior to student teaching.
    • Completed online Student Teaching application one year prior to student teaching.
    • Fingerprint Clearance Card issued by DPS with expiration date no earlier than the end of the student teaching term must be on file in the Professional Education Programs (PEP) (copy of front and back).
    • All major coursework, with the exception of TSM 101 must be completed within the six years prior to student teaching (TSM 495C and TSM 496).
    • Successful completion of required state and university training modules.
    • All candidates must demonstrate professional and ethical standards of practice as described in the Model Code of Ethics for Educators and adhere to NAU’s and PEP’s Student Code of Conduct.
    • All outstanding NAUTeach and PEP Alerts must be resolved per improvement plan.
    • Attend mandatory Student Teaching Orientation.
  • The NAU Teach program was intentionally designed to lead to licensure or certification in the state of Arizona. As part of that program design, you must pass the Secondary Professional Knowledge Exam that aligns with certification requirements in the state of Arizona.

General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit.

    You may take these remaining courses from any of the academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. You may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.

    We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you.

  • It is highly recommended that you take POS 220 (3 units) either as one of your electives or to meet one of the liberal studies requirements.

Additional Information
  • Be aware that Arizona state teacher certification requirements leading to an Institutional Recommendation may change at any time and may impact program of study requirements.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information, see information contained in the catalog or your advisor.