Biology, Bachelor of Science

Department of Biological Sciences

College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

This degree attracts students who are fascinated by the spectrum of biology, from the tiniest or simplest to the largest or most complex. Students may pursue a number of areas, including plants, animals, their evolution, physiology, or relationships.

  • 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:

  • At least 72 units units of major 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.

Please note that students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Students may transfer up to 75 units of credit from an accredited community college. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA C
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 125
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Research Optional
University Honors Program Optional
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

Purpose Statement

Biology is the study of life and living organisms — their structure & organization, development, evolution, distribution and interactions. The major offers a modern, balanced, and comprehensive treatment of biology, emphasizing critical analysis of information and integration among its sub-disciplines. At NAU, all students take foundations courses that address fundamental biological concepts: cellular & molecular processes, genetics & inheritance, and ecological and evolutionary theory. Then, students complete the major by selecting the courses in biology that best serve their individual interests. Upper-division biology courses hone into areas of physiology, evolution, ecological systems, genetics or cell theory. Our graduates attain the high-level scientific inquiry skills and have practiced the research methods needed to compete in graduate and professional schools and to succeed in the workplace.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • 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 that define all living things.
    • The limits and processes of biological systems as they operate through chemical transformations and energy flow in biological systems.
    • The theory of evolution and how the diversity of life has evolved and is evolving via four population genetic mechanisms (mutation, migration, selection, drift).
    • The molecular, genetic, and environmental bases of variation and how the phenotype of an organism is controlled by its genotype and environment.
    • The fundamental principles of biological science operating at molecular, cellular, organismal, population and ecosystem levels (e.g., central dogma, inheritance, energy flow, diversity of life).  
  • 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.
    • Applying quantitative reasoning (e.g. arithmetic algebraic methods or statistical analyses) to biology and related natural sciences  
    • Applying and interpreting basic statistical methods and graphically presenting scientific data to communicate scientific findings.
  • Effectively communicate evidence-based findings to technical and non-technical audiences.
    • Interpret primary scientific literature in biological sciences.
    • Find and evaluate primary sources, the quality of information, and determine a source’s credibility.
    • Synthesize empirical findings in biology, and communicate the findings through collaboration, writing, and oral presentation.
  • Synthesize fundamental concepts, apply core knowledge, and conduct civil discourse in Biology as it relates to organisms, habitats, ecosystems, or human health questions.
    • Apply depth of biological knowledge through application of core concepts to new contexts or problems in conservation, climate change, natural resource management, forestry, agriculture, or human/animal health. 
    • Apply biological principles and demonstrate the ability to interpret data in evaluating the strength of evidence and conclusions. 
    • Apply the unifying concept of evolution to explain patterns and processes in biological systems.

Transfer Block
  • Students may transfer up to 75 units of credit from an accredited community college.

Major Requirements
  • This major requires 72 - 77 units distributed as follows:

    • Biology and Biology-Related Coursework: 44 - 45 units
    • Math and Science Coursework: 28 - 32 units

    Take the following 72 - 77 units including  44 - 45 units of Biology and Biology-related courses. All courses must be completed with a Grade of "C" or better:
  • Math and Science Coursework (28 - 32 units)

    All prerequisite coursework must also be completed with a Grade of "C" or better.

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.

Additional Information
  • Students enrolled in this plan may not enroll in or pursue the following due to the number of overlapping units:

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.