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 69 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

  • Students will be able to communicate scientific information effectively in written and oral forms (including using standard practices in scientific writing), addressing basic biological concepts encompassing a range of sub-disciplines within the field of biology.
  • As preparation for a career in the biological sciences, students will be able to collect, analyze and interpret scientific data related to biological problems spanning molecular to organismal biology (e.g., cell biology and genetics, ecology, behavior, etc).
  • Students will develop proficiency in the quantitative skills necessary to analyze biological problems (e.g., arithmetic, algebra, dimensional analysis, and basic statistical analysis as applied to biology) 
  • Students will be able to apply the scientific method as a demonstration that they understand the basic paradigm of scientific inquiry as it relates to general biological problems.
  • Students will be able to describe fundamental principles of biology e.g., central dogma, diversity of life, inheritance.
  • Students will understand that evolution is the central principle uniting the field of biology, and apply the theory of evolution to explain diverse biological phenomena spanning molecular to organismal biology.
  • Students will be able to access and interrogate the primary scientific literature in the biological sciences.
  • Students will be able to synthesize material from across a biological sub-discipline and apply this to advanced-level course material (i.e., a Capstone experience); specifically, students will draw from their learning experiences in the fields of ecology, evolution, behavior, physiology, systematics, etc as related to the topic of their capstone course.
  • Student will investigate a specific taxonomic group in the form of one or more courses focused on a particular group of organisms with the aim of obtaining deep knowledge of how evolution has shaped the biology of a particular organismal group.
  • Students will develop an appreciation for the interdisciplinary role of science as applied to human and environmental challenges across both local and global scales.

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

Major Requirements

    • Please note many of the following major requirements also satisfy Liberal Studies requirements.

  • All prerequisite coursework must also be completed with grades of C or better.

    The Department of Biological Sciences does not allow dual majors within the department.

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
  • 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.