College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences2021-2022

Department of Biological Sciences

Biology, Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

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.

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