Biology is the study of living systems and is the broadest biological sciences major available at KU. The B.A. Biology degree provides students with much flexibility in their major course choices and can include ecology, microbiology, organismal physiology, and biochemistry.

Undergraduate Admission

Admission to KU

All students applying for admission must send high school and college transcripts to the Office of Admissions. Unless they are college transfer students with at least 24 hours of credit, prospective students must send ACT or SAT scores to the Office of Admissions. Prospective first-year students should be aware that KU has qualified admission requirements that all new first-year students must meet to be admitted. Consult the Office of Admissions for application deadlines and specific admission requirements.

Visit the Office of International Student and Scholar Services for information about international admissions.

Students considering transferring to KU may see how their college-level course work will transfer on the Office of Admissions website.

Admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Admission to the College is a different process from admission to a major field. Some CLAS departments have admission requirements. See individual department/program sections for departmental admission requirements.

First- and Second-Year Preparation

Because biology study requires preparation in other sciences, students should begin meeting major requirements in the first year. It is particularly important to take CHEM 130 and CHEM 135 in the first year and, for several majors, to take CHEM 330, CHEM 331, CHEM 335, and CHEM 336 in the second year. Ideally, most majors should also take BIOL 150 and BIOL 152 during the first year, as well as BIOL 105. Students who have taken BIOL 100 and BIOL 102, have earned an A or B in both courses, and have decided to major in a biological science should consult a UBP advisor to request permission to substitute BIOL 100 and BIOL 102 for BIOL 150.


Majors and Concentrations

Bachelor’s degree requirements in biology are modified as necessary. Current requirements are available in the UBP office and online. Major programs are offered in biochemistry, biology, human biology, and microbiology. Students may choose to concentrate in a range of specialties in the biological sciences, such as botany, cellular biology, developmental biology, environmental biology, ecology, entomology, genetics, marine biology, molecular biology, neurobiology, paleontology, physiology, systematics, or zoology (invertebrate or vertebrate).

Requirements for the B.A. Major in Biology

Major Course Requirements

General Science Requirements (28-31)
Biology Orientation Seminar. Satisfied by:
BIOL 105Biology Orientation Seminar1
Chemistry I. Satisfied by one of the following:5
General Chemistry I
Foundations of Chemistry II, Honors
and Foundations of Chemistry II Laboratory, Honors
Chemistry II. Satisfied by one of the following:5
General Chemistry II
Foundations of Chemistry II, Honors
and Foundations of Chemistry II Laboratory, Honors
Organic Chemistry I. Satisfied by one of the following:3
Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry
Organic Chemistry I
Organic Chemistry I Laboratory. Satisfied by:
CHEM 331Organic Chemistry I Laboratory2
Calculus. Satisfied by one of the following:4-6
Calculus I
and Calculus II
Calculus I
Calculus I, Honors
Physics I. Satisfied by one of the following:4-5
College Physics I
General Physics I
and General Physics I Laboratory
Physics II. Satisfied by one of the following:4
College Physics II
General Physics II
and General Physics II Laboratory
Biology Core Requirements (26)
Principles of Molecular & Cellular Biology. Satisfied by one of the following:4
Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Honors
Principles of Organismal Biology. Satisfied by one of the following:4
Principles of Organismal Biology
Principles of Organismal Biology, Honors
Principles of Genetics. Satisfied by one of the following:4
Principles of Genetics
Principles of Genetics, Honors
Evolutionary Biology. Satisfied by:
BIOL 412Evolutionary Biology4
Senior Seminar in Biology. Satisfied by:
BIOL 599Senior Seminar: _____ (Must be taken in senior year.)1
Diversity of Organisms / Principles of Ecology / Introduction to Systematics. Satisfied by one of the following:3
History and Diversity of Organisms
Principles of Ecology
Introduction to Systematics
Fundamentals / Development / Function. Satisfied by two of the following:6
Fundamentals of Microbiology
Fundamentals of Microbiology, Honors
Cell Structure and Function
Cell Structure and Function (Honors)
Biology of Development
Physiological Adaptations of Plants to Extreme Environments
Comparative Animal Physiology
Introductory Biochemistry, Lectures
Electives and Laboratory Requirements (10)
Satisfied by completing 10 hours of BIOL courses numbered 400 or higher which include at least 4 hours of laboratory credit. Courses listed above which have not been used to fulfill the above requirements may be used as electives. No more than 3 hours of BIOL 423 Non-Lab Independent Study and/or BIOL 424 Independent Study (combined) can be applied towards the elective requirement with no more than 2 hours of BIOL 424 being applied towards the laboratory requirement.10
Biology Electives
Satisfied by completing at least 6 hours of biology courses numbered 400 or higher.
Biology Laboratory Electives
Satisfied by completing at least 4 hours of biology lab courses numbered 400 or higher. No more than 2 hours of BIOL 424 may be applied towards the laboratory requirement.

Major Hours & Major GPA

While completing all required courses, majors must also meet each of the following hour and grade-point average minimum standards:

Major Hours
Satisfied by 36 hours of major courses.

Major Hours in Residence
Satisfied by a minimum of 15 hours of KU resident credit in the major. 

Major Junior/Senior Hours
Satisfied by a minimum of 12 hours from junior/senior courses (300+) in the major.

Major Junior/Senior Graduation GPA
Satisfied by a minimum of a 2.0 KU GPA in junior/senior courses (300+) in the major. GPA calculations include all junior/senior courses in the field of study including F’s and repeated courses. See the Semester/Cumulative GPA Calculator.

Below is a sample 4-year plan for students pursuing the BA in Biology. To view the list of courses approved to fulfill KU Core Goals, please visit the KU Core website.

This degree plan assumes students will have the equivalent of MATH 101 or MATH 104, or equivalent prior to the freshman year, fall semester.

ENGL 101 (Goal 2.1 (2 crs req), BA Writing I)13ENGL 102 (Goal 2.1 (2 crs req), BA Writing II)3
CHEM 130 (General Science Requirement, BA Quantitative Req)25MATH 115 (General Science Requirement)23
BIOL 150 or 151 (Goal 3 Natural Science, BA Lab Science, Major Requirement)34CHEM 135 (General Science Requirement)45
BIOL 105 (General Science Requirement)*1BIOL 152 or 153 (Major Requirement)4
Elective (Total Hours)3 
 16 15
1st Semester Language (BA Second Language)52nd Semester Language (BA Second Language)5
MATH 116 (General Science Requirement)3Goal 3 Humanities3
CHEM 310 or 330 (General Science Requirement)53BIOL 412 (Major Requirement)44
CHEM 331 (General Science Requirement)2Elective or possible minor course (Total Hours)3
BIOL 350 or 360 (Major Requirement)4 
 17 15
3rd Semester Language (BA Second Language)34th Semester Language, or 1st semester of Another Language (BA Second Language)3-5
Goal 3 Social Science3Goal 2.2 Communication3
PHSX 114 (or PHSX 211 & 216 (Goal 1.1 Critical Thinking, General Science Requirement))4-5PHSX 115 (or PHSX 212 & 236 (General Science Requirement))4
BIOL Selective 400+ (Major Requirement)63BIOL Selective 400+ (Major Requirement)63
Elective or possible minor course 300+ (Total Hours)3 
 16-17 13-15
Goal 4.2 Global Awareness (300+ suggested)3Goal 4.1 US Diversity (300+ suggested)3
Goal 5 Social Responsibility & Ethics3BIOL 599 (Major Requirement, Goal 6)81
BIOL Selective 400+ (Major Requirement)63BIOL Elective 400+ (Major Requirement)73
BIOL Elective 400+ (Major Requirement)73BIOL Lab Elective 400+ (Major Requirement)72
BIOL Lab Elective 400+ (Major Requirement)72BIOL Elective 400+ (Major Requirement)1
BIOL Elective 400+ (Major Requirement)1Elective or possible minor course 300+ (Total Hours)3
 15 13
Total Hours: 120-123

The BA requires completion of two courses of collegiate-level writing instruction. Students who test out of Composition will still need to complete ENGL 102 (or equivalent) and one additional Goal 2.1 course.


Requires a Math ACT Score of 26+, a comparable SAT or KU Math Placement Exam score, or credit for MATH 101 or MATH 104 equivalent course. MATH 125 can be taken instead of MATH 115 and MATH 116 to fulfill the math requirement.


Concurrent or prior enrollment in CHEM 130 is required.


CHEM 135 and BIOL 412 are offered only in the spring.


Most medical schools require the full CHEM 330, CHEM 331, CHEM 335 and CHEM 336 sequence. 


Biology major electives: choose from BIOL 413, BIOL 414, and BIOL 428 AND choose two from BIOL 400, BIOL 416, BIOL 417, BIOL 501, BIOL 544, and BIOL 600


10 credit hours of BIOL 400+ level courses, including at least 4 hours of lab credit. See the degree requirements page in the catalog for limits on using BIOL 423 and/or BIOL 424 for this requirement.


BIOL 599 is approved to fulfill Goal 6. This goal can also be fulfilled by completion of an approved educational experience, or an approved integration of courses and/or experiences. See your advisor for more information.  


Visit this website for a list of courses that fulfill the BA Quantitative Reasoning requirement.


BIOL 105: Biology Orientation Seminar (1 hour online course) is required for the major. It can be taken the summer prior to your freshman year.

Please note:

All students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are required to completed 120 total hours of which 45 hours must be at the Jr/Sr (300+) level.

The same course cannot be used to fulfill more than one KU Core Goal. However, overlap of a KU Core course with a major or degree-specific requirement is allowed. Overlapping is recommended to allow more opportunities to explore other majors and/or minors.

Departmental Honors

Undergraduate majors are eligible to graduate with honors in biology if they fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Complete all course work required for the appropriate degree in biology.
  2. Achieve a minimum grade-point average of 3.25 overall and 3.5 in the major.
  3. Complete BIOL 499 Introduction to Honors Research with a grade of B or higher.
  4. Complete BIOL 699 Biology Honors Research Colloquium with a grade of B or higher.
  5. Complete an independent research project under the supervision of a faculty member in an area appropriate to the degree sought.
  6. Submit an honors thesis to the honors committee once the research is complete and present the results of the completed research at the honors research symposium.

Students majoring in Human Biology with Anthropology, Applied Behavioral Science, Psychology, or Speech-Language-Hearing concentrations will follow the honors requirements for their respective concentration department.

Specific guidelines and intent forms are available in the Undergraduate Biology Program office and online. Candidates must declare their intent to graduate with honors at least 2 semesters before graduation.

Study Abroad

Consult an advisor at least 4 months before undertaking study abroad. Consult the Office of Study Abroad, 108 Lippincott Hall, for information about study in one of the many countries (e.g., Scotland, Australia, Switzerland) with special arrangements with KU.