Career paths that begin with a study of biology have grown markedly, with new discoveries in the field and increased advancements in technology. A biology degree prepares students for graduate programs and a range of professions.
Our curriculum is designed to offer a foundation for understanding life processes, through core and ancillary courses. The department offers a variety of electives that allow for individualzed interests. Students may opt into opportunities to participate in internships, as well as research with our faculty. In addition to the major courseplan listed, students must meet all graduation requirements set by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). Students should consult the University Catalog and CLAS Advising (NC 1030) for additional degree specifics.
Please note: These requirements apply ONLY to students who declare the major, Fall 2015 or after.
You may also download a copy of the undergraduate biology major advising sheet for more information.
This plan is one suggested course path. Taking summer semesters, having AP/IB credits, attending part-time, transfer of credit, and international student requirements are all variables which may make your individualized courseplan different. See your Biology advisor and College of Liberal Arts & Sciences advisor to discuss your specific situation. You may also download a copy of the sample 4-year plan .
|Sample Integrative Biology Major 4-year Plan|
Fall (14 credits)
Spring (15 credits)
|Fall (13-14 credits)
||Spring (13 credits)
|Fall (15 credits)
||Spring (17 credits)
|Fall (16 credits)
||Spring (17 credits)
You must complete 45 credits of upper-division coursework for graduation.
Biology majors with transfer credits in biology from other institutions should consult a major advisor to determine course equivalency and proper placement. Transfer course equivalencies may already exist for courses from your institution, you can research your institution and courses with Transfer Evaluation Services via CollegeSource.
Once you have been admitted to CU Denver, you may process a Degree Audit via the UCD Portal to verify how your transfer courses have applied to your degree (go to UCD Access → Student tab → Degree Audit).
For students at Colorado Community Colleges, the science/math courses which will apply to the Biology Major are: BIO111&112, CHE111&112, PHY111&112 (or PHYS211&212), MAT121, 122, 201. You may also want to investigate the Statewide Transfer Articulation Agreement.
Biology majors with placement exams (Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, College Level Examination Program) should consult with a major advisor for proper evaluation and courseplan placement. Credits awarded for placement exams can be found in the university catalog.
If you need further information please contact the Biology Undergraduate Director and Biology Advisor, Dr. Kim Regier.
Our program goals align with both the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) "Essential Learning Outcomes" and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) "Vision and Change" for undergraduate biology core concepts and competencies. The headings and descriptions of each number are taken directly from the American Association for the Advancement of Science Vision and Change for Undergraduate Biology Core Concepts and Competencies
1. Evolution: The diversity of life evolved over time by processes of mutation, selection, and genetic change.
a. Define evolution.
b. Explain how the fossil record supports the theory of evolution as a process of descent with modification.
c. Describe how Darwin’s observations of nature led to the inferences he developed regarding natural selection.
d. Analyze a phylogeny and explain the relationships among the taxa, as well as the evidence supporting those relationships.
e. Explain and apply the Hardy-Weinberg theorem as a “null model” for evolution. Explain the assumptions of Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium.
f. Explain how genetic drift, selection, mutation, and gene flow can lead to evolution.
g. Explain how the mechanisms of evolution have produced the diversity of life that has occurred on Earth.
h. Explain how fitness is affected by the interaction of genes and environment.
i. Compare and contrast the biological, morphological, and phylogenetic species concepts.
j. Explain how isolating barriers contribute to speciation.
k. Explain how processes of origination and extinction lead to diversity in different clades.
l. Define mass extinction and provide two examples of mass extinctions on earth.
2. Structure and Function: Basic units of structure define the function of all living things.
a. Predict how changes in structure of molecules, cells, tissues, and organs can affect the function and survival of an organism.
b. Explain how structural and functional complexity emerges from the combination of simpler components.
c. Explain how biological structures and functions are constrained by evolution.
d. Explain how the structure of an individual, population, or community can affect ecological functions and how the environment can affect the structure of an individual, population, or community.
3. Information Flow, Exchange, and Storage: The growth and behavior of organisms are activated through the expression of genetic information in context.
a. Describe the flow of genetic information within a cell and how the transfer of genetic information is important to biological organisms and systems.
b. Describe processes of gene expression and regulation, and their effect on phenotype.
c. Deduce information about genes and alleles from analysis of genetic crosses and patterns of inheritance.
d. Describe how intracellular and extracellular signaling affects cellular responses.
e. Describe mechanisms that produce and transmit genetic variation.
f. Explain the mechanisms by which changes in alleles or epigenetic modifications can affect phenotype and reproductive success.
g. Explain how fitness is affected by the interaction of genes and environment.
h. Explain why neuronal and hormonal signaling are examples of information flow.
4. Pathways and Transformations of Energy and Matter: Biological systems grow and change by processes based upon chemical transformation pathways and are governed by the laws of thermodynamics.
a. Use the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics to explain energy and matter transformations at the cellular, tissue, and organismic level through digestion, cellular respiration and photosynthesis.
b. Describe how matter is cycled through ecosystems.
c. Describe how energy flows through ecosystems.
d. Explain why exergonic and endergonic reactions must be coupled.
e. Explain how enzymes affect chemical reactions.
f. Use the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics to explain energy and matter transformations in ecosystems.
g. Explain why the synthesis and breakdown of ATP is a transformation of energy and matter.
h. Describe how energy and matter are transformed during and across life cycles.
5. Systems: Living systems are interconnected and interacting.
a. Describe how predictive and stochastic models help us understand biological processes.
b. Explain how structural and functional complexity of a system emerges from the combination of simpler components.
c. Describe how diverse cellular responses are generated by integration of chemical and physical signals that vary in time, space, and intensity.
d. Explain how feedback mechanisms regulate function at various levels of biological organization.
e. Explain how stochastic and deterministic biotic and abiotic factors influence structure, function, and biodiversity of systems.
1. Ability to apply the process of science through inquiry and analysis. Biology is evidence based and grounded in the formal practices of observation, experimentation, and hypothesis testing.
Note – this corresponds to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) "Vision and Change" core competency of “Ability to Apply the Process of Science” and the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) essential learning outcome of “Inquiry and Analysis."
a. Evaluate reliability of sources of information.
b. Locate, summarize and explain how a study contributes to the field.
c. Develop and critique scientific hypotheses.
d. Design and conduct observational and experimental studies with attention to replication and statistical design constraints.
e. Analyze and interpret data to form conclusions.
f. Articulate variables and assumptions required by a study.
g. Place scientific findings into a larger intellectual/contextual framework.
2. Ability to use quantitative reasoning. Biology relies on applications of quantitative analysis and mathematical reasoning.
Note – this corresponds to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) "Vision and Change" core competency of “Ability to Use Quantitative Reasoning” and the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) essential learning outcome of “Quantitative Literacy.”
a. Manage and organize data sets.
b. Create and interpret data visualizations (e.g. graphs, tables).
c. Apply descriptive and inferential statistical methods of design and analysis for diverse study questions.
d. Use data to draw conclusions about biological processes.
e. Use mathematical formulas to reason about biological processes and understand the underlying probability in the calculations.
3. Ability to use modeling and simulation. Biology focuses on the study of complex systems. All students should understand how mathematical and computational tools describe living systems.
Note – this corresponds to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) "Vision and Change" core competency of “Ability to Use Modeling and Simulation” and the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) essential learning outcome of “Quantitative Literacy.”
a. Describe the assumptions used to make a model and evaluate alternate models.
b. Explain the effects of probability and uncertainty in biological models.
c. Interpret models given changing variables.
d. Create a conceptual model to represent related components and processes of biological systems.
e. Create a quantitative model to represent related components and processes of biological systems.
f. Interpret quantitative and conceptual models.
4. Ability to tap into the interdisciplinary nature of science. Biology is an interdisciplinary science. Integration among subfields in biology, as well as integration between biology and other disciplines, has advanced our fundamental understanding of living systems.
Note – this corresponds to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) "Vision and Change" core competency of “Ability to tap into the interdisciplinary nature of science” and the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) essential learning outcome of “Integrative Learning.”
a. Draw conclusions about a complex problem by combining examples, facts, and theories from more than one biological or scientific field of study.
5. Ability to communicate and collaborate with other disciplines. Biology is a collaborative scientific discipline. Biological research increasingly involves teams of scientists who contribute diverse skills to tackling large and complex biological problems.
Note – this corresponds to the American Association for the Advancement of Science Vision and Change Core Competency of “Ability to Communicate and Collaborate with Other Disciplines” and the American Association of Colleges and Universities Essential Learning Outcomes of “Oral Communication," “Written Communication,” and “Teamwork.”
a. Demonstrate an understanding of context, audience, and purpose in writing.
b. Use appropriate conventions of organization, content, formatting, presentation, and style in writing.
c. Correctly cite high-quality, relevant sources to support arguments.
d. Orally communicate scientific understanding to both scientific and general audiences.
e. Work efficiently and professionally in teams.
6. Ability to understand the relationship between science and society. Biology is conducted in a societal context. Biologists have an increasing opportunity to address critical issues affecting human society by advocating for the growing value of science in society, by educating all students about the need for biology to address pressing global problems.
Note – this corresponds to the American Association for the Advancement of Science Vision and Change Core Competency of “Ability to Understand the Relationship Between Science and Society” and the American Association of Colleges and Universities Essential Learning Outcomes of “Ethical Reasoning” and “Civic Engagement."
a. Explain relationships between biological principles and global, economic, environmental and societal issues.
b. Describe how the history of scientific thought has shaped the development of scientific principles.
Departmental honors are awarded to students based on their grade point average in classes taken at CU Denver. The following minimum grade point averages must be met for all biology courses in the major AND all additional courses taken at CU Denver: cum laude >3.500; magna cum laude >3.700; summa cum laude > 3.900..
The minor in biology provides a firm foundation in the diversity of the life sciences. Our students are instilled with a respect and a sense of responsibility for life and the environment, as well as the knowledge to understand ongoing advancements in the field of biology.
Minors with transfer credits in biology from other institutions should consult a biology advisor to determine course equivalency and proper placement. Biology minors with AP/IB or CLEP credits should consult a biology advisor for proper placement. Declared pre-health students should also consult a Health Careers advisor.
A Biology Major advisor can assist you with class selection, planning a balanced course schedule, degree progression analysis and graduation requirements, and career counseling. Meeting with your biology major advisor once a year is recommended. However, you may check in more frequently if you have specific questions or concerns. The Degree Audit is available in UCD Portal to track your degree progress. If you see problems with the biology portion of your audit, contact a biology advisor during their walk-in office hours. The beginning and the end of each semester are extremely busy, so plan ahead.
Dr. Kim Regier assists all students with Biology Major questions, biology transfer credits and registration problems due to prerequisites for biology classes.
Dr. Cheri Jones assists biology majors and minors who do not have science transfer credits. She will also see students on academic probation. Dr. Jones cannot assist with registration problems due to prerequisites or transfer course evaluations.
Jaimie Carrington assists all first semester freshman who declared a biology majors for Fall 2018. Ms. Carrington must be listed as your advisor in the CU Denver Portal for academic assistance. Ms. Carrington does not assist transfer students or declared Pre-Health majors; for assistance as a Pre-Health major, consult with a Health Professions Advisors
A CLAS academic advisor can assist with general education issues such as core curriculum advising, transfer credit evaluation for Core Curriculum, academic warning, and probation. Please schedule a CLAS advising appointment for more information with your general & core courses.
Contact one of our university Health Professions Advisors if you have plans for a future program in a health career.
You may also choose to discuss graduate school or career plans with a Biology Faculty Member in your field of interest. Please contact faculty directly for mentoring and career counseling.