If you are a pre-health profession student who is not and does not wish to become a biology major, please follow this link for advice about your curriculum.
- The Introductory Biology Sequence
- Biology Courses by Distribution Area
- Admission to the Biology Major
- Present Curriculum (for students through the class of 2015 except those who were allowed to elect the new curriculum)
- Course Information for Pre-health Students Who Are Not Biology Majors
- Biology Department Home Page
General Advice: Successul completion of the biology major requires thoughtful planning. Consult with a faculty member in the Biology Department as soon as possible, even if your formal advisor is in another department. Begin your chemistry and biology courses as soon as possible -- it is especially advisable to start chemistry your first semester.
Accesss to courses and admission to the biology major. Incoming students must complete at least one introductory biology course that is intended for majors plus one approved course in either chemistry (CHEM 181 or more advanced) or physics (PHYS 111 or 115 or more advanced) before applying to the biology major. These courses must be taken at Holy Cross; transfer stiudents may apply for a waiver. Additional information about admission to the major.
Introductory Biology Sequence: An introductory biology sequence of three courses is designed to give all students a complete background in the methods, ideas and concepts of three major approaches to biology. This sequence should be completed early in a student's college career, normally by the end of the sophomore year.
Biology 161 and 162 are opened to all students interested in the biology major, prehealth students from other majors, and environmental studies majors.
Biology 163 is opened to all but is normally taken only by biology majors and environmental studies majors and concentrators.
Biology majors will take (these course numbers may change):
- Biology 161 (An Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology). This course introduces students to biology of the microscopic and molecular realms. Topics include biological molecules, chemical reactions, especially those catalyzed by enzymes, biological pathways, energy metabolism and photosynthesis, prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell structure, signaling, recognition, and molecular genetics. Although the approach is strongly mechanistic, much of the subject matter is viewed through the lens of evolution. Taught annually in both the fall and spring semesters.
- Biology 162 (An Introduction to the Functional Biology of Multicellular Organisms). Organization above the cell up to the whole organism is the focus of this course. The approach is mechanistic but the evolution of these processes is also a major theme. Vertebrates, especially mammals, and flowering plants are used as model organisms to understand the basic features of reproduction, transmission genetics, development, coordination, and organism-level transport, metabolism, fluid and solute regulation, support and movement. Taught annually in both the fall and spring semesters.
- Biology 163 (An Introduction to Ecology and Biological Diversity). This course is taught in two halves. One is an overview of ecology and plant and fungal biodiversity and the other half deals with evolutionary theory and animal biodiversity centered on non-chordate phyla. Taught in the spring semester only.
These courses may be taken in any order but we recommend BIOL 161 first. It is possible to take two introductory courses during one semester (depending on the rest of the students' schedule).
Pre-health professional students who are not biology majors should take:
- Biology 161
- Biology 162
These courses may be taken in either order although we believe that it is most beneficial to take BIOL 161 first.
Tracks: By the end of the second year, biology majors must elect one of two tracks. The tracks were established in recognition that different areas of biology require somewhat different training. The cellular and molecular biology track (CMB) emphasizes structures and biochemical processes common to all organisms. The ecological, evolutionary and organismal track (EEOB) examines more complex levels of organization -- the function and diversity of organisms and populations, how populations evolve, and the interactions between organisms and their environment.
Links to detailed track information:
- Overview and requirements for the Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB) Track
- Overview and requirements for the Ecological, Evolutionary and Organismal Biology (EEOB) Track
Both of the pages above have links to models for course selections for students with different interests and backgrounds and links to course descriptions and concentrations of interest to students in a particular track.