The Biology, BS provides a sound liberal arts education with substantial experience in quantitative and analytical thought, along with preparation for related professions. The department provides the strong background necessary for not only for graduate study in the life sciences, but also enables students to develop careers in a wide variety of disciplines, including secondary school teaching, environmental management, microbiology, molecular biology, biotechnology, genetics, wildlife management, fisheries biology, and marine science. Furthermore, our curriculum prepares students for careers in the health sciences including medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, and related allied health disciplines.

Admissions

University-wide admissions policies can be found in the Undergraduate Admissions Policies section of this catalog.

To apply for this program, please complete the George Mason University Admissions Application.

Policies

Students must fulfill all Requirements for Bachelor's Degrees, including the Mason Core.

Important information and departmental policies are listed in the Department of Biology section of this catalog.

BIOL 308 Foundations of Ecology and Evolution meets the writing intensive requirement for this major.

For policies governing all undergraduate degrees, see AP.5 Undergraduate Policies.

Important Program Requirements

  • Students may apply no more than 8 credits of BIOL 103 Introductory Biology I (Mason Core) or BIOL 104 Introductory Biology II (Mason Core) toward elective credit (or equivalent transfer credit at the 100 to 200-level) if taken before successful completion of BIOL 213 Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core).
  • Biology majors must earn a minimum grade of 'C' in all biology core courses. A grade of 'C' or better must be earned in BIOL 213 Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core) in order to advance to other core requirements.
  • Students may repeat BIOL 213 Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core) once, but a second time only with permission from the Department of Biology.
  • Students may not count BIOL 124 Human Anatomy and Physiology and/or BIOL 125 Human Anatomy and Physiology toward any biology major requirement.
  • Students who take BIOL 310 Biodiversity may not count BIOL 303 Animal Biology and/or BIOL 304 Plant Biology toward any biology major requirement.
  • 44 credits must be in biology coursework.
  • BIOL 493 Honors Research in BiologyBIOL 495 Directed Studies in Biology, and BIOL 497 Special Problems in Biology do not satisfy the requirements of the BS degree which state that students must complete at least two upper division courses that include a laboratory. The courses do, however, count as non-laboratory electives.

Several optional concentrations are available; details on each can be found in the Requirements tab.

Teacher Licensure

Students majoring in biology who wish to pursue a career teaching secondary school may consider applying for the Secondary Education – Biology (6-12) Undergraduate Certificate offered by the College of Education and Human Development as an option in seeking an initial Virginia teaching license. The certificate includes current endorsement and licensure coursework embedded within your major. Students apply to add this as a secondary program during their sophomore year and complete required content and education coursework leading to initial licensure in the state of Virginia within 120 credits.

Other routes to licensure include the Biology, BA or BS/Curriculum and Instruction, Accelerated MEd (Secondary Education Biology Concentration) or select traditional Master's programs. Please contact the Undergraduate Advisor in College of Education and Human Development for more information.

Banner Code: SC-BS-BIOL

Degree Requirements

Total credits: minimum 120

Students should refer to the Admissions & Policies tab for specific policies related to this program.

Students must complete their biology coursework and the supporting requirements which follow with a minimum GPA of 2.00.

All students must complete the biology core, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and computer science courses listed below. Students then elect to complete the BS degree either with a concentration or without a concentration.

Biology Core Courses

BIOL 213Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core)4
BIOL 214Biostatistics for Biology Majors4
BIOL 308Foundations of Ecology and Evolution 15
BIOL 310
BIOL 330
Biodiversity
and Biodiversity Lab and Recitation
5
BIOL 311General Genetics4
Total Credits22
1

Fulfills writing intensive requirement.

Chemistry

CHEM 211
CHEM 213
General Chemistry I (Mason Core)
and General Chemistry Laboratory I (Mason Core) (Natural Science course)
4
CHEM 212
CHEM 214
General Chemistry II (Mason Core)
and General Chemistry Laboratory II (Mason Core) (Natural Science course)
4
CHEM 313Organic Chemistry I3
CHEM 315Organic Chemistry Lab I2
Total Credits13

Physics

Select from one from the following Mason Core: Natural Science sequences:8
College Physics (Mason Core)
and College Physics Lab (Mason Core)
and College Physics (Mason Core)
and College Physics Lab (Mason Core)
University Physics I (Mason Core)
and University Physics I Laboratory (Mason Core)
and University Physics II (Mason Core)
and University Physics II Laboratory (Mason Core)
Total Credits8

Mathematics

Select one from the following:3-6
Linear Mathematical Modeling (Mason Core)
Analytic Geometry and Calculus I (Mason Core)
Calculus with Algebra/Trigonometry, Part A
and Calculus with Algebra/Trigonometry, Part B (Mason Core)
Total Credits3-6

Computer Science

Select one from the following:3
Computing for Scientists (Mason Core) 1
Total Credits3
1

Recommended by the Department of Biology

BS without Concentration

Students who do not select an optional concentration must complete the biology core and shared courses shown above in addition to the curriculum requirements listed below.

Biology Electives

Complete 22 credits of additional biology courses 122
Total Credits22
1

Of which, at least 14 credits must be upper division, and at least two of the upper division courses must include a laboratory.

Additional Science Courses

Students are encouraged to consult with a biology faculty advisor to determine which option (A, B, or C) best meets their career goals.

Select one from the following options:3-8
Option A:
Organic Chemistry II
and Organic Chemistry Lab II
Option B:
Option C:
Introductory Geology I (Mason Core)
and Introductory Geology II (Mason Core) (Natural Science courses)
Total Credits3-8
Note:

Students expecting to enter a professional school are strongly encouraged to complete MATH 113 Analytic Geometry and Calculus I (Mason Core).

Concentration in Bioinformatics (BNF)

The highly interdisciplinary field of bioinformatics has emerged as a powerful modern science. There is a great demand for undergraduate and graduate-level trained individuals with a background in bioinformatics in industry as well as in academia.

Computer Science3
CDS 130 is recommended to fulfill the Computer Science requirement in the shared core above.
Modeling and Simulation I
Bioinformatics6
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology I
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology II
Biology14-16
Biostatistics for Bioinformatics
Phage Discovery
Phage Genomics
Biology Lab Elective
Select one from the following:
Comparative Chordate Anatomy
Developmental Biology
and Lab for Developmental Biology
Invertebrate Zoology
Insect Biology
Vertebrate Paleontology
Invertebrate Paleontology
Plant Diversity and Evolution
Plant Ecology
Freshwater Ecosystems
Ecological Engineering and Ecosystem Restoration
RS: Ecological Sustainability (Mason Core)
Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering
and Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Laboratory
Microbial Genetics
Microbial Physiology and Metabolism
Microbial Diversity
Advanced Human Anatomy and Physiology I
Advanced Human Anatomy and Physiology II
Immunology
and Immunology Laboratory
Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation
and Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation Field Course
Histology
Vertebrate Natural History
Introductory Animal Behavior
and Introductory Laboratory in Animal Behavior
Eukaryotic Cell Biology
and Eukaryotic Cell Biology Laboratory
DNA Analysis of Biological Evidence
and Forensic DNA Analysis Laboratory
Ornithology
Mammalogy
Herpetology
Tropical Ecosystems
Biology of Microorganisms
and Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory
Total Credits23-25

Concentration in Biopsychology (BP)

The biopsychology concentration consists of a selection of courses designed to address the needs and interest of students who wish to study biology in more depth while simultaneously exploring psychology and neurobiology. This concentration will help prepare students for the MCAT section related to psychology and provide veterinary students with a background in animal learning/behavior.

Biopsychology Courses
BIOL 430Advanced Human Anatomy and Physiology I4
BIOL 431Advanced Human Anatomy and Physiology II4
PSYC 372Physiological Psychology3
PSYC 373Physiological Psychology Laboratory1
Additional Psychology/Neuroscience Course
Select 3-4 credits from the following:3-4
Principles of Learning
Brain and Behavior
Psychology of Communication (Mason Core)
Cellular, Neurophysiological, and Pharmacological Neuroscience
Molecular, Developmental, and Systems Neuroscience
Additional Biology Courses
Select 6-7 credits from the following:6-7
Biology of Microorganisms
Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory
Introduction to Research Design and Analysis
Developmental Biology
Lab for Developmental Biology
Introductory Animal Behavior
Introductory Laboratory in Animal Behavior
General Biochemistry
Ornithology
Mammalogy
Additional Chemistry Courses
Select one from the following options: 13-5
Option A:
Organic Chemistry II
and Organic Chemistry Lab II
Option B:
Total Credits24-28
1

Students are encouraged to consult with a biology faculty advisor to determine which option best meets their career goals.

2

CHEM 314 Organic Chemistry II alone does not fulfill this requirement.

Concentration in Biotechnology and Molecular Biology (BTMB)

The biotechnology and molecular biology concentration consists of a selection of courses that provide essential skills to students who seek employment in the field or wish to include an applied component in their undergraduate training in biology.

Biotechnology Courses
BIOL 305Biology of Microorganisms3
BIOL 306Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory1
BIOL 385Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering3
BIOL 483General Biochemistry4
Additional Biology Courses
Select 11 credits from the following, at least one of the courses must include a laboratory:11
Laboratory Courses:
Applied and Industrial Microbiology
and Techniques in Applied and Industrial Microbiology
Microbial Genetics
Microbial Physiology and Metabolism
Immunology
and Immunology Laboratory
Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Laboratory
Non-laboratory Courses:
Introduction to Research Design and Analysis
Introduction to Virology
Advanced General Genetics
Selected Topics in Molecular and Cellular Biology 1
Current Topics in Microbiology 1
Vaccines
Genetics of Human Diseases
Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
Introduction to Molecular Genetics
Eukaryotic Cell Biology
Special Problems in Biology 1
Additional Chemistry Courses
CHEM 314Organic Chemistry II3
CHEM 318Organic Chemistry Lab II2
Total Credits27
1

Registration for BIOL 417 Selected Topics in Molecular and Cellular Biology, BIOL 418 Current Topics in Microbiology, or BIOL 497 Special Problems in Biology is subject to approval by the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Chairman of the Department of Biology.

Concentration in Environmental and Conservation Biology (ESCB)

This concentration is offered to students seeking a biology degree that focuses on ecology and organismal biology and prepares them for graduate work or employment in environmental and conservation fields, such as natural resources management, fisheries, forestry, water quality management, aquatic and wetland ecology, and conservation biology. The concentration is staffed and supported by the Department of Environmental Science and Policy.

Environmental and Conservation Biology
BIOL 318Conservation Biology3
BIOL 377Applied Ecology3
Biology Electives
Select 16 credits from the following: 116
Introduction to Oceanography
Introduction to Research Design and Analysis
Animal Physiology
Invertebrate Zoology
Insect Biology
Plant Diversity and Evolution
Plant Ecology
Freshwater Ecosystems
Ecological Engineering and Ecosystem Restoration
RS: Ecological Sustainability (Mason Core)
Field Biology
Ecological and Evolutionary Physiology
Marine Ecology
Marine Conservation
Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation
Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation Field Course
Reproductive Strategies
Fungi and Ecosystems
Vertebrate Natural History
Introductory Animal Behavior
and Introductory Laboratory in Animal Behavior
The Diversity of Fishes
Additional Science Courses
Select one from the following options: 23-8
Option A:
Organic Chemistry II
and Organic Chemistry Lab II
Option B:
Option C:
Introductory Geology I (Mason Core)
and Introductory Geology II (Mason Core)
Total Credits25-30
1

Of which, two courses must be selected from the list above and must have either: 2 laboratory courses or 1 laboratory course and 1 field course (consult with an advisor for guidance).

2

Students are encouraged to consult with a biology faculty advisor to determine which option best meets their career goals.

3

CHEM 314 Organic Chemistry II alone does not fulfill this requirement.

Concentration in Microbiology (MIB)

This concentration offers lecture and laboratory courses in microbiology to prepare students for employment or advanced study in microbial genetics, physiology, diversity, and related fields.

Microbiology Courses
BIOL 305Biology of Microorganisms3
BIOL 306Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory1
BIOL 405Microbial Genetics4
BIOL 407Microbial Diversity4
Biology Electives
Select 10 credits from the following:10
Introduction to Research Design and Analysis
Introduction to Virology
Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering
Applied and Industrial Microbiology
Techniques in Applied and Industrial Microbiology
Medical Microbiology
Current Topics in Microbiology
Vaccines
Immunology
Immunology Laboratory
Fungi and Ecosystems
General Biochemistry
Additional Chemistry Courses
CHEM 314Organic Chemistry II3
CHEM 318Organic Chemistry Lab II2
Total Credits27

Mason Core and Elective Credits

In order to meet a minimum of 120 credits, this degree requires additional credits (specific credit counts by concentration are shown below), which may be applied toward any remaining Mason Core requirements (outlined below), Requirements for Bachelor's Degrees, and electives. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisors to ensure that they fulfill all requirements.

  • Without concentration: 38-46 credits
  • BNF concentration: 43-48 credits
  • BP concentration: 40-47 credits
  • BTMB concentration: 41-44 credits
  • ESCB concentration: 38-46 credits
  • MIB concentration: 41-44 credits

Mason Core

Note: Some Mason Core requirements may already be fulfilled by the major requirements listed above. Students are strongly encouraged to consult their advisors to ensure they fulfill all remaining Mason Core requirements.

Foundation Requirements
Written Communication6
Oral Communication3
Quantitative Reasoning3
Information Technology3-7
Core Requirements
Arts3
Global Understanding3
Literature3
Natural Science7
Social and Behavioral Sciences3
Western Civilization/World History3
Synthesis/Capstone Requirement 1
Synthesis/Capstone3
Total Credits40
1

minimum 3 credits

Honors in the Major

Admissions

Minimum requirements for invitation:

  • GPA in biology courses must be 3.33 or better
  • GPA in supporting requirements (math and other science) must be 3.00 or better
  • Grade of ‘B’ or better in BIOL 213 Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core)

Students should apply for admission to the Honors Program during their first or second year at the university. Contact the Department of Biology for information on applying.

Retention Requirements

Students in honors biology must maintain a biology GPA of 3.33 or better and a supporting GPA of 3.00 or better from the time they have accumulated 30 hours and thereafter. Students who fall below this standard will be given a one semester probationary period in which to bring their GPA back up to the minimum standard.

Requirements to Graduate with Biology Honors

Students are required to take 6 to 8 credits in honors courses in BIOL including three semesters of BIOL 494 Honors Seminar in Biology or two semesters of BIOL 494 Honors Seminar in Biology and one semester of BIOL 493 Honors Research in BiologyBIOL 498 Research Seminar may count towards one of the semester requirements of BIOL 494 Honors Seminar in Biology. The GPA requirements are as follows:

  • Minimum 3.33 GPA in honors biology courses
  • Minimum 3.33 GPA in biology requirements
  • Minimum 3.00 GPA in supporting requirements
  • Minimum 3.00 GPA overall

Biology, BA or BS/Curriculum and Instruction, Accelerated MEd (Secondary Education Biology concentration)

Overview

Highly-qualified undergraduates may be admitted to the bachelor's/accelerated master's program and obtain a BA or BS in Biology (degree without concentration) and an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction (concentration in secondary education biology) in an accelerated time-frame after satisfactory completion of 149 credits. See AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree for policies related to this program.

This accelerated option is offered jointly by the Biology Undergraduate Program and the Graduate School of Education.

Students in an accelerated degree program must fulfill all university requirements for the master's degree. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Application Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions Policies. For information specific to this accelerated master's program, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.

Accelerated Option Requirements

Students must complete the following courses in their senior year:

Senior
Fall SemesterCreditsSpring SemesterCredits
EDCI 5733EDCI 6733
EDUC 6723EDRD 6193
 6 6
Total Credits 12

While undergraduate students, accelerated master's students are able to apply two of the courses listed above to both the bachelor's and master's degrees. These courses are considered advanced standing for the MEd. A minimum grade of B must be earned to be eligible to count as advanced standing. The other two courses are taken as reserve graduate credit and do not apply to the undergraduate degree. Early in their final undergraduate semester, students must submit the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form to the CEHD Admissions Office and specify which of the four courses are to be designated as advanced standing and reserve graduate credit.

Biology, BS/Biology, Accelerated MS

Overview

Qualified undergraduates may be admitted into an accelerated master's program and to obtain both a Biology, BS and a Biology, MS within an accelerated time frame. Students admitted to this program may take graduate courses after completing 90 undergraduate credits, and up to 6 credits of graduate work may be used in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the undergraduate degree. If students earn at least a 3.00 in these classes, they are granted advanced standing in the master's program and must then complete an additional 24 credits to receive the master's degree. All other master's degree requirements must be met, including a minimum of 18 credits taken for the master's after the bachelor's degree is complete.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate programs, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Application Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in the Graduate Admission Policies section of this catalog. Application information for this accelerated master's program can be found on the School of Systems Biology's website.

Successful applicants will have an overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.20. Additionally, they will have completed the following courses with a GPA of 3.00 or higher:

BIOL 213Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core)4
BIOL 214Biostatistics for Biology Majors4
BIOL 308Foundations of Ecology and Evolution5
BIOL 310Biodiversity3
BIOL 311General Genetics4
CHEM 313Organic Chemistry I3
CHEM 315Organic Chemistry Lab I2

Three letters of recommendation, including one from a prospective thesis or project advisor, are required.

Accelerated Option Requirements

At the beginning of the student's final undergraduate semester, students must submit a bachelor's/accelerated master's transition form (available from the Office of the University Registrar) to the College of Science's Office of Academic and Student Affairs. Students must begin their master's program in the semester immediately following conferral of the bachelor's degree.

Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.00 or higher in graduate coursework and should consult with their faculty advisor to coordinate their academic goals.

After completing 120 credits and all requirements for the bachelor's degree and filing the Graduation Intent Form, students are awarded a bachelor's degree. Accelerated master's students must then submit scores on the GRE to have the provisional qualifier removed. Ordinarily, students should receive a minimum combined score of 303 on the verbal and quantitative portions of the general test.

Reserve Graduate Credit

While still in undergraduate status, a maximum of 6 additional graduate credits may be taken as reserve graduate credit and applied to the master's program. Reserve graduate credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree.