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Kalamazoo College



Major in Biology

Consonant with the experiential-learning focus of the K-Plan and motivated by the biology department mission, our emphasis on an empirical approach to biology creates an environment in which students develop a strong foundation in biology. We encourage our students to ask and seek answers to probing questions, interpret primary literature, design and perform experiments, and make original observations of biological phenomena. The developmental progression from introductory core courses through upper-level electives prepares students well for the challenges of carrying out their Senior Individualized Projects, presenting results of those projects at our annual Diebold Symposium, and then continuing their education or seeking employment after graduation.

Number of Units

  • A minimum of nine biology courses (five required and four electives) and four cognates exclusive of lab credit, all at C- or better are required to complete a major in biology.
  • Among biology electives, at least three must be at the 300 level or higher, two of which must be a lab course. Other than BIOL 112 and BIOL 123, students may not count 100-level courses towards units required for the major.
  • Biology majors are encouraged to complete their Senior Individualized Project in biology.
  • The biology department will accept for credit in the major a maximum of one unit from one the following sources:
    • AP/IB credit (if score on Biology AP exam is 4 or 5, or score on IB exam is 5 or above)
    • approved Study Abroad course in biology
    • Dual enrollment or transfer course in biology
    • A SIP in biology
Required Biology Courses
Year typically taken (quarters offered)
BIOL112  Evolution and Genetics First year (FA or WI)
BIOL123  Form and Function First year (WI or SP)
BIOL224  Ecology and Conservation Sophomore (FA or SP)
BIOL246  Cell and Molecular Biology*
*note: BIOL246 requires CHEM210 as a prerequisite
Sophomore (SP) or Junior (FA)
BIOL490  Senior Seminar Senior (F,W, and SP)


Required Cognates Year typically taken (quarters offered)
CHEM110  Chem. Comp. & Struc. First year (FA or WI)
CHEM120  Chemical Reactivity First year (WI or SP)
CHEM210  Organic Chemistry I Sophomore (FA)
and one of the following:
CHEM220  Organic Chemistry II
or   MATH261  Biostatistics
Sophomore (WI)
Sophomore, Junior or Senior (SP)


Comprehensive Examinations
Senior biology majors are required to take a written comprehensive examination as part of BIOL 490.


Typical course sequence for a biology major at Kalamazoo College:  Courses in bold are required for the biology major (some offered more than once per year); courses in {bracketed italics} are pre-med options not required for the major.  Students are encouraged to start on language courses early when needed for specific study abroad programs.  Students are required to enroll in a First Year Seminar (Fall) and a Sophomore Seminar (any quarter during sophomore year). BIOL490 fulfills the Senior Seminar requirement.
FIRST YEAR First Year Seminar
Evolution and Genetics
Chem I
Form and Function
Chem II
(Evolution and Genetics)
{Calculus I or II} or College elective
(Form and Function)
SOPHOMORE Ecology and Conservation
Organic Chem I
(Lang. or Soph. Seminar?)
Organic Chem II** or College elective
{Physics I}
(Language or Soph. Seminar?)
Cell and Molecular Biology (or Ecology and Conservation)
{Physics II} or College elective
(Language or Soph. Seminar?)
JUNIOR Study Abroad
(Cell and Molec. Biol. + electives if not on six-month study abroad)
Study Abroad Biology Elective
or College elective
College elective
Biology Elective
College elective
Biology Elective
College elective
College elective
Biology Elective
Biology 490
College elective
* Incoming students take a chemistry placement exam and may be exempted from Chem 110 and begin in Chem 120
** To fulfill the fourth cognate for the Biology major, students must take either Organic Chem II OR Biostatistics.  Choice will depend on student’s preference and postgraduate plans.


Students interested in pursuing graduate or professional programs in biology are encouraged to develop some background in mathematics, physics, and computer science. They should consult with members of the department as early as possible.

Health Sciences Program information

Students who plan careers in health-related fields should consult with Dr. Diane Kiino, Director of Health Sciences, early in their academic planning to learn more about courses most appropriate for selected professional programs (visit

The core pre-professional curriculum includes biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. The remainder of the program consists of a selection from several course sequences designed to meet the admissions requirements of specific professional schools. Pre-professional sequences have been established for human, dental and veterinary medicine, podiatry, chiropractic, physical therapy, physician assistant, nursing, optometry, and pharmacy. Additional curricular sequences can be planned to meet additional preprofessional requirements.