Details on the Biological Sciences major

The Biological Sciences major offers a rigorous exposure to the modern experimental disciplines within Biology. The curriculum includes foundational coursework in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. Upper level courses are organized into specialization areas, aligned with the major research areas in modern biology ranging from molecular and cellular studies to ecosystem studies. Undergraduates have opportunities to do cutting edge, modern research under the supervision of faculty who are at the top of their research fields. Our curriculum is designed to provide a broad and comprehensive education from which you can pursue a career in government or private industry, and prepares you for professional or graduate school in a range of areas. Questions about the program can be directed the Undergraduate Academic Programs Office, 301-405-6892.

Biological Sciences specializations

Within the Biological Sciences undergraduate degree program students may choose to pursue General Biology or specialize in a different area. All Biological Sciences majors, regardless of specialization, must fulfill the same CORE/Gen Ed, basic program and supporting course requirements. Only the advanced program courses differ for Biological Sciences specializations.

General Biology 

GENB provides a strong but flexible curriculum for students with either broader or more specific interests than any of the areas above. The structure of GENB will require that students take courses across the biological levels of organization, but within those constraints they may choose to study one taxon or area in more depth. This specialization will specifically prepare students for graduate study in a broad range of biological fields, secondary school teaching, science writing, professional schools, biology – business related careers, and basic or applied research.

Cell Biology and Genetics

CEBG allows students to focus their studies on the molecular and cellular processes that support all life. This specialization will specifically prepare students for graduate study in a wide variety of modern fields, as well as for further study and careers in medicine, dentistry, forensic science, genetic counseling, or work in the biotechnology industry.

Ecology and Evolution

ECEV brings students to the study of organisms interacting with their environment in more complex biological systems. This specialization will specifically prepare students for graduate study, basic and applied research, and as basic preparation for careers in areas such as conservation, environmental biology, veterinary medicine, employment in zoos, or work in science policy. For more information on the specialization, visit the ECEV section of the Biology Department website.


Microbiology is the study of microorganisms including their distribution and role in the environment, their relationship to other living organisms in health and disease, and their use in biotechnology. An understanding of the basic nature and molecular structure of microbes has contributed to the advancement of modern molecular biology. This specialization prepares students for graduate study; entry into professional schools (Medicine, Dental, and Law); careers in public health, forensic science, biotechnology, and the pharmaceutical industry: as well as jobs in research labs and employment in government agencies developing public policy and/or overseeing/enforcing government regulations relative to food, drugs, and infectious disease of animals, plants and humans.

Physiology and Neurobiology

PHNB provides a foundation in the molecular and cellular processes of life, but allows students to study how these processes are organized into systems in whole organisms. This specialization will specifically prepare students for graduate study, medicine, dentistry, allied health fields, and basic or applied research.

Individualized Studies 

BIVS is a unique specialization area. It allows students to combine the rigors of a Life Sciences degree with interdisciplinary studies. BIVS students can integrate studies in biology with fields such as mathematics, physics, linguistics, or psychology. BIVS is reserved for students with truly interdisciplinary interests, and requires a written plan of study approved by the Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Academic Programs.