Biology Concentration Requirements

A grade of C- or better must be earned and revealed on your transcript for any course -- including the first semester -- to be counted towards the major or concentration requirements. The grade of P is not acceptable, but a course that was taken P/D/F may be counted if and only if the P is uncovered by the Registrar's deadline. (Please note that an exception is made for major courses taken in Spring 2020, when all courses were Pass-Fail).

Any exceptions must be approved in advance by an Advisor and you must receive an email notification of that approval. 

Students may substitute Barnard College courses only with prior permission from an Advisor.

If you are planning to study abroad, please meet with your Advisor before you go. You'll need prior approval for any major courses that you take abroad.

NOTE: Numbering does not reflect difficulty but rather whether UGs & graduate students have different requirements:
3000 – Only UGs register
4000 – UGs and graduate students perform the same
5000 – Only graduate students register, requires additional work beyond the 3000 course; sometimes the 3000 (UGs) & 5000 (Grad.) are different versions of the same course, i.e. same time, location and lectures

I. Required Biology Courses

  1. Two introductory biology courses (Barnard courses cannot be used for Intro Bio):
    • UN2005 - Introductory Biology I: Biochemistry, Genetics & Molecular Biology AND
    • UN2006 - Introductory Biology II: Cell Biology, Development & Physiology
  2. One lecture course from this list of core courses:
    • Genetics -- UN3031
    • Cell Biology -- UN3041
    • Developmental Biology -- UN3022
    • Biochemistry -- BIOC UN3501/GU4501 or BIOL UN3300
    • Molecular Biology -- BIOC UN3512/GU4512
  3. Three or four additional biology or biochemistry lecture courses, level 3000 or above, to reach the total Biology credits of 22 points required for the concentration. Current offerings include the core courses listed above and the following. Prior approval is required for any course not on this list.

    • UN3004 - Neurobiology I: Cellular & Molecular Neurobiology
    • UN3005 - Neurobiology II: Development & Systems
    • UN3006 - Physiology
    • UN3019 - Brain Evolution
    • UN3022 - Developmental Biology
    • UN3025 - Neurogenetics
    • UN3031 - Genetics
    • UN3034/GU4034 - Biotechnology
    • UN3799/GU4799 - Molecular Biology of Cancer
    • UN3041 - Cell Biology
    • UN3073 - Cellular and Molecular Immunology
    • UN3193/GU4193 - Stem Cell Biol & Applications
    • BIOC UN3300 - Biochemistry
    • UN3310/GU4310 - Virology
    • UN3320 - Regulation of Behaviors for Survival
    • UN3404 - Antimicrobial Resistance
    • BIOC UN3501/GU4501 - Biochemistry
    • BIOC UN3512/GU4512 - Molecular Biology
    • UN3560 - Evolutionary Biology in the Genomic Era
    • GU4002 - Macromolecular Structure and Interactions
    • GU4008 - Advanced seminar in neurobiology (topic varies)
    • GU4011 - Neural Syst: Circuits in the Brain
    • GU4035 - Seminar in Epigenetics
    • GU4044 - Advanced Topics in Cell Biology
    • GU4075 - Biology at Physical Extremes
    • GU4080 - Ancient and Modern RNA Worlds
    • GU4082 - Theoretical Foundations and Applications of Biophysical Methods
    • GU4036 - Transformative Concepts in Systems Biology
    • GU4290 - Biological Microscopy
    • GU4300 - Drugs and Disease
    • BIOC GU4323 - Biophysical Chemistry I
    • BIOC GU4324 - Biophysical Chemistry II
    • GU4510 - Genomics of Gene Regulation
    • GU4560 - Evolutionary Biology in the Genomic Era

Beginning Fall 2018, no lab is required for the concentration.  All other requirements remain the same, including enough electives to reach at least 22 points. A maximum of 5 points of lab credit may be counted  toward the 22 point total. 5 pts will be waived on completion of the SURF program. Either UN2501 or a five-point lab course, but not both, may count towards the 22 point total.

Note: SCNC & HPSC courses do not count towards the Major even if listed under Biology courses on Bio web site. BIOT courses will not be counted towards the Major.

II. Required Science and Math Courses

  1. One of the following three groups of Chemistry courses:
    • Option 1: General chemistry - UN1403-UN1404 and lab UN1500

Organic chemistry - UN2443-UN2444 and lab UN2495-UN2496

  • Option 2: For students who qualify for intensive chemistry 

Second Semester General Chemistry (Intensive) UN1604 and Intensive lab UN1507 

Organic Chemistry - UN2443-UN2444 and lab UN2495-2496

  • Option 3: For students who qualify for 1st year organic chemistry 

Intensive General Chemistry Lab - UN1507 (Previously W2507)

Intensive Organic Chemisty UN2045-UN2046 AND Orgo lab UN2495-UN2496, or Intensive Organic Chem lab UN2545 (Previously W3045-3046, W3493-3494, or W3545)

  1. Two semesters of physics are required, including the accompanying labs. The usual choices are General physics (UN1201-UN1202) and labs (UN1291-UN1292). The 1400 sequence is recommended if you plan to take 3 terms of physics. Higher level of physics sequence are acceptable too.
  2. The math requirement can be fulfilled by taking any of these:
    • Two semesters of calculus
    • One semester of calculus plus one semester of statistics (UN1101 or UN1201)**
    • For students with AP credit, A 4 or 5 in Calculus A/B in high school or a 4 in B/C calculus fulfills the requirement of one term of calculus toward the biology major. A score of 5 in B/C calculus fulfills the requirement of one year of calculus toward the biology major. (Students with these scores are exempt from some bio major requirements, as explained above, but will not receive AP credit if they take Calculus 1, or if they take no calculus at Columbia.) For more details, see the mathematics department web site.

**Note: old course numbers W1111/W1211 still count for the statistics portion of the math requirement. Please consult with your advisor if you are unsure if your course counts toward your major.

For transfer students, at least 4 biology or biochemistry courses and at least 18 credits of the total (biology, biochemistry, math, physics and chemistry) must be taken at Columbia. Barnard courses may not be substituted for the required Columbia courses without advance permission from the advisor.

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Department of Biological Sciences
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