Program of Study (CAS Bulletin)

Biology (2016 - 2018)

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Major: Biology Standard Track

Major: Biology Ecology Track

Global Public Health/Science Major

Minor

Honors
 

Departmental Objectives

The department offers students the opportunity to explore the various areas of current biology. The major in biology is an integrated yet diverse program that builds a solid foundation in modern biology through coursework in molecular biology, cell biology, evolution, genetics, developmental biology, physiology, immunology, genomics, systems biology, computational biology, ecology, and environmental biology. From the very outset of their studies, students are exposed to modern concepts and state-of-the-art experimental and analytical methods. Upper-level courses emphasize foundational knowledge as well as laboratory skills, reasoning skills and quantitative skills. Advanced students may register for graduate-level courses, which are most often given in the specialized areas of faculty research.

The department also offers a set of discrete minors in the life sciences, specifically in the areas of molecular and cell biology, genetics, genomics and bioinformatics, and environmental biology. Each minor is designed to hone skills in a particular contemporary area of biology and requires a laboratory experience. The minors permit students to create a course of study that will meet their unique academic and career goals.

This program provides outstanding preparation for careers in research, academia, medicine, dentistry, and related fields. Graduates of the department have a remarkable record of success in acceptance into professional schools and in establishing notable careers in the biomedical sciences.

Other courses offered by the department are designed to acquaint non-science majors with contemporary issues in biology. Such courses are often topical, addressing problems such as environmental pollution, limits of the earth, and human physiology.

Outstanding and highly motivated students are offered special opportunities for honors work, independent study, summer laboratory research, internships, and other enhancements. Upper-level students may become involved in research projects in faculty laboratories through the many formal and informal opportunities afforded by the department. The department has a tradition of important research accomplishment and contains several specialized research and laboratory facilities that are integrated into the educational programs. These include undergraduate labs in molecular biology, cell biology, experimental physiology, genomics, bioinformatics, and ecological analysis. Field studies are carried out at a variety of regional sites. Department faculty are also affiliated with the NYU Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, the NYU Center for Developmental Genetics, NYU Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the NYU School of Medicine, the NYU College of Dentistry, the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Botanical Garden, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Students with questions about majoring in biology or minoring in a specific area of biology should visit the office of the Department of Biology. Those declaring a major in biology are assigned a faculty adviser from the department; students meet with that professor to design a program of study, determine course selections, and discuss career goals. The faculty adviser is also available to provide guidance concerning the many options and opportunities afforded by the department for curricular enhancement, including research experiences.

Major in Biology (Bachelor of Arts): General Information

The department offers two tracks within the major.

  • The standard biology track provides students with a broad background in biology and the laboratory, quantitative, and reasoning skills needed for modern biology.
  • The ecology track also provides students with a broad background in modern biology, but with a focus on ecological concepts, approaches, and analytical methods.

In addition to these two tracks, students may pursue a major in global public health/science, with a concentration in biology (see below).

In each of the two tracks, sixteen courses (typically 70 points) completed with grades of C or higher (and a minimum GPA of 2.0 for all courses required by and taken as electives in the major) are required for the major.

To permit the maximal choice of appropriate upper-level courses, we strongly recommend that students take Principles of Biology I and II (BIOL-UA 11, 12), General Chemistry I and II and Laboratories (CHEM-UA 125, 126), and mathematics in their freshman year. Then, as sophomores, students in the standard track should take Molecular and Cell Biology I, II (BIOL-UA 21, 22), whereas students in the ecology track should take Molecular and Cell Biology I (BIOL-UA 21) and Fundamentals of Ecology (BIOL-UA 63).

Programs of majors must be approved each term by a department adviser.

Biology Standard Track

Biology core courses (four courses/16 points):

  • Principles of Biology I and II (BIOL-UA 11, 12)
    NOTE: Biology majors are not required to register for the 1-credit Principles of Biology Lab (BIOL-UA 123). It is intended for prehealth students not majoring in biology.
  • Molecular and Cell Biology I and II (BIOL-UA 21, 22)
    NOTE: Students may also register for the optional 1-credit Molecular and Cell Biology Lab (BIOL-UA 223) concurrently with MCB I (BIOL-UA 21).

Five upper-level biology courses (five courses/20 points):

  • Biology majors must complete five additional 4-point upper-level biology courses. In consultation with their adviser or with the director of undergraduate studies, students select at least one course from each of the following three skill categories, plus two additional electives:
  1. Laboratory skill courses: "At the Bench" or research courses
  2. Quantitative skill courses: math, computer, and modeling courses
  3. Reasoning skill courses: reading intensive courses

The two additional upper-level electives may be satisfied either by taking advanced biology courses (electives covering key areas of biology) or by taking additional reasoning, quantitative, or laboratory skills courses. A current list of advanced biology courses and of courses satisfying each category above is maintained on the official web site of the Department of Biology.

Additional courses required for biology standard track majors (seven courses/34 points):

  • Chemistry (four courses/20 points):
    • General Chemistry and Laboratory I and II (CHEM-UA 125, 126)
    • Organic Chemistry and Laboratory I and II (CHEM-UA 225, 226)
  • Physics (two courses/10 points):
    • General Physics I and II (PHYS-UA 11, 12)
  • Mathematics (one course/4 points):
    • Calculus I (MATH-UA 121)

Biology Ecology Track

The ecology track provides students a broad foundation in modern biology as well as a focused education in ecological concepts, approaches, and analytical methods. It is primarily intended for students planning to pursue graduate study in ecology or a related field.

Ecology core courses (four courses/16 points):

  • Principles of Biology I and II (BIOL-UA 11, 12)
    NOTE: Biology majors are not required to register for the 1-credit Principles of Biology Lab (BIOL-UA 123). It is intended for prehealth students not majoring in biology.
  • Molecular and Cell Biology I (BIOL-UA 21)
    NOTE: Students may also register for the optional 1-credit Molecular and Cell Biology Lab (BIOL-UA 223) concurrently with MCB I (BIOL-UA 21).
  • Fundamentals of Ecology (BIOL-UA 63)

Five upper-level biology courses (five courses/20 points):

  • Biology majors must complete five additional 4-point upper-level biology courses. In consultation with their adviser or with the director of undergraduate studies, students select at least one course from each of the following three skill categories, plus two additional electives:
  1. Laboratory skill courses: "At the Bench" or research courses
  2. Quantitative skill courses: math, computer, and modeling courses
  3. Reasoning skill courses: reading intensive courses

The two additional upper-level electives may be satisfied either by taking advanced biology courses (electives covering key areas of biology) or by taking additional reasoning, quantitative, or laboratory skills courses. A current list of advanced biology courses and of courses satisfying each category above is maintained on the official web site of the Department of Biology. Note that the set of courses that may be used as electives for the ecology track is not identical to the set that may be used for the standard biology track.

Additional courses required for biology ecology track majors (seven courses/34 points):

  • Chemistry (four courses/20 points):
    • General Chemistry and Laboratory I and II (CHEM-UA 125, 126)
    • Organic Chemistry and Laboratory I and II (CHEM-UA 225, 226)
  • Physics (one course/5 points):
    • General Physics I (PHYS-UA 11)
  • Mathematics (two courses/8 points):
    • Calculus I (MATH-UA 121)
    • Calculus II (MATH-UA 122) or Linear Algebra (MATH-UA 140)

Global Public Health/Science Major with Concentration in Biology

The College of Arts and Science and the Department of Biology offer students the opportunity to pursue a major that combines biology and global public health. Students pursuing this combined program will complete courses to fulfill the global public health/science major, with a concentration in biology that emphasizes one of the following areas: genetics and genomics, infectious diseases, or environmental health.

The global public health/biology major provides a unique opportunity for students to explore cutting-edge life science and how recent advances can help address some of the world's most complex health challenges. Graduates are well prepared to pursue professional studies in medicine, dentistry, public health, and nutrition, as well as academic and research positions.

Students in this combined major are strongly advised to talk to an advisor in the Department of Biology to work out a course plan. The following are the twenty-two courses (94 points) required for the major. Students must also plan and schedule carefully for their College Core Curriculum requirements (foreign language, expository writing, and Foundations of Contemporary Culture).

Global public health requirements (seven courses/28 points):

  • Health and Society in a Global Context (UGPH-GU 10)
  • Health Policy in a Global World (UGPH-GU 40)
  • Environmental Health in a Global World (UGPH-GU 50)
  • GPH Internship (UGPH-GU 60)
  • Biostatistics (BIOL-UA 42)
  • At the Bench: Epidemiology (BIOL-UA 49)
  • One semester of advanced foreign language (above intermediate II level). Students who present AP or other advanced standing credit that is equivalent to completion of at least one course above intermediate two have satisfied the requirement. Students who take an NYU language placement exam and demonstrate proficiency equivalent to completion of at least one course above the intermediate two level (i.e., they at least place into the second course above intermediate two) have also met this requirement.
  • One semester of study away

Biology core courses (four courses/16 points):

  • Principles of Biology I and II (BIOL-UA 11, 12)
    NOTE: Biology majors are not required to register for the 1-credit Principles of Biology Lab (BIOL-UA 123). It is intended for prehealth students not majoring in biology.
  • Molecular and Cell Biology I and II (BIOL-UA 21, 22)
    NOTE: It is strongly recommended that students in this combined major take the optional 1-credit Molecular and Cell Biology Lab (BIOL-UA 223) concurrently with MCB I (BIOL-UA 21).

Biology emphasis area (two courses/8 points):

  • Students select two upper-level biology courses from one of these three areas:
  1. Genetics and genomics
  2. Infectious diseases
  3. Environmental health

A current list of courses satisfying each area is maintained on the official web site of the Department of Biology.

Additional required courses in science and math (seven courses/34 points):

  • Chemistry (four courses/20 points):
    • General Chemistry and Laboratory I and II (CHEM-UA 125, 126)
    • Organic Chemistry and Laboratory I and II (CHEM-UA 225, 226)
  • Physics (two courses/10 points):
    • General Physics I and II (PHYS-UA 11, 12)
  • Mathematics (one course/4 points):
    • Calculus I (MATH-UA 121)

Major electives (two courses/8 points):

  • Two additional electives must be completed in the GPH program or in biology. A current list of courses approved as electives is maintained on the official web site of the Department of Biology.

For descriptions of GPH (UGPH-GU) courses and for all policies applying to the major (including those for transfer students), please see the global public health section of this Bulletin.

Minors

The following courses (completed with grades of C or higher and a minimum GPA of 2.0 in all biology courses) are required for the specific minors. Students interested in one of the minors offered in biology should consult the director of undergraduate studies as early as possible to plan a course of study that meets their needs. Each minor track consists of five 4-point courses plus one 1-point lab (21 points).

Minor in molecular and cell biology: BIOL-UA 11, 12, 21 and 22; either BIOL-UA 123 or BIOL-UA 223; either At the Bench: Applied Molecular Biology (BIOL-UA 36) or At the Bench: Applied Cell Biology (BIOL-UA 37)

Minor in genetics: BIOL-UA 11, 12 and 21; either BIOL-UA 123 or BIOL-UA 223; either Genetics (BIOL-UA 30) or Quantitative Methods in Human Genetics (BIOL-UA 45); At the Bench: Laboratory in Genetics (BIOL-UA 31)

Minor in genomics and bioinformatics: BIOL-UA 11, 12 and 21; either BIOL-UA 123 or BIOL-UA 223; either Genome Biology (BIOL-UA 38) or Fundamentals of Bioinformatics (BIOL-UA 124); one of the following: Microbiology and Microbial Genomics (BIOL-UA 44), Special Topics: Computing with Large Data Sets (BIOL-UA 120), Bioinformatics for Biologists (BIOL-GA 1007), Biological Databases and Data Mining (BIOL-GA 1009), Bioinformatics and Genomes (BIOL-GA 1127), Systems Biology (BIOL-GA 1128), or Applied Genomics: Intro to Bioinformatics and Network Modeling (BIOL-GA 1130).

Minor in environmental biology: BIOL-UA 11, 12; BIOL-UA 123, or the equivalent; one of the following laboratory courses: Ecological Field Methods (BIOL-UA 16), Urban Ecology (BIOL-UA 18), Ecological Analysis with Geographic Information Systems (BIOL-UA 64), or Environmental and Molecular Analysis of Disease (BIOL-UA 500); two of the following: Biostatistics (BIOL-UA 42), Evolution (BIOL-UA 58), Fundamentals of Ecology (BIOL-UA 63), Biogeochemistry of Global Change (BIOL-UA 66), or Current Topics in Earth System Sciences (BIOL-UA 332).

Honors Program

Candidates for a degree with honors in biology must have an overall GPA of at least 3.65 and a minimum 3.65 GPA in all science and mathematics courses required for the major. It is the student's responsibility to secure a faculty member to sponsor the research and to provide laboratory space and equipment. All research credits should be completed by the end of the junior year.

In addition to all courses required for the biology major, students pursuing honors must also complete the following three courses (8 points):

  • One semester of either Independent Study (BIOL-UA 997, 998; 4 points per term) or Internship (BIOL-UA 980, 981; 4 points per term). Department approval of laboratory-based research is required. Research credit must be completed before registering for the thesis (BIOL-UA 999). Application forms are available in the department. For biology majors on the standard track or on the ecology track, this research course may count as one of the five required upper-level elective courses. For GPH/science majors with concentration in biology, this research course may count as one of the two additional major electives (not as an emphasis area elective). Note that GPH/science majors with concentration in biology must also take Experiential Learning (UGPH-GU 60) as part of the core GPH requirements. It is recommended that honors-track students enroll in section 002 (Individual Project) of UGPH-GU 60 while engaged in mentored research (but not in the same semester as BIOL-UA 980, 981, 997 or 998).
  • Becoming a Scientist (BIOL-UA 995, 2 points): must be taken in the fall semester before graduation.
  • Undergraduate Research Thesis (BIOL-UA 999, 2 points): must be taken in the final semester. Students prepare a written thesis based on the research results from their independent study or internship experience and defend the thesis at an oral examination before a faculty committee. Application forms, available at the biology departmental office, must be submitted by the beginning of the final semester.

General Information

Advanced Placement

Students who achieve a score of 4 or 5 on the College Entrance Examination Board Advanced Placement Examination in biology (or have equivalent international exam credits) are exempted from taking the Principles of Biology I, II sequence. However, because of medical, dental, etc. school requirements, students on the pre-health track cannot place out of Principles of Biology.

AP (or equivalent international exam credits) in chemistry cannot count toward any majors or minors offered by the Department of Biology, or substitute for General Chemistry I, II (CHEM-UA 125, 126) wherever this sequence is a corequisite or prerequisite for any BIOL-UA course.

Suggested Course Plans

For reference, suggested four-year course plans for biology majors, including those on the pre-health track and those in the global public health/science major with concentration in biology, are available on the official web site of the Department of Biology.

Study Away

Opportunities for study away that are appropriate for biology majors are available on the official web site of the Department of Biology.

Graduate Courses

A number of courses in specialized fields are offered at the graduate level. Courses at the BIOL-GA 1000 level are available to undergraduates who have the necessary prerequisites. To take any of the relevant BIOL-GA 1000-level graduate courses in biology, students must obtain the signatures of the course instructor and the director of undergraduate studies and have their registration material approved in the department's graduate office.