Major Requirements

The Biology major at Westmont equips students for the rewarding and challenging professions related to laboratory, environmental, and medical studies. It also cultivates the knowledgeable care and appreciation of the living world as a means of developing a fuller appreciation of God.

There are several components of the Biology program: a schedule of required and elective coursework emphasizing biological concepts at the molecular, cellular, organismal, and ecosystem levels; a laboratory program involving student investigations with opportunities for individual laboratory or field research; and a senior seminar series in which each student develops work on a topic in the biological literature and on an issue of bioethics.

The Biology program emphasizes conceptual understanding, laboratory techniques, field methods, written and oral communication skills, competency in information processing and computer analysis, and informed sensitivity to issues involving biology, ethics, culture, and faith.

Requirements for a B.S. Major: 64 units

The biology department offers three options leading to a bachelor of science degree in biology—a general track providing a comprehensive introduction to all areas of biology, a more specialized track emphasizing cellular and molecular biology and a track emphasizing environmental biology and natural history. Each track is comprised of lower-division courses in biology, mathematics, and physical sciences, plus a variety of required and elective upper-division courses.

General Biology Track: 64 units

Entrance Requirement

      MA 8 Elementary Functions or equivalent

Supporting Science Courses: 20 units

      CHM 5, 6 General Chemistry I, II (4,4)

      One Math course, from the following: (4)

            MA 5 Introduction to Statistics (4)

            MA 9 Elementary Calculus (4)

            CS 10 Introduction to Computer Science (4)

            Additional courses in chemistry, math, or physics (8)

Required Biology Courses: 26-29 units

      BIO 5, 6 General Biology I, II (4,4)

      BIO 114 Genetics (4)

      One course from each of the following three areas: (12)

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology

            BIO 113 Biochemistry (4)

            BIO 130 Cell Biology (4)

            BIO 132 Molecular Biology (4)

  • Organismal Biology

            BIO 102 Physiology (4)

            BIO 108 Animal Diversity (4)

            BIO 110 Microbiology (4)

  • Population Biology

            BIO 104 Marine Biology (4)

            BIO 125 General Ecology (4)

            BIO 126 Animal Ecology (4) (AuSable)

            BIO 128 Physiological Ecology (4)

            BIO 129 Tropical Ecology (4)

            BIO 195 Seminar in Biological Research Literature (1)

      One integrative course from the following: (1-4)

            BIO 196 Bioethics Seminar (1)

            BIO 197 Biology and Faith (4)

            BIO 124 Biology, Values,  the Developing World (4)

Additional courses from the following for a total of 64 units:

      Upper-division BIO

      Upper-division CHM

      MA 9, 10 Elementary Calculus I, II

      NS 114 Earth Science

      PSY 125 Physiological Psychology

Cellular and Molecular Biology Track: 64 units

Entrance Requirement

      MA 8 Elementary Functions or equivalent

Supporting Science Courses: 28 units

      CHM 5, 6 General Chemistry I, II (4,4)

      CHM 101, 102 Organic Chemistry I, II (4,4)

      One Math course, from the following: (4)

            MA 5 Introduction to Statistics (4)

            MA 9 Elementary Calculus (4)

            CS 10 Introduction to Computer Science (4)

      Additional courses in Chemistry, Math, or Physics (8)

Required Biology Courses: 30-33 units

      BIO 5, 6 General Biology I, II (4,4)

      Upper-division Biology Laboratory Courses (20)

      BIO 113 Biochemistry (4)

      BIO 114 Genetics (4)

      BIO 130 Cell Biology (4)

      BIO 132 Molecular Biology (4)

      One course from the following: (4)

            BIO 102 Physiology (4)

            BIO 110 Microbiology (4)

            BIO 162 Neuroscience (4)

      BIO 195 Seminar in Biological Research Literature (1)

      One integrative course, from the following: (1-4)

            BIO 124 Biology, Values, and Developing World (4)

            BIO 196 Bioethics Seminar (1)

            BIO 197 Biology and Faith (4)

Additional courses from the following for a total of 64 units: (3-6 units)

      Upper-division BIO

      Upper-division CHM

      MA 9, 10 Elementary Calculus I, II

      PSY 125 Physiological Psychology

      No more than 4 units to be selected from physical sciences

            or math.

      No more than 2 units of Practicum, BIO 190, 191, or 192

      No more than 4 units Research, BIO 198


Environmental/Natural History Track: 64 units

Entrance Requirement

            MA 8 Elementary Functions or equivalent

Supporting Science Courses: 20 units

            CHM 5, 6 General Chemistry I, II (4,4)

            MA 5 Statistics (4)

Additional courses in physical or other cognate sciences (8) to be selected from the following:

            CHM 101, 102 Organic Chemistry I, II (4,4)

            MA 9, 10 Calculus I, II (4,4)

            PHY 11, 13 Physics for Life Science Majors I, II (4,4)

            PHY 21, 23 General Physics I, II (4,4)

Other environmental courses offered at Westmont field programs (e.g., Environmental Chemistry, Field Geology, Land Resources, Ecological Agriculture, Sustainable Development, Environmental Sociology)

Required Biology Courses: 38-41 units

            BIO 5, 6 General Biology I, II (4,4)

            BIO 114 Genetics (4)

            One of the following organismal courses

                        BIO 102 Physiology (4)

                        BIO 110 Microbiology (4)

                        BIO 128 Physiological Ecology (4)

            Five Field Courses: (20)

At least two courses must be taken in residence at a biological field station. At least one course must be taken from each of the following four areas. Courses listed include Westmont courses that would meet the requirement as well as courses representative of those offered at field stations with which our program has affiliation.

General Ecology

            BIO 125 or equivalent course (4)

Plant Systematics or Field Studies

            BIO 151 Plant Classification (4)

            Woody Plants, Field Botany or Forest Ecology

Animal Systematics or Field Studies

            BIO 108 Animal Diversity (4)

            BIO 126 Animal Ecology (4)

            Ornithology or Insect Ecology

Regional or Habitat Field Course

            BIO 104 Marine Biology (4)

            BIO 123 Aquatic Biology (4)

            BIO 129 Tropical Ecology (4)

            Northwest Natural History or Limnology

One course from the following: (1)

            BIO 191 Environmental Practicum (1)

            BIO 195 Seminar in Biological Literature (1)

            BIO 198 Research (1)

One integrative course from the following: (1-4)

            BIO 124 Biology, Values and the Developing World (4)

            BIO 196 Seminar in Bioethics (1)

            BIO 197 Biology & Faith (4)

Additional courses chosen from the following for a total of 64 units: (3-6 units)

            Upper-division BIO

            Upper-division CHM

            MA 9, 10 Elementary Calculus I, II (4,4)

            PSY 125 Physiological Psychology (4)

            No more than 2 units of Practicum B190, 191, or 192

            No more than 4 units Research, BIO 198

Requirements for a B.A. Major: 48 units

The bachelor of arts major in biology consists of lower- and upper-division course work in biology and supporting physical sciences and mathematics. The program is designed for students who wish to obtain a strong preparation in biology, while also obtaining a broader exposure to courses outside the major than is generally possible with a bachelor of science degree.

Required Lower-Division Courses: 20 units

      BIO 5, 6 General Biology I, II (4,4)

Additional courses to be chosen from the following:

            CHM 5, 6 General Chemistry I, II (4,4)

            MA 5 Introduction to Statistics (4)

            MA 9, 10 Elementary Calculus I, II (4,4)

            PHY 11, 13 Physics for Life Science Majors I, II (4,4)

            PHY 21, 23 General Physics I, II (4,4)

Required Upper-Division Courses: 20 units

      BIO 114 Genetics (4)

At least three additional upper-division biology lab or field courses (12)

      One of the following: (4)

            Upper-division BIO Elective (4)

CHM 101, 102 Organic Chemistry (4,4)

      PSY 125 Physiological Psychology (4)


Requirements for a Minor: 20 units

            BIO 5, 6 General Biology I, II (4,4)

            Upper-division BIO Electives (12)

Additional Courses, either Lower- or Upper-Division: 8 units

Courses in the natural sciences chosen from the BIO listings or from the courses listed above.

Integrative Course

One course, included among the above requirements, which integrates biology with theological and ethical issues. Courses offered by the department which satisfy this requirement are:

BIO 196 Bioethics Seminar (1)
BIO 197 Biology and Faith (4)
BIO 124 Biology, Values, the Developing World (4)