IMPORTANT NOTE

The requirements below apply to those students with a 2023-2024 catalog year. Students are required by college policy to follow the major (and minor) requirements found in the catalog in effect at the time they declared their first major. To find your catalog year, please visit your Grades and Academic Records found in myOxy and access the catalog that matches your catalog year.

All Biology majors start with the same group of gateway courses. Students should start taking biology classes as soon as possible! An ideal first-year schedule is to take Marine Biology (BIO 105), Organisms on Earth (Bio 110), or General Zoology (Bio 115) in the fall semester, along with Foundations of General Chemistry (CHEM 120 or CHEM 130). This would be followed in the spring semester by Cell and Molecular Biology (BIO 130).

Placement Information

Most students who are interested in majoring in Biology should take the Calculus Placement Assessment (ALEKS) during the summer prior to their first year. You do not need to take the Calculus Placement Assessment if any of the following are true:

  • You received a score of 4 or 5 on either the AP Calculus AB or BC exam;
  • You received an IB Calculus HL score of 5 or above;
  • You have already taken a Calculus 1 course at another accredited college or university.

Sample 4-Year Plan


Fall

Spring

Year 1

  • Fall FYS course

  • Introductory BIO course (CPLS)

  • Calculus 1 (CPMS)

  • Core Requirement (4 units)

  • Spring FYS course

  • CHEM 120 or CHEM 130 (CPLS)

  • Core Requirement (4 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

Year 2

  • Environmental BIO

  • BIO 130 (CPLS)

  • Core Requirement (4 units)

  • Core Requirement (4 units)

  • CHEM 220

  • Data Analysis

  • Core Requirement (4 units)

  • Core Requirement (4 units)

Year 3

  • BIO 280

  • 200-level Organismal

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • 300-level BIO

  • 200-level Cell & Molecular

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

Year 4

  • BIO 490 or 300-level BIO

  • 300-level BIO

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • BIO 490 or 300-level BIO

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

Curricular Notes

  • Introductory BIO courses include: BIO 105, BIO 110, and BIO 115
  • CHEM 120 or CHEM 130 are prerequisites for BIO 130, though it is also possible to take the CHEM and BIO courses concurrently.
  • Calculus 1 can be fulfilled by MATH 109, MATH 110, or MATH 114. (MATH 109 is part of a two-semester sequence that begins with MATH 108.) An AP Calculus AB score of 4 or 5 also fulfills the Calculus 1 requirement.

Graduate Study

Graduate study toward the degree of Master of Arts under the thesis plan may be undertaken in Biology by properly qualified students. Thesis projects may be elected in any of the following fields: cellular biology, developmental biology, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology, neurobiology, biochemistry, comparative physiology, animal behavior, environmental biology, ecology, systematics and evolutionary biology, and marine biology. Graduate courses, numbered 500 and above, are valued at five units unless otherwise noted. Consult the department chair for further information on graduate studies.

Transfer Credit Policies

The Biology Department policy on transfer credit conforms to College policy. Students should reference the Transfer Credit section for more details. IB or A-level examinations in Biology will not substitute for an Occidental course, place students into advanced courses, or allow a wider opportunity for choice of electives in the Department.

For the major at most two 200-level courses and at most one 300-level course will be accepted in transfer.

For the minor at most one course in transfer may be counted toward the 200- and 300-level requirement.

Contact Biology
Bioscience Building Room 200