First-Year Focus

Getting Started/Declaring a Major in Biological Sciences

Welcome to Biological Sciences!  To declare your major:

  • Visit the Program in Biological Sciences Office in Hogan 2-144
  • Fill out a declaration of major form, including your chosen area of concentration
  • Submit the signed form to the WCAS Dean’s Office (1922 Sheridan Road)

You will be assigned a major advisor who specializes in your chosen area of concentration, and who can help you navigate the requirements of the major.  The Associate Director and Program Assistant are also available to answer your questions.

While you are strongly encouraged to declare before the end of your sophomore year, you can declare at any point up until you petition to graduate. 

Suggested Course Sequence for First- and Second- Year Students

During the first year, students typically complete:

  • CHEM 101, 102, and 103 or CHEM 171 and 172*
  • MATH 220 and 224*
  • A course in statistics*
  • BIOL_SCI 215 Genetics and Molecular Biology (offered Spring Quarter only)

During the second year, students typically complete:

  • CHEM 210-1,2 or CHEM 212-1,2 Organic Chemistry
  • BIOL_SCI 217 Physiology (offered Fall Quarter)
  • BIOL_SCI 219 Cell Biology (offered Winter Quarter)
  • BIOL_SCI 308  Biochemistry (offered Spring Quarter)
  • BIOL_SCI 220-222 Laboratory Sequence   

The Physics* requirement (125, 130, or 135 sequence) is typically met by the end of the junior year. 

Five more 300-level courses are taken during the junior and senior years and vary according to the student’s choice of concentration; most require some or all of the 200-level series. For more details, please see the B.A. in Biological Sciences Degree Requirements.  Students interested in pursuing research for credit are encouraged to explore the many opportunities offered at Northwestern.

*Advanced Placement policy:  It is possible to test out of some Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Statistics requirements for the Biological Science major.  However, no AP credits will be accepted for required Biological Sciences courses.