2010-2011 Academic Catalog 
    Nov 28, 2023  
2010-2011 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biology Major

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Undergraduate Program

The department of biology offers courses that prepare students for careers in the biological and biomedical sciences. The department provides support for other programs within the University that require students to obtain a background in one or more subfields of biology and meets the needs of nonscience majors who wish to integrate the perspectives of the science of biology into a liberal-arts curriculum. The major in biology is suitable for students who intend to go on to professional schools in the health sciences (such as medical,dental, or veterinarian school), graduate studies in the biological sciences, or have careers in biomedical research, biotechnology, education, environmental sciences or conservation biology.

The department encourages students to obtain a broad foundation in biology and then identify an area of emphasis within the biological sciences. In consultation with faculty advisors, students select courses that provide depth of exposure to topics in their area of specialization, which can include research experiences. Two general curricula are offered: one in cell and molecular biology and one in ecology and evolution. Early consultation with a faculty member in biology is strongly recommended to enable students to acquire the necessary background to participate in specially-designed research courses, internships, or research in faculty laboratories. 

Please note that the two-semester sequence, Introduction to Biology (BIOL101 and 102) is a prerequisite for all other courses in biology that meet the requirements for the major. Biology 101 can be substituted with Biology 100 (a first year research seminar) or biology 103 (designed for those interested in the environmental sciences or conservation biology).

Research Faculty

John Baker, Ph.D.


Special Field Courses

Biology majors are encouraged to take field courses and to engage in field-research projects. Clark University maintains formal affiliations with the following organizations, enabling students to apply for admission and, in some cases, preferential financial-aid consideration. Courses from these organizations can be taken in place of other courses required for either the generalized biology major or the curriculum in ecology and evolution.

The Bermuda Biological Station is an internationally renowned center for marine biological and oceanographic research. Intensive summer field courses are available for qualified Clark students. Any of these courses can be taken for biology major credit.

The Semester in Environmental Sciences is offered in the fall by the Ecosystems Center at the Marine Biological Laboratories, Woods Hole, Mass. Students enrolled in SES receive four units of credit for participation in this research-intensive academic program.

The School for Field Studies operates six centers at which semester-long field-oriented courses may be taken for four credit units:

  • The Center for Rainforest Studies (Australia)
  • The Center for Marine Resource Studies (Turks and Caicos Islands, Caribbean)
  • The Center for Wildlife Management Studies (Kenya)
  • The Center for Coastal Studies (Baja, Mexico)
  • The Center for Sustainable Development Studies (Costa Rica)

Clark students are also eligible for admission into summer courses at these centers. Students interested in taking any of these courses for credit toward the major must first take at least one course in either the organismal or population areas (biology course categories 2 or 3 described for the Generalized Biology Major).

The specific course offerings at the Bermuda Biological Station and the School for Field Studies may change each year. Recent, detailed information on the School for Field Studies and the Bermuda Biological Station is available at Web sites maintained by those organizations (www.fieldstudies.org and www.bbsr.edu). Students who wish to apply for these or other off-campus course programs are urged to consult with their biology adviser to ensure that the program will satisfy the student’s needs for a well-planned biology major.

Program Requirements

The Biology Department’s course offerings provide students with the flexibility to become broadly trained, an option well suited for those interested in secondary education, or to focus in a particular area of the biological sciences. The requirements and general recommendations for the biology major are appropriate for students seeking careers in health- or research-related fields, education or further academic training. During their four years at Clark, students work closely with their academic advisors to select courses that best fit their overall academic interests and career goals.

Requirements for all biology majors:

At least two of the 10 required biology courses must be at the 200 level or above, and no courses below the 100 level may be used to satisfy major requirements.

Beginning with the Class of 2014 (students entering AY2010-2011), at least four of the 10 required biology courses must be at the 200 level (or above). Students may use a maximum of two units of independent study (Directed Research/Reading (BIOL 299), Honors in Biology (BIOL 297), Internship (BIOL 298) and no courses below the 100 level to satisfy the major requirements.

or one semester of calculus combined with

Additional Requirements for the Generalized Biology Major

Of the eight courses beyond BIOL 101  (or BIOL 100  or BIOL 103 ) and BIOL 102 , one course must be completed in each of the following three areas:

1. Molecular and Cell Biology, including


In selecting these courses, biology majors should take at least (1) one course that develops research techniques and approaches in one area of biology, (2) one seminar course, and (3) a one semester research experience in an upper level research course (on-or off-campus), an internship, or directed research in a faculty research laboratory.

To guide students interested in Cell and Molecular Biology, Ecology and Evolution, and Prehealth Biology, recommended curricula are outlined below.

Recommended Curriculum for Cell and Molecular Biology

For students who wish to prepare for graduate studies in medicine or cell and molecular biology, education, or employment in biomedical research, the eight courses beyond BIOL 101  (or BIOL 100  or BIOL 103 ) and BIOL 102  should be structured as follows:

One course that develops research techniques:

A minimum of three elective courses in biology

Research Experience:

Students are expected to include at least one upper-division research course, or another research experience, such as directed research in a laboratory, in their coursework.


Students should select these biology courses with the additional aim of completing courses in the three areas described above in the generalized biology major requirements. Students are encouraged to fulfill the additional science course requirement of the generalized major with Organic Chemistry and Physics.

Recommended Curriculum in Ecology and Evolution

For students who wish to prepare for work or advanced studies in ecology or evolutionary biology, the eight biology courses beyond BIOL 101  and BIOL 102  should be structured as follows:

Two courses that are primarily informational in content, aimed at describing a wide variety of aspects of the natural environment or evolution, including

Two courses with an analytical or theoretical orientation, including

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