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Biology Major

Bachelor of Science — Program Overview

Briar Cliff's biology major emphasizes laboratory and field experiences within a quality curriculum.

USE STATE-OF-THE-ART LABS: Gain hands-on experience inside one of the region′s only educational cadaver laboratories, or study living organisms inside a revamped molecular biology lab with some of the most modern equipment available at any undergraduate program in the nation (funded partially by a recent Carver Grant). 

EXPLORE THE PRAIRIE: The nation′s largest urban tallgrass prairie sits literally in Briar Cliff's own backyard. What better place to study biology than a 150-acre classroom?

SEE THE WORLD: Embark on an annual, week-long trip to South Dakota’s Black Hills, or join department learning trips that have included the West Texas desert, Southern California chaparral, the Kansas prairies, Ozark forests, Hawaiian islands and the Costa Rican jungle. 

INTERESTED IN RESEARCH? Conduct experiments and research side-by-side with faculty members, in their respective fields. The practical experience is a great résumé booster, especially for graduate school!


The opportunities are limitless. You can apply to medical, dental, physical therapy and veterinary school; or go on to study fields such as genetics, forensic science and physiology. Not interested in graduate school? Land a job immediately in everything from quality control and research development to conservation and park management. Or, you can begin a fulfilling career in teaching!

Briar Cliff undergraduates will also have preference for admission to our developing Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)* program!

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Core Biology Major Courses

BIOL 151 - General Biology I

This course is an introduction to cellular biology. Topics covered include the scientific method, structure and function of cell, genetics and molecules of life. Three lectures, one lab per week. Read more »

BIOL 152 - General Biology II

This course in an introduction to organismal biology. Topics covered include the scientific method, ecology, evolution and the diversity of life forms. Three lectures, one lab per week. Read more »

BIOL 212 - General Botany

A survey course of organisms traditionally treated as plants. Topics will also include a review of structure and function of vascular plants, physiological processes characterized by plants, and the importance of plants in everyday life. Three lectures, one lab per week. Read more »

BIOL 213 - Invertebrate Zoology

A survey of representative phyla of the invertebrates, organisms which consist of at least 90 percent of the earth's fauna. Three lectures, one lab per week. Read more »

BIOL 22IS - Scientific Writing and Research

This course examines the various components of scientific primary sources as well as how each section is written. Students will demonstrate the use of basic computer skills: database search strategies, spreadsheets, presentation software, word processing and use of e-mail. Students will demonstrate scientific analytical and communication skills through writing assignments and an oral presentation. Read more »

BIOL 339 - Principles of Microbiology

An in-depth study of microorganisms, including ultra structure, growth characteristics, metabolism and genetics. Read more »

BIOL 58IS - Senior Seminar

Contemporary biological issues will be the focus of this capstone course required of all senior biology majors. The discussion format will require students to integrate prior knowledge and experiences. All students will take a standardized exam at the end of the course. Open only to seniors. Read more »

CHEM 111 - Principles of Chemistry I

A presentation of the basic principles of chemistry including stoichiometry, thermochemistry, atomic and molecular properties, and properties of gases, liquids and solids. Read more »

CHEM 111L - Principles of Chemistry Laboratory I

An introduction to experimental chemical methods of synthesis and characterization by quantitative and qualitative procedures. Experiments will include investigations of stoichiometry, gas properties and calorimetry. Read more »

CHEM 112 - Principles of Chemistry II

A utilization of the basic principles of chemistry learned in CHEM 111 in complex chemical systems. Included are solution properties, thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibrium and descriptive inorganic chemistry. Read more »

CHEM 112L - Principles of Chemistry Laboratory II

An introduction of experimental chemical methods of synthesis and characterization by quantitative and qualitative procedures. Experiments will include investigations of acids and bases, redox reactions, equilibrium and kinetics. Read more »

Additional Program Requirements

— Biology majors are required to take 44 hours of coursework with a BIOL prefix (including courses listed above).

— A minimum 2.0 GPA in the major is required for graduation. No more than one D or D+ in a 3- or 4-hour, BIOL-prefixed course will count toward the major.

— Most biology lab courses include a lab fee for supplies, which is billed at the time of registration.

*Graduation from a physical therapist education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; phone; 703-706-3245; is necessary for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination, which is required in all states. Briar Cliff University is seeking accreditation of a new physical therapist education program from CAPTE. The program will submit an Application for Candidacy, which is the formal application required in the pre-accreditation stage. Submission of this document does not assure that the program will be granted Candidate for Accreditation status. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status is required prior to implementation of the professional phase of the program; therefore, no students may be enrolled in professional courses until Candidate for Accreditation status has been achieved. Further, though achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status signifies satisfactory progress toward accreditation, it does not assure that the program will be granted accreditation.