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Biology

Biology

Bachelor of Science

Degree Type

Major, Minor, Secondary Licensure

Department

Natural & Environmental Sciences (NES) Department

With a strong foundation in biology, you can discover breakthrough treatments for rare diseases in developing countries, help children as a pediatrician in your hometown or research endangered birds in the Amazon.

Program Overview

Biology

Study biological organization from molecules to ecosystems.

Understanding life forms—from molecules and cells, to organisms and ecosystems—has never been more critical or more sought after and biology is at the center of it all. In the Biology program at Western Colorado University, you can work closely with your advisers to choose a variety of courses to create a self-designed major in areas such as botany, zoology, molecular ecology and integrative biology. This allows you to integrate the study of structure and function at all levels of biological organization from molecules to ecosystems.

To get hands-on experience, you can collaborate with researchers at the world-renowned Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory and conduct original research at the Thornton Biology Research Program. Our state-of-the-art lab facilities, immersive learning opportunities and customized curricula enables you to get a head start on your career in public health, veterinary medicine, wildlife preservation and pharmaceuticals.

Hands-on learning

Students gather samples from the river while participating in an outdoor lab in Professor Kevin Alexander’s environmental biology class.

Program Requirements

At Western, course rotations are crafted to encompass a variety of subject fields for a comprehensive education and versatile degree. For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

Program Requirements

The General Biology Emphasis requires a minimum of 51 credits including the 26-credit Biology Nucleus, 14 additional credits in Biology, and 11 credits of supporting courses:

All Biology majors require the 26-credit Biology Nucleus.

Course List
Code Title Credits
Biology Nucleus
BIOL 150Biological Principles (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)4
BIOL 151Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory)4
BIOL 301GENERAL ECOLOGY3
BIOL 310Cell Biology3
BIOL 312Genetics (with recitation)4
CHEM 111General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)3
CHEM 112General Chemistry Laboratory I (GT-SC1)1
CHEM 113General Chemistry II3
CHEM 114General Chemistry Laboratory II1
Total Credits26
Course List
Code Title Credits
Required Biology courses
One of the following:2
BIOL 302
Ecology Laboratory and Recitation
BIOL 313
Cell and Genetics Laboratory
Ten credits of the following:10
300- and 400-level Biology courses
CHEM 471
Biochemistry I
SCI 499
Internship in Science
At lease two credits of Capstone Experience Courses:2-5
BIOL 495
Senior Seminar
BIOL 496
Senior Thesis
Total Credits14-17
Course List
Code Title Credits
11 credits of supporting courses
CHEM 231Introduction to Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry3
CHEM 234Introductory Organic and Biochemistry Laboratory1
PHYS 140Introductory Physics (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)4
One of the following:3-4
MATH 151
Calculus I (GT-MA1)
MATH 213
Probability and Statistics (GT-MA1)
Total Credits11-12

Capstone Course Requirement

The following courses in the Biology Major fulfill the capstone course requirement: BIOL 495SENIOR SEMINARBIOL 496 Senior Thesis , or EDUC 409 SECONDARY STUDENT TEACHING.

Graduation Requirements

Undergraduate programs require a minimum of 120 semester credits for graduation.  Of those 120 credits, 40 credits must be in upper-division courses (those marked 300 and above).  Fifteen of these 40 upper-division credits must be earned in courses that are part of the standard or comprehensive major program being pursued. 

Students are expected to review all graduation requirements, which can be found in the Western Undergraduate Catalog: Graduation Requirements

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredits
HWTR 100 First Year Seminar 1
ENG 102 Writing and Rhetoric I (GT-CO1) 3
MATH 140 College Algebra (GT-MA1) 3
BIOL 151 Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory) 4
CHEM 111
CHEM 112
General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)
and General Chemistry Laboratory I (GT-SC1)
4
 Credits15
Spring
CHEM 113
CHEM 114
General Chemistry II
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
4
BIOL 150 Biological Principles (with laboratory) (GT-SC1) 4
MATH 141 Precalculus (GT-MA1) 4
ENG 103 Writing and Rhetoric II (GT-CO2) 3
 Credits15
Year Two
Fall
BIOL 301 GENERAL ECOLOGY 3
BIOL 310 Cell Biology 3
CHEM 231
or CHEM 331
Introduction to Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry
or Organic Chemistry I
3
CHEM 234
or CHEM 334
Introductory Organic and Biochemistry Laboratory
or Organic Chemistry Laboratory I
1
MATH 151
or MATH 213
Calculus I (GT-MA1)
or Probability and Statistics (GT-MA1)
4
 Credits14
Spring
BIOL 302
or BIOL 313
Ecology Laboratory and Recitation
or Cell and Genetics Laboratory
2
BIOL 312 Genetics (with recitation) 4
Arts & Humanities GE 3
Social Science GE 3
Social Science GE 3
 Credits15
Year Three
Fall
PHYS 140 Introductory Physics (with laboratory) (GT-SC1) 4
Arts & Humanities GE 6
Social Science GE 3
Gen Ed General Education 3
 Credits16
Spring
Biology Elective 4
Biology Elective 4
Gen Ed General Education 9
 Credits17
Year Four
Fall
BIOL 495
or BIOL 496
Senior Seminar
or Senior Thesis
1
Biology Elective 3
Gen Ed General Education 9
 Credits13
Spring
Biology Elective 3
Gen Ed General Education 12
 Credits15
 Total Credits120
 Fall (even years)  Spring (odd years)
BIOL 130 Environmental Biology BIOL 135  Environmental Biology Lab BIOL 150 Biological Principles (with Lab) BIOL 151 Diversity and Patterns of Life (with Lab) BIOL 301 General Ecology BIOL 302 Ecology Lab and Recitation BIOL 310 Cell Biology BIOL 312 Genetics (with Recitation) BIOL 342 Microbiology (with Lab) BIOL 353 Rocky Mountain Flora BIOL 372 Human Anatomy & Physiology I - (with Lab) BIOL 430 Wildlife Ecology & Management (with Lab) BIOL 431 Wildlife Techniques Workshop BIOL 476 Aquatic Ecology (with Lab) BIOL 495 Senior Seminar BIOL 130 Environmental Biology BIOL 135 Environmental Biology Lab BIOL 150 Biological Principles (with Lab) BIOL 151 Diversity and Patterns of Life (with Lab) BIOL 300 Basic Nutrition BIOL 301 General Ecology BIOL 310 Cell Biology BIOL 312 Genetics (with Recitation) BIOL 313 Cell and Genetics Lab BIOL 320 Ornithology (with Recitation and Lab) BIOL 352 Botany (with Lab) BIOL 373 Human Anatomy & Physiology II (with Lab) BIOL 420 Molecular Biology (with Lab) BIOL 440 Conservation Biology BIOL 495 Senior Seminar
Fall (odd years) Spring (even years)
BIOL 130 Environmental Biology BIOL 135 Environmental Biology Lab BIOL 150 Biological Principles (with Lab) BIOL 151 Diversity and Patterns of Life (with Lab) BIOL 301 General Ecology BIOL 302 Ecology Lab and Recitation BIOL 310 Cell Biology BIOL 312 Genetics (with Recitation) BIOL 327 Field Entomology BIOL 342 Microbiology (with Lab) BIOL 362 Evolutionary Biology Theory & Application BIOL 372 Human Anatomy & Physiology I (with Lab) BIOL 444 Colorado Ecoregions BIOL 481 Forest Ecology (with Lab) BIOL 495 Senior Seminar BIOL 130 Environmental Biology BIOL 135 Environmental Biology Lab BIOL 150 Biological Principles (with Lab) BIOL 151 Diversity and Patterns of Life (with Lab) BIOL 300 Basic Nutrition BIOL 301 General Ecology BIOL 310 Cell Biology BIOL 312 Genetics (with Recitation) BIOL 313 Cell and Genetics Lab BIOL 322 Mammalogy (with Lab) BIOL 352 Botany (with Lab) BIOL 373 Human Anatomy & Physiology II (with Lab) BIOL 420 Molecular Biology (with Lab) BIOL 474 Comparative Animal Physiology (with Lab) BIOL 495 Senior Seminar
Some Biology courses are offered sporadically or only in the Summer.  Course examples include: BIOL 120 - Studies in Biology BIOL 353 - Rocky Mountain Flora BIOL 355 - Spring Biology of the Rocky Mountains BIOL 435 - Animal Behavior BIOL 454 - Developmental Biology (with Lab) BIOL 477 - Plant Ecology with Lab

Faculty & Staff

Spotlight

Biology

Ryan Barnhouse

Student

“Being an orientation leader and having that leadership position helped me branch out to try these other things. It gave me the confidence to express myself as a leader and learn what kind of leader I am. And then be able to use that leadership in other aspects.”

Biology

Alexia Abric

Student

"As an Honors Program student, Mountain Sports athlete and an active member of the Academic Leadership Program, Alexia is versatile in terms of academics as well as athletics."

Biology

Patrick Tan

Student

“Western has started this transition to a school where we use our past and our privilege and connect it to what we are learning now to allow ourselves to better understand our world and ourselves.”

Biology

Jonathan Coop, Ph.D.

Faculty

“We can produce high-quality research and publish papers in scientific journals with our students. We’re out on the cutting edge of our field learning the things we don’t know yet."

Biology

Jake Jones

Alumni

“My own mission around the work I do is – ‘What’s the point of doing what I’m doing today?’”

Careers


Top Skills

  • Anatomy
  • Communication
  • Data Analysis
  • Laboratory Techniques
  • Problem Solving
  • Research



Career Pathways

  • Bioinformatics Scientist
  • Biostatistician
  • Epidemiologist
  • Medical Scientist
  • Molecular and Cellular Biologist
  • Natural Sciences Manager

Take the first steps toward your academic and personal growth.

Fostering your intellectual development is the primary focus of every academic program at Western. Our professors and Office of Career Services will help you identify your strengths, hone your skills, define your goals, and prepare for a fulfilling and enriched life after graduation. Wondering how you can apply your program of choice to your intellectual and personal journey? Check out our “What Can I Do With This Major?” tool to explore the diverse opportunities and pathways within any degree program.

Scholarships

Western’s Scholarship Application portal allows you to search for, apply to and manage your scholarship opportunities. This platform houses over 300+ departmental and privately funded scholarship opportunities available to both new and returning students. Through the scholarship portal, students may identify scholarship opportunities based on academic program, campus involvement, academic standing, specific keywords and more. Students may click below to begin learning about what scholarship opportunities are available to them.

Please check individual scholarship opportunity start dates and deadlines as there are exceptions.

Find your scholarships!

Western’s Scholarship Application portal allows you to search for, apply to and manage your scholarship opportunities. This platform houses over 300+ departmental and privately funded scholarship opportunities available to both new and returning students. Through the scholarship portal, students may identify scholarship opportunities based on academic program, campus involvement, academic standing, specific keywords and more. Students may click below to begin learning about what scholarship opportunities are available to them.

Please check individual scholarship opportunity start dates and deadlines as there are exceptions.

Find your scholarships!

Alumni Association Future Alumni Scholarship

The Alumni Association Scholarship is a one-time scholarship of $1,000 and is applicable for the student’s junior or senior year at Western.

Any child or grandchild of an alumni is eligible to receive the Future Alumni Scholarship.

  • This is a one-time non-renewable scholarship of $1,000.
  • Only one Future Alumni Scholarship will be awarded per academic year.
  • GPA must be 3.2 or above (college).

Due date has been extended to April 30 for 2024. An Alumni selection committee, appointed by the Alumni Advisory Council, will review applicants and select awardee by June 1.

Apply

Alumni Legacy Scholarship

The Alumni Legacy Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western (incoming freshman or new transfer students are eligible).

Do you have a son or daughter looking at college? Have they considered attending Western? As an alumni, your son, daughter and/or grandchildren are eligible for certain benefits distributed through this scholarship, as follows:

  • This is a one-time scholarship of $1,000.
  • Nominee must be an incoming first-year student or new transfer.
  • The cost of orientation is reduced by half (a $45 value).
  • The admission application fee is waived (a $30 value).
  • GPA must be 2.5 or above (high school or college of transfer).

The applicant must fill out the application form found below. Application forms are accepted year-round. If the applicant meets the GPA guidelines, the scholarship will be awarded.

Apply

Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

The Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western. This scholarship is not available to midyear transfers or students beginning in the spring semester.

Are you an alumni or employee of Western and know a prospective (or incoming) student who would be a great fit at Western? A recommendation from alumni and employees can support any new student and provide them a $500 scholarship their first year. (Western employees may not recommend a spouse or dependent receiving tuition benefits).

  • Any Western alumni/employee may nominate only one student per academic year to receive the $500 scholarship (distributed $250 per semester).
  • The scholarship is good for the first year only and is non-renewable.
  • The recommended student must be a full-time undergraduate student, attending Western for the first time.

The applicant must fill out the application form found here. The nominating alumni/employee must fill out the application form and submit the required documents by June 1. The recommended student must meet university admissions acceptance standards and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential Promise, visit our scholarships page.

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student’s GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at western.edu/cost to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit our scholarships page.

Get Involved

Biology

Make your education a life changing experience.

A college education is so much more than just taking classes. At Western, you can expand your community, gain job experience as an intern, and conduct field research in the Rocky Mountains.

  • Pre-Health Club: Brings together students with a common interest in health fields to network and to provide career preparation, advice and peer support.
  • Research Assistantships: Many professors conduct externally-funded research and are always looking for student help.
  • Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory: Western biologists and students collaborate with the world-renowned research station seven miles north of Crested Butte.
  • Thornton Biology Research Program: Students can receive funding and work with faculty on original research.
  • Tri Beta and The Wildlife Society: Student-run club that helps provide internships such as lynx tracking and watching wildlife.

Focused on Results

Wildlife Biology undergrad students and Ecology graduate students look out at big horn sheep during a wildlife techniques class studying the management of big horn sheep populations.

News & Research

Western Students Take First, Third for Posters at Research Conference

Western Students Take First, Third for Posters at Research Conference

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Erik Rathmann: Western’s Sustainability Hero

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Western wins grant to plan for future nursing program

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Western Earns Accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission

Western Earns Accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission

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Western’s Provost Receives Alumni Award from Purdue

Western’s Provost Receives Alumni Award from Purdue

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mountaineer STEM scholarship

Scholarship Paves Way for STEM Student Success

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alumni wiles

Western Roots Produce Strong Business

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online courses

Western Colorado University moves summer courses online

Read More about Western Colorado University moves summer courses online
Western’s Supplemental Instruction Program

Western’s Supplemental Instruction Program

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Western alumnus, inspired by his time on campus, publishes research on the genetics of bees

Western alumnus, inspired by his time on campus, publishes research on the genetics of bees

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Additional Resources

Thornton Biology Research Program

Thornton Biology Research Program The Thornton Biology Research Program gives undergraduate students the opportunity to work with faculty on funded, original research. The program also […]

Learn More

Department Chairperson

Anne W. Ryter, Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry

Administrative Assistant

Lori Clement

NES Administrative Assistant

Contact Information

970.943.2015

rbingham@western.edu

Campus Location

Western Colorado University
Hurst Hall 128
1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81231

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We keep the Mountaineer spirit going strong within our alumni community. Whether getting together with friends at an annual event, making a donation or mentoring a student, graduates continue to play an important role in the Western community.

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