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

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.

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
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
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
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 Academic Writing (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)
3
 Credits14
Spring
CHEM 113
CHEM 114
General Chemistry II
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
3
BIOL 150 Biological Principles (with laboratory) (GT-SC1) 4
MATH 141 Precalculus (GT-MA1) 4
Arts & Humanities GE 3
 Credits14
Year Two
Fall
COM 202 Academic Writing and Inquiry (GT-CO2) 3
BIOL 301 General Ecology 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
4
 Credits14
Spring
BIOL 310 Cell Biology 3
PHYS 140 Introductory Physics (with laboratory) (GT-SC1) 4
Arts & Humanities GE 3
Social Science GE 3
Social Science GE 3
 Credits16
Year Three
Fall
Arts & Humanities GE 3
BIOL 302
or BIOL 313
Ecology Laboratory and Recitation
or Cell and Genetics Laboratory
2
BIOL 312 Genetics (with recitation) 4
Social Science GE 3
 Credits12
Spring
Biology Elective 4
Biology Elective 4
 Credits8
Year Four
Fall
BIOL 495
or BIOL 496
Senior Seminar
or Senior Thesis
1
Biology Elective 3
 Credits4
Spring
Biology Elective 3
 Credits3
 Total Credits85
 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

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

Jake Jones

Alumni

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

Biology

Dr. Sean Markey

Alumni

"From truck driver to neurosurgeon—thanks to Western and its nurturing professors."

Biology

Angela Fioretti

Alumni

“I felt like Western was full of people who were a lot like me, and I had a sense that I found my people.”

Biology

Angel De La Cruz Ramirez

Student

“Personally I have learned to push myself to limits I didn’t know how to.”

Careers

Career preparation starts your first year at Western and is the primary focus of every degree.

Visit Career Services in Library 120 or online to discover your interests, define your goals, and land the career of your dreams.

The data below is automatically collected by Burning Glass Technologies, a firm that sources job market data and provides analytics. The statistics illustrate general trends in U.S. careers, but do not precisely represent every job and salary.

Scholarships

Eligibility

  • Applied or accepted Western student
  • Student is pursuing a major in Mathematics or related Natural Sciences
  • Applicant has demonstrated a need for financial assistance
  • Demonstrated an interest and is active in inter-collegiate athletics
  • Preference should be given to entering freshmen, however all classes are eligible
  • Preference should be given to applicants whose study time is limited by family obligations or the need to earn income
  • No preference shall be given based on the sex of the applicant
  • Preference will be given to applicant from Delta County, CO. or the Western Slope of Colorado

Description

Established with the Western Colorado University Foundation to perpetuate the memory of William Charlesworth, a 1954 graduate of Western Colorado University. The express purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to student-athletes pursuing majors in mathematics or related natural sciences.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected By: The chair of Mathematics and Computer Science and a representative from the Athletic Department appointed by the Athletic Director. A representative from the Natural Sciences Department shall be on the selection committee.

Application:

Contact the Mathematics & Computer Science Department or the Athletic Department for application and deadline information.

Mathematics & Computer Science Department: 970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128
Athletic Department: 970.943.2079 | Paul Wright Gym 201.

Eligibility

  • Full-time student
  • 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher
  • At least sophomore status
  • Must demonstrate an interest and capability to pursue studies and/or research in the area of botany and native plant research (Biology)
  • Preference will be given to those with financial need

Description

This scholarship is provided by the family and friends to honor Dr. Ferchau for the never-ending assistance he gave to students at Western.

Award depends on funds available (anticipated award $2400).

Selected by: Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Eligibility

  • Full-time students who are majoring in Geology, Environment & Sustainability, Environmental Biology or a related field.
  • Must be a junior level (60+ credits)
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • Preference given to students with financial need who are residents of the Western Slope of Colorado and have expressed interest in a career in park operations/park management or a career in the earth sciences

Description

This scholarship is provided by Barbara Kastellic and gifts from others to honor Joseph, who was the first Superintendent of the Black Canyon National Monument from 1975-1984.

Award depends on funds available.

Application:

Complete and submit The Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship application which is available in the Financial Aid Office.

A recommendation and a one-page essay will be needed to complete the application.

Eligibility

  • Students majoring in Biology or Chemistry

Description

This scholarship is provided by the family and friends of Aubrey W. Lawrence who served as Professor of Chemistry and Chairman of the Division of Natural Science and Mathematics.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Science Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Eligibility

  • Recipient must be a full-time junior or senior
  • 3.0 GPA or higher
  • must be engaged in pre-medical studies

Description

This scholarship is provided by Dr. Mason Light, who served the college community for over forty years while he was a practicing physician in Gunnison. He and his wife established this scholarship.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Donor Scholarship Committee (Family of Mason Light) in cooperation with Western Colorado University Foundation and the Director of Financial Aid.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Eligibility

  • Full-time juniors or seniors (qualified juniors shall be given preference over seniors)
  • Must be declared major in the Natural and Environmental Sciences Department
  • Must maintain at least 3.2 GPA
  • Recipients must follow Casey’s example of academic promise, love for the outdoors and service to fellow students demonstrated by volunteering in the community and involvement in campus activities and service.

Description

this scholarship is provided by the gifts by Bill and Monica McKenny, Casey’s parents, as well as other family members and friends.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Natural & Environmental Sciences faculty in consultation with the Dean of Students and Bill and Monica McKenny.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Eligibility

  • Full-time Colorado residents who have a major in a field within the Natural & Environmental Science Department
  • Must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 minimum
  • Demonstrate financial need

Description

This scholarship is provided by Dr. James Nauman, who attended Western from 1945-49.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Eligibility

  • Full-time students who have declared a major in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics

Description

This scholarship is provided by the gifts from members of the Walker family to perpetuate the memory and to commemorate the service and devotion of C. Ralph and Florence Walker, who both served Western and the Gunnison community in an exemplary manner for many years. Professor Walker was Chairman of Western’s then Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

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 15 for 2021. An Alumni selection committee, appointed by the Alumni Advisory Board, 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 freshman 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 here (click). 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.

Description

The Western Presidential Honors Scholarships, established by the Jack and Marilyn MacAllister Foundation shall be an elite class of scholarships awarded to Western’s highest achieving and most deserving students, celebrating the ideals of academic excellence and service to the campus and community. Recipients of the Scholarships will be members of the Western Colorado University Honors Program.

There are eight Presidential Honors Scholarships of $2500 each. Each year two new Presidential Honors Scholarships will be awarded to two incoming freshmen.

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

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

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Former Biology professor passes away at 85

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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 delivers …

Learn More

Department Chairperson

Robin A. Bingham, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

Administrative Assistant

Samantha Siegfried

Administrative Assistant for NES

Contact Information

970.943.2015

rbingham@western.edu

Campus Location

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