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Cell & Molecular Biology

Bachelor of Science

A background in cell and molecular biology will prepare you for a variety of careers in the growing field of biotechnology, where you can help develop new medications, treatments and breakthrough research.

Program Overview

Help make life-changing scientific discoveries.

The Cell & Molecular Biology curriculum focuses on courses in advanced cell biology, molecular genetics and biochemistry. Through this dynamic blend of coursework, you’ll gain the foundation you need to pursue a career in biotechnology and advanced degrees in laboratory biology, medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and physician assistantships.

An abundance of hands-on research and lab assistantship opportunities will provide you with a truly relevant and immersive education that will place you at the forefront of your field. You’ll also learn theory, critical thinking skills, lab techniques, research methods and other practical skills that will set you up for a meaningful career path.

Under the microscope

Through an abundance of research opportunities, students are transformed into scientists as they learn to think critically, collaborate with scientists in other disciplines, and gather and analyze data quantitatively, all while carrying out the scientific process.

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 Pre-Medicine/Cell and Molecular Biology Emphasis requires a minimum of 67 credits, including the 26-credit Biology Nucleus, 19 additional credits in Biology and/or Chemistry, and 22 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 and Chemistry courses
BIOL 313Cell and Genetics Laboratory2
Fifteen credits of the following:15
BIOL 317
Genome Analysis (with laboratory)
BIOL 342
Microbiology (with laboratory)
BIOL 373
Human Anatomy and Physiology II (with laboratory)
BIOL 420
Molecular Biology (with laboratory)
BIOL 454
Developmental Biology (with laboratory)
BIOL 474
Comparative Animal Physiology (with laboratory)
CHEM 472
Biochemistry II
CHEM 474
Biochemistry Laboratory
Select at least two credits of Capstone Expericence Courses:2
BIOL 495
Senior Seminar (may be repeated)
BIOL 496
Senior Thesis
Total Credits19
Minimum Supporting Courses
CHEM 331Organic Chemistry I3
CHEM 332Organic Chemistry II3
CHEM 334Organic Chemistry Laboratory I1
CHEM 335Organic Chemistry Laboratory II1
CHEM 471Biochemistry I3
One of the following:3-4
MATH 151
Calculus I (GT-MA1)
MATH 213
Probability and Statistics
Select one of the following:8
PHYS 170
PHYS 171
Principles of Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
and Principles of Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
PHYS 200
PHYS 201
General Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
and General Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
Total Credits22-23

Capstone Course Requirement

The following courses in the Biology Major fulfill the capstone course requirement: BIOL 495 SENIOR 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
BIOL 150 Biological Principles (with laboratory) (GT-SC1) 4
CHEM 111 General Chemistry I (GT-SC2) 3
CHEM 112 General Chemistry Laboratory I (GT-SC1) 1
ENG 102 Academic Writing (GT-CO1) 3
HWTR 100 First Year Seminar 1
MATH 140 College Algebra (GT-MA1) 3
Arts & Humanities GE 3
BIOL 151 Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory) 4
CHEM 113 General Chemistry II 3
CHEM 114 General Chemistry Laboratory II 1
MATH 141 Precalculus (GT-MA1) 4
Year Two
BIOL 310 Cell Biology 3
BIOL 301 General Ecology 3
CHEM 331 Organic Chemistry I 3
CHEM 334 Organic Chemistry Laboratory I 1
COM 202 Academic Writing and Inquiry (GT-CO2) 3
MATH 151
or MATH 213
Calculus I (GT-MA1)
or Probability and Statistics
CHEM 332 Organic Chemistry II 3
CHEM 335 Organic Chemistry Laboratory II 1
BIOL 312 Genetics (with recitation) 4
BIOL 313 Cell and Genetics Laboratory 2
Social Science GE 3
Arts & Humanities GE 3
Year Three
CHEM 471 Biochemistry I 3
Social Science GE 3
Biology Elective 4
PHYS 170
or PHYS 200
Principles of Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
or General Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
PHYS 171
or PHYS 200
Principles of Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
or General Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
Biology Elective 4
Social Science GE 3
Arts & Humanities GE 3
Year Four
BIOL 495
or BIOL 496
Senior Seminar
or Senior Thesis
Biology Elective 4
Biology Elective 3
 Total Credits100
 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 435 - Animal Behavior BIOL 454 - Developmental Biology (with Lab) BIOL 477 - Plant Ecology with Lab


Headshot of Conor smiling and wearing a blue collared shirt

Conor Dawson


“Being an EPIC Mentor has enhanced my experience for sure. There are some events and organizations I may not have been familiar with if it were not for being an EPIC Mentor,” he admitted.


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  1. Enrolled in undergraduate or graduate study in the Biology Department.
  2. Demonstrates the skills to advance professionally in either the fields of biology, or environmental studies and science.
  3. Highly regarded by WCU academic faculty.


Mr. David Schneck majored in biology at Western during the 1980’s. David was an exemplary undergraduate student who demonstrated the above criteria. David continued his education earning his graduate degree in 1989 with a Magna cum Lade Master of Arts and Sciences in Biology. Professionally, David served as a very successful Environmental Health Director for San Miguel County in southwest Colorado. Moreover, David was an avid outdoorsman who loved to hunt, fish, hike, and ski. Additionally, he was an animal lover, especially of his favorite pets. Among his friends and colleagues, David will be remembered as a humorous and kind person who loved the natural environment and who respected the laws and nature of science.



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 1 for 2022. An Alumni selection committee, appointed by the Alumni Advisory Council, will review applicants and select awardee by June 1.


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.


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.


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 first-year students.

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

Take your education beyond the classroom.

Get the hands-on learning experience you need to apply your knowledge and launch your career.

  • Lab Assistantships: Students commonly land positions helping their professors with fieldwork and research.
  • Pre-Health Club: Brings together students with a common interest in health fields to network and to provide career preparation, advice and peer support.
  • Thornton Biology Research Program: Students work with faculty mentors on funded and original research.
  • Tri-Beta: Honor society for biology student researchers.

Testing the waters

Cell & Molecular Biology students learn experimentation and laboratory techniques used in cell biology, physiology, and genetics, including experimental design, data analysis, and presentation of research results.

Additional Resources

Thornton Biology Research Program

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

Learn More

Department Chairperson

Anne W. Ryter, Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry

Administrative Assistant

Lori Clement

NES Administrative Assistant

Contact Information



Campus Location

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

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