FB Pixel Skip to Main Content
A student looks through a microscope during a Biology lab.

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

Cell biology program

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.

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 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 Experience Courses:2
BIOL 495
Senior Seminar (may be repeated)
BIOL 496
Senior Thesis
Total Credits19
Course List
Code Title Credits
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 (GT-MA1)
Select one of the following pairs of courses:8
PHYS 170
PHYS 185
Principles of Physics I (GT-SC2)
and Laboratory Physics I (GT-SC1)
AND
PHYS 171
PHYS 186
Principles of Physics II (GT-SC2)
and Laboratory Physics II (GT-SC1)
OR
PHYS 190
PHYS 185
General Physics I (GT-SC2)
and Laboratory Physics I (GT-SC1)
AND
PHYS 191
PHYS 186
General Physics II (GT-SC2)
and Laboratory Physics II (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
FallCredits
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 Writing and Rhetoric I (GT-CO1) 3
HWTR 100 First Year Seminar 1
MATH 140 College Algebra (GT-MA1) 3
 Credits15
Spring
BIOL 151 Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory) 4
ENG 103 Writing and Rhetoric II (GT-CO2) 3
CHEM 113 General Chemistry II 3
CHEM 114 General Chemistry Laboratory II 1
MATH 141 Precalculus (GT-MA1) 4
 Credits15
Year Two
Fall
BIOL 310 Cell Biology 3
BIOL 301 GENERAL ECOLOGY 3
CHEM 331 Organic Chemistry I 3
CHEM 334 Organic Chemistry Laboratory I 1
MATH 151
or MATH 213
Calculus I (GT-MA1)
or Probability and Statistics (GT-MA1)
3-4
Arts & Humanities GE 3
 Credits16-17
Spring
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
 Credits16
Year Three
Fall
CHEM 471 Biochemistry I 3
Social Science GE 3
Biology Elective 4
PHYS 170
or PHYS 190
Principles of Physics I (GT-SC2)
or General Physics I (GT-SC2)
3
PHYS 185 Laboratory Physics I (GT-SC1) 1
 Credits14
Spring
PHYS 171
or PHYS 191
Principles of Physics II (GT-SC2)
or General Physics II (GT-SC2)
3
PHYS 186 Laboratory Physics II (GT-SC1) 1
Biology Elective 4
Social Science GE 3
Arts & Humanities GE 3
 Credits14
Year Four
Fall
BIOL 495
or BIOL 496
Senior Seminar
or Senior Thesis
2
Biology Elective 4
Elective Elective 11
 Credits17
Spring
Biology Elective 3
Elective Elective 9
 Credits12
 Total Credits119-120
 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

Spotlight

Headshot of Conor smiling and wearing a blue collared shirt

Conor Dawson

Student

“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.

Careers


Top Skills

  • Bioinformatics
  • Communication
  • Genetics
  • Laboratory Skills
  • Problem Solving
  • Research



Career Pathways

  • Bioinformatics Scientist
  • Biomedical Research Scientist
  • Clinical Research Associate
  • Genetic Counselor
  • Physician
  • Toxicologist

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

Cell molecular biology

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.

News & Research

Western Earns Accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission

Western Earns Accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission

Read More about Western Earns Accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission

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

970.943.2015

rbingham@western.edu

Campus Location

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

Take the Next Step

Apply to
Western
Students pose for a photo on top of Mount Crested Butte in the summer

Apply to
Western

We understand that applying to a university can be daunting, which is why we make our admission process as simple and straightforward as possible. Learn more about applying to your program of choice at Western.

Visit
Western
Colorado Hall with the Palisades in the background on a bluebird day.

Visit
Western

The best way to find out what makes Western such a special place is to experience it for yourself. Our student-led tours give you an insider’s perspective on everything from academics to student life.

Alumni
Community
A group of four alumni look at a display of old photos on a table.

Alumni
Community

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.

Request
Information
A few students pose for a photo behind a table.

Request
Information

Want to discover more about Western? Request information today to get in touch with the admissions team.