Biology Major, B.S.–Quantitative Biology Track

Department of Biology

Coker Hall, 120 South Road, CB# 3280

(919) 962-3390

Victoria L. Bautch, Chair

Gidi Shemer, Departmental Advisor, Abbey Fellow

William M. Kier, Interim Director of Undergraduate Studies (2017-2018)

Alain Laederach, Biology Study Abroad

Mara Evans, Career Advising

Summer Montgomery, Assistant for Undergraduate Services

Biology is the study of life from both basic and applied perspectives across a broad range of analytical levels, from the molecule and cell to the organism and ecosystem.

This program is designed for students with a strong interest in a multidisciplinary approach to biological problems in preparation for graduate study in biological or health sciences.

Department Programs



Graduate Programs

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the biology (B.A., B.S.) program, students should be able to: 

  • Knowledge Base: Demonstrate knowledge of major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in the broad field of Biology
  • Research Methods: Apply basic research methods in the biological sciences, including research design, data analysis, and data interpretation
  • Critical Thinking Skills: Demonstrate the use of critical and creative thinking skills in upper-level biology courses and in their approach to undergraduate research
  • Application of Knowledge, Research Methods, and Critical Thinking: Apply knowledge of the field of biology, research skills, and critical thinking skills to undertake a course-based, field, or laboratory research project


In addition to the program requirements listed below, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Gateway Course
BIOL 101
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory 1, H
Core Requirements
Core Courses:
BIOL 201Ecology and Evolution H4
BIOL 202Molecular Biology and Genetics H4
BIOL 205Cellular and Developmental Biology H4
Two laboratory courses 28
A choice of three biology electives (each of three or more credits, not including BIOL 213, BIOL 253, BIOL 291, BIOL 292, BIOL 293, BIOL 294, BIOL 296, BIOL 353, and BIOL 495), of which at least two quantitative electives must be chosen from: 39-12
Mathematics of Evolutionary Processes
The Mathematics of Life 4
Mathematical Methods for Quantitative Biology 4
Biological Physics
Evolutionary Genetics
Global Biodiversity and Macroecology
Analysis and Interpretation of Sequence-Based Functional Genomics Experiments 4
Computational Genetics 4, H
Seminar in Quantitative Biology 4
Quantitative Personalized Genomics 4
Mathematical Modeling in the Life Sciences
Light Microscopy for the Biological Sciences
Comparative Biomechanics
Mathematical and Computational Models in Biology 4
Statistics for Environmental Scientists
Statistical Analysis in Ecology and Evolution
Advanced Studies of Cell Division
Additional Requirements
BIOS 600Principles of Statistical Inference3
or STOR 155 Introduction to Data Models and Inference
CHEM 101
General Descriptive Chemistry I
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I 5
CHEM 102
General Descriptive Chemistry II
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory II 5, H
CHEM 261Introduction to Organic Chemistry I H3
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Programming H
Introduction to Scientific Programming
Foundation of Programming H
MATH 231Calculus of Functions of One Variable I3-4
or MATH 241 BioCalculus I
MATH 232Calculus of Functions of One Variable II3-4
or MATH 283 BioCalculus II
MATH 233Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H4
One of the following:4
General Physics I
General Physics I: For Students of the Life Sciences
Mechanics H
Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity
One of the following:4
General Physics II
General Physics II: For Students of the Life Sciences
Electromagnetism and Optics H
Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta
A choice of two additional allied sciences electives selected from the course list below 66-9
Enough general education and free electives to accumulate 127 academic hoursvaries
Total Hours127

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.


With a C grade or better in BIOL 101


One must be a quantitative laboratory chosen from BIOL 224H/BIOL 224L,BIOL 226/BIOL 226L,BIOL 525/BIOL 525L, BIOL 526, BIOL 527/BIOL 527L, BIOL 528/BIOL 528L, or BIOL 553/BIOL 553L. The other can be any biology laboratory course, including two semesters of BIOL 395.


A total of six hours from BIOL 295 (inactive fall 2017), BIOL 395, and/or BIOL 692H count as a laboratory course requirement. One additional elective may consist of a total of three hours of courses numbered above 600 (not including BIOL 692H).


Courses cannot count as both a quantitative laboratory and a quantitative elective


A grade of C or better in CHEM 101 or CHEM 102 is required for BIOL 201 and BIOL 202.


Premedical students are encouraged to take CHEM 241/CHEM 241L and CHEM 262/CHEM 262L.

Allied Science Electives

All allied science elective courses need to have a minimum of three credit hours.

ANTH 143Human Evolution and Adaptation3
ANTH 148Human Origins3
ANTH 298Biological Anthropology Theory and Practice3
ANTH 315Human Genetics and Evolution3
ANTH 317Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Adaptation and Behavior3
ANTH 318Human Growth and Development3
ANTH 412Paleoanthropology3
ANTH 414Laboratory Methods: Human Osteology3
ANTH 415Laboratory Methods: Zooarchaeology3
ANTH 416Bioarchaeology3
ANTH 470Medicine and Anthropology3
ANTH 623Human Disease Ecology3
Any ASTR course above 993
Any BIOL course above 101, except BIOL 213, BIOL 291, BIOL 292, BIOL 294, BIOL 296, and BIOL 4953
Any BIOS course3
BMME 510Biomaterials3
Any CHEM course above 1013
Any COMP course above 100, except COMP 3803
ENEC 202Introduction to the Environmental Sciences4
ENEC 256Mountain Biodiversity4
ENEC 403Environmental Chemistry Processes3
ENEC 406Atmospheric Processes II4
ENEC 410Earth Processes in Environmental Systems4
ENEC 411Oceanic Processes in Environmental Systems4
ENEC 415Environmental Systems Modeling3
ENEC 471Human Impacts on Estuarine Ecosystems4
ENEC 489Ecological Processes in Environmental Systems4
EXSS 175Human Anatomy3
EXSS 276Human Physiology3
GEOG 110The Blue Planet: An Introduction to Earth's Environmental Systems H3
GEOG 111Weather and Climate3
GEOG 212Environmental Conservation and Global Change3
GEOG 253Introduction to Atmospheric Processes4
GEOG 445Medical Geography3
Any GEOL course above 1003
Any MASC course above 1003
Any MATH course above 110, except MATH 129P3
MCRO 251Introductory Medical Microbiology4
NUTR 240Introduction to Human Nutrition3
PHIL 155Introduction to Mathematical Logic H3
PHYI 292Introduction to Physiology5
Any PHYS course above 99, except PHYS 132
PSYC 101General Psychology3
PSYC 210Statistical Principles of Psychological Research H3
PSYC 220Biopsychology H3
PSYC 222Learning H3
PSYC 225Sensation and Perception H3
PSYC 230Cognitive Psychology H3
PSYC 315Introduction to Neuroscience3
PSYC 400Conditioning and Learning3
PSYC 401Animal Behavior3
PSYC 402Advanced Biopsychology3
PSYC 403Advanced Biopsychology Laboratory H3
Any STOR course above 1513
SPHS 570Anatomy and Physiology of the Speech, Language, and Hearing Mechanisms3

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans can be used as a guide to identify the courses required to complete the major and other requirements needed for degree completion within the expected eight semesters. The actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Students should meet with their academic advisor to create a degree plan that is specific and unique to their interests. The sample plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UNC–Chapel Hill in the fall term. Some courses may not be offered every term.

Suggested Program of Study for the Quantitative Track

Plan of Study Grid
First YearHours
BIOL 101
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory H
CHEM 101
General Descriptive Chemistry I
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I
CHEM 102
General Descriptive Chemistry II
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory II H
ENGL 105 English Composition and Rhetoric 3
Language levels 2 and 3 6
MATH 231
Calculus of Functions of One Variable I
or BioCalculus I
MATH 232
Calculus of Functions of One Variable II
or BioCalculus II
Lifetime fitness 1
Approaches (one course) 3
Hours 33
Sophomore Year
Select two of three biology core courses: 8
Ecology and Evolution H  
Molecular Biology and Genetics H  
Cellular and Developmental Biology H  
BIOS 600
Principles of Statistical Inference
or Introduction to Data Models and Inference
CHEM 261 Introduction to Organic Chemistry I H 3
CHEM 262
Introduction to Organic Chemistry II
and Laboratory in Organic Chemistry (if premed) H
Select one of the following: 3
Introduction to Programming H  
Introduction to Scientific Programming  
Foundation of Programming H  
MATH 233 Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H 4
Approaches (two courses) 6
Elective 3
Hours 34
Junior Year
Remaining biology core course 4
Biology electives including one quantitative laboratory (three courses) 10
PHYS 114
General Physics I: For Students of the Life Sciences
or Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity
PHYS 115
General Physics II: For Students of the Life Sciences
or Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta
Approaches and Connections (three courses) 9
Hours 31
Senior Year
Second laboratory course 4
Biology electives (two courses) 6
Allied sciences electives (CHEM 241/CHEM 241L if premed) 3
Approaches and Connections 6
Electives to accumulate 127 academic hours 10
Hours 29
Total Hours 127

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Biology Major, NUS Joint Degree

Biology B.S. majors may wish to consider applying for the Joint Degree Program, an innovative joint undergraduate degree program between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National University of Singapore. UNC–Chapel Hill undergraduates spend anywhere from two to four semesters at the National University of Singapore and receive a joint bachelor of science degree from both institutions. For further information, contact the Study Abroad Office.

Special Opportunities in Biology

Students are encouraged to speak with their advisor about opportunities to serve as peer advisors in the Health Professions Advising Office, or to join Tri-Beta, the National Biological Sciences Honor Society.

Honors in Biology

Candidates for honors or highest honors must secure approval from the departmental honors advisor. They must have three hours of BIOL 395, take BIOL 692H, and maintain a grade point average of 3.3, both overall and in biology courses (exclusive of BIOL 692H and including only one semester of BIOL 395), calculated at the end of the semester preceding the semester in which they graduate. Other requirements are detailed on the department Web site.

Experiential Education

After completing BIOL 201 or BIOL 202, students are encouraged to consider how they plan to meet the experiential education requirement. BIOL 293 and BIOL 395 fulfill this requirement and also connect students’ academic coursework to current biological research and inquiry.


The UNC Baccalaureate Education in Science and Teaching (UNC–BEST) Program is a collaboration between the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences and is designed to allow undergraduate science majors interested in teaching high school science the opportunity to earn their science degree and obtain licensure as a North Carolina high school science teacher in four years. UNC–BEST students meet all the degree requirements for their biology degree using BIOL 410 as one of their upper-level biology courses.

BIOL 410Principles and Methods of Teaching Biology4
EDUC 689Foundations of Special Education (may substitute EDUC 516)3
EDUC 532Introduction to Development and Learning (may substitute EDUC 403)3
EDUC 615Schools and Community Collaboration (may substitute EDUC 533)3
EDUC 593Internship/Student Teaching12
EDUC 601Education Workshops1
Total Hours26

For more details on admission requirements, application deadlines, and submitting an online application, visit the program's Web site or catalog description.

Laboratory Teaching Apprenticeships and Assistantships

Opportunities exist for assisting graduate instructors (and for instruction in undergraduate laboratories). Interested students should contact the instructor of the course or obtain approval from either the departmental director of undergraduate studies or the department chair.

Undergraduate Awards

All awards include a personal plaque, a monetary gift, and a place on Coker Hall’s list of department honorees. The awards include

  • The Stephen G. Brantley Award in honor of Henry Van Peters Wilson, given annually to a senior biology major for excellence in research in molecular and cellular biology.
  • The Robert Ervin Coker Award, given annually to a senior biology major for excellence in research in organismal biology and ecology.
  • The John N. Couch Award, given annually to a senior biology major with interests in plant biology who has demonstrated the highest ideals of scholarship and research.
  • The Irvine R. Hagadorn Award, given annually to the junior biology major based on academic and research excellence. This award is also recognized by the UNC–Chapel Hill chancellor at the Annual Chancellor’s Awards Ceremony.
  • The Francis J. LeClair Award, given annually to a senior biology major for academic excellence in biology with an emphasis in plant sciences.

Undergraduate Research

An undergraduate research experience is extremely valuable to a student who intends to pursue postgraduate work in the biological sciences. Undergraduates may participate directly in the research of faculty in the Department of Biology. This research opportunity allows students to put their knowledge of biology into practice through participation in a biological research program and is encouraged by faculty. Students’ participation in research can begin as early as their second year by registration in BIOL 395.

Undergraduates with a 3.0 or higher grade point average in biology courses are encouraged to enroll in BIOL 395. Information concerning the procedure for enrolling in a research course can be obtained from the chair of the department’s undergraduate honors research program. Additional information can be found on the department's Web site.