University Catalog 2024-2025

Biological Sciences (BA)

The NC State Bachelor of Arts degree in Biological Sciences is designed for students who want to combine studies in the life sciences with studies in a secondary discipline(s) of interest (chosen from outside of the life sciences). Students in the Biological Sciences B.A. choose exactly which life science courses they want to use to fulfill the biological component of their degree. They are required to take just as much biology (through these Life Science Electives) as students in the B.S. in Biological Sciences, but requirements in the supporting sciences (chemistry, physics, and calculus) are reduced.  Instead, Biological Sciences B.A. students identify coursework from fields outside the life sciences to contribute to an interdisciplinary framework for their biology study (e.g., psychology, social work, communication, international studies, political science, anthropology, gender studies, education, mathematics, statistics, and many more). These "Cross Discipline Elective" courses are designed by the student in consultation with their academic advisor. This proposed interdisciplinary course plan is sent to the program director for approval.  

At the end of their undergraduate studies, students in this degree program complete a Senior Capstone Project through which they draw on both the life sciences (or a sub-discipline within the life sciences) and their chosen Cross Disciplines to identify and propose a solution to a problem or challenge based on existing research. Experiential learning (related to their academic and/or career interests) is also required of all students in this program.  

Students who graduate with a B.A. in Biological Sciences will benefit from training in scientific thinking and from gaining a broader perspective through their Cross Disciplinary studies. In choosing courses, students are encouraged to consider the course pre-requisites of graduate or professional programs to which they are interested in applying. Depending on their course choices, students will be prepared for a wide range of careers or further studies. Biological Sciences B.A. graduates are employed or pursuing advanced study in bioethics, bioinformatics, law, health analytics, health care (nursing, physician assistant, physical therapy), clinical research, public health, science communication and informal education, neurobiology and psychology.

Plan Requirements

  • Students should check with their adviser before electing to take any course with S/U grading if it is normally graded A-F. Up to 12 hours of Free Electives can be taken S/U.
  • Students cannot use the same course both as a Cross Discipline Elective and to meet a GEP requirement (with the exception of Global Knowledge and US Diversity).
  • Student are responsible for determining the pre-requisites for any course they are interested in taking.
  •  Students interested in graduate school or professional school should check the courses required for admission to the programs to which they plan to apply.
  •  The B.A. in Biological Sciences cannot be used as a second major for many students already in a degree program in the life sciences – students interested in a second major should first check with the coordinator of their desired second major.
Exploring the Life Sciences
LSC 103Exploring Opportunities in the Life Sciences1
LSC 103 deals with transition-to-college issues while exploring degree program options within the life sciences. If a student transfers into the B.A. in Biological Sciences after taking a similar course in another program, that course can be substituted for LSC 103 on the degree audit, an action initiated by the academic advisor.
Communication and Writing
Communication and Writing Electives6
Foundational Sciences
LSC 101Critical and Creative Thinking in the Life Sciences 12
BIO 181Introductory Biology: Ecology, Evolution, and Biodiversity 14
BIO 183Introductory Biology: Cellular and Molecular Biology 14
CH 101
CH 102
Chemistry - A Molecular Science
and General Chemistry Laboratory 1
Select one of the following Organic Chemistry course sets:4
Introductory Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry I Lab
Organic Chemistry I
and Organic Chemistry I Lab
Select one of the following Calculus courses:3
Elements of Calculus
Calculus for Life and Management Sciences A
Calculus I
PY 131Conceptual Physics4
Select one of the following Quantitative Elective courses:3
Economics and Business Statistics
Introduction to Statistics
Economics and Business Statistics
Major Electives 2,5
Life Science Electives 300/400 level 18
Life Science Electives6
Cross Discipline Electives 300/400 lvl15
Cross Discipline Electives6
Experiential Learning 23
Experiential Learning opportunities can take many forms, but should be relevant to a possible career path or other academic interest for the student. The out-of-class experience to be undertaken to meet this requirement must be approved in advance by the adviser and program director. It is the responsibility of the student to identify an opportunity, to make arrangements with a supervisor to pursue that opportunity, and to complete the contract necessary for credit to be awarded for the experience.
Professional Experience
Research Experience
Teaching Experience
BIO 481Senior Capstone Project1
GEP Courses
ENG 101Academic Writing and Research4
GEP Humanities6
GEP Social Sciences6
GEP Health and Exercise Studies2
GEP US Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion3
GEP Interdisciplinary Perspectives3
GEP Global Knowledge (Verify Requirement)
World Language Proficiency (Verify Requirement)
Free Electives (12 Hr S/U Lmt) 212
These electives cannot be taken at an elementary level after you have taken comparable coursework at a more advanced level.
Total Hours120

A grade of C- or higher is required.


Students who wish to take two semesters of organic chemistry should NOT start with CH 220, but should take CH 221/222 and CH 223/224.


Students interested in taking more than one semester of calculus should start with either MA 131 or MA 141, because MA 121 does not serve as a pre-requisite for either MA 231 or MA 241. Additional semesters of calculus can be used toward Life Science Electives requirements. MA 121 Elements of Calculus MA 131 Calculus for Life and Management Sciences A (first of two-semester series) MA 141 Calculus I (first of three-semester series)


Students should consult their academic advisors to determine how to complete these requirements.  With advisor approval, students can use a total of up to 3 hours of learning experience towards Life Science Electives or toward Cross-Discipline Electives - whichever category the experience appropriately fits. Some experimental courses (295, 495, 592) and graduate (500-level) courses may also be used with advisor and departmental approval. Students should check the prerequisites and restrictions on courses in which they are interested.


Students in the B.A. in Biological Sciences will identify a second discipline of interest in which to also focus their studies. These 21 credit hours will be planned by the student in consultation with their advisor and must be approved by the advisor and by the program. This second disciplinary focal area can be selected from a wide range of fields outside of the life sciences (see examples below). At least 15 of these hours must be at the 300 level or higher and the rest must be at the 200 level or higher. With adviser approval, students can use a total of up to 3 hours of learning experience (e.g., BSC 492, 493, 494) or honors research experience toward 7Life Science Electives or toward Cross Discipline Electives – whichever category the experience appropriately fits. Some experimental courses (295, 495, and 592) and graduate (500-) level courses may also be used as Cross Discipline Electives, with adviser and program approval. Students should check the prerequisites and restrictions on courses in which they are interested. For example, most ELM courses are restricted to Elementary Education majors and therefore would be appropriate only to those with a second major in Elementary Education. Courses used to meet GEP requirements cannot also be used to meet Cross Discipline Electives requirements.

Communication and Writing Electives 

Communication Courses
COM 110Public Speaking3
COM 112Interpersonal Communication3
COM 201Introduction to Persuasion Theory3
COM 202Small Group Communication3
COM 211Argumentation and Advocacy3
COM 226Introduction to Public Relations3
COM 240Communication Inquiry3
THE 203Theory and Practice of Acting3
Writing Courses
BIO 267Research in the Life Sciences I: Research Skills3
ENG 214Introduction to Editing3
ENG 232Literature and Medicine3
ENG 287Explorations in Creative Writing3
ENG 288Fiction Writing3
ENG 289Poetry Writing3
ENG 292Writing About Film3
ENG 316Introduction to News and Article Writing3
ENG 323Writing in Rhetorical Traditions3
ENG 331Communication for Engineering and Technology3
ENG 332Communication for Business and Management3
ENG 333Communication for Science and Research3
ENG 333Communication for Science and Research3
ENG 381Creative Nonfiction Writing Workshop3
ENG 422Writing Theory and the Writing Process3

Life Science Electives 300/400 Level 

AEC 360Ecology4
AEC 380Water Resources: Global Issues in Ecology, Policy, Management, and Advocacy3
AEC 400Applied Ecology3
AEC 419/519Freshwater Ecology4
AEC 420Introduction to Fisheries Science3
AEC 423Introduction to Fisheries Sciences Laboratory1
AEC 441Biology of Fishes3
AEC 442Biology of Fishes Laboratory1
AEC 460Field Ecology and Methods4
ANS 330Laboratory Animal Science3
ANS 415Comparative Nutrition3
ANS 554Lactation, Milk and Nutrition3
ANT 371Human Variation3
BCH 351General Biochemistry3
BCH 452Introductory Biochemistry Laboratory2
BCH 453/553Biochemistry of Gene Expression3
BCH 454Advanced Biochemistry Laboratory4
BCH 455
BCH 555
Proteins and Molecular Mechanisms
and Proteins and Molecular Mechanisms
BIO 315General Parasitology3
BIO 330Evolutionary Biology3
BIO 361Developmental Biology3
BIO 370Developmental Anatomy of the Vertebrates3
BIO 405Functional Histology3
BIO 414Cell Biology3
BIO 424Endocrinology3
BIO 432Evolutionary Medicine3
BIO 434Hormones and Behavior3
BIO 440The Human Animal: An Evolutionary Perspective3
BIO 444The Biology of Love and Sex3
BIO 488/588Neurobiology3
BIT 410Manipulation of Recombinant DNA4
BIT 462/562
BIT 464/564Protein Purification2
BIT 465/565Real-time PCR Techniques2
BIT 466/566Animal Cell Culture Techniques2
BIT 467/567PCR and DNA Fingerprinting2
BIT 468/568
BIT 471/571RNA Interference and Model Organisms2
BIT 473/573Protein Interactions2
BIT 474/574Plant Genetic Engineering2
BIT 476Applied Bioinformatics2
BIT 481Plant Tissue Culture and Transformation2
BSC 478Research Fundamentals in Biological Sciences3
COM 436Environmental Communication3
ENT 305Introduction to Forensic Entomology3
ENT 402Forest Entomology3
ENT 425General Entomology3
ES 300Energy and Environment3
ES 400Analysis of Environmental Issues3
FOR 402Forest Entomology3
FS 301Introduction to Human Nutrition3
FS 401/501Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism3
FS 405
FS 406
Food Microbiology
and Food Microbiology Lab
FS 505
FS 506
Food Microbiology
and Food Microbiology Lab
FW 444/FS 544Mammalogy3
FW 465/FS 565African Ecology and Conservation4
GN 301Genetics in Human Affairs3
GN 311
GN 312
Principles of Genetics
and Elementary Genetics Laboratory
GN 421/521Molecular Genetics3
GN 423Population, Quantitative and Evolutionary Genetics3
GN 425Advanced Genetics Laboratory2
GN 427Introductory Bioinformatics3
GN 434Genes and Development3
GN 441/541Human and Biomedical Genetics3
GN 451Genome Science3
IDS 303Humans and the Environment3
MA 331Differential Equations for the Life Sciences3
MA 432Mathematical Models in Life Sciences3
MB 351
MB 352
General Microbiology
and General Microbiology Laboratory
MB 354Inquiry-Guided Microbiology Lab1
MB 360Scientific Inquiry in Microbiology: At the Bench3
MB 405
MB 406
Food Microbiology
and Food Microbiology Lab
MB 411
MB 412
Medical Microbiology
and Medical Microbiology Laboratory
MB 414Microbial Metabolic Regulation3
MB 420/520Fundamentals of Microbial Cell Biotransformations2
MB 435/535Bacterial Pathogenesis3
MB 441Immunology3
MB 451
MB 452
Microbial Diversity
and Microbial Diversity Lab
MB 455Microbial Biotechnology3
MB 461Molecular Virology3
MB 470Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases3
MB 505
MB 506
Food Microbiology
and Food Microbiology Lab
MEA 300Environmental Geology4
MEA 369Life on Earth: Principles of Paleontology3
NR 303Humans and the Environment3
NR 406Conservation of Biological Diversity3
NTR 301Introduction to Human Nutrition3
NTR 401/501Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism3
NTR 410/510Maternal and Infant Nutrition3
NTR 415/515Comparative Nutrition3
NTR 419Human Nutrition and Chronic Disease3
NTR 421/521
NTR 454Lactation, Milk and Nutrition3
PB 321Introduction to Whole Plant Physiology3
PB 360Ecology4
PB 403/503Systematic Botany4
PB 421Plant Physiology3
PB 480/580Introduction to Plant Biotechnology3
PB 481Plant Tissue Culture and Transformation2
PO 404/504Avian Anatomy and Physiology4
PO 415/515Comparative Nutrition3
PO 466/566Animal Cell Culture Techniques2
PP 315Principles of Plant Pathology4
SSC 332Environmental Soil Microbiology3
TOX 401/501Principles of Toxicology4
TOX 415Ecotoxicology4
ZO 333Captive Animal Biology3
ZO 350Animal Phylogeny and Diversity4
ZO 402Invertebrate Biology4
ZO 410Introduction to Animal Behavior3

Life Sciences Electives

Any course from the Life Sciences Electives 300/400 level list
ANS 205
ANS 206
Physiology of Domestic Animals
and Anatomy of Domestic Animals Lab
ANS 220
ANS 221
Reproductive Physiology
and Reproductive Physiology Lab
ANS 225Principles of Animal Nutrition3
ANS 230
ANS 231
Animal Nutrition
and Animal Nutrition Lab
BCH 220Role of Biotechnology in Society3
BIO 240Principles of Human Anatomy & Physiology (A): Nervous, Skeletal, Muscular, & Digestive Systems3
BIO 245Principles of Human Anatomy & Physiology (B): Endocrine, Cardiovascular, Respiratory & Renal Systems3
BIO 267Research in the Life Sciences I: Research Skills3
BIO 269Research in the Life Sciences II: Guided Research3
BIT 200Early Research in Biotechnology4
BIT 210Phage Hunters3
BIT 211Phage Genomics2
CH 223
CH 224
Organic Chemistry II
and Organic Chemistry II Lab
CS 230Introduction to Agroecology3
ENT 201Insects and People3
ENT 207Insects and Human Disease3
ENT 212Basic Entomology1
ES 200Climate Change and Sustainability3
FOR 261Forest Communities2
MB 200The Fourth Horseman: Plagues that Changed the World3
MB 210Phage Hunters3
MB 211Phage Genomics2
MEA 200Introduction to Oceanography3
MEA 210Oceanography Lab1
MEA 220Marine Biology3
MEA 250
MEA 251
Introduction to Coastal Environments
and Introduction to Coastal Environments Laboratory
PB 200Plant Life4
PB 215Medicinal Plants3
PB 219Plants in Folklore, Myth, and religion3
PB 220Local Flora3
PB 277Space Biology3
PY 212College Physics II4
SSC 201Soil Science Laboratory1
TOX 201Poisons, People and the Environment3
ZO 250Animal Anatomy and Physiology4

Semester Sequence

This is a sample.

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterHours
BIO 181 Introductory Biology: Ecology, Evolution, and Biodiversity 1 4
CH 101 Chemistry - A Molecular Science 1 3
CH 102 General Chemistry Laboratory 1 1
LSC 101 Critical and Creative Thinking in the Life Sciences 1 2
Calculus 3
LSC 103 Exploring Opportunities in the Life Sciences 1 1
Spring Semester
BIO 183 Introductory Biology: Cellular and Molecular Biology 1 4
Organic Chemistry and Lab 4
ENG 101 Academic Writing and Research 1 4
GEP Requirement 3
GEP Health and Exercise Studies 1
Second Year
Fall Semester
Statistics 3
Communication Requirement 3
Life Science 3
GEP Requirement 3
Free Elective 3
Spring Semester
Life Science Elective 3
Life Science Elective 3
Cross Discipline Elective (Advised) 3
GEP Requirement 3
Free Elective 3
Third Year
Fall Semester
PY 131 Conceptual Physics 4
Experiential Learning Requirement 3
Cross Discipline Elective (Advised) 3
GEP Requirement 3
Free Elective 3
Spring Semester
Life Science Elective 3
Life Science Elective 3
Cross Discipline Elective (Advised) 3
Writing 3
GEP Requirement 3
Fourth Year
Fall Semester
Life Science Elective 3
Life Science Elective 3
Cross Discipline Elective (Advised) 3
Cross Discipline Elective (Advised) 3
GEP Requirement 3
Spring Semester
Life Science Elective 3
Cross Discipline Elective (Advised) 3
Free Elective 3
Cross Discipline Elective (Advised) 3
GEP Health and Exercise Studies 1
BIO 481 Senior Capstone Project 1
 Total Hours120

A grade of C- or higher is required.

Career Opportunities

Many students majoring in the Department of Biological Sciences take advantage of scholarship and honors programs available at NC State, including the University Honors Program and the University Scholars Program.  In addition, we offer a discipline-based Undergraduate Honors Program in Biological Sciences (DBS Honors Program).  The DBS Honors Program requires students to design a challenging program of advanced study, including eight credits of honors coursework in biology and at least two semesters of research or teaching scholarship.  Participants write an honors thesis and are required to present their scholarly work at a local, regional, or national meeting.  Invitations to join the DBS Honors Program are sent in the first three weeks of the Fall and Spring semesters.  Students in any major in the Department of Biological Sciences who have earned an overall GPA of 3.60 after completing 30-65 credit hours at NC State will receive an invitation to join the DBS Honors Program; transfer students in any of our majors who have earned an overall GPA of 3.60 in 15 credit hours at NC State also will receive an invitation.  

Students who graduate from the Department of Biological Sciences are well prepared for employment in various government agencies and private industries. Graduates may continue their education with studies leading to advanced degrees in many areas of the biological sciences, including cell biology, ecology, microbiology, genetics, zoology, neurobiology, and biomedical disciplines. Many choose to seek advanced degrees in medicine, dentistry, optometry, veterinary medicine, public health, and other health-related fields. Students who plan to seek certification for pre-college teaching may want to pursue a second major in the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Education.

Career Titles

  • Agricultural Sciences Professor
  • Agronomist
  • Allergists and Immunologists
  • Anesthesiologist (MD)
  • Anesthesiologist Assistants
  • Animal Breeder
  • Animal Scientist
  • Aquaculture Specialist
  • Aquarium Curator
  • Biochemist
  • Biological Technician
  • Biologist
  • Biology Professor
  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Biophysicist
  • Biopsychologist
  • Botanist
  • Cardiologist (MD)
  • Clinical Dietitian
  • Dentist (DDS)
  • Dietitian and Nutritionist
  • Environmental Disease Analyst
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Environmental Research Analyst
  • Epidemiologists
  • Family Practitioner (MD)
  • Fish and Game Warden
  • Fish Hatchery Specialist
  • Food & Drug Inspector
  • Food Science Technicians
  • Food Technologist
  • Forensic Science Technicians
  • General Internists (MD)
  • Genetic Counselors
  • Geneticist
  • Gynecologist (MD)
  • Hazardous Waste Management Analyst
  • Horticulturist
  • Hospitalists
  • Industrial Hygienist
  • Industrial Waste Inspector
  • Low Vision Therapists, Orientation and Mobility Specialists, and Vision Rehabilitation Therapists
  • Marine and Aquatic Biologist
  • Medical and Scientific Illustrator
  • Medical Equipment Technician
  • Medical Technologist
  • Microbiologist
  • Obstetrician (MD)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Technicians
  • Occupational Physician (MD)
  • Oceanographer
  • Optometrist
  • Park Naturalist
  • Pathologist (MD)
  • Pediatrician (MD)
  • Pharmacist
  • Pharmacologist
  • Phlebotomist
  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physicians
  • Physician Assistant (PA)
  • Radiologist (MD)
  • Sales Representative (Chemicals & Drugs)
  • Soil Conservationist
  • Soil Scientist
  • Sports Physician (Orthopedist)
  • Surgeons (MD)
  • Toxicologist
  • Urologists
  • Veterinarian (VMD)
  • Water Pollution Control Inspector
  • Wildlife Biologist
  • Wildlife Control Agent
  • Winemaker / Vinter
  • Zoologist

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Bio Careers
American Institute of Biological Sciences
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology