The goals of the Biology major are to: (1) teach the fundamental concepts and methods of the biological sciences; (2) engage all students in science as it is practiced by developing their capacities to use and evaluate scientific knowledge; and (3) explore relationships of biology to other sciences and to problems of social, cultural, and intellectual concern.
By proper selection of biology and other science courses in consultation with a departmental advisor, the major in biology can prepare a student for graduate study and research in a wide range of areas including anatomy, biochemistry, bioengineering, biophysics, botany, cell biology, conservation biology, developmental biology, ecology, environmental sciences, immunology, marine biology, microbiology, molecular biology, mycology, physiology, virology, zoology, etc. The major in biology can also lead to a variety of careers in applied biology (medicine and agriculture and their allied fields) and science teaching.
Students earning scores of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Biology exam (AP Bio) will receive four hours of natural science credit applied toward graduation requirements. Four hours of Biology major credit, designated as Biology 605, are automatically granted to students earning a score of 5 on the Advanced Placement exam, or at least 6 on the International Baccalaureate exam. Students granted AP credit in biology who intend to major in biology are exempted from taking the introductory sequence (Biology 118, 119, 120) but must still complete the 27 hour minimum for the major, by earning 23 biology credits in addition to the four granted as Biology 605. Students with Biology 605 may elect, if they so choose, to take either Biology 118 plus 119, or Biology 120 for four credits; if both of these courses are taken, Biology 605 credit will not be granted. Students with AP credit must still take at least five laboratory courses.
Exemption (not Placement) tests, offered annually every August, may be taken by any student wishing to be exempted from taking Biology 118, 119 and/or 120. Note that a score of 5 in Advanced Placement Biology (AP Bio) will also exempt any student from taking these courses. It must be pointed out, however, that these courses are appropriate and helpful for those intending to take the MCAT or similar proficiency exams. It is thus recommended that students who foresee taking such exams take (or, minimally, audit) these courses.
Entry-Level Course Sequence Suggestions.
Students with a strong high-school science background find taking Introductory Biology and Chemistry courses simultaneously in the first semester both useful and challenging. Other students benefit greatly from taking only one of these courses during their first semester at Oberlin. Prospective Biology majors are urged to consult with a Biology faculty member during freshman advising period to discuss these options.