Biology

Programs offered
  • Anthropology (minor)
  • Applied Human Biology (major)
  • Bioethics and Humanities (minor)
  • Biological Anthropology (minor)
  • Biology (BA, BS, and minor)
  • Cellular and Molecular Biology (major)
  • Ecology (major)
  • Ecotheology (minor)
  • Life Science (major)
  • Physiology (major)

Biology Faculty

*Please consult with your faculty advisor to select the best major for your interests. Be sure to discuss coursework modifications that may be required to meet your specific career goals.

About the Biology Department

The primary goals include:

  • Cultivating students who understand and apply the scientific method to the study of life.
  • Preparing students to think critically and effectively communicate biological principles.
  • Producing graduates who make informed decisions based on reliable evidence and guided by their Christian worldview.
  • Emboldening graduates to lead lives of grace-filled wholeness, and personal and professional integrity.

Find out more about this program’s mission, vision, and learning outcomes.

Undergraduate research

Many biology majors will require you to complete an undergraduate research project for graduation. You will collaborate with a faculty member on an investigation that requires a formal proposal (BIO 4978), and participation in original research and public presentation of your results (BIO 4979).

No more than 6 credits of courses numbered from BIO 4900 through 4999 may be applied to any major.

Please visit the Biology Department website for more information on research opportunities.

Applied Human Biology (BS)

VIEW DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

The BS in Applied Human Biology is designed for students intending to pursue post-graduate training in physical therapy or physician’s assistant programs. 

  • A minimum 108 credits are required for this major, including 23 upper-division credits.
  • The interdisciplinary curriculum in this major will satisfy the basic requirements for entry into physical therapy as outlined by the American Association of Physical Therapists.
  • Students intending to pursue postgraduate training should target a minimum 3.0 GPA in their science coursework.
  • If you are interested in pre-professional health-science training, consult with your advisor as early as possible to determine how best to meet your career goals. Please visit the Biology PPHS resource site for more information.

Biology (BA)

VIEW DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

The BA in Biology provides a broad foundation in biology and is especially appropriate for students planning to teach at the elementary or secondary level.

  • A minimum 81 credits are required for this major, including 30 upper-division credits.
  • If you are preparing for a biology teaching career, you should become familiar with Washington state endorsement requirements prior to selecting core and elective options.

Biology (BS)

VIEW DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

A BS in Biology provides a broader and more in depth preparation than the BA program for students pursuing a wide variety of professional careers in biology including post-graduate training.

  • A minimum 104 credits are required for this major, including 35 upper-division credits.
  • This major emphasizes undergraduate research.
  • Depending upon your interests and professional goals, you may choose the core and elective coursework to emphasize botany, cellular and molecular biology, ecology, marine biology, physiology, or zoology. 
  • As a part of your core requirements or electives, you are required to take a minimum of 3 credits of field biology coursework emphasizing outdoor research and data collection. 
  • As part of your core requirements or electives, you are also required to take at least one botany course (generally chosen from BIO 3453, 4415, or 4744).
  • Students should target a minimum 3.0 GPA in their science coursework if they intend to pursue postgraduate training.

Cellular and Molecular Biology (BS)

VIEW DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

The Cellular and Molecular Biology program is intended for students interested in pursuing a career or postgraduate training in cellular, developmental, genetics or molecular biology. This major prepares you for careers such as clinical microbiology, medical or agricultural biotechnology, medicine or genetic counseling.

  • A minimum 107 credits are required for this major, including at least 26 upper-division credits in biology.
  • This major emphasizes undergraduate research.
  • Students should target a minimum 3.0 GPA in their science coursework if they intend to pursue postgraduate training.

Ecology (BS)

VIEW DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

The Ecology program is intended for students interested in pursuing a career or postgraduate training in ecology. This major prepares you for careers in areas including forestry, fisheries, agriculture, and wildlife management.

  • A minimum 100 credits are required for this major, including 40 upper-division credits in biology.
  • This major emphasizes undergraduate research.
  • As a part of either core requirements or electives, you are required to take a minimum 3 credits of field biology coursework emphasizing outdoor research and data collection.
  • Students should target a minimum 3.0 GPA in their science coursework if they intend to pursue postgraduate training.

Life Science (BA)

VIEW DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

The Life Science major is designed for students with a general interest in the biological sciences. This degree provides flexibility for those who want to focus on particular areas of biology that may complement other career options.

  • A minimum 73 credits are required for this major, including 23 upper-division credits.
  • The 18 credits of core requirements include general biology courses, as well as BIO 4899 Natural Sciences Seminar.
  • Biology electives include lab or field experience.

Physiology (BS)

VIEW DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

This major is designed for students intending to pursue postgraduate training in biology or health sciences. This major is particularly well suited for students pursuing pre-professional health training in medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, and other health-related careers.

  • A minimum 105 credits are required for this major, including 35 upper-division credits in biology.
  • This major requires courses in ethics or the completion of an undergraduate research project. The ethics focus is appropriate for students interested in medical school or other professional health-science training. Undergraduate research is essential if you are interested in graduate studies in other areas.
  • Students should target a minimum 3.0 GPA in their science coursework if they intend to pursue postgraduate training. 
  • If you are interested in pre-professional health-science training, consult with your advisor as early as possible to determine how best to meet your career goals. Please visit the Biology PPHS resource site for more information.

Minors

Biology

VIEW DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

  • A minimum 34 credits are required for this minor, including 15 upper-division credits.
  • This minor is appropriate for students pursuing careers in business, computer science, government, law, and psychology that will be enriched by a foundation in biological principles.

Anthropology: Biological Anthropology

You can choose from among three areas of emphasis in the anthropology minor, including biological anthropology, which is the study of the biological and behavioral aspects of human beings. In this minor, you are exposed to the disciplines of anthropology, and will think critically about what it means to be human “beings.”  

  • A minimum 30 credits are required for this minor, including 15 upper-division credits.
  • This is an excellent minor for students pursuing careers in medicine, missions, public health, education, ecology, and forensics.

Bioethics and Humanities

VIEW DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

A minor in bioethics allows students to explore the human dimensions of health care, public health, and biomedical research to better prepare those seeking a career in the health sciences.

  • A minimum 36 credits are required for this minor, including 15 upper-division credits.
  • You will explore the range of ethical issues that arise in health care, public health, and biomedical research.

Ecotheology

VIEW DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

A minor in Ecotheology allows you to explore a scientifically and theologically informed understanding of creation care. As an interdisciplinary degree, the Ecotheology minor draws from a variety of subject areas to establish a multifaceted context. Because the minor is concerned with both theory and practice, fieldwork is a core component of the curriculum.

  • A minimum 30 credits are required for this minor, including 15 upper-division credits.
  • This minor includes courses from several schools and departments.
  • Course sequence within the minor may be dictated by your major. For students not majoring in Biology, electives are available that require no prerequisites.

entering and completing the major or minor

In order to earn a degree, you must complete an academic major. SPU encourages students to explore various academic paths, and students are not required to enter a major immediately upon admission to the University. However, you should enter a major by the end of your sophomore year to help ensure your timely completion of a degree. Students who transfer as juniors and seniors should identify and enter their major within their first two quarters at SPU.

  • If this is your first quarter at SPU and you wish to enter a major or minor in this department, you may select a program by using the online Major or Minor Application form. You will receive an email notification of acceptance.
  • If you are an SPU student with an SPU cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better, use the online Major or Minor Application form to select your major or minor. You will receive an email notification of acceptance. Students on academic probation (with an SPU cumulative GPA below 2.0) will not be permitted to enter a new major or minor until they regain good academic standing.
  • The University requires a grade of C- or better in all classes that apply to a major or minor; however, programs may require higher minimum grades in specific courses. You may repeat an SPU course only once for a higher grade.
  • To advance in this program, meet with your faculty advisor regularly to discuss your grades, course progression, and other indicators of satisfactory academic progress. If your grades or other factors indicate that you may not be able to successfully complete the major or minor, your faculty advisor can work with you to explore options, which may include choosing a different major or minor.
  • Pursuing two Biology majors. Students wishing to double major in any two Biology degree paths must complete at least 20 credits of biology specific coursework that is unique to one major, and not part of the second. Applications for a double major are submitted directly to the department chair after consulting with your Biology faculty advisor. Your application must include a rationale for selecting two Biology majors and a clear description of how you will meet the requirements of both degrees.
  • You must complete the major or minor requirements in effect in the SPU Undergraduate Catalog for the year of admittance to the major or minor.

Related programs

Pre-Professional Health Programs

SPU offers specialized faculty advising in the Pre-Professional Health Sciences (PPHS) to help prepare you for acceptance into graduate-level professional health programs including medicine, osteopathic medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, physicians assistant, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. 

Future teachers

Elementary Teacher Certification

If you plan to obtain elementary Residency Teacher Certification and are interested in teaching science, you must select the Integrated Studies major with a concentration in the natural sciences.

  • This concentration includes courses in biology, physics, and chemistry. mathematics, physical education, and natural sciences courses.
  • Application to this major (PDF) should be coordinated with the advisor for the natural sciences concentration, Dr. Kara Gray (greyk5@spu.edu).

Secondary Teacher Certification

Students planning to seek Secondary Teacher Certification should pursue one of the Biology majors. Please meet with your advisor to select the most appropriate option.

Eaton Hall's greenhouse

Biology Department

Learn more about the Biology Department to see how a degree in Biology can help you achieve your goals to make a difference in the world.

Meet the Biology faculty.

Time Schedule: Biology

Course planning

Suggested course sequences help you complete your degree in a timely manner.

Blakely Island

Blakely Island Field Station

Biology majors can take their upper-division biology courses at SPU’s unique 965-acre field station.

Not a Biology major? Some courses at BIFS will meet portions of the Exploratory Curriculum.

Considering graduate school?

If you intend to pursue any graduate-level training, you are encouraged to apply for a major in the BS in Biology, BS in Cellular and Molecular Biology, or the BS in Ecology.