College of Arts and Sciences

Through coursework in the classroom, lab and field, as well as research opportunities, internships and study abroad, Biology undergraduates gain the knowledge and skills for careers in basic and applied research, education, health sciences, environmental sciences, science policy, government, business and the nonprofit sector. Biology offers one BA and five BS degree options. The General Biology option, offered as both BA and BS degrees, is the most flexible option, enabling students choose from a wide range of electives through several departments. The Ecology, Evolution and Conservation option provides a strong quantitative background and serves to develop skills in data collection, analysis and communication that are useful for careers in natural resources and conservation. Students choosing this option may explore courses through the College of Environment as well as Arts and Sciences. The Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology option explores the complex biological processes that underlie cellular function, disease processes and embryonic development. The Physiology option emphasizes physiological processes of both animals and plants, from cellular to organismal levels. The Plant Biology option provides a strong and broad training in plant biology, ranging from the cellular, physiological and systematic levels to an ecological, horticultural and restoration perspective on a macro level.

Major category: Capacity-constrained

Curricular options: B.A. General Biology, B.S. Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology, B.S. General Biology, B.S. Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology, B.S. Physiology, B.S. Plant Biology

Topic: Health, Natural sciences, Engineering-option

Applicant type


Freshmen can apply to the UW to begin autumn quarter or winter quarter (U.S. applicants only)

Read more about applying to the UW as a freshman, including details for programs that provide high school students with college credit (like Running Start).


Preparation for the major is a factor in transfer admission. Use the information below to help you prepare for this degree

Department admission information

  • Departmental application deadline: Due the second Friday of autumn, winter, spring and summer quarters, by 11:59 p.m.
  • You must enroll at the UW before applying to this major. Please contact the department for additional details.

The BA and BS degree programs are capacity-constrained. Meeting minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

Students should concentrate on general chemistry and mathematics during the first year, and biology and organic chemistry during the second year. It is best to complete an entire sequence at one school if possible; otherwise it may not transfer directly.

A minimum cumulative 2.50 GPA is required for any supporting chemistry, physics, mathematics and biology courses (or other courses that may apply to major requirements) completed at time of application.

Courses required for the major:

  • BIOL 180 NSc – Introductory Biology 1
  • BIOL 200 NSc – Introductory Biology 1
  • BIOL 220 NSc – Introductory Biology 1

One Chemistry Sequence:

  • CHEM 120 NSc RSN – Principles of Chemistry I2
  • CHEM 220 NSc RSN – Principles of Chemistry II2
  • CHEM 221 NSc RSN – Principles of Chemistry III2


  • CHEM 142 NSc RSN – General Chemistry2
  • CHEM 152 NSc RSN – General Chemistry2
  • CHEM 162 NSc RSN – General Chemistry2

Courses recommended for the major:

  • MATH 124 NSc RSN – Calculus with Analytic Geometry I 3
  • MATH 125 NSc – Calculus with Analytic Geometry II 3
  • STAT 311 NSc RSN – Elements of Statistical Methods 3
  • CHEM 237 NSc – Organic Chemistry I 4
  • CHEM 238 NSc – Organic Chemistry II4
  • CHEM 239 NSc – Organic Chemistry III4
  • One of the following : PHYS 114 NSc RSN – General Physics 5  OR PHYS 121 NSc RSN – Mechanics, PHYS 115 NSc – General Physics II 5 OR PHYS 122 NSc – Electromagnetism5
    Advanced Electives 6


1 Biology sequence: BIO 180, 200, 220 (or equivalent courses) with a minimum 2.00 grade in each course.
2 Chemistry sequence
3 Math sequence: 2 quarters of Calculus or Stats or a combination are options within departmental requirements
4 Chemistry sequence
5 Physics sequence
6 Some classes may count toward advanced electives, but that determination will be dependent on your option within Biology

Three short essays are required on the departmental application. They may include a description of your interest in biology, career goals, undergraduate research interests, degree interest (BA or BS) or any other information you believe is useful in the evaluation of your application.

Entering transfer information:

Total undergraduates: 1018
Total from Washington community colleges: 158

Entering transfer GPA (from WA community colleges):

3.75 – 4.00: 46
3.50 – 3.74: 40
3.25 – 3.49: 36
3.00 – 3.24: 21
2.75 – 2.99: 9
2.50 – 2.74: 6
2.49 and below: 0

Career outcomes