Academic Program

The A.B. and B.S. Degrees in Biology

The Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) in Biology is the liberal arts major program, appropriate for students planning a career in law, policy, or secondary school teaching. It requires math and chemistry only through Calculus I and introductory chemistry. Two semesters of introductory biology and eight upper- level courses are required. The upper-level courses include courses in specific areas, as well as elective courses in biology and related biological sciences.

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology is the degree recommended for students contemplating a career in biological or biomedical sciences. The B.S. degree requires either Calculus II or statistics, organic chemistry, and physics corequisites. Two semesters of introductory biology and eight upper- level courses are required. The upper-level courses include courses in specific areas, as well as elective courses in biology and related biological sciences.

Visit the major requirements worksheet for more information on the A.B. and B.S. degrees.

Areas of Concentration

As part of the Biology major, students may elect to complete requirements in specified sub-disciplines in the biological sciences.  Currently available areas of concentration in the biology major are: anatomy, physiology and biomechanics, animal behavior, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, evolutionary biology, genetics, genomics, marine biology, neurobiology, pharmacology, and plant biology.  Completion of concentration requirements will result in a note on the student's transcript.

The Interdepartmental Major

A student may pursue an interdepartmental major program between biology and a related department in Trinity College.  The program is designed by the student and faculty advisors and must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies in both departments.  An interdepartmental major consists of fourteen courses, at least ten of which must be at the 200 level or above (100 level prior to the renumbering), and at least four of the seven in each of the two departments must be taken within the department. More info on interdepartmental majors.

Independent Study

Biology majors are encouraged to engage in independent study projects in areas of their interest.  Independent study projects provide research experience and academic credit for laboratory, field work, or theoretical research.  Independent study projects may be done with any faculty in the biological sciences.  Eligible students may use their independent research as the basis for an honors thesis, leading to graduation with distinction.

Duke University Marine Lab

Also available to students is the opportunity to study at the Duke University Marine Laboratory.  Located in Beaufort, N.C., the Marine Lab is a modern teaching and research facility in marine and estuarine biology which provides direct access to open ocean, estuaries, and coastal ecosystems.  The campus includes modern laboratories, vessels for coastal studies, and the oceanographic vessels R/V Cape Hatteras and R/V Susan Hudson.  The Marine Lab sponsors a variety of courses in the Summer, a full semester program in the Fall and Spring.

Special Programs

In addition to a broad range of courses, there are several special programs made possible by grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Biological Initiative Program.  These include: special seminars for first-year students; a summer Research Fellows Program for rising sophomores; a Summer Research Program in Genomics and Bioinformatics for rising juniors and seniors; and and a Trinity College Research Forum which provides research funding for qualified upperclass students.  Of special note are two state-of-the-art laboratory courses in cell and molecular biology and developmental biology.


Biology majors who have achieved excellence in both their studies and a research based honors thesis have the opportunity to receive Graduation with Distinction in Biology.  Eligible seniors apply through the director of undergraduate studies in Biology.

Duke students who choose a Biology major often have career goals that include biological research, the health professions, business or education.  Students who are interested in health professions have access to additional information and advice through the Trinity College Office of Health Professions Advising.  Duke students applying to medical schools and programs in other health professions in recent years have enjoyed a very high rate of acceptance.  Biology majors electing to continue study in graduate school have gone on to become highly successful biological researchers and educators at many universities throughout the world.

For more information about Undergraduate Studies in Biology, contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Duke Biology Box 90338 Durham, NC 27708 Phone: 919-660-7372 Fax: 919-660-7293