The Biology Department faculty voted to certify completion of the major for seniors graduating in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 if they have a completed at least one upper-level lab course (beyond Bio 203L) or approved Research Independent Study, rather than a minimum of two as specified in the Bulletin of Undergraduate Instruction. Please note that this revision is only for the lab requirement - all other requirements for the major are still in force. Note also that it applies only to this year’s seniors, as an accommodation to the circumstances of the Fall. Finally, note that this only applies to the requirements of the Biology major at Duke. Please consult with your HPA advisor if you have questions regarding health professions requirements.
Opportunities to Explore
Areas of Concentration
As part of the biology major, you 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 designation on the student's transcript.
Research & Independent Study Options
We encourage you to engage in independent study projects in areas of your interest. Most biology majors will do at least one or two semesters of research as part of their major. You can participate in state of the art research with world-class scientists in any one of the many of research labs in the University or the Medical Center (e.g, Cell Biology, Immunology, Cancer Biology, etc). Most students will start in their junior or senior year, although many begin earlier. You will likely do research as part of your regular course work, receiving grades and academic credit for the research. You may have your work published in the scientific literature and use your research as the basis for graduation with honors.
Duke University Marine Lab
Also available to students is the opportunity to study at the Duke Marine Lab. 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 vessel R/V Barber. The Marine Lab sponsors a variety of courses in the Summer, as well as a full semester program in the Fall and Spring.
Opportunity to Study Abroad
As a biology major, you have the option of studying abroad, which is typically done in the fall of your junior year. There are several programs that are especially popular with biology majors, including semester and summer programs studying tropical biology in Costa Rica, a summer course in Australian biogeography, and a semester program in savannah ecology or summer program in global health in South Africa. There are many other study abroad programs, (ex. in the UK and Australia) that allow students the opportunity to take courses in biology as well as other fields. Moreover, the major in biology is sufficiently flexible to allow students to take semester abroad with out any biology, to study art in Florence, for example.
Biology majors who achieve excellence in both their studies and a research-based thesis may apply for Graduation with Distinction in Biology. Students may apply if they have a grade point average of 3.0 or above in Biology courses and courses approved as electives for the major, NOT including Independent Studies, at the time of application. The award of Distinction requires the maintenance of this grade point average and the completion of an original research project, usually carried out as an independent study in biology (e.g. BIOLOGY 293/493), or in an appropriate biological science department at Duke University, or as an interdisciplinary study that includes biology. Distinction will be awarded based on an oral poster presentation and the written thesis. The thesis and poster should present a significant achievement in research and demonstrate a clear mastery of the research field.
Interdepartmental Major Option
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.