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Biological Sciences Major/Minor

The Department of Biological Sciences offers a curriculum emphasizing broad training in biology as the key to success in graduate school, professional school, teacher education and technical careers. The major is built upon a strong foundation of general biology courses, followed by electives to meet student interests.

Students studying science should be exposed early and often to the methods of discovery, inquiry and problem solving used by scientists to explain the natural world. Faculty are familiar with these methods as we apply them in our individual research programs, and we strive to develop such capabilities in our students. Therefore, we give our students opportunities to actively use the tools of scientific investigation in the lab and the field through a variety of courses at the molecular, cellular, organismal and population levels of biological organization.

Major Requirements

Requirements for a major in Biology 

A total of 37 biology credit hours are required. All first-year students must complete BI 111 (Contemporary Issues in Biology) and the three Fundamentals courses which consist of BI 210 (Genetics – Fundamentals), BI 220 (Cellular and Molecular Biology – Fundamentals), and BI 230 (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology – Fundamentals). BI 230 is a prerequisite for all BI courses numbered 300 and higher. All students must also complete BI 299 – Biology Seminar (pass/fail) in the spring semester of their second year in the major. To acquire the remaining credit hours for the major, students must take biology electives at the 300 level or above; at least four of these electives must be lab courses. One of the electives taken must be an organism-based course chosen from the following: BI 301, BI 302, BI 311 or BI 438. All senior biology majors must complete BI 480 (Biology Capstone). In addition, all biology majors must take general chemistry (CH 105/106 or CH 107). Students will be allowed to use a maximum of three hours of independent study credit, internship credit, research, or honors thesis credit toward the 37-hour minimum required for the biology major.

Note: BI 325 cannot be counted toward the 37-hour minimum required for the biology major.

Required courses (number of credit hours in brackets):

  • BI 111 Contemporary Issues in Biology [1]; first semester majors and exploratory natural science students only—students joining the major in their sophomore year or later are exempt from this course
  • BI 210 Genetics – Fundamentals [4]
  • BI 220 Cellular and Molecular Biology - Fundamentals [4]
  • BI 230 Ecology and Evolutionary Biology - Fundamentals [5]
  • BI 299 Biology Seminar [1 P/F]
  • BI 480 Biology Capstone [3]

Electives (number of credit hours in brackets; prerequisites beyond BI 230 or other conditions in parentheses):

  • BI 301* Principles of Zoology [4]
  • BI 302* Principles of Botany [4]
  • BI 306 Mammalogy [4]
  • BI 307 Vertebrate Biology [4]
  • BI 308 Tropical Field Biology [3]
  • BI 309 Local Flora [3]
  • BI 311* Biology of Algae and Fungi [4]
  • BI 320 Animal Behavior [4]
  • BI 323 Principles of Immunology [2] (BI 105 or BI 230)
  • BI 339 Philosophy of Biology [4]
  • BI 401-403 Independent Study [1, 2, or 3]
  • BI 405-409 Topics in Biology [1, 2, 3, 4, or 5]
  • BI 411 Principles of Physiology [4]
  • BI 413 Vertebrate Histology and Microtechnique [4]
  • BI 417 Tropical Terrestrial Ecology [4]
  • BI 418 Advanced Ecology [4]
  • BI 419 Conservation Biology [3]
  • BI 423 Advanced Evolutionary Biology [3]
  • BI 430 Animal Development [4]
  • BI 431 Plant Development [4]
  • BI 432 Plant Physiology [4]
  • BI 433 Advanced Cell Biology [4]
  • BI 434 Transmission Genetics [4]
  • BI 435 Molecular Genetics [4]
  • BI 436 Genomics, Bioinformatics and Gene Evolution [4]
  • BI 438* Microbiology [4]
  • BI 440 Practical Molecular Biology [4]
  • BI 442 Comparative Biomechanics [4]
  • BI 460 Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology [4] (BI 411 recommended)
  • BI 490 Internship in Biological Sciences [3]
  • BI 499 Honors Thesis [3]

*Designates course that satisfies the organismal requirement

To complete the 37 credit hour major:

Required Courses
Credit Hours

BI 111 


BI 210 


BI 220 


BI 230


BI 299


BI 480 3 



18 credit hours 
Credit hours 

4 with lab (4 cr. Each)


Additional electives 



19 credit hours 
Total for the Major
37 Credits

*Students exempt from BI 111 will need at least 4 elective hours in this category

Minor Requirements

The Department of Biological Sciences has approved the following curriculum for a minor in Biological Sciences. The minor will take effect for all students (new and current) beginning in the fall semester. 

A total of 21 credit hours are required.  Students must complete the three Fundamentals courses (BI 210, 220, and 230)  and two BI elective courses with lab at the 300 level or above (excluding BI 325). 

NOTE: The information found on this website with respect to major/minor/program requirements is primarily directed at providing prospective students a general roadmap of the curriculum.  Current Butler students are expected to review their degree audit report at and speak with their advisor regularly for detailed information regarding their specific degree requirements and their progress toward degree completion.