Purpose and Focus
Biology is the study of life. The earth is filled with an enormous variety of living organisms; therefore, an understanding of the basic biological processes common to all organisms is essential to understanding the world. In recent decades, great strides have been made in understanding important biological processes, particularly those at the molecular, cellular, and ecosystem levels. An understanding of biological systems depends, in part, on the principles of physics and chemistry; thus a firm background in the physical sciences is also important in the study of biology. For many, an undergraduate major in biology serves as a basis for postgraduate study in the life sciences. School of Life Sciences graduates have gone on to advanced graduate study, leading to careers in college or university teaching, basic and applied research, and public health. Many have entered professional programs in medicine, veterinary medicine, and dentistry. Other graduates have gone directly into secondary (high school) science teaching, the biomedical industry, independent laboratory research, natural resources management, or environmental education.
Northwestern Commission on Colleges and Universities
Degree Objectives/Learning Outcomes
The primary mission of the School of Life Sciences is to provide a rich, contemporary learning environment that ensures an integrated educational experience spanning the full spectrum of biology, with focused training available to advanced undergraduate students. Through these efforts, the School of Life Sciences will occupy central roles in creating scientific literacy among the diverse array of UNLV students and in addressing biological issues of local, regional, and global interest.
Students who graduate with a major in biology at UNLV will acquire:
- Knowledge of the diversity and similarity of living organisms at organizational levels ranging from molecules to the community.
- Knowledge of processes of inheritance and natural selection as they influence the characteristics of populations and species.
- Knowledge of scientific methods and the relationships among theory, experiment, analysis of data, and general knowledge.
- The ability to articulate, in verbal and written form, knowledge of biology, biological methods, and biological issues in context.
Students who graduate with a major in biology will have fulfilled their personal expectations and will indicate they have been accepted to a graduate or professional school or an entry-level career position.
Areas of Concentration
Biological Sciences majors at the university have a choice of five areas of specialized study (concentrations) that prepare them for a variety of professional fields. In addition to attending graduate, medical, and other professional schools, Biological Sciences majors may move directly to governmental and private-sector careers in such fields as health care, laboratory sciences, environmental sciences, and teaching. All concentrations provide the necessary background for application to graduate programs and medical or health science professional schools, differing mainly in their emphasis on specialized career trajectories within the life sciences.
Biology — Biotechnology
The Biotechnology Concentration provides strong preparation for careers in biotechnology, biomedical science research, and the pharmaceutical industry as well as for transition to graduate or other advanced educational programs.
Biology — Cell and Molecular Biology
The Cell and Molecular Biology concentration provides Biological Sciences majors with the intellectual tools essential for careers in biotechnology and biomedical science research as well as for transition to graduate Ph.D. programs in Biology, and in Cell and Molecular Biomedical research.
Biology — Comprehensive
The Comprehensive concentration provides the educational background necessary for a career in modern life science, including all requirements for admission to graduate school or related postgraduate study. The Biology — Comprehensive curriculum provides a solid foundation in fundamental areas of biology while permitting wide choice in course selection, allowing majors to explore and develop areas of molecular, physiological, ecological, and evolutionary biology.
Biology — Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
This concentration is recommended for those students who desire a strong foundation in evolution and the conceptual explanatory core of biology, as well as those whose interests are at the interface between organisms and their environments — that is, ecology. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology students are well-prepared for advanced graduate education in the Biological sciences and for careers in Environmental Biology research in teaching and in natural resources assessment and management.
Biology — Education
The Education concentration is designed for students seeking exceptionally strong backgrounds for professional teaching careers that include biology as a first teaching field. Students completing the Biology — Education curriculum also enroll in course work to satisfy the Minor in Secondary Science Education in the UNLV College of Education.
Biology — Integrative Physiology
The Integrative Physiology concentration provides the biology major with the intellectual and technical tools essential for success in a broad array of life sciences careers including application to all the health care-related professional schools, graduate school or related postgraduate study as well as biomedical science research. Integrative Physiology provides an in-depth examination of how animals and/or plants work from the molecular/cellular level of organization to a systems-level understanding (cardiac, vascular, temperature regulation etc.) and up to the integration of physiology with behavior and evolutionary processes. The integrative nature of this program provides the student with a solid foundation in fundamental areas of biology yet allows a wide choice in course selection ranging from molecular, physiological, ecological, and evolutionary biology.
Biology — Microbiology
The Microbiology concentration provides the biology major with the intellectual and technical skills required for success in the broad area of microbiology, which includes clinical, environmental, ecological, evolutionary, molecular, metabolic, and physiological perspectives of microbes, including aspects of virology and immunology. The skills obtained in this concentration provide training for an array of life sciences careers, including application to all the health care-related professional schools, appropriately related graduate schools, or related postgraduate study as well as biomedical science research. The Microbiology concentration focuses on how microbes function at a variety of levels of organization, from understanding the genetics of micro-organisms, their gene regulation environmental interactions, metabolic regulation, and ecological interactions. Microbiology impacts all levels of biological organization, and as such, students majoring in Biology with a concentration in microbiology are provided with a solid foundation in the life sciences yet are exposed to an in-depth understanding of microbial processes.
Biology — Pre-Professional
The Preprofessional Biology concentration provides Biological Sciences majors with the intellectual tools essential for application to health care-related professional schools, including medical, dental, veterinary, optometric, and related programs.
Biology — Urban Horticulture
Urban horticulture is a degree concentration that combines a strong background in basic biology and the plant sciences with an important skill set for assessing, designing, and implementing horticultural environments in urban and suburban settings. Urban Horticulture graduates are in great demand as team members in the planning of new, progressive and humanized residential and commercial environments on behalf of both governmental agencies and private endeavors.
Early-Admit Fast-Track Program with UNLV — School of Dental Medicine
This program expedites the process of earning a doctor of dental medicine degree. Students admitted to the program complete three years of prerequisite course work at UNLV. Following completion of the second year, students take the DAT and apply to UNLV — School of Dental Medicine (UNLV-SDM) through the Associated American Dental School Application Service (AADSAS). Participation in this early admit program does not guarantee acceptance following completion of the second year of undergraduate study. Students who are admitted to UNLV-SDM matriculate following completion of the third year at UNLV. Course work completed at UNLV-SDM during the first year is transferred to UNLV to complete the Bachelor of Science in biology — pre-professional concentration. The net result is reduction of the time required to earn the baccalaureate and DMD degrees from eight years to seven. To learn more about the specific details of this program, please contact the pre-health advisor.
Early Admit Fast – Track Program with the University of Nevada School of Medicine
This program expedites the process of earning a medical degree. Students admitted to the program complete three years of prerequisite coursework at UNLV. Following completion of the second year, students take the MCAT and apply to the University of Nevada School of Medicine (UNSOM) through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). Participation in this Early Admit Program does not guarantee acceptance following completion of the second year of undergraduate study. Students who are admitted to UNSOM matriculate following completion of the third year at UNLV. Coursework completed at UNSOM during the first two years is transferred to UNLV to complete the Bachelor of Science in Preprofessional Biomedical Sciences. The net result is reduction of the time required to earn the baccalaureate and medical degrees from 8 years to 7.
Early Admit Fast-Track Program with Touro University — College of Osteopathic Medicine
This program expedites the process of earning an osteopathic medical degree. Students admitted to the program complete three years of prerequisite course work at UNLV. Following completion of the second year, students take the MCAT and apply to Touro University – College of Osteopathic Medicine (TU-COM) through the Association of American Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS). Participation in this Early Admit Program does not guarantee acceptance following completion of the second year of undergraduate study. Students who are admitted to TU-COM matriculate following completion of the third year at UNLV. Course work completed at TU-COM during the first two years is transferred to UNLV to complete the Bachelor of Science in Biology — Pre-Professional Concentration. The net result is reduction of the time required to earn the baccalaureate and medical degrees from eight years to seven. To learn more about the specific details of this program please contact the pre-health advisor.
Early Admit Fast-Track Program with Touro University — Physician Assistant Studies Program
This program expedites the process of earning a Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies. Students admitted to the program complete three years of prerequisite course work at UNLV. Following completion of the second year, students apply to Touro University — Physician Assistant Studies Program (TU-PASP) through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Participation in this Early Admit Program does not guarantee acceptance following completion of the second year of undergraduate study. Students who are admitted to TU-PASP matriculate following completion of the third year at UNLV. Course work completed at TU-PASP during the first two years is transferred to UNLV to complete the Bachelor of Science in Biology — Pre-Professional Concentration. The net result is reduction of the time required to earn the baccalaureate and physician assistant degrees from six to five. To learn more about the specific details of this program, please contact the pre-health advisor.
Admission to the Major
Minimum GPA: 2.00
Students with a minimum GPA of 2.00 may be admitted to a major in the School of Life Sciences.
Transfer students must have a minimum GPA of 2.00. All students are required to meet with an advisor to determine course work that can be used to satisfy degree requirements. Biology, chemistry, physics and math transfer courses will be accepted to fill specific degree requirements only with a grade of C or better.
Although rare, it is possible for superior pre-professional students to gain admission to a professional school upon completion of 94 units of undergraduate work. Such students may, under certain circumstances, be awarded a baccalaureate degree from UNLV upon successfully completing one year of full-time study with courses equivalent to the School of Life Sciences major at the professional school. To apply for a degree after one year of professional school, students must have completed 94 units at UNLV with a GPA of 3.50 and meet university and college graduation requirements. Any student contemplating such a program must obtain approval from the departmental chair and college dean in advance of departure from UNLV.
Community College Articulation
The School of Life Sciences has course articulation agreements with several community colleges both within and outside Nevada. For specific information about transfer of credits from two-year institutions, students should seek advising about specific courses of study from the department.
In addition to the General Education Core requirements, all study courses must include a minimum of 39 credits in the Biological Sciences and satisfy the specific requirements of one of the five concentration areas offered by the department.
In accord with UNLV requirements, at least 40 credits must be earned in upper-division-level courses. This requirement may be satisfied by selecting courses within and outside the School of Life Sciences.
To graduate with a degree in the biological sciences, a GPA of at least 2.00 must be maintained for all courses in the major field (BIOL). All BIOL core courses taken (BIOL 189, 196, 197, 300, and 415) must be passed with a grade of C- or better to fulfill prerequisites for other upper-division courses and to apply to the B.S. degree in Biological Sciences.
BIOL 100, 104, 109, 113, 189, 120, 121, 122, 148, 208, 220, 223, and 224 are designed for non-biology majors and do not fulfill the School of Life Sciences curricular requirements. Although these credits will apply to the general university total credit requirement; or might be required or advised for other programs or career tracks (e.g., primary or secondary teaching), they are not recommended for Biological Sciences majors and do not fulfill any requirements for the biology major. The faculty of the School of Life Sciences urges all new majors in the department to enroll in and promptly complete fundamental course work, which will serve as a foundation for success in the study of the life sciences. By the end of the second full year of study (or its equivalent), Biological Sciences Instructors will expect that Biological Sciences majors in all concentrations will have completed: ENG 101 and 102; MATH 127, 128 or MATH 181; CHEM 121 and 122; and PHYS 151/151L and 152/152L (or the equivalent from the PHYS 180 series). BIOL course content will reflect these expectations.
All majors in the School of Life Sciences are required to meet with an advisor once a year at the College Advising Center located in Paul McDermott Physical Education Building. Students who fail to meet with an advisor will not be able to register for courses in the fall semesters.
Requirements for the major have been revised. The new requirements apply to biology majors in the class of fall 2004 and later. Students in prior classes follow the requirements that were in place when they entered the program. Students needing help in bridging gaps between old and new programs should contact the School of Life Sciences office (WHI 101).