biology hero
minor, major   
  • Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Why Biology?    

93% of our graduates are either pursuing advanced degrees or working in science, health, or education. Here are just a few of the reasons our biology program may be right for you:    

You’ll gain a greater appreciation of science as a process.
The emphasis here is on discovery-based learning, providing the knowledge and skills you’ll need to pursue vocations or advanced degrees in biology-related fields, including biochemistry, biopsychology, environmental science and medicine.
You’ll find a real sense of community.

Small classes are taught in a state-of-the-art facility by professors (not teaching assistants!) who embrace their responsibility to recognize and encourage your potential. Biology students are typically bright, highly motivated, high achievers—just like you!

You can conduct significant research.

Whether you choose to stay on campus for our summer undergraduate research program, or pursue internship or research positions elsewhere, you’ll get plenty of real-lab experience. The senior research project we require of every major demonstrates your theoretical and practical knowledge.

Additionally, our students are invited to present and publish their work at professional conferences, are selected for internships at top institutions, and are admitted into some of the best post-graduate programs in the country.

Our location presents wonderful opportunities.

Washington College is just three blocks from one of the most beautiful rivers of the Chesapeake Bay. Students use the Chester River and the surrounding environs as a natural laboratory for scientific investigation.

Academic Requirements

Students have several options for the degree in biology - with lots of customization. We also offer a variety of courses that fulfill the Natural Science distribution requirement.

Major in Biology

The department offers a B.S. in Biology in which students can choose electives from multiple areas that give them a general background, or they may chose an area of emphasis such as cell/molecular biology & infectious disease,  ecology & evolutionary biology, or physiology & organismal biology.

Successful completion of an area of emphasis will be noted on a student’s transcript after graduation.  Given that a Senior Capstone Experience (SCE) must be completed in the selected area of emphasis, a student may only complete one area of emphasis.

BS in Biology (general):PDF

*Declaration of Areas of Emphasis is done by academic advisor*

*Note that the course number for Differential Calculus changed from MAT201 to MAT111 in 2020*

General Biology I and II (BIO 111 and BIO 112) are prerequisites for advanced biology courses and are therefore essential for biology majors to take during their first year. It is also recommended to enroll in Introductory Chemistry courses (CHE 120 and CHE 140) during the first year.

Biology Major Sample Schedule

Graduates with a degree in biology will be able to:

Demonstrate broad-based knowledge within the discipline of biology.

Demonstrate fluency in scientific reasoning and experimental design.

Demonstrate familiarity with current research techniques.

Demonstrate an ability to search, read, interpret and synthesize the primary literature.

Demonstrate an ability to effectively communicate scientific information in written and oral formats.

Demonstrate an ability to work and learn in groups.

Minor in Biology

  • Students from a wide variety of majors have received minors in Biology, including: Environmental Studies, Chemistry, Psychology, Spanish, Sociology, Humanities, Business and Theatre.
  • Students planning on using the biology minor as a basis for further studies in the biological sciences or for employment should seriously consider taking a year of Chemistry (CHE 120, 140). All students should note that CHE 120/140 is a prerequisite for some upper-level biology courses.

BIO 111 General Biology I

BIO 112 General Biology II

5 additional upper-level biology courses*

*By petition of the biology department, an appropriate upper-level course in chemistry, psychology, or environmental studies may be substituted for one of the required advanced biology courses.

Natural Sciences Distribution

  • Students looking to fulfill their Natural Science Distribution requirement with one or two courses are encouraged to take BIO 100 Current Topics in Biology and/or BIO 104 Society, Ecology and the Chesapeake Bay. Neither course has any prerequisites.
  • Explore additional options for earning Natural Sciences Distributon credits in Biology.

Learn More


Studying biology offers many unique opportunities. Our department has two honor societies. We have summer programs for on-campus research and experiences abroad. Many biology students also choose to do off-campus internships that give them additional practical experience.

Student Opportunities

Our main focus is student success: faculty expertise is widespread and students play an integral part in faculty research programs.

Faculty and Staff

jim and kaitlyn
toll The Department of Biology occupies two floors on the southern end of John S. Toll Science Center—a $26 million state-of-the-art facility completed in Fall 2005. We also utilize laboratory spaces in the Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall, completed in 2019.



Alumni Spotlights  

Emily is a 2018 graduate who participated in the 3:2 Nursing Program with University of Maryland School of Nursing, where she has earned her MSN.

Josh is a 2019 graduate who participated in summer research and went on to work at the NIH.

Julie is a 2017 graduate who participated in our John S. Toll Summer Research program with Dr. Carr. Julie went on to pursue a Master's degree in entomology from Penn State University.


  • Learn more about workshops offered by our Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity initiative.
  • We, the students, faculty, staff, and Board of Visitors and Governors of Washington College, welcome, invite, value, and support a diverse community of individuals. We strive to create a place where all can study, work, and thrive. We believe in the worth, dignity, and safety of human beings of all races, ethnicities, nationalities, gender identities and/or expressions, sexual orientations, socioeconomic statuses, cultural backgrounds, cognitive or physical abilities, emotional and behavioral characteristics, ages, and educational levels. In the pursuit of academic excellence, we endeavor to be a community made up of people from a variety of backgrounds with differing perspectives, life experiences, religious, philosophical, and political beliefs, lifestyles, and ideologies.

We pledge to create a respectful and supportive environment for collaboration, empathy, and the building of meaningful relationships among members of Washington College. We commit to fostering a more equitable, inclusive, and engaged community that embraces all the complexity that each person brings to campus.

  • We will empower all members to contribute ideas, ask questions, contest assumptions, and revise points of view through civil debate.
  • We will confront and challenge attempts to dehumanize others through prejudiced attitudes, behaviors, and practices that exclude, demean, or marginalize any individual or group.
  • We will encourage alumni, parents, visitors, guests, and the wider community to respect and embrace the values and behaviors that we embody.

Our promise is to cultivate a continuous desire and ability to understand and meaningfully engage with different perspectives and experiences, including those of historically underrepresented and marginalized groups. We seek to contribute to the full intellectual and emotional development of every person and to the enrichment of our local, regional, national, and global communities.

If you have concerns related to racism, bigotry, sexism, heterosexism, classism, transphobia and ableism that you have observed in our classrooms or around the college, we encourage you to reach out to an Environmental Science & Studies faculty member for support or contact Carese Bates (, the Director of Intercultural Affairs.  You can also make a report of incidents through the College’s CARE system here:

Declare a Biology Major or Minor

Fill out the declaration form above and then contact Dr. Rinehimer (Carr) or Dr. Van Meter



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