Biology Major, B.A.

Majors in biology obtain a broad and modern education in the biological sciences. The course of study includes the biology core courses that cover the fundamentals of cell biology, ecology, evolution, genetics and physiology. Elective courses provide for study at greater depth and reflect the breadth of biology. The major allows students to specialize or take a broad range of elective courses as they and their advisers deem appropriate. Elective courses are designed to help prepare students for graduate and professional school and biology-related employment. The capstone experience allows biology majors to synthesize and apply the knowledge and skills gained in earlier coursework and serves as a transition to post-baccalaureate training and employment.

Course offerings in the biology department are well balanced and broad, ranging from animal behavior to recombinant DNA technology. In all courses, material focuses on principles and their application to current topics in each of the fields. Advanced, double-numbered elective courses allow qualified seniors to study in depth in their chosen fields. Almost all courses offered for the major include laboratory instruction. Laboratory curricula complement lecture material and emphasize hands-on learning through experimentation. As students progress through the curriculum they are challenged to develop increasingly sophisticated experimental and analytical skills. Some courses also include trips to undertake field research and to tour industrial and research sites of interest.

The curriculum for biology majors provides excellent preparation for many different careers. Options for graduates include research positions with government and private agencies in the laboratory or in the field. Students are well prepared for post-baccalaureate programs in medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, physical therapy and clinical laboratory science. Graduate study in a specialized field of biology is another excellent option for students majoring in biology. The biology faculty play an active role in assisting students throughout the process of achieving their career goals.

Requirements for the Major

Basic Courses

BIOL 110-129Biological Inquiry


CHEM 101General Chemistry I


CHEM 102General Chemistry II


CHEM 209Organic Chemistry I


MATH 112Applied Statistics



MATH 201Calculus I


Biology Core

BIOL 201Evolution and Ecology


BIOL 202Physiology of Plants & Animals


BIOL 203Introduction to Cell Biology & Genetics


Biology Electives

Five electives at the 300 level or higher, three of which must include a laboratory (3 credit, double-numbered laboratory courses do not satisfy the lab requirement. Biology majors may count ENSP 403, ENSP 407 and ENSP 411 as 3-credit biology electives toward the major. Not included among the elective courses are BIOL 335; BIOL 375; BIOL 399; and BIOL 499).


Students with senior standing or second semester juniors with a gpa of 2.00 or higher in biology who have completed the three biology core classes (BIOL 201, BIOL 202, BIOL 203) and three elective classes in biology at the 300 level or above or with permission of the department may enroll in capstone experiences.

As part of the capstone requirement, students must complete the ETS Major Field Test in Biology and regularly attend departmental seminars. Further, students can satisfy the capstone requirement via two alternate means:

Three-credit research or field work experience through appropriate honors, independent study, secondary education teaching or internship mechanisms. Departmental approval of a research proposal must precede this work. Students are also required to present, in the form of a poster, the results of their capstone experience. Capstone research credits must be taken as a second semester junior or a senior (or the summer between the junior and senior years).


BIOL 470 Biology Seminar—the course will involve a team approach toward preparation of a significant document. The nature of the document is not fixed but chosen by the instructor for each seminar course. Examples of the types of documents envisioned include grant proposals, review articles and texts for proposed 110-129 courses. Biology seminar must be taken as a second semester junior or as a senior.

Recommended Courses

CHEM 210Organic Chemistry II


MATH 112Applied Statistics


MATH 202Calculus II



PHYS 203Introductory Physics I



PHYS 204Introductory Physics II



PHYS 101General Physics



PHYS 102General Physics


MATH 112, MATH 201: (if not taken for math requirement in major)

Curricular Directions in Biology

Curricular directions provide students with suggested combinations of courses that could best meet a student’s individual goals and interests; however, biology majors are not required to choose a particular curricular direction listed below. It is recommended that students, along with their academic advisers, choose a combination of elective courses to suit their needs for further study and work in biology and health-related fields.

Integrative Biology Direction

The integrative biology direction broadly prepares students for further study or work in biology. Recommended elective courses include:

• cell biology • genetics • microbiology

• plant form and function • field biology • advanced ecology

• vertebrate zoology • invertebrate zoology • animal behavior

Pre-medical Direction

The pre-medical direction is especially suited for students who wish to pursue a career in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or an allied health field (e.g., nursing, physical therapy, physician’s assistant). Students are urged to meet with the health professions adviser, located in the Center for Career Development and Experiential Education, in their first year. Recommended elective courses include:

• human anatomy and physiology • microbiology 

• cell biology • genetics• immunology 

Molecular Biology Direction

The molecular biology direction is recommended for students who are planning a career in research in molecular or cell biology or intend to pursue graduate studies in these fields. The molecular biology direction is also recommended for students considering careers in bioinformatics, forensics or drug discovery. Recommended elective courses include:

• cell biology • microbiology • protein biochemistry

• genetics • immunology • biochemistry of intermediary metabolism

• principles and methods in molecular genetics • molecular biology eukaryotic cell

Microbiology Direction

The microbiology direction is well-suited for students who are planning a career in research in microbiology or immunology or intend to pursue graduate studies in these fields. The microbiology direction is also recommended for students considering careers as industrial, food, environmental, clinical or veterinary microbiologists, quality assurance technicians or medical technologists. Recommended elective courses include:

• microbiology • genetics • immunology

• cell biology • virology • principles and methods in molecular genetics

Ecology Direction

The ecology direction is recommended for students who are planning a career in research in ecology, evolutionary biology or environmental biology or intend to pursue graduate studies in these fields. The ecology direction is also recommended for students considering careers in forestry, wildlife or fisheries management, environmental activism, recreation planning, conservation biology or environmental education. Recommended elective courses include:

• advanced ecology • field biology

• animal behavior • ornithology • conservation biology

• aquatic biology • plant ecology

• invertebrate zoology • vertebrate zoology

Secondary Education Direction

The secondary education direction is recommended for students who wish to pursue a career in teaching biology. Recommended elective courses include:

• genetics • field biology

• plant form and function • microbiology

• vertebrate zoology • invertebrate zoology

Student research opportunities are another hallmark of our program. The faculty are engaged in active research in a diverse range of subdisciplines. Students can work with faculty to investigate the molecular biology of insect-carried diseases in plants, the symbiotic association of nitrogen-fixing algae with marine corals, the molecular genetics of oncogene expression, the ecology of the American Chestnut, the biochemistry of protein-DNA interactions, the population genetics of amphibians and the behavioral ecology of frogs, just to mention a few of the research interests of our faculty. Independent study, Honors research and our Summer Research Institute (where students stay on campus and receive a summer stipend to conduct research) are all means for our students to join the faculty in their research pursuits.

We also encourage students to participate in off-campus research opportunities. The College is situated only a few blocks from Fort Detrick, a federal facility housing research laboratories of the National Cancer Institute, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Many of our students complete internships at these nearby laboratories. Internship experiences often lead directly to employment opportunities in the Fort Detrick laboratories or the many biotechnology laboratories of the I-270 technology corridor between Washington, D.C., and Frederick. Students have also completed internships at a number of other locations, including the National Aquarium, Horn Point Environmental Laboratory and the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory.

Duke University Marine Sciences Education Consortium (MSEC) Hood College maintains a close relationship with the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C. At the invitation of the University, Hood has made that relationship even stronger by joining the Duke University Marine Sciences Education Consortium. Hood students may use the marine laboratory’s facilities for independent study projects and coursework. The marine laboratory is located in a historic coastal town on the Intracoastal Waterway near the Outer Banks and Cape Hatteras. Opportunities for study include field work in a variety of estuarine, salt marsh, beach and open ocean environments. Enrollment at MSEC is administered by the Hood Department of Biology.

Hood students transfer credits but not quality points for work completed at the Duke University Marine Laboratory.

The Duke University Marine Laboratory offers courses during the fall semester (late August to late December), spring semester (mid-January to late April) and three summer terms. These courses change each year; the following list represents a sample of offerings. In the spring semester, Duke offers a special program of seven weeks at the Duke University Marine Laboratory and seven weeks at the Bermuda Biological Station for Research. Contact the Department of Biology for details.

Analysis of Ocean Ecosystems Conservation Biology and Policy

Barrier Island Ecology Environmental Biochemistry

Beach and Island Geological Processes Marine Ecology

Biochemistry of Marine Animals Marine Fisheries Policy

Biological Oceanography Marine Invertebrate Zoology

Coastal Ecosystem Processes Marine Mammals

Coastal Ecotoxicology and Pollution Physiology of Marine Animals