Requirements for Biology Majors at Princeton

January 12, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Requirements for Biology Majors at Princeton

The field of biology, which belongs to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) umbrella, is consistently one of the most popular choices for students interested in pursuing a degree in college. At Princeton, students interested in the biological sciences can choose to take classes in a number of different departments. Each department has its own requirements for biology majors at Princeton to fulfill.

In spite of this, biology can be a difficult subject to study, and not all degrees in the subject are created equal. When deciding whether or not to major in biology in college, there are a lot of different things to take into consideration. However, students are expected to satisfy both program and departmental requirements for biology majors at Princeton.

Does Princeton have a Good Biology Program?

Does Princeton have a good biology program? Yes! There is a biology concentration available to students at Princeton. In point of fact, they have five departments devoted to biology and other fields associated with it. Each of the five departments has its own requirements for biology majors at Princeton to fulfill.

View of a teacher using a microscope while two students are watching her.

These courses and the institution as a whole are consistently placed among the most prestigious in the country. The biological studies programs of Princeton University are ranked number six in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, which places Princeton University at the top spot among national universities. The following are the programs:

Chemical and Biological Engineering

  • The undergraduate program has an emphasis on fields such as bioengineering and biotechnology as well as energy and environmental engineering, among other related fields.

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

  • Larger systems, ecosystems, climate change, and other topics are emphasized throughout the undergraduate curriculum.

Engineering Biology

  • This is an undergraduate-only program that is designed for individuals who are interested in pursuing a career or further education at the graduate level in the fields of biotechnology or bioengineering.

Molecular Biology

  • The cellular, molecular, and developmental biological processes are the primary areas of study during the undergraduate degree.

Quantitative and Computational Biology

  • Both experimental and other types of analysis methods, which are employed in larger-scale observations, are taught in the undergraduate curriculum.

What are the Requirements for Biology Majors at Princeton?

What are the requirements for biology majors at Princeton? It is necessary for a student to submit an application in order to participate in the program. In order to have a head start on designing appropriate course sequences, first-year students are strongly encouraged to get this done as soon as feasible.

Here are the following requirements for biology majors at Princeton:

Molecular Biology

There are around fifty to sixty sophomores that enroll in the Molecular Biology department every spring, making it one of the bigger concentrations offered at Princeton. Students are prepared for three upper-level core courses covering fundamentals of modern experimental biology – genetics, biochemistry, and cell and developmental biology – as well as an intensive project lab course by taking our introductory course in Cell and Molecular Biology, as well as courses in chemistry, physics, and statistics.

Young woman using a microscope in a laboratory.

Students are given the opportunity to delve further into more specific themes such as immunology, cancer biology, genetics, and drug discovery through the study of a wide variety of elective courses. Combining a degree in Molecular Biology with a certificate in another field, such as biophysics, neuroscience, global health, and health policy, or quantitative and computational biology, is an option for students with interdisciplinary interests.


  • MOL 214, completed with a grade of C or better. Neither AP credit for courses taken at other institutions can be used toward the fulfillment of the MOL 214 prerequisite.
  • CHM 201/207 and CHM 202, or one unit of chemistry AP credit plus CHM 202 or 215, or two units of chemistry AP credit.

General Requirements

The following courses are required:

Organic Chemistry

CHM 301 and 304, or CHM 337; one of the two. With prior authorization from the Department of Chemistry, coursework completed at other educational facilities may count toward the satisfaction of the prerequisites for the chemistry major. Before commencing their junior year, students are expected to have finished all of the requirements for organic chemistry.


Students are able to demonstrate that they have met the quantitative criterion if they have completed one course in statistics (SML 201, ORF 245, or MOL 290), and either one course in computer science (COS 126 or higher), or one course in mathematics (MAT 103, 104, 175, 192, or any 200-level MAT course).

The majority of students should consider taking SML 201 and COS 126 as their electives. There is no way to use Advanced Placement (AP) credit toward the completion of the quantitative requirement. Courses taken at other institutions can be substituted for the second required course (but not for the statistics course), if approved by the corresponding department.


PHY 108, PHY 103 and 104, or PHY 101 and 102. The former comes highly recommended. PHY 108 is an alternative to the conventional four-year courses that are only one semester long and focus on biological topics.

PHY 101 or 103 can be combined with PHY 108 to fulfill the two semesters of required physics coursework for pre-medical students. For the purpose of satisfying the physics requirement, neither Advanced Placement (AP) credit nor coursework completed at other schools can be applied.

Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) at Princeton University has a culture that encourages intellectual curiosity and encompasses a wide variety of areas, making it one of a kind in its broad perspective and multidisciplinary approach.

The undergraduate curriculum places a strong emphasis on the study of evolution from an evolutionary perspective. This approach combines theory with empiricism and links topics that are typically viewed as different fields.

test tubes with different chemicals

Students who have an interest in the functioning of the whole organism and large-scale processes, including evolution, physiology, disease, behavior, neuroscience, ecology, ecosystem biology, conservation, and climate change

An initial set of core prerequisites and core requisites serve as the foundation for the educational program in EEB (core requisites are required courses that also count as one of the eight departmental classes required for graduation). Due to the fact that biology is the most fundamental of the natural sciences, the core requirements and core requisites for this department are far more extensive than those for most other departments.


It is recommended that students finish all of these prerequisites by the conclusion of their second year.

  • Biology prerequisite (2 courses): EEB 211, EEB/MOL 214, or EEB/MOL 215
  • Chemistry prerequisite (2 courses): CHM 202, CHM 201 or 207
  • Mathematics prerequisite (1 of the following): MAT 103, MAT 104, MAT 175, MAT 215
  • Physics prerequisite (1 of the following): PHY 101, PHY 102, PHY 103, PHY 104, PHY 108
  • Statistics prerequisite (1 of the following): SML 201( preferred course); ORF 245, PSY 251, POL 345, SOC 301, ECO 202, WWS 220, WWS 332

The requirement for statistics must be satisfied by the end of the fall term of the senior year. It is recommended that the prerequisite for statistics be satisfied before the junior year; nonetheless, it must be satisfied by the conclusion of the fall term of the senior year at the very latest.

The following courses are credited to students who have successfully completed the first full year of the ISC curriculum: MOL 214, CHM 201/2, and PHY 101/2. The student is required to enroll in EEB 211. Students who have completed two years of the ISC are eligible to opt out of EEB 211 by submitting a brief essay after reading Serengeti Rules and Selfish Gene.

EEB Course Requirements

There must be a minimum of eight classes taken. If you want departmental credit, you need to get at least a C- on the assignment.

  • EEB 309 and EEB 321 must be taken in order to graduate.
  • One class from each of the following two categories (for a total of two classes): Behavior and Organismal Biology (EEB 313, 314, 329, 403, 404, 406); Disease Ecology (EEB 304, 327, 328, 351); Conservation Biology (EEB 308, 380, 417, 303); Mathematical and Computational Biology (EEB 308, 380, 417, 303). (EEB 324, 325).
  • 4 additional upper-level (300+) EEB courses

Quantitative and Computational Biology

The undergraduate program is intended for individuals who have a significant interest in transdisciplinary and systems-level approaches to the study of the behavior of molecules, cells, and organisms.

Students are given a foundational understanding of both experimental and analytical methods for the collecting of large-scale quantitative observations, as well as the interpretation of these data in the context of relevant models, across the course of their education.


Integrated Science, which is strongly recommended, or three foundational classes are chosen from the following lists below:

1. ISC 231-234 – An Integrated, Quantitative Introduction to the Natural Sciences

2. Foundation in Computer Science – the following course or approved equivalent

  • COS 126/EGR 126 – Computer Science: An Interdisciplinary Approach

3. Foundation in Biology – one of the following courses or approved equivalent

  • MOL 214/EEB 214/CBE 214 – Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • EEB 211 – Life on Earth: Mechanisms of Change in Nature

4. Foundation in Math or Statistics – one of the following courses or approved equivalent

  • 200-level math course (or higher)
  • ORF 245/EGR 245 – Fundamentals of Statistics

Chemical and Biological Engineering

Undergraduate students have the opportunity to specialize in fields such as bioengineering and biotechnology, materials and product engineering, energy and environmental engineering, optimization, dynamics, and information technology; business management and entrepreneurship; science and engineering for new technologies; and more.

Academic Requirements

The essential outline looks like this:

  • Begin with the required basic classes that are a part of the BSE curriculum for all students.
  • The CBE Core will guide you through both theoretical and practical considerations.
  • To organize your electives, choose one of the six areas of emphasis available to you.
  • Begin what is known as the senior thesis, an independent research project that lasts for an entire year and is supervised by a member of the CBE faculty or a faculty member affiliated with the CBE.

Engineering Biology

Undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing professions or further education at the graduate level in the fields of biotechnology or bioengineering are the target audience for this program.

Students who are majoring in engineering will have the opportunity to study cellular and molecular biology, genetics, physiology, biochemistry, and neurology as part of this program. Biotechnology, biomechanics, thermodynamics, control theory, hazardous waste management, electronics, computer graphics, and information theory are some of the subjects that can be studied within this degree by students majoring in either biological or chemical sciences.

In most cases, the requirements for the engineering biology program and the biology department can be fulfilled by the same student. The student and the advisor from their respective department will work together to create the program.

Courses that are completed in fulfillment of the requirements for the program may, in some instances, also count toward the satisfaction of the requirements for the regular department.

The following is a list of the criteria for the program:

  • A groundwork class in either molecular and cellular biology (MOL 214 or a similar course) or computers (and only one of the two may count toward the requirement) (COS 126 or equivalent course).
  • Three bioengineering classes, chosen from a predetermined list, must be completed. These classes should offer a comprehensive education in a specific subfield of bioengineering, such as biotechnology, molecular or cellular engineering, neuroengineering, or systems biology, so that students may work in the field with confidence. At least one of these classes cannot be counted toward the student’s departmental requirements, and at least one of these classes must not come from the student’s department of emphasis.
  • One more advanced course in the life sciences, chosen from the list of acceptable options. The student should come away from this class with a deeper understanding of complex living systems, which will complement the bioengineering classes they have already taken.
  • It is expected that you will work closely with the teachers. Students are required to complete at least one semester of independent work in an appropriate field related to engineering biology with a grade of B- or better. In order to fulfill the requirements of the student’s department for the senior thesis or senior independent research, this independent study is organized with the student’s department.

Participants in the program are expected to maintain a high level of academic performance. A grade point average of at least B- or higher across all of the required courses for the program must be maintained in order to be eligible for the engineering biology certificate upon completion of the degree. The program does not permit students to take classes on a pass/D/fail basis.

What is the average GPA for Biology Majors?

What is the average GPA for biology majors? The minimum grade point average required to be considered successful in the biology major is anywhere from 3.02 to 3.3. Many graduate schools have a minimum GPA requirement that ranges from 3.0 to 3.5, and many students aim to have a GPA that is at least 3.0.

Two students working on a room.

In addition to the student’s GPA, the student must also submit their GRE scores, which must total 151 for the verbal section, 152 for the quantitative section, and 3.6 for the analytical writing section. The composition of an average ACT score ranges from 29 to 33, whereas the composition of an average SAT score goes from 1360 to 1480.

How Hard is it to get into Princeton?

How hard is it to get into Princeton? The admissions process at Princeton is notoriously competitive. The university selected 1,991 candidates out of a total pool of 31,056 applicants for admission into the class of 2021.

A woman thinking while looking at her laptop

The percentage of people who were accepted into the program was only 6.4%. It is going to take a lot of effort and commitment. Your chances of getting into Princeton may increase if you have assistance in the application process.

Want to learn more about the requirements for biology majors at Princeton? You’ve come to the right place. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college. Contact us today for more information on our services.

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