Requirements for Biology Majors at Stanford

January 15, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Requirements for Biology Majors at Stanford

The field of biology is one that is both varied and fascinating. Many students at Stanford University find that majoring in Biology is a fantastic decision because it serves not only as outstanding preparation for certain professional areas but also as an ideal focal point for an overall liberal arts education.

Students at Stanford who are interested in the biological sciences have a number of distinct concentrations from which to pick. Each course has its own requirements for biology majors at Stanford to fulfill.

The degree in Biology can be used as a stepping stone to a broad number of other employment choices, such as dental school, veterinary school, medical school, or even a doctoral program in the biological and applied sciences.

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It is also possible for students who do not want to pursue employment in science-related fields to focus their liberal arts education on this topic, which can be both beneficial and gratifying. With this, it is expected for Stanford students to satisfy their chosen course requirements for biology majors at Stanford.

Does Stanford have a Good Biology Program?

Does Stanford have a good biology program? The study of biology as a subject of concentration in undergraduate school can pave the way for a wide range of different professional paths. Students who are interested in attending dentistry, veterinary, or medical school, as well as graduate school in the biological and applied sciences, might consider majoring in biology because it offers a solid foundation in the fundamental life sciences.

Students are also well prepared for research and technical positions in universities, government agencies, and private companies by gaining this foundation of knowledge and gaining experience in laboratories.

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Even for students who don’t intend to work in science-related professions, majoring in biology can be a worthwhile and fulfilling concentration of their liberal arts degree. This is because biology provides a great grounding for the kinds of technological vocations that are in demand today. In today’s world, having a fundamental understanding of biology and its underlying principles is becoming increasingly important.

As part of the requirements for biology majors at Stanford, in the process of declaring a major, any undergraduate student who is interested in majoring in Biology is expected to choose a faculty advisor from within the department.

Faculty members in the Biology department are ready to provide guidance to students on a variety of academic topics, including course selection, research, suggested readings, and future career goals. The office that is in charge of student services keeps an up-to-date list of the academic advisers, as well as their availability and research interests.

Questions regarding administrative matters, such as requirements for the major, approved out-of-department electives, transfer course evaluations, and petition procedures, can be directed to the student services staff as well as BioBridge, the peer advising group for the department. Both of these groups are prepared to answer questions.

This office is also responsible for the distribution of additional departmental forms and informational pamphlets, in addition to the Bachelor of Science Handbook, which outlines the policies and requirements of the department.

The Biology department at the undergraduate level has set the following learning outcomes as expectations for students majoring in Biology. These learning outcomes are taken into consideration when evaluating students as well as the undergraduate curriculum offered by the department. The following are the behaviors that are expected of students:

  • the ability to analyze and interpret scientific data, evaluate the relevance of the findings and express conclusions that can be supported by the facts through the use of discipline-specific tools and subject matter expertise to accomplish these tasks.
  • the ability to generate testable scientific hypotheses both independently and in collaboration with others, as well as the ability to design methods to acquire data to test the related hypotheses.
  • the capability to effectively communicate subject comprehension as well as research conclusions through a variety of different mediums.

What are the Requirements for Biology Majors at Stanford?

What are the requirements for biology majors at Stanford? The beginning of the major consists of a number of distinct introductory classes that are connected to the many subfields of biology. During the first two years of their education, students will begin taking the aforementioned courses, as well as exploratory lab courses and a selection of extra-breadth courses in Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Statistics. The final two years will be spent studying more in-depth topics in various advanced electives.

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Even though it is not a prerequisite for any area of study, the majority of undergraduate students majoring in Biology prefer to participate in at least one-quarter of research in a lab located on campus. A good number of students then move on to do their own independent study, which results in an Honors thesis and presentation. This article includes supplementary details regarding the prerequisites for the Bachelor of Science in Biology degree.

BIO Foundations Courses (level 80) consist of five mandatory classes that are typically taken by students in their sophomore and junior years.

Students go on to the next stage of the educational process when they participate in a set of six Bio Foundations courses, which are designed to introduce students to the essential fields of biology. These courses focus on the key foundational disciplines of biology. Depending on the area of specialization they choose within the major, students will be required to take five out of the six Bio Foundations classes.

Students who take these classes will delve further into these essential facets of biology while also developing their skills in scientific communication, reading relevant literature, and critical scientific thinking.

Each class in the Bio Foundations sequence is worth a total of four units:

  • BIO/BIOHOPK 81 – Ecology (Main Campus: Autumn; Hopkins: Spring)
  • BIO 82 – Genetics
  • BIO 83 – Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • BIO 84 – Physiology
  • BIO 85 – Evolutionary Biology
  • BIO 86 – Cell Biology

Students who major in general Biology have the opportunity to select any five of the six Bio Foundation classes to fulfill their degree requirements.

Specialized fields of study will require particular Bio Foundations courses, while the student will have free choice over the remaining four courses, bringing the total number of required courses up to five.

Students have the option of completing their degree requirements at either the main campus or at the Hopkins Marine Station for those classes that are offered at both locations.

Inquiry-Based Lab Courses (40-level)- Two courses are required and recommended to be taken sophomore year

These classes offer students an opportunity to gain practical experience with scientific methods and experimental design. Students have the opportunity to refine their scientific thinking and lab skills while performing actual research in the field of biology. These lessons are inquiry-based.

There are two obligatory lab courses that all students, including those who are pursuing honors, are expected to attend. These courses are designed to provide a foundation in both lab research and field research:

  • BIO 45, Introduction to Laboratory Research in Cell and Molecular Biology
  • One of the following:
  • BIO 46: Introduction to Research in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • BIO 47: Introduction to Research in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • BIOHOPK 47H: Introduction to Research in Ecology and Ecological Physiology

Breadth Courses– A variety of Chemistry, Math, Physics, and Statistics courses are required

It will be necessary to take classes in chemistry, mathematics, physics, and statistics. Students should prepare themselves to attend the following classes, even if the particular prerequisites varied depending on the area of study they choose:

  • 2-4 courses in Chemistry
  • 1-3 courses in Math
  • 1-4 courses in Physics
  • 1 course in Statistics

Only one of the breadth courses offered in Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Statistics may be taken for credit or no credit.

Elective Courses (100-level and above)- 23 units of electives are required

Upper-level courses are available in more specialized areas of Biology; the majority of these courses are in the seminar format and provide students with the opportunity to investigate the scientific literature in greater depth and to generate ideas for new fields of research.

Students are given the opportunity to either concentrate their studies on a more general area of Biology or to meet the prerequisites for a more specialized area of research. All students are obliged to fulfill the upper division elective course requirement of 23 units, regardless of the concentration of their studies.

For the General Major, students have the option of selecting any BIO or BIOHOPK course at the 100-level or higher, in addition to electives chosen from a list of preapproved courses offered by other departments.

Students who decide to concentrate their academic efforts in a particular subfield will be required to fulfill the standards of that subfield by taking a specific set of classes. These are the areas of academic study:

  • Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Computational Biology
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Marine Biology
  • Microbes and Immunity
  • Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Neurobiology

Every student has the option of taking one optional class for credit or for no credit.

This need can be satisfied by completing a maximum of 6 units from the course sequence BIO 196-199/X, BIO 290-292, or BIO 296, and a maximum of 3 units from the sequence BIO 114A/B/C.

Senior Capstone Experience– Students majoring in Biology will be expected to declare which capstone track they intend to follow no later than the start of the spring quarter in their junior year of study.

A capstone experience is required of all undergraduate students who matriculate as first-year students in 2021-22 or later and who graduate in Academic Year 2024-25 or later.

Students who enter the university as transfer students in the academic years 2022–2023 or 2023–2024 and have the intention of graduating in the academic year 2024–2025 or later will also be required to complete a capstone.

There are four different paths that might be taken to satisfy the capstone requirement for the Biology major.

  • Track 1 – Research-based studies leading to a Senior Thesis
  • Track 2 – Individually designed creative projects – The Senior Reflection
  • Track 3 – Individually designed projects – The Senior Synthesis
  • Track 4 – Approved capstone experiences in other departments or interdisciplinary honors programs

Writing in the Major (WIM)– 1 designated writing intensive course is required.

Students are needed to enroll in one of the WIM courses that have been approved by the university’s Biology department. The criteria for the electives can also be satisfied by selecting several of these alternatives. WIM must be taken for a letter grade when offered.

Adding Honors– Students who wish to engage in a substantial piece of independent research may add Honors to their major, either the general major or any field of study.

A Biology major can be completed with or without the Honors option. The following are some of the requirements that must be met by students in order to graduate from the Honors Program:

  • Approved honors proposal
  • 10 units of research in the same lab, enrolled as BIO 199, BIOHOPK 199H, or BIO 199X (Note – If this poses a challenge, we will consider exceptions on a case-by-case basis for students who have completed comparable experience through federal work study, paid research experience, etc.)
  • GPA of at least 3.0 for all courses taken toward the major (excluding research units)
  • Approved honors thesis
  • Presentation of research at the annual honors symposium, either as a poster or an oral presentation

Students must submit their honors applications at least two quarters before their expected date of graduation (Spring graduates apply in Autumn).

What is the Average GPA for Biology Majors?

What is the average GPA for biology majors? Stanford University is widely regarded as both one of the most prestigious schools in the United States and one of the most competitive colleges in the country.

Stanford is a popular choice for high school students who are planning to attend college for a variety of reasons, including the quality of its education, the beauty of its campus, and its reputation for athletic prowess, not to mention the school’s long list of distinguished graduates, which includes numerous successful businesspeople, members of the Supreme Court, renowned actors, notable authors, astronauts, inventors, and even a former President of the United States.

Young woman teaching kids in a library.


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. As one of the requirements for biology majors at Stanford, students are required to maintain an overall grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 in all classes that count toward the major (excluding research units).

How Hard is it to get into Stanford?

How hard is it to get into Stanford? Only 2,349 students were selected to join the incoming class of 2025 at Stanford University out of a total of 45,227 candidates for admission to the university. A fast computation using the Common Data Set places the acceptance rate at 5.18%, which is almost identical to the acceptance rate from the prior year, which was 5.19%. However, Stanford does not publicly publicize its acceptance rate.

It is hardly surprising that Stanford is frequently referred to as the “Ivy of the West.” It is rather usual to see Stanford put higher in national polls and publications than many of the prestigious East Coast institutions, despite the fact that Stanford is not a member of the Ivy League.

Stanford is currently listed as one of the top 10 schools that are not in the Ivy League. The admissions process most especially for Biology majors at Stanford University is exceedingly competitive, and the university receives applications from some of the most accomplished students in the United States. Thus, students are expected to satisfy their chosen course requirements for biology majors at Stanford.

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Want to learn more about the requirements for biology majors at Stanford? 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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