Requirements for Biology Majors at Yale

January 15, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Requirements for Biology Majors at Yale

The study of biology at Yale University encompasses a wide variety of departments, including ecology and evolutionary biology, molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, molecular biophysics and biochemistry, biomedical engineering, and forestry and environmental science. Additionally, the School of Medicine is dedicated to the study of biology.

Students that are interested in the biological sciences have a few distinct options for majors to pursue. Each different major has its own requirements for biology majors at Yale to fulfill.

Yale University, which can be found in New Haven, Connecticut, is a member of the illustrious Ivy League. Biology majors will have a multitude of research opportunities both during the academic year and over the summer; nevertheless, entrance is exceptionally competitive, with only a 6% acceptance rate.

These opportunities will be available to biology majors both during the academic year and over the summer. However, students are expected to satisfy their chosen concentration requirements for biology majors at Yale in order to graduate with a degree.

Does Yale have a Good Biology Program?

Does Yale have a good biology program? Four different undergraduate degrees in the biological sciences and one in biomedical engineering are available to students at Yale.

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The different approaches to analyzing biological systems that are represented by each of these majors are what set them apart from one another. The students who major in biological sciences are:

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (E&EB)

  • The analysis of whole organisms, populations, and ecosystems.

Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (MB&B)

  • The analysis of life at the molecular level using tools of chemistry and physics.

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB)

  • The analysis of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, genetics, neurobiology, and quantitative biology.

Neuroscience (NSCI)

  • The analysis of neurons, neural circuits, brains, and behavior, uses a wide range of approaches.

These approaches, when combined, span a very wide range of subfields that fall under the umbrella of the biological sciences.

Students do not need to commit to a certain major during their first year because the basic coursework that is relevant to each of the four majors is comparable. The majority of students who are considering majoring in chemistry, biology, or mathematics begin their academic careers as first-year students and must complete prerequisite coursework in at least two of these courses.

A student’s previous academic and extracurricular commitments, as well as criteria such as advanced placement, play a role in determining the particular combination of classes and the order in which those classes should be taken to best fulfill the student’s needs. Before choosing their first-year science classes, it is therefore extremely vital for students to get specialized guidance from one of the directors of undergraduate studies (DUSes) or other departmental officials.

Students that are interested in researching biological systems from the viewpoints of the physical sciences and engineering can choose to major in biomedical engineering. Students do not need to declare their major in the first year, as is the case with the other majors in the biological sciences; however, they should begin their preparation in the majority of cases by taking courses in mathematics and in at least one of the fundamental sciences of biology, chemistry, or physics.

Before making their choices for the autumn term, students are strongly encouraged to get individualized counseling so that they can select the proper level and combination of courses based on their specific levels of preparedness and areas of interest.

What are the Requirements for Biology Majors at Yale?

What are the requirements for biology majors at Yale? The BIOL 101–104 course sequence is intended to serve as an entry point into all four of the programs. Students do not need to make a decision about their intended major during their first year because the prerequisites for all four majors are the same. All four modules need to be finished in order for students to get a degree in any of the four possible concentrations (E&EB, MB&B, MCDB, or NSCI).

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The BIOL 101–104 modules are individually one-half semester courses worth one-half credit, and together they make up the biology sequence, which is an academic program that spans an entire academic year. The students will obtain a foundation in the biological sciences as a result of completing the courses in the series.

Students who are interested in learning about the biological sciences, including those who wish to major in Molecular Biology and Biophysics (MB&B), Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB), Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (E&EB), and Neuroscience (NSCI), should finish the entire BIOL 101–104 sequence. Only BIOL 101 and BIOL 102 are necessary for students who intend to major in Biomedical Engineering (BENG).

The Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology work together to present the foundational biology sequence. The following are the four components that make up the biology sequence:

  • BIOL 101, Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • BIOL 102, Principles of Cell Biology
  • BIOL 103, Genetics and Development
  • BIOL 104, Principles of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

As part of the requirements for biology majors at Yale, every module can be chosen to study during either the fall or the spring term. Both BIOL 101 and BIOL 103 are available to students during the first half of the academic year, regardless of the term. Both BIOL 102 and BIOL 104 are available to students in the second semester of the autumn and spring terms, respectively.

Students often begin the sequence by studying BIOL 101 and BIOL 102 during the fall or spring term. They then finish the sequence by taking BIOL 103 and BIOL 104 during the following term. This is due to the fact that the modules must be completed in the correct order.

The course coordinators move along with a single group of students as they move through the foundational biology sequence. This allows the modules to be cohesive with one another.

Students need to be aware that each module constitutes its own independent course and that they must register for each module individually in order to participate. Students receive a distinct grade for each module. The modules have to be completed in the order given. This indicates that in order to move on to the subsequent levels of the BIOL series, you must either earn a passing grade or place out of BIOL 101.

Requirements of the Major

The subjects of biophysics, biochemistry, and science and society make up the fundamental components of each major. The requirements for biology majors at Yale that extend beyond these fundamental components teach more sophisticated concepts in addition to the technology and practical skills that are necessary for scholarship within the field.

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (E&EB)


Introductory biology sequence (BIOL 101, 102, 103, 104); 2-term general chemistry lecture sequence (CHEM 161, 165 or CHEM 163, 167) with labs (CHEM 134L, 136L); 1 term of organic chemistry (CHEM 174 or 175, or CHEM 220 or 221) with labs (CHEM 222L or 223L); alternatively, CHEM 174, 175 taken with CHEM 222L, 223L satisfies both chemistry requirements; 2 terms of lecture courses in physics (PHYS 170, 171 or higher); 1 term of MATH 115, MATH 116, S&DS 100 or S&DS 230

Number of courses

B.S.—5½ course credits beyond prerequisites (not including senior requirements); B.A.—3½ course credits beyond prerequisites (not including senior requirements)

Specific courses required

For both the B.A. and the B.S. degrees in Biodiversity and the Environment—E&EB 220, 225; 1 from E&EB 246–272 or E&EB 280 with associated lab, or E&EB 326 and 327L; Organismal Biology—E&EB 290; E&EB 295 or BENG 350; MCDB 300 or MB&B 300; and E&EB 291L

Distribution of courses

Additionally for the B.S.—2 electives as specified

Substitutions permitted

With DUS permission, other higher-level math or stat course for math or stat intro course requirement; two upper-level courses in EPS, MATH, AMTH, APHY, CPSC, S&DS, or ENAS for organic chemistry and lab; MCDB lecture/lab courses on organismal diversity for E&EB lecture/lab; a second term of organic chemistry and lab and two physics labs may count as electives

Senior requirement

B.S.—two terms of E&EB 475 and 476, or E&EB 495 and 496; B.A.—E&EB 470 or senior essay

Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (MB&B)

Introductory courses

BIOL 101 and 102; 2 terms of general Chemistry with associated labs; 1 term of Organic Chemistry with associated lab; 2 terms of calculus; BIOL 103 and 104 for some concentrations

Number of courses

B.A.–9.5-course credits (incl senior project); B.S.–12.5-course credits (including senior project)

Specific courses required

MB&B 275 or CHEM 332; MB&B 300; MB&B 301; PHYS 170 and 171 (or higher)

Distribution of courses

B.A.–3 biophysics credits to include MB&B 275 or CHEM 332 and PHYS 170 and PHYS 171 or higher; 3 biochemistry credits to include MB&B 300 and 301 and CHEM 175 or 200+ Chem course; MB&B 268, a half-credit for science and society or other courses as approved by DUS; 1 credit practical skills req; and 1 elective; B.S.–same requisites as for B.A. degree plus 1 additional Practical Skills credit; 1 additional 300+ biophysics credit; and one additional 200+ credit in STEM

Senior requirement

MB&B 490

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB)


B.A.—BIOL 101, 102, 103, 104; a two-term lecture sequence in chem; one term of PHYS 170 or above; MATH 115 or above or a Yale statistics course approved by the DUS; B.S.—same as for the B.A. degree, in addition to labs associated with a two-term lecture sequence in chem; 1 term of organic chem with lab; two terms of physics, PHYS 170 or above

Number of courses

B.A.—5 courses and 1 lab, totaling at least 5½ course credits beyond the prerequisites; B.S.—8 courses and 2 labs, totaling at least 9-course credits beyond the prerequisites; B.S., intensive major—8 courses and 2 labs, totaling at least 11-course credits beyond prerequisites

Specific courses required

Neurobiology track—MCDB 320; Biotechnology track—MCDB 370; Quantitative Biology track—MCDB 330

Distribution of courses

B.A.—2 core courses from MCDB 200, 202, 205, 210, 290, 300 (or MB&B 300); 2 electives numbered MCDB 250 or above (or 2 additional core courses); 1 elective numbered MCDB 350 or above; 1 biology lab; B.S.—3 core courses from MCDB 200, 202, 205, 210, 290, 300 (or MB&B 300); 2 electives numbered MCDB 250 or above (or 2 additional core courses); 1 elective numbered MCDB 350 or above; 2 MCDB labs; Biotechnology, Neurobiology, and Quantitative Biology tracks—same as B.A. and B.S. degree programs, with a specific req (track dependent) in place of one general elective

Senior requirement

B.A.—MCDB 475 taken in senior year, or senior essay; B.S.—2 consecutive terms of independent research in senior year, MCDB 485, 486; B.S., intensive major—MCDB 495, 496 in senior year

Neuroscience (NSCI)


BIOL 101, 102, 103, and 104; and one of PSYC 200, S&DS 103, 105, 230, 238

Number of courses

18.5 credits (including prerequisites and senior requirements)

Specific courses required

2 neuroscience foundation courses, NSCI 160 and 320

Distribution of courses

B.S. or B.A.—1 lab course; 11 electives including at least: 2 Systems/Circuits/Behavior Core courses, 2 Molecular/Cellular/Biological Core courses, 1 Quantitative Core course, 1 Computational Core course, 1 Basic Allied Core course, and no more than 2 Other Allied Core courses

Senior requirement

B.S.—2 empirical research courses, NSCI 490 and 491; B.A.—2 nonempirical research courses, NSCI 480 and 481, or 1 empirical research course (NSCI 490 or 491) and 1 nonempirical research course (NSCI 480 or 481)

What is the Average GPA for Biology Majors?

What is the average GPA for biology majors? The Yale Class of 2025 received applications from 46,905 prospective students. In the whole history of Yale, this was by far the most significant number of candidates. However, only 4.62 percent of applications were accepted. It is well-known that Yale is a very competitive school. In the last few decades, when the acceptance rate at Yale was only 20%, this was not the case.

As a part of the requirements for biology majors at Yale, the range of 4.0 to 4.19 is considered to be a decent grade point average for biology majors. Many graduate schools have a minimum grade point average requirement of 4.0 on a scale from 0 to 10, and many students aim to have a GPA of 4.19 or higher.

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You might be asking yourself, “How is it possible for students to achieve a grade point average that is higher than 4.0?” Some secondary schools assign grades on a scale of 5.0 rather than 4.0 to the Advanced Placement (AP) exams and other advanced coursework.

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 Yale?

How hard is it to get into Yale? The acceptance rate for the class of 2026 at Yale is 4.47%, which is just a hair lower than the 4.62% rate it had for the class of 2025. This brings Yale’s overall ranking as one of the most competitive universities for admissions.

The criteria that are taken into consideration by the institution throughout the admissions process are a little bit different from those used by other Ivies. The ability to contribute to the school’s community and the ability to make the most of the school’s resources are two of the most important qualities that Yale looks for in prospective students.

Even though non-academic characteristics are taken into consideration, Yale is still a very selective educational institution. Grades, standardized test scores, and the level of difficulty of previous coursework are some of the factors that admissions staff consider when making decisions about who will be admitted to the school.

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Want to learn more about the requirements for biology majors at Yale? 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 this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.

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