Biology

Requirements & Courses

  • The Alma College Biology Program is designed to foster student learning through scientific investigation. As part of the core curriculum, students are introduced to the natural world through experiences in zoology, botany and genetics. By enrolling in designated electives, students expand their core knowledge through advanced coursework and project-based, real-world laboratory experiences.

    Students can also tailor their major by selecting courses within the General Studies program or through any one of four Specialization Tracts; each of which allow students to delve deeper into the subjects that most interest them. A wide variety of primary research experiences, here on campus as well as on the 200-acre Alma College ecological station, are also available to our students. Working alongside a faculty mentor, students learn modern research methods and contribute to the growing body of knowledge in biology while preparing themselves for job placement or admission into graduate or medical/health programs.

  • Major Requirements
    1. Twenty credits of Biology core: BIO 121, 202, 203, 204, 290 and 490.
    2. Electives in either General Studies or an Area of Concentration (indicated on transcript).
      1. General Studies:

        Eight credits of the following electives: BIO 302, 307, 308, 315, 361, 385, or 430.

        Eight credits of additional upper level BIO electives which may include Spring Term and/or independent study credits.

      2. Pre-Medicine/Health: BIO 205, 226 or 307, 301, 308, and 330.
      3. Pre-Veterinary Medicine: BIO 301, 305, 307, 308, and 361.
      4. Cell and Molecular: BIO 226 or 307, 301, 308, 330, and 430.
      5. Ecology and Evolution: BIO 302, 305, 322, 360, and 361.
    3. Completion of the MFAT examination.
  • Teaching Major

    Thirty-six credits from the Department which must include the following:

    1. Twenty credits of BIO core: BIO 121, 202, 203, 204, 290, and 490.
    2. Four credits of BIO 302.
    3. Twelve credits of upper level BIO electives.
    4. Completion of MFAT examination.
  • Program Considerations

    Potential Biology majors should note that many career opportunities for biologists, including graduate and professional programs, require two terms each of Inorganic and Organic Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. Therefore, Biology majors are encouraged to complete Chemistry 115, 223, 224 and 230, Physics 112-113 or 121-122, and Mathematics 112-113 or 116 or 121-122. Additional courses may be required for specific graduate/professional schools; majors should check prospective program websites for specific admission requirements.

    Students are also encouraged to complete a primary research experience either through independent study or a summer internship at Alma College or another institution. For those students considering graduate school and/or a career in research, multiple experiences are highly recommended.

  • Minor Requirements

    Twenty-four credits which must include BIO 121, 202, 203; and 12 credits of upper level BIO electives.

  • Teaching Minor Requirements

    Twenty-four credits which must include BIO 121, 202, 203, 204, 290, 302, and 490.

  • Four credits from BIO, with the exception of practicum or independent study courses, count towards the Distributive Requirements in the Natural Sciences — Life Sciences.

Courses

  • BIO
    101
    .
    Biology for Non-Majors
    4 credits
    $15
    Study of living organisms, biological processes and classification. Current topics in biology are emphasized. For the non-major. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    121
    .
    General Cell Biology
    4 credits
    $30
    Study of basic biological processes, mostly at the cellular level, including the chemical basis of life, cellular structure and function, heredity, reproduction and the genetic basis of evolution. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    125
    .
    Molecular Techniques
    4 credits
    Fee TBA
    Freshman or Sophomore Standing
    Introduction to basic molecular biology laboratory techniques. Prepares students for upper level courses and summer research internships in the molecular sciences. Spring Term offering. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    180
    .
    Biological Topics
    4 credits
    Fee TBA
    Lecture, laboratory and/or field experiences of special relevance to biology. Recent topics have included animal behavior, recombinant gene techniques, microbial ecology and cell culture. May be taken more than once for credit.
  • BIO
    *
    202
    .
    General Botany
    4 credits
    $25
    An introduction to the study of plant life, from algae through flowering plants, and fungi. Plants will be studied in relation to the environment and human activities. Morphology, ecology, and evolution will be stressed with some identification and collection of local flora. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    *
    203
    .
    General Zoology
    4 credits
    $25
    An examination of the diversity of the animal kingdom. Animals will be studied in an evolutionary context, emphasizing morphology, life history, ecology and behavior. The laboratory includes dissections and demonstrates the physical differences across the major phyla. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    *
    204
    .
    Genetics
    4 credits
    $30
    BIO 121 and Sophomore Standing
    The mechanics of inheritance at the molecular and cellular levels and the relationship of this phenomenon to gene action, organismal development, population changes and evolution. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    *
    205
    .
    Developmental Biology
    4 credits
    $30
    BIO 121
    Development of the organism from its beginning to the establishment of the basic body plan and organ systems. Live embryos and developmental morphology of vertebrates. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    *
    226
    .
    Human Physiology II
    4 credits
    $20
    BIO 121 and IPH 225
    Study of physiological functions of the human body and the relationship of systems to the maintenance of homeostatic balance. Includes applications of physiological principles to practical issues in medicine and physical performance. Laboratory. (Cross listed with IPH 226.)
  • BIO
    *
    280
    .
    Biology Seminar
    2 credits
    BIO 121 or Permission
    Biological topics selected by the instructor. May be taken more than once for credit.
  • BIO
    *
    290
    .
    Sophomore Seminar
    2 credits
    BIO 121 and Sophomore Standing
    Designed to show students how to plan and prepare a portfolio for their senior capstone presentation. Library skills, basic statistics and experimental design will be emphasized.
  • BIO
    299
    .
    Independent Study
    1-4 credits
    $15
    Permission
    An opportunity for exceptional freshmen and sophomores to work directly with faculty on a research project. Typically, students help gather data and participate in the analysis of data. Introduction to the research process.
  • BIO
    *
    301
    .
    Cell Biology
    4 credits
    $20
    BIO 204
    Study of the fine structure of eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, the chemical composition and organization of cells, and the particular organization and function of cell organelles and structural components. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    *
    302
    .
    Ecology
    4 credits
    $30
    BIO 290 or Permission
    Investigation of population, community and ecosystem structure, dynamics and energetics. Laboratory and field studies.
  • BIO
    *
    305
    .
    Comparative Anatomy
    4 credits
    $25
    BIO 203
    Explore the use of homology and cladistics to recover phylogenies and to understand the evolution of anatomical features of vertebrates. The function, form, and biodiversity of chordates with emphasis on vertebrates are discussed. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    *
    307
    .
    General Physiology
    4 credits
    $15
    BIO 290 or Permission
    Study of the function of various animal organ systems, especially the ways in which they interact to maintain homeostasis of the individual. Most examples are from mammalian systems. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    *
    308
    .
    Microbiology
    4 credits
    $40
    BIO 290 or Permission
    Survey of the bacteria, viruses and other protists emphasizing their structure, physiology, systematics, ecology and genetics. Focuses on microbes important to humans including disease and the immune response. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    *
    309
    .
    Aquatic Biology
    4 credits
    Fee TBA
    BIO 121 or Permission
    The physical, chemical and biological factors that affect fresh water organisms. Comparison of streams, rivers and lake habitats of Michigan. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    *
    315
    .
    Behavioral Ecology (Field Studies)
    4 credits
    Fee TBA
    BIO 290 or Permission
    Field studies of groups of organisms in habitats ordinarily not accessible during the Fall or Winter term. A recent topic has been marine invertebrates of Jamaica. May be elected more than once for credit. Spring Term offering.
  • BIO
    *
    319
    .
    Toxicology
    4 credits
    $100
    BIO 121, CHM 230
    Introduction to general toxicologic principles through the study of whole organism-through-genetic responses to xenobiotics (drugs, pollutants, toxins). Classification of chemical reactivities, kinetics, biomolecular targets, metabolism, disposition, sources, and risk. Laboratory. (Cross listed with BCM 319.)
  • BIO
    *
    320
    .
    Medical Botany
    4 credits
    $25
    BIO 121, CHM 223
    Study of the contribution of plants to modern medicine. Topics include the botany, anthropology, chemistry, and pharmacology of plant derived drugs. Laboratory. (Cross listed with BTC 320.)
  • BIO
    *
    322
    .
    Plant Physiology
    4 credits
    $15
    BIO 121 and 202
    Study of seed plant biology with an emphasis on relationships of physiology, anatomy and morphogenesis. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    *
    330
    .
    Immunology
    4 credits
    $20
    BIO 204
    Examination of the immune system and its role in disease. Emphasizes current research articles and experimental procedures. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    *
    333
    .
    Cancer Biology
    4 credits
    BIO 204
    Basic concepts and principles of tumor evolution and behavior including an introduction to oncogenes, tumor-suppressors and genome-maintenance genes, carcinogens and their roles in cancer initiation and progression, and a detailed look into several of the more common types of malignancies.
  • BIO
    *
    344
    .
    Human Dissection
    2 credits
    $40
    BIO 226 or 307 or Permission
    Gross anatomy and dissection of the human body. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    *
    360
    .
    Evolution
    4 credits
    $15
    BIO 121
    Study of evolution as it applies to aspects of the biological sciences. Topics include history, mechanisms of evolution and population genetics. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    *
    361
    .
    Animal Behavior
    4 credits
    $30
    BIO 203 and 290; or Permission
    Animal behavior is examined from an ecological and evolutionary perspective. Topics include reproduction, habitat selection, foraging and fighting behaviors. Laboratory.
  • BIO
    *
    380
    .
    Biological Topics
    4 credits
    Fee TBA
    BIO 121 or Permission (Additional prerequisites vary with topics)
    Lecture, laboratory and/or field experiences of special relevance to biology. Recent topics have included animal behavior, recombinant gene techniques, microbial ecology and cell culture. May be taken more than once for credit.
  • BIO
    *
    385
    .
    Practicum
    2-4 credits
    Permission
    Biological knowledge is applied to an outside working situation. Pass/fail only.
  • BIO
    *
    399
    .
    Independent Study
    1-4 credits
    $20
    Permission
    An opportunity for exceptional freshmen and sophomores to work directly with faculty on a research project. Typically, students help gather data and participate in the analysis of data. Introduction to the research process.
  • BIO
    *
    430
    .
    Molecular Genetics
    4 credits
    $50
    BCM 321 and BIO 204 or Permission
    Study of the transmission of information at the molecular level and the techniques used in gene analysis. Topics include gene structure and function, gene expression, genetic mobility, genomics, transgenics and recombinant DNA methodology. Laboratory. (Cross listed with BCM 430.)
  • BIO
    *
    490
    .
    Senior Capstone Seminar
    2 credits
    BIO 290 and Senior Standing
    Students will present the results of their biology portfolio in a public forum. A slide presentation of work completed is expected.
  • BIO
    *
    499
    .
    Independent Study
    1-4 credits
    $20
    Permission
    Individual study of a particular subject in biology of an experimental or analytical nature. It may be a synthetic library analysis at the junior or senior level.
  • BIO
    *
    500
    .
    Senior Thesis
    4 credits
    $20
    Permission
    Independent laboratory research of an original problem culminating in a thesis.