Requirements for the MB&B Major

Below are the required courses that comprise the MB&B major. Although the sequence of courses shown is the ideal one, the major can be readily accommodated even if begun after the freshman year.

Suggested course for major requirements






1MB&B 181 Principles of Biology I
MB&B 191  Principles of Biology I Lab
1CHEM 141 or 143 Introductory Chemistry I

MB&B 182 Principles of Biology II
MB&B 192 Principles of Biology II Lab
CHEM 142 or 144 Introductory Chemistry II
2CHEM 152 Introductory Chemistry Lab



MB&B 208 Molecular Biology
CHEM 251 Organic Chemistry I
3Mathematics (e.g. Calculus or Statistics)

6MB&B Elective (200 level or above)
CHEM 252 Organic Chemistry II
MB&B 209  Frontiers in Molecular Biology  (optional)


4MB&B 395 Advanced Laboratory in Structural Biology
MB&B 383 Biochemistry

4MB&B 394 Advanced Laboratory in Molecular Biology and Genetics
5MB&B 381 Physical Chemistry for Life Scientists


6MB&B elective

6MB&B elective

1Prospective MB&B majors who have achieved a score of 4 or 5 in AP Biology may consider placing out of one of the introductory biology courses (MB&B181 or MB&B182). Students must consult with an MB&B faculty member if they wish to try to place out of an introductory course. Permission to place out of MB&B181 is based on a short interview with one of the MB&B faculty instructors and a short placement test.

Prospective MB&B majors who have achieved a score of 4 or 5 in AP Chemistry must meet the Chemistry Department requirements for advanced placement credit. Students should consult with the Chemistry department, as their approval is required in order to be exempted from Introductory Chemistry and to advance into higher level Chemistry courses (e.g., Organic Chemistry).

2Chemistry's introductory lab may be taken in fall or spring.

3One semester of college mathematics is required (AP credit is not accepted). Students with deep theoretical knowledge in areas of mathematics, as evident by advanced coursework (e.g., in Physics) or quantitative forms of research, may petition for the use of a less theoretical mathematics course (e.g., QAC courses) to satisfy the MB&B math major requirement.

4One advanced laboratory class is required, either MB&B 395 (offered every other year in the Fall) or MB&B 394 (offered each Spring). The Chemistry Integrated Laboratory courses (CHEM 375 and 376) do not satisfy this requirement. 

5MB&B 381 may be replaced by two semesters of Introductory Physics (PHYS 111 and 112, or 113 and 116) or by Physical Chemistry (CHEM337 and 338). In this case 381 may then count as one of the required 300-level electives.

6Electives:  Two electives are required. 

One of the electives must be a 300-level MB&B course. This may be fulfilled by taking a 1.0 credit 300-level course, or by taking two 0.5 credit 300-level courses. Students taking both of the advanced lab courses (MB&B 394 and MB&B 395) may count one of the two courses as their 300-level elective. Students who take two semesters of physics (e.g., PHYS 111/112 or PHYS 113/116) may count MB&B 381 Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences as a 300-level elective.

The second elective may be a 200-level or 300-level MB&B course. Two semesters of research (MB&B 423/424, Advanced Research Seminar) with an MB&B faculty member can be substituted for the 200-level elective, provided that it is taken for 1.0 credit each semester and a grade of B or higher is achieved. Senior Thesis Tutorial (MB&B 409/410) may not be used to satisfy an elective requirement. Research on MB&B topics conducted in a faculty member’s lab from another department may be used to satisfy the 200-level elective requirement with permission of the MB&B department.

Select courses outside MB&B can be taken to satisfy the lower level elective requirement, including BIOL 218 Developmental Biology, BIOL 334 Shaping the Organism and CHEM 396 Molecular Modeling and Design. These courses offered by other (non-MB&B) departments may only be used to satisfy the 200-level elective requirement for completion of the MB&B major (even if the course has a 300-level designation).

Pre-meds and pre-grads: Organic chemistry laboratory courses (CHEM 257 and CHEM 258) are requirements for virtually all graduate and medical schools.  Most medical schools also require one year of physics with related labs, and two semesters of mathematics.

Beyond the lecture hall

Students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of enrichment and assistance available beyond the required lectures and labs in the introductory Biology and Chemistry courses. For each course, there are office hours and help sessions held both by the instructor and by teaching assistants, scheduled throughout the week and by appointment. There are also mentored study groups, in which students in each course are set up in groups of 3 - 5 to meet regularly with a mentor who took the course the previous year, to go over course material and to share study hints and problem-solving strategies.

All of the life science community is enriched by the weekly departmental seminar series held on Wednesdays at Noon during the Academic Year, in which speakers are invited from different institutions to speak about their work. All are welcome to come hear about the latest cutting-edge research in the life sciences. You may receive a quarter credit for your attendance (MB&B 338 and MB&B 339).