For Prospective Majors

The Biology major is designed to provide a broad foundation for students considering a future in the life sciences, yet allows enough flexibility for students to follow their individual interests.

Printable Information on Biology Department and Major (pdf)

In Bio 242 (Cellular and Molecular Biology) students investigate cellular processes and learn lab skills needed to study life at the cellular and molecular levels.

In Bio 242 (Cellular and Molecular Biology) students investigate cellular processes and learn lab skills needed to study life at the cellular and molecular levels.

You can structure the major to follow your fascination with DNA replication, learn about past climate history recorded in the shells of molluscs, study avian physiology, explore evolution, study plant and animal relationships with their environments and much more.  Biology is also frequently a gateway to entering a health care profession or veterinary school.

Plan of Study – this is a synopsis of major requirements
(view full requirements).

  • 2 semesters of general chemistry
  • either 1 semester of organic chemistry or 1 semester of biostatistics
  • 10 biology courses
    • 3 course core sequence starting winter semester of first year
    • 7 electives, including 2 or 3 semesters of research and seminar or thesis
  • Capstone Experience
  • Comprehensive Exam or Biology GRE

Suggested courses to complete in first two years

We suggest that students complete the general and organic chemistry courses and the three course biology core sequence in their first two years.  This allows maximum flexibility for electives or study abroad, and the widest choice in thesis research.

Off-campus study and study abroad

Caroline Barr ’11 spent a semester in Ecuador.

Many Biology majors enrich their Bates experience with off-campus study or study abroad.  Plan study abroad carefully to insure completion of all requirements.   For questions, or to make an appointment to discuss your study abroad plans, email Stephanie Richards, Ph.D, at:

How to become a Biology major

You may declare a major any time you feel you are ready, but you must declare a major by the winter semester of your sophomore year.

Helicase – The Student Biology Club

Helicase is the student Biology club. Helicase sponsors several events throughout the year and is a good way to socialize and connect with fellow Biology majors and Biology Department faculty and staff.

Visiting Bates College and the Biology Department

The Biology Department offices and laboratories are located on the third, fourth and fifth floors of Carnegie Science Hall, 44 Campus Ave.  The Biology faculty are pleased to meet with prospective students to discuss their interests and talk about our biology program. To make an appointment to meet with a Biology faculty member during your visit, contact:

Ryan Bavis, Chair, Department of Biology
(207)786-8269, or OR

Sylvia Deschaine, the Academic Admin Assistant, CSH Building Coordinator
(207) 786-6490 or

Outcomes and benefits of a being Bates Biology major

Allie Travers ’13 has become skilled in the fine art of pipetting.

Results from a 2009-2010 survey of Bates mathematics and science alumni over the past 20 years tell us that Bates graduates are extremely successful in pursuing advanced degrees in graduate or professional school.  Nearly 76% of those responding to the survey reported that they had earned advanced degrees in their disciplines.  An average of 40 Bates students or alumni enter schools across the health professions each year, and another 10 enter graduate schools in the sciences.  Also, National Science Foundation data place Bates among the top 50 liberal arts colleges producing PhDs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines.  More than 45% of Bates graduates who receive a Ph.D. do so in the sciences, powerful evidence of the strength of our undergraduate science program.