Biology: General Biology, BA

Studies in biology can serve as preparation for graduate study in the biological sciences, graduate training in health-related professions, teaching, or employment in a laboratory or conservation-related job. The Biology Department offers courses in many areas of biology, ranging from the workings of cells and cellular components to species interactions and ecosystem function. Penn's curriculum keeps pace with recent developments in molecular biology and the study of evolutionary processes, including proteomics, computational genomics, molecular evolution, and epigenetics. The General Biology Major allows students to explore the wide range of topics in Biology, while also providing a strong foundation in core subject areas such as cell and molecular biology, genetics, physiology, and ecology and evolution.

The minimum total course units for graduation in this major is 36. Double majors may entail more course units.

With permission from the Undergraduate Chair, two course units away or LPS courses may count toward the Biology major. This limit does not apply to Study Abroad.

For information about the General Education requirements, please visit the College of Arts & Sciences Curriculum page.

College General Education Requirements and Free Electives
Foundational Approaches + Sectors1 + Free Electives20
Major Requirements
Introductory Biology Requirement
Select one of the following Tracks:2
Track 1 (2 course units)
Introduction to Biology - The Molecular Biology of Life
Introductory Molecular Biology Laboratory
Introductory Organismal Biology Lab
Track 2 (3 course units):
Introduction to Biology A
Introduction to Biology B
Chemistry Requirement
Select 2 course units of Chemistry2
Additional Chemistry and/or Physics Requirement
Select 2 course units of additional Chemistry and/or Physics 22
Calculus/Statistics Requirement
Select 2 course units of Calculus/Statistics2
Intermediate Level Biology Courses
Select one of the following Tracks:4
Track 1: Select four courses from four different groups (4 course units):
Track 2: Select three courses from three different groups (3 course units):
Group 1:
Cell Biology
Group 2:
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Group 3:
Evolution of Behavior: Animal Behavior
Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology
Human Physiology
Principles of Human Physiology
Group 4:
Evolutionary Biology
Ecology: From individuals to ecosystems
Additional Biology/Biology-Related Requirement
Select 4 course units of Biology (Two of them may be Biology related courses)4
Total Course Units36

You may count no more than one course toward both a Major and a Sector requirement. For Exceptions, check the Policy Statement.


A third course is needed if the additional CHEM or PHYS courses total less than 2 course units.


Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.25 in the major and the thesis must be approved by the departmental honors committee.


The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2023 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.