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GS Biology Major - Requirements

A grade of C- or better must be earned and revealed on your transcript for any course -- including the first semester -- to be counted towards the major or concentration requirements. The grade of P is not acceptable, but a course that was taken P/D/F may be counted if and only if the P is uncovered by the Registrar's deadline.

Any exceptions must be approved in advance by an Advisor and you must receive an email notification of that approval. 

Students may substitute Barnard College courses only with prior permission from an Advisor.

I. Required Biology & Biochemistry Courses

1. Introductory Biology. Two introductory biology courses (one year total):

  • C2005 - Introductory Biology I: Biochemistry, Genetics & Molecular Biology or ENVB W2001 - Environmental & Evolutionary Biology
  • C2006 - Introductory Biology II: Cell Biology, Development & Physiology

    GS Majors may take F2401/2 (contemporary biology) in lieu of Biol C2005/6, with their Advisor's permission.
    For a description of the differences between F2401/2 and C2005/6 see FAQ for GS Students, Q5. Transfer students who have completed 1 year of intro bio elsewhere must take C2005/6 or F2401/2 before taking upper level bio classess at CU. Exceptions will not be readily granted and require prior approval of the DUS, (Dr. M)

2. Two lecture courses from this list of core courses:

  • Genetics -- W3031 or C3032
  • Cell Biology -- W3041
  • Developmental Biology -- W3022
  • Biochemistry or Molecular Biology -- Biol-Chem C3501 (Biochemistry)
  • Biochem G4021 or Molecular Biology-- Biol-chem C3512 (Molecular Biol)

3. Laboratory Requirement: One of the following choices:

  • Option 1: A 5-point biology lab. Current offerings include:
    • W3050 - Project laboratory in protein biochemistry
    • W3058 - Project laboratory in microbiology
    • C3052 - Project laboratory in molecular genetics

  • Option 2: Two semesters of W3500 - Independent research in the same lab + 1 semester of W3600 (recommended if offered)
    W3600 - Biological Research Skills (1 pt) is recommended as a co-requisite when taking W3500.
  • Option 3: One summer of SURF program is sufficient to fulfill the bio lab requirement for the bio major.(Students who complete SURF are encouraged to continue working in the same lab by enrolling in independent study, W3500, or working on their own terms but it is not necessary). Summer lab work under other auspices may not be substituted for SURF. Paid laboratory work may not be substituted for SURF or W3500.

  • Option 4: Two labs for 3 or more points each. Current offerings include:
    W2501 - Contemporary biology laboratory and one of the following

    • W3040 - Lab in Molecular Biology
    • A 3 pt. Barnard lab course.

4. Electives: Two additional 3000- or 4000- level lecture courses for 3 or more points. For students who have not taken introductory biology at Columbia, one of these electives must be chosen from the list of core courses above. Current offerings include the courses listed above in (2) and the following. Prior approval is required for any course not on this list.


  • C3512 - Molecular biology
  • W3004 Neurobiology I: Cellular & Molecular Neurobiology
  • W3005 Neurobiology II: Development & Systems
  • W3006 Physiology
  • C3032 or W3031Genetics
  • C3799 Readings Molecular Biology of Cancer
  • W3034 Biotechnology
  • W3022 Developmental Biology
  • W3041 Cell Biology
  • W3073 Cellular and Molecular Immunology
  • W3193 Stem Cell Biol & Applications
  • W3310 Virology
  • W3560 Evolutionary Biology in the Genomic Era
  • W3990 Readings in Cell Biology
  • W4008 The Cellular Physiology of disease
  • W4011 Neural Syst: Circuits in the Brain
  • W4077 Survey in Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • W4082 Theoretical Foundations and Applications of Biophysical Methods
  • W4300 Drugs and Disease
  • W4400 Biological Networks
  • W4510 (CHBC) Genomics of Gene Regulation
  • W4560 Evolutionary Biology in the Genomic Era
  • G4008 Advanced Seminar in Neurobiology
  • G4035 Seminar in Epigenetics
  • G4044 Advanced Topics in Cell Biology
  • G4075 Biology at Physical Extremes
  • G4095 Chemical Genomics
  • G4600 Signal Transduction

    Every effort is made to keep this list up to date. However, last min. changes do occur. See recent changes for new course updates.

Note: SCNC & HPSC courses do not count towards the Major even if listed under Biology courses on Bio web site. BIOT courses will not be counted towards your Major.

II. Other Required Courses

  1. Chemistry: Chemistry through organic, and accompanying laboratories, are required: One of the following options will fulfill this requirement.
    The usual courses are-
      • Option 1: General chemistry-C1403-C1404 or W1403- W1404 and lab W1500
        Organic chemistry- C3443-C3444 or W3443-W3444 and lab W3543 
      • Option2: For students who qualify for intensive chemistry
        Second Semester General Chemistry (Intensive) C1604 and Intensive lab-W2507
        Organic Chemistry and lab C3443-C3444 or W3443-W3444 and W3543
      • Option 3: For students who qualify for 1st year organic chemistry
        Intensive general chemistry Lab - W2507
        Organic chemistry for first years C3045-C3046 and Orgo lab C3543, W3543, C3545, W3545

  2. Physics: Two semesters of physics are required, including the accompanying labs. The usual choices are General physics (V1201-V1202) and labs (V1291-V1292). The 1400 sequence is recommended if you plan to take 3 terms of physics. Higher level physics sequences are acceptable too.
  3. Math: The math requirement can be fulfilled by taking either of these:
    • Two semesters of calculus
    • One semester of calculus plus one semester of statistics (W1111 or W1211)

For transfer students, at least 4 biology or biochemistry courses and at least 18 credits of the total (biology, biochemistry, math, physics and chemistry) must be taken at Columbia. Barnard courses may not be substituted for the required Columbia courses without advance permission from the advisor.