Academic Programs

Academic Units: Department of Biology

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Mission Statement
The Department of Biology holds as its primary core value a commitment to providing superlative teaching for students. To accomplish this mission, we will create an environment for learning that will include opportunities for undergraduate research, a broadly based academic program, a supportive, diverse and collaborative faculty, an understanding of the process of science, and a recognition of the importance of community outreach and involvement.
Back to top of page Career Opportunities and Advanced Fields of Study
The programs of study offered by the Accounting Program provide an educational experience intended to prepare students for a variety of careers in the accounting, financial, auditing, consulting and information systems fields. Some of the job titles held by graduates of our program include the following:
  • Anthropology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Biodiversity
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biotechnology1
  • Botany
  • Clinical Laboratory Sciences1
  • Dentistry
  • Ecology and Environmental Science
  • Epidemiology
  • Forensic Science
  • Forestry1
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Graduate School in the Biological Sciences
  • Immunology
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Medicine
  • Microbiology
  • Microscopy
  • Neurobiology
  • Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacology
  • Physical Therapy
  • Physician Assistant
  • Physiology
  • Research Assistant
  • Scientific Writing
  • Secondary Education
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Virology
  • Zoology
1 See additional information regarding these affiliate programs in "Interdisciplinary Programs."

Students interested in pursuing any of the career opportunities mentioned above should contact the Biology office at (540) 568-6225. An appropriate adviser will be assigned for mentoring and course selection purposes.

Back to top of page Co-curricular Activities and Organizations
Biology majors participate in activities such as
  • Weekly departmental seminars
  • Tri-Beta, a national biology society
  • Pre-professional health clubs and honor society
  • EARTH, an environmental action club
  • Summer research opportunities
  • Summer courses at biological field stations
  • Internships with various organizations
  • Aiding in teaching and research as student assistants
  • Presenting papers at meetings
  • Volunteering at Rockingham Memorial Hospital and with the rescue squad
Back to top of page Special Requirements
To be used as prerequisites for biology courses, grades of “C- “ or higher should be earned in the following: GSCI 103, BIO 114, BIO 120, BIO 124, BIO 130, BIO 214, BIO 224, CHEM 131, CHEM 131L, CHEM 132 and CHEM 132L. In order to be considered as possible transfer credit for BIO 114 and BIO 124, the entire year of a freshman course must be completed at the “C” or higher level. Matriculated JMU students may not obtain BIO 114 and BIO 124 through transfer credit. In order for BIO 270 and BIO 290 credit to be transferred, both semesters of an anatomy and physiology course (A&P I and A&P II) must be completed at the “C” or higher level. A single semester of either of these sequences transfers as BIO 000. Practical hands-on experience in the field and/or laboratory is important content of laboratory based courses. Transfer credit for courses including laboratories will only be awarded for those having skill and application content comparable to that of JMU courses. A maximum of four hours of lower division biology elective credit applicable toward the major or minor may be transferred as BIO 200. Upper division biology credits applicable toward the major or minor are transferred as specific courses or as BIO 300 or BIO 426. Credits not applicable toward the major or minor, but applicable toward the 120 hour degree requirement, are transferred as BIO 000. A maximum of eight credit hours of first year (100) level BIO courses may be applied to the biology major or minor requirements.
Back to top of page Degree and Major Requirements
  Bachelor of Science in Biology
The department offers a four year B.S. degree program for a major in biology and for a major in biology qualifying for the Secondary Collegiate Professional License. Requirements for the B.A. degree can be met by adding the completion of an intermediate level foreign language and three credit hours in philosophy. Biology majors must complete 40 credit hours of biology courses including 20 credit hours at the 300 and 400 level. Specific requirements include four core courses (BIO 114, BIO 124, BIO 214 and BIO 224), at least three upper-division laboratory courses and one course from a list of courses with an emphasis on organismal diversity. In addition, biology majors must complete a set of cognate courses in chemistry, mathematics and physics that are listed below. Students are encouraged to participate in independent research with a faculty mentor. Credits earned doing research will count toward the Biology major but some restrictions apply. When requested, senior biology majors are expected to participate in program assessment test activities as a graduation requirement. Assessment information helps the department modify the curriculum to meet student needs.
Degree Requirements
Required Courses
Credit Hours
General Education1
41
Quantitative requirement (in addition to General Education)
3
Scientific Literacy requirement (in addition to General Education)
3-4
Major requirements (listed below) and electives
70-74

120
1 The General Education program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary.
Major Requirements
Core Courses
Credit Hours
BIO 114. Organisms
4
BIO 124. Ecology and Evolution
4
BIO 214. Cell and Molecular Biology
4
Cognate Requirements
The following five groups of support courses are required for the biology major. Consult your academic adviser about which courses are appropriate.
1) Complete all of the following:
8
CHEM 131. General Chemistry I
3
CHEM 131L. General Chemistry Laboratory
1
CHEM 132. General Chemistry II
3
CHEM 132L. General Chemistry Laboratory
1
2) Complete all of the following:
8
CHEM 341. Organic Chemistry Lecture I
3
CHEM 342. Organic Chemistry Lecture II
3
CHEM 346L. Organic Chemistry Laboratory
2
NOTE: Chemistry beyond the minimum requirement, especially biochemistry, is recommended in many areas of biology. Consult with your adviser about which courses are appropriate.
3) Choose one of the following sets of courses:
4-8
MATH 231. Calculus with Functions I
4
MATH 232. Calculus with Functions II
4
OR
MATH 235. Calculus I
4
NOTE: Mathematics beyond the minimum requirement is desirable in many areas of biology. Consult your adviser about which courses are appropriate.
4) Choose one of the following courses:
3-4
MATH 220. Elementary Statistics
3
MATH 285. Data Analysis
4
MATH 318. Introduction to Probability and Statistics
4
Note: Statistics beyond the minimum requirement is desirable in many areas of biology. Consult your adviser about which courses are appropriate.
5) Choose one of the following sets of courses:
8
PHYS 125. Principles of Physics with Biological Applications I
4
PHYS 126. Principles of Physics with Biological Applications II
4
OR
PHYS 140-140L. College Physics I with Laboratory
4
PHYS 150-150L. College Physics II with Laboratory
4
Upper-level Biology Course Requirements
Students in the Biology major must complete at least 20 credit hours at the 300 and 400 level. One course must be from a group of courses on organismal diversity. Three courses must have a laboratory component. Independent research (BIO 495, 497 and 499) will not count for this laboratory course requirement.

1) Choose at least one course from the following list of organismal diversity courses:

  • BIO 305. Ornithology
  • BIO 310. General Entomology
  • BIO 320. Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates
  • BIO 340. Morphology and Anatomy of Vascular Plants
  • BIO 380. General Microbiology
  • BIO 386. Field Botany
  • BIO 409. Marine and Freshwater Invertebrates
  • BIO 470. Morphology of Nonvascular Plants
  • BIO 486. Systematics of Vascular Plants
2) Choose at least three courses from the following list of laboratory courses:
  • BIO 305. Ornithology
  • BIO 310. General Entomology
  • BIO 316. Principles of Animal Development
  • BIO 320. Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates
  • BIO 340. Morphology and Anatomy of Vascular Plants
  • BIO 365. Laboratory in Human Uses of Plants (must be taken with BIO 364)
  • BIO 370. Animal Physiology
  • BIO 380. General Microbiology
  • BIO 386. Field Botany
  • BIO 410. Advanced Human Anatomy
  • BIO 420. Medical Parasitology
  • BIO 443. Immunology Laboratory (must be taken with BIO 442)
  • BIO 445. Neurobiology
  • BIO 451. Ecological Systems
  • BIO 452. Population Ecology
  • BIO 455. Plant Physiology
  • BIO 456. Landscape Ecology
  • BIO 458. Comparative Animal Physiology
  • BIO 459. Freshwater Ecology
  • BIO 460. Plant Cell and Tissue Culture
  • BIO 470. Morphology of Nonvascular Plants
  • BIO 480. Advanced Molecular Biology
  • BIO 482. Human Histology
  • BIO 486. Systematics of Vascular Plants
  • BIO 490. Biomechanics
Only one Topics in Biology (BIO 426/427) or the previously offered BIO 325/326 may fulfill one of the laboratory course and/or organismal requirements. A list of the topics that may be used is available in the Department of Biology Office, Burruss 242. These can be repeated with a change in topic. However, only up to 12 credits can be applied toward the 40-hour biology course requirement.
Elective Biology Courses
Additional biology courses must be selected to complete the 40 credit hour program. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss their career interests with an adviser who can help select courses best suited to their needs. Students are encouraged to participate in independent research with a faculty mentor (to a maximum of eight credits).

The following courses may be taken as upper-level biology electives:

  • BIO 312. Animal Welfare
  • BIO 330. Scanning Electron Microscopy
  • BIO 350. Invertebrate Paleontology
  • BIO 361. Biochemistry
  • BIO 364. Human Uses of Plants
  • BIO 404. Evolutionary Analysis
  • BIO 405. Vertebrate Paleontology
  • BIO 409. Marine and Freshwater Invertebrates
  • BIO 430. Human Genetics
  • BIO 442. Immunology
  • BIO 444. Virology
  • BIO 450. Evolutionary and Societal Impacts of Developmental Biology
  • BIO 453. Microbial Ecology
  • BIO 454. Introduction to Biometrics
  • BIO 456. Landscape Ecology
  • BIO 465. Environmental Toxicology
  • BIO 466. Ecotoxicology Seminar
A maximum of eight credits of BIO 494, 495, 496, 497, 499 and ISCI 450 can be counted toward the biology major.
Recommended Schedule for Majors
First semester first year biology majors are encouraged to start with a 14-15 hour course load. This will generally include a biology course (four credit hours), CHEM 131 and CHEM 131L, and/or a math course plus General Education. The work load will then be increased in the second semester based on the level of first semester success.
First Year
Credit Hours
BIO 114. Organisms1
4
BIO 124. Ecology and Evolution
4
CHEM 131-132. General Chemistry Lectures1
6
CHEM 131L-132L. General Chemistry Laboratories
Mathematics courses1
4-8
General Education: Cluster One
9-12
CHEM 131L. General Chemistry Laboratory
1
CHEM 132. General Chemistry II
3

29-33
Second Year
Credit Hours
BIO 214. Cell and Molecular Biology
4
BIO 224. Genetics and Development
4
CHEM 341-342. Organic Chemistry Lecture
6
CHEM 346L. Organic Chemistry Laboratory
2
Mathematics course
3-4
General Education: from Clusters Two, Four and Five
12

31-32
Third Year
Credit Hours
Upper-level Biology laboratory courses
8
Biology elective
3-4
Physics courses
8
General Education: from Clusters Two, Four and Five
7
Electives
6

32-33
Fourth Year
Credit Hours
Upper-level Biology laboratory courses
4
Biology electives
9
General Education: from Clusters Two, Four and Five
3
Electives
15

31
1 Fulfills General Education: Cluster Three.
Back to top of page Bachelor of Science in Biology – Clinical Laboratory Science (Medical Technology)
  • Contact the Department of Biology at (540) 568-6225
This option leads to a B.S. degree in biology and is offered cooperatively with JMU-affiliated schools of clinical laboratory science (medical technology) approved by the Council of Medical Education and Hospitals of the American Medical Association and the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. The degree is conferred by JMU upon successful completion of the following three year program at the university and one calendar-year clinical program at an affiliated school of clinical laboratory science (medical technology). Upon completion of the clinical year, students are eligible for national examinations given by the Board of Registry of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and the National Certification Agency.

Students interested in a major in biology with a concentration in clinical laboratory science should consult the biology department office or the clinical laboratory science adviser. These advisers include the following individuals:

  • James Madison University
  • Contact the biology department at (540) 568-6225
  • Dr. Mark L. Gabriele, Clinical Laboratory Sciences Adviser
  • Augusta Medical Center
  • Wayne P. Jessee, M.D., medical director
  • Bernadette Bekken, M.T., (ASCP), program director
  • The Fairfax Hospital
  • C. Barrie Cook, M.D., medical director
  • Amy Shoemaker, M.T., (ASCP), program director
  • Roanoke Memorial Hospital
  • Samuel F. Vance, M.D., medical director
  • Janet Hiler, B.S., M.T., (ASCP), program director
  • Rockingham Memorial Hospital
  • Warren D. Bannister, M.D., medical director
  • Susan Lawton, M.T., (ASCP), program director
Completion of this degree and concentration in four years requires precise progression through the three pre-clinical years of the program. Since it is highly recommended that first year students do not exceed 14-15 credit hours during their first semester, it may be necessary to complete some General Education requirements during a summer session.
Recommended Schedule for Majors
First Year
Credit Hours
BIO 114. Organisms1
4
BIO 124. Ecology and Evolution
4
CHEM 131-132. General Chemistry Lectures1
6
CHEM 131L-132L. General Chemistry Laboratories
Mathematics courses1
4-8
General Education: Cluster One
9-12
CHEM 131L. General Chemistry Laboratory
1
CHEM 132. General Chemistry II
3

29-33
Second Year
Credit Hours
BIO 214. Cell and Molecular Biology
4
BIO 224. Genetics and Development
4
CHEM 341-342. Organic Chemistry Lecture
6
CHEM 346L. Organic Chemistry Laboratory
2
Mathematics course
3-4
General Education: from Clusters Two, Four and Five
15

34-35
Third Year
Credit Hours
BIO 290. Human Anatomy
4
BIO 370. Vertebrate Physiology
4
BIO 380. General Microbiology
4
BIO 442. Immunology
3
BIO 300/400. Upper Division BIO Elective
3-4
Physics courses
8
General Education: from Clusters Two, Four and Five
7

33-34
The remainder of the program includes 32 credit hours in a calendar-year residence at a hospital-based clinical site, with transfer credits accepted according to JMU and clinical program affiliation agreements. Upper division courses taken during the clinical year (hematology, clinical microbiology and immunohematology) serve to complete the 40 credit hour undergraduate requirement for a major in biology, as well as the 20 credit hour upper division requirement. It is imperative that students meet with their Clinical Laboratory Science adviser to ensure transfer of this credit taken during the fourth year. A total of 132 hours must be earned for the B.S. degree in biology with a clinical laboratory science concentration. Additional suggested, but not required, courses are BIO/CHEM 361, Biochemistry I, and BIO 480, Advanced Molecular Biology.
Back to top of page Biotechnology
In cooperation with the Department of Integrated Science and Technology, the Department of Biology offers a four year, interdisciplinary B.S. degree program for a major in biotechnology.

Biotechnology majors must complete 47-53 credit hours of science foundation courses, 17 credit hours of biotechnology transition and core courses, and 15 credit hours of concentration courses including a capstone experience. With the advice and approval of a concentration adviser, each student selects the courses for his or her concentration area. Three broad areas of concentrations are suggested to serve a spectrum of student needs and desires. A research concentration would prepare students for graduate school or entry into a research laboratory. An industry concentration would prepare students for entry into the biotechnology industry. A custom concentration can be assembled for a specialized area of study such as bioinformatics, genomics or agricultural biotechnology.

Major and Degree Requirements
  Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology
Degree Requirements
General Education1
41
Quantitative requirement2
3
Scientific Literacy requirement2
3-4
Major requirements (listed below) and electives
79

126
1 The General Education program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary.
2 In addition to General Education.
Back to top of page Major Requirements
Science Foundation Courses
Credit Hours
Complete all of the following:
BIO 114. Organisms
4
BIO 124. Ecology and Evolution
4
BIO 214. Cell and Molecular Biology
4
BIO 224. Genetics and Development
4
CHEM 131. General Chemistry I
3
CHEM 131L. General Chemistry Laboratory
1
CHEM 132. General Chemistry II
3
CHEM 132L. General Chemistry Laboratory
1
CHEM 341. Organic Chemistry Lecture I
3
CHEM 342. Organic Chemistry Lecture II
3
CHEM 346L. Organic Chemistry Laboratory
2
Choose one of the following sets of courses:
MATH 231. Calculus with Functions I
4
MATH 232. Calculus with Functions II
4
OR
MATH 235 Calculus I
4
Choose one of the following courses:
MATH 220. Elementary Statistics
3
MATH 285. Data Analysis
4
Choose one of the following sets of courses:
PHYS 125. Principles of Physics with Biological Applications I
4
PHYS 126. Principles of Physics with Biological Applications II
4
OR
PHYS 140-140L. College of Physics I with Laboratory
4
PHYS 150-150L. College of Physics II with Laboratory
4
Biotechnology Transition and Core Courses
Credit Hours
Complete all of the following:
BIO 260. Biotechnology Seminar
1
ISAT 305. Biotechnology Lab
1
CHEM/BIO 361. Biochemistry I
3
CHEM 366L. Biochemistry Lab
2
BIO 480. Advanced Molecular Biology
4
ISAT 451. Biotechnology in Industry and Agriculture
3
ISAT 456. Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Biotechnology
3
  Biotechnology Area Concentration
Students must complete 12 credit hours of courses in one of the biotechnology concentrations areas listed below.
  • Research Concentration: Preparation for graduate school research program or employment in a research laboratory.
  • Industry Concentration: Preparation for entry-level positions in the biotechnology industry.
  • Custom Concentration: Specialized in specific areas of biotechnology, including bioinformatics, genomics and agricultural biotechnology.
Upon declaration of the major, each student will be assigned a concentration adviser. The student and the adviser will define the specific courses taken to fulfill the concentration requirement. The student will choose upper division (300 level or higher) BIO, ISAT, CHEM, PHYS or MATH courses, but other appropriate course offerings from other academic units may be substituted with the approval of the concentration adviser. Students are encouraged to include academic credit for research and/or internship experience.
  Capstone Experience
To meet the requirement for a capstone experience, students must complete three credit hours of one of the following:
  • ISAT 493. Senior Thesis
  • OR
  • BIO or ISAT 499. Honors Research
  • Three credit hours of BIO 497. Biological Research may be substituted to meet the capstone requirement, provided that the experience includes a presentation or paper as a requirement for completing the BIO 497 experience.
Back to top of page Recommended Schedule for Majors
First semester, first year biotechnology majors are encouraged to start with a 14-15 hour course load. This will generally include a biology course (four credit hours), CHEM 131 and CHEM 131L, and/or a math course, plus General Education. The work load will then be increased in the second semester based on the level of success during the first semester.
First Year
Credit Hours
BIO 114. Organisms1
4
BIO 124. Ecology and Evolution
4
CHEM 131 & CHEM 131L. General Chemistry I1
4
CHEM 132 & CHEM 132L. General Chemistry II
4
Quantitative course1
4-8
General Education: Cluster One
9

29-33
1 Fulfill General Education: Cluster Three.
Second Year
Credit Hours
BIO 260. Biotechnology Seminar
1
ISAT 305. Biotechnology Lab
1
BIO 214. Cell and Molecular Biology
4
BIO 224. Genetics and Development
4
CHEM 341-342. Organic Chemistry Lecture
6
CHEM 346L. Organic Chemistry Laboratory
2
Quantitative course
3-4
General Education: from Clusters Two, Four and Five
9

30-31
Third Year
Credit Hours
CHEM/BIO 361 and CHEM 366L. Biochemistry Lab
5
BIO 480. Advanced Molecular Biology
4
Concentration Electives
4
Physics courses
8
General Education: from Clusters Two, Four and Five
7
Electives
4

32
Fourth Year
Credit Hours
BIO 426. Topics in Biology or ISAT 456. Social and Ethical Issues
3
ISAT 451. Biotechnology in Industry
3
Concentration Electives
8
Capstone Course
3
General Education: from Clusters Two, Four and Five
6
Electives
6

29
Back to top of page Dual Degree Programs
  Forestry
  • Mark Hudy, James Madison University Liaison
  • (540) 568-2704 or hudymx@jmu.edu
This dual degree program makes it possible for the student to earn a B.S. degree in biology from James Madison University and a Master of Forestry degree from Virginia Tech in five years.

During the first three years at JMU, the student must complete 96 credit hours, all JMU general education requirements, the biology core requirements, BIO 455 and five additional hours in biology. Also, the student must take the cognate courses for biology majors in chemistry, mathematics and physics, courses in business (ACTG 241, ECON 201 and GECON 200) and a course in geology (GEOL 110). During the fourth year of study the student will take further courses (at least 30 hours) at Virginia Tech for credit toward the B.S. in biology from JMU.

A total of 38 semester hours of biology and biology-related courses (taken at JMU and Virginia Tech) will be required for the JMU B.S. in biology, which will be conferred after the fourth year of study. If the student’s academic record is satisfactory, then they will be admitted into the graduate program of the Department of Forestry at Virginia Tech, where they will spend approximately three semesters (12 months) taking additional forestry and forestry-related courses to obtain the degree of Master of Forestry. To apply for the dual degree program, the student must have the permission of the dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. Information about the program can be obtained from the Department of Biology. Students are encouraged to inquire as early as possible in their undergraduate careers.

Back to top of page Minor Requirements
  Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Minor
See the description of the minor in "Interdisciplinary Programs."
  Biology Minor
See the description of the minor in "Interdisciplinary Programs."
Credit Hours
BIO 114. Organisms
4
BIO 124. Ecology and Evolution
4
BIO 220. Cell Biology or BIO 214. Cell and Molecular Biology
3-4
Biology electives
8-9

20
Back to top of page Credit by Examination
When evidence of sufficient background or preparation is presented, the Department of Biology offers credit by examination in most of its courses at the discretion of the course instructor or coordinator. Students seeking such credit should make arrangements with the course instructor or coordinator and obtain approval of the department head.
Back to top of page Teaching Licensure
Biology majors need courses in physics and geology as well as inorganic and organic chemistry for many science education positions. It is necessary to be admitted to the teacher education program prior to enrolling in professional education courses. Refer to the College of Education under "Colleges" for teacher education admission and retention policies and procedures as well as education course requirements for each licensure program. The Master of Arts in Teaching degree is required in addition to undergraduate course work.