The Washington State University Pullman Catalog

School of Biological Sciences

The online catalog includes the most recent changes to courses and degree requirements that have been approved by the Faculty Senate, including changes that are not yet effective.

School of Biological Sciences
Abelson 301

Professor and Director, P. Carter (P); Professor and Associate Director of Graduate Program, R. Gomulkiewicz (P); Professor and Associate Director of Undergraduate Program, R.D. Evans (P); Professor and Associate Director of Research, A. Cousins (P); Professors, K. Beerman (P), J. Bishop (V), S. Bollens (V), J. Busch (P), H. Hellmann (P), M. Knoblauch (P), C. Portfors (V), E. Roalson (P), C. Robbins (P), C. Schultz (V), H. Schwabl (P), M. Skinner (P), A. Storfer (P), M. Tegeder (P); Associate Professors, J. Brunner (P), A. Cavagnetto (P), O. Cornejo (P), E. Crespi (P), W. Dowd (P), M. Dybdahl (P), J. Kelley (P), A. McCubbin (P), J. Pioviah-Scott (V), S. Porter (V), E. Schwartz (P), P. Verrell (P), H. Watts (P); Assistant Professors, T. Cheeke (TC), S. Rudman (V), J. Zambrano (P); Associate Professors, Career Track, D. Allison (P), N. Ankrah (P), M. Berger (V), L. Carloye (P), E. Johnson (P), K. McAteer (TC) S. Ritchie (P), E. Sweet (TC), D. Wilmington (V); Assistant Professors, Career Track, G. Cox (V), G. Gakhar (V), M. Jorgensen (P), Y. Liu (TC), D. Monk (P), L. Nelson (TC); Research Faculty, E. Nilsson (P); Professors Emeriti, R. A. Black, G. Edwards, L. Hufford, M. Ku, J. Larsen, R.N. Mack, J. Mallatt, D. Miller, D. Moffett, S. Moffett, C. Omoto, J. Paznokas, P. Schroeder, G. Thorgaard, E. Uribe. Campus: (P) Pullman; (V) Vancouver; (TC) Tri-Cities.

The School of Biological Sciences offers training in molecular, cellular, organismal, ecology, and evolutionary biology. The School offers Bachelor of Science degree programs in Biology and Zoology, a Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology in collaboration with the Department of Anthropology, and Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy programs in Biology and Plant Biology. The School also offers undergraduate minors in Zoology and Biology, and the Certificate in Quantitative Biology, provided in collaboration with the Department of Mathematics.


There are modern facilities for study of molecular and genomics, cellular biology, genetics, plant and animal physiology, anatomy and ultrastructure, functional morphology, ecology, molecular systematics, behavior, ecology, environmental biology, and evolutionary biology. The University's location is conducive to field studies at sites such as the 325 hectare George E. Hudson Biological Preserve at Smoot Hill and nearby public lands. Special facilities include the Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center, plant growth facilities, a laboratory for bioanalysis and biotechnology with facilities for genotyping, DNA sequencing, and genomics, the WSU Stable Isotope Core Facility for stable isotope analyses, and the collections of the Charles R. Conner Museum of Natural History and the Marion Ownbey Herbarium.

Cooperation with many other campus units extends research opportunities. Cooperative arrangements with faculty in units such as Molecular Biosciences, Animal Sciences, Environment, and the College of Veterinary Medicine are readily achieved.

Undergraduate Programs

Introductory biological sciences courses provide background in the concepts common to life sciences and an overview of the diversity of animals, plants, and microorganisms. Advanced biological sciences courses probe specific areas in depth. Undergraduate coursework in either biology or zoology prepares students to pursue career opportunities in ecology and environmental biology, laboratory research and biotechnology, human health, animal health and welfare, plant biology, entomology, education, and a variety of other biological specializations.

Candidates for the Bachelor of Science in Biology, the Bachelor of Science in Zoology, or the Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology must fulfill the University and the College of Arts and Sciences requirements for graduation as described elsewhere in this catalog. Requirements for admission to the majors, University degree requirements, and the School and the individual degree option requirements can be found in the individual schedules of studies for the degree options.

We expect that students graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biology or Zoology will meet the following learning outcomes: (1) have a mastery of fundamental biological concepts and an ability to integrate this conceptual knowledge across different subfields within the discipline; (2) use critical thinking and scientific skills to analyze and solve biological problems; (3) effectively communicate biological problems and solutions to the scientific community and the public at-large in writing and in oral discussion; (4) have the ability to formulate logical hypotheses, to test hypotheses using quantitative and other appropriate methods involving collection and analysis of data, and to make valid inferences from experimental results; (5) identify and access the central body of knowledge in biology or zoology through utilization of a wide range of methods for researching the primary literature; (6) use scientific literacy and knowledge of biology or zoology to analyze contemporary social, cultural, and environmental issues to make informed rational decisions. 


Seven options are available for the Bachelor of Science degree in Biology: general biology, biology education, plant biology, ecology/evolutionary biology, entomology, pre-physical therapy/pre-occupational therapy/pre-physician assistant, and basic medical sciences. Each option includes a common core curriculum, plus additional specialized courses. The general biology option provides broad training in the life sciences, particularly for students seeking to continue in professional or graduate school. The biology education option is particularly suitable for students who would like to teach biology at the high school level. The plant biology option is available for students with a special interest in plants and serves students who would like careers in plant sciences or to pursue graduate studies. The ecology/evolutionary biology option provides a concentration on ecological and evolutionary biology to address interests in such fields as environmental and wildlife biology. The entomology option is available for students who wish to focus on insect biology. The pre-physical therapy/pre-occupational therapy/pre-physician assistant option is designed for students who would like to pursue studies in physical therapy, occupational therapy, or physician assistant programs. The basic medical sciences option supports students who aim for a career in the health fields, including professional training in medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy. This degree will help students to meet the requirements for admission to medical, dental, or pharmacy schools, or other health science professional programs. Student work with their academic advisor in the School of Biological Sciences to plan individual courses of study. 

Human Biology

Human Biology is an explicitly interdisciplinary degree jointly administered by the Department of Anthropology and the School of Biological Sciences. The BA in Human Biology offers students an opportunity to explore how human biology influences and is influenced by the environment, cultural and social structures, and economic and political policies. Human Biology melds approaches and content from social and biological sciences to provide students with a synthetic understanding of the roles of culture, the dynamics of natural and social systems, and biological attributes responsible for shaping the human being. Our aim is to prepare students to be engaged, creative, insightful, and skillful in diverse professions that encompass the arenas of health and environmental sciences, societal support, and public policy that influence the welfare of humans.

Human Biology, BA   (120 Credits)

Completion of the Human Biology major requires a minimum of 20 credits of coursework in each of Anthropology (ANTH) and Biology (BIOLOGY), which can include required courses.
First Year
First Term Credits
ANTH 203 [DIVR] 3
CHEM 101 or 105 [PSCI] 4
Second Term Credits
CHEM 102 or 106 4
STAT 212 [QUAN] 4
Second Year
First Term Credits
ANTH 260 4
Arts [ARTS] 3
Communication [COMM] or Written Communication [WRTG] 3
Social Sciences [SSCI] 3
Major Elective1,2 3
Second Term Credits
Arts [ARTS], Humanities [HUM], or Social Sciences [SSCI]3 3
Human Behavior Requirement4 3
Science and Society Requirement5 3
Major Elective1,2 3
Complete Writing Portfolio  
Third Year
First Term Credits
Genetics and Evolution Requirement6 3
Human Behavior Requirement4 3
Humanities [HUM] 3
Foreign Language, if needed, and/or Major Electives1,2,7 6
Second Term Credits
Genetics and Evolution Requirement6 3
Writing in the Major [M] course8 2-4
Foreign Language, if needed, and/or Major Electives1,2,7 9
Fourth Year
First Term Credits
Human Cultural Diversity Requirement9 3
Integrative Capstone [CAPS]10 3 or 4
Writing in the Major [M] course 2-4
Major Electives and/or Electives1,2,11 7
Second Term Credits
Major Electives and/or Electives1,2,11 15
Complete School of Biological Sciences Exit Survey  

1 Major Electives (18 credits) approved courses include: ANTH 301, 303, 304, 305, 330, 331, 340 [M], 380, 404, 405, 495, 498, 499; BIOLOGY 251 or 353, 315, 321 [M], 333, 340 [M], 354, 372, 476, 491, 495, 499; H D 220; MBIOS 303, 305, 405, 446; PSYCH 320, 361. 363; and any ANTH or BIOLOGY course listed in the Science and Society, Genetics and Evolution, Human Behavior, and Human Cultural Diversity modules that were not taken to satisfy the requirement in those areas.
2 A maximum of 4 credits of coursework that are graded S,F (ANTH 498, 499; BIOLOGY 491, 495, 499) may be used toward fulfilling Major Electives.
3 An additional [ARTS], [HUM], or [SSCI] is required by the College of Arts and Sciences.
4 Human Behavior Requirement (6 credits) approved courses include: ANTH 268, 381, 466; BIOLOGY 307, 438; PSYCH 230, 321, 324, 372.
5 Science and Society Requirement (3 credits) approved courses include: ANTH 309; BIOLOGY 330; PHIL 350, 365, 370; SOC 331, 332; SOE 390, 402, 444.
6 Genetics and Evolution Requirement (6 credits) approved courses include: ANTH 302, 463, 469; BIOLOGY 335, no more than one from BIOLOGY 395, 403, or 405; MBIOS 423.
7 Two years of high school foreign language or at least two semesters of college-level foreign language are required by the College of Arts and Sciences for graduation.
8 [M] courses must be chosen from ANTH or BIOLOGY.
9 Human Cultural Diversity Requirement (3 credits) approved courses include: ANTH 201, 307, 316, 320, 327.
10 Integrated Capstone [CAPS] course must be chosen from either ANTH 464, 473 [M], 490 [M], BIOLOGY 401, 408, 473 [M], or 483 [M].
11 Electives must include sufficient 300-400-level coursework to meet the University requirement of 40 credits of upper-division coursework.



Three options are available for the Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology: general zoology, pre-veterinary/animal care, and pre-medicine/pre-dentistry. Each of these options includes a core curriculum that provides a strong science foundation plus additional specialized courses taken in the particular program option. The flexible curriculum leading to a zoology degree meets the needs of students with various interests and goals. The general zoology option provides a broad, solid foundation in zoology. It is especially aimed at students desiring a well-rounded background for further professional studies or for entry into the work force in areas such as wildlife biology or fisheries. The pre-medicine/pre-dentistry option is offered by the School of Biological Sciences as a course program designed to provide a solid academic foundation that successfully prepares the student for admission into medical, dental, or pharmacy school. The pre-veterinary/animal care option prepares students for careers involving animal care and maintenance in research institutions, zoos, aquaria, and clinics and for application to colleges of veterinary medicine.

Accelerated Pre-Vet Option in Zoology

The School of Biological Sciences has an academic track that can allow highly qualified students to earn both a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree within a seven-year span. Students can enroll in the undergraduate zoology program and complete all UCORE requirements, the necessary zoology core courses, and all veterinary medicine prerequisite coursework in a three-year period. The required prerequisites courses can be found on the WSU CVM website: Such students who are accepted into the College of Veterinary Medicine DVM program after completing this three-year program will then be allowed to transfer credit back from their first year DVM curriculum to fulfill the requirements that will allow them to earn a BS in Zoology.

Interested students must be advised in the School of Biological Sciences. High scholastic achievement, along with demonstrated experience and interest in working with animals and within the veterinary profession, will be a few of the main criteria for inclusion. Interested students should contact the School of Biological Sciences no later than the first semester of the sophomore year.  Students would then declare zoology with the pre-vet option as a major in the first semester of the sophomore year.

The procedures for application into the DVM program will be the same as those for all other applicants to the program excluding those applicants applying to the Early Acceptance Undergraduate Programs through the Honors College or Department of Animal Sciences. Students in this program are not given preferential consideration for admission into the DVM program. Participants who complete the three-year zoology program and are accepted into the DVM program during their junior year, will begin the veterinary medicine curriculum in their fourth year of study. These students would complete only the DVM curriculum from this point on, and credits from the first year of the DVM program will be used to fulfill the remaining requirements that will allow them to earn a BS in Zoology.  If the student is not accepted into the DVM program or withdraws from it, they may continue to earn the BS in Zoology and may be eligible to apply to the College of Veterinary Medicine as a senior or following completion of the BS.

Transfer Students

Science courses taken at other institutions will be evaluated and credits accepted when possible. Inquiries should be directed to the Associate Director of Undergraduate Programs.

Graduate Programs

The school awards Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Biology and Plant Biology at the graduate level. Faculty interests and research programs are diverse, including genomics, molecular and cellular biology, animal and plant physiology, various aspects of organismal biology of plants and animals, systematics, ecology, evolutionary biology, and biology education. A list of specific faculty interests can be obtained at or by writing to the school. Communication with faculty members prior to applying for the graduate program is strongly encouraged.

Preparation for Graduate Study in Biology and Plant Biology

Students with undergraduate majors in such fields as animal sciences, biology, botany, cell biology, environmental sciences, genetics, microbiology, natural resources, plant sciences, wildlife biology, and zoology may be prepared for graduate study in the School of Biological Sciences. 

Students who complete Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in our program find careers as faculty in colleges and universities, conservation biologists and managers of natural resources, biologists and technicians for state and federal agencies, specialists in informatics, and scientists and laboratory technicians in biotechnology and other life sciences industries.

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