Program Title
Biology (BS)
Degree Type
BS - Bachelor of Science
Program Overview

The undergraduate major in Biology can serve as a stepping-stone for a wide variety of career opportunities. For students planning to attend medical, dental, or veterinary school, or graduate school in biological and applied sciences, the biology major provides a strong foundation in the basic life sciences. This foundation of knowledge, plus laboratory experience, also prepares students well for research and technical positions in universities, government, and industry.

While a major in Biology provides an excellent background for these technical careers, it can also serve as a valuable and satisfying focus of a liberal arts education for those not planning careers in science-related fields. An understanding of basic biological principles is of increasing importance in today's world. A knowledgeable and concerned citizenry is the best guarantee that these issues will be resolved most effectively. Finally, an understanding of the processes of life can heighten our perception and appreciation of the world around us, in terms of its beauty, variety, and uniqueness.

How to Declare a Major in Biology

Each undergraduate interested in the Biology major is required to select a department faculty advisor as part of the major declaration process.


Members of the Biology faculty are available for advising on such academic matters as choice of courses, research, suggested readings, and career plans. The student services office maintains a current list of faculty advisors, advising availability, and research interests.

The student services staff and BioBridge, the department's peer advising group, are prepared to answer questions on administrative matters, such as requirements for the major, approved out-of-department electives, transfer course evaluations, and petition procedures. This office also distributes the department's Bachelor of Science Handbook, which delineates policies and requirements, as well as other department forms and informational handouts.

Program Learning Outcomes

The department expects undergraduate majors in the program to be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes. These learning outcomes are used in evaluating students and the department's undergraduate program. Students are expected to demonstrate:

  1. the ability to use discipline-specific tools and content knowledge to analyze and interpret scientific data, to evaluate the significance of the data, and to articulate conclusions supportable by the data.

  2. the ability, independently and collaboratively, to formulate testable scientific hypotheses and to design approaches to obtain data to test the respective hypotheses.

  3. the ability to communicate content understanding and research outcomes effectively using various media.

External Credit Policies

Students are encouraged to have courses taken outside Stanford evaluated before taking a course at another institution. Course catalogs, syllabi, papers, exams and/or lecture notes from the other institution are necessary in the evaluation and accreditation process. Transfer students are encouraged to contact the Student Services Office soon after arrival.

All transfer courses intended to fulfill department requirements must be evaluated on this Transfer Credit Evaluation Form. This departmental procedure is in addition to the Registrar’s Office process of having units earned at other institutions transferred for Stanford credit and added to the Stanford transcript.

The department authorizes transfer credit only for courses whose content parallels the Stanford courses and that have comparable prerequisites (not merely a comparable course title). To substitute a course taken elsewhere for an upper-division Stanford course, course content must be approved in advance by a department faculty member teaching in the area of the course or the Biology Undergraduate Studies Committee. Submit as complete a course description as practical (including prerequisites and their descriptions) using this form before taking an off-campus course.

Credit for natural history, cultural biology, and similar courses is rarely appropriate and can be obtained only by meeting the same criteria outlined above. Verification of performance and the number of units are determined after completing the course. In some cases, students must provide exams, reading lists, term papers, and other materials for the evaluation.

Degree Requirements