Bachelor of Science in Biology Program Page

Bachelor of Science (BS)
in Biology, Master of
Forensic Science (MFS)
Transition Program

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230K+ Alumni Worldwide


The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biology degree provides a solid foundation in all levels of biological organization, from molecules to ecosystems. This comprehensive curriculum is crucial to meeting the modern challenges of science, including new and emerging diseases, rapid advances in genetics, physiology and biodiversity, threats to species and ecosystem functioning, and global population increase and sustainability. Instruction, coursework, and laboratory experiences will prepare you for further graduate studies and growing career opportunities in life science education, research, health sciences, and applied biology.

For those intending to continue their studies with a graduate degree in Forensic Sciences, the Master of Forensic Science (MFS) transition program provides a head start by allowing you to register for two MFS courses as part of your BS electives requirement. To register, you must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 and be within six courses of completing your bachelor degree. The two MFS courses are restricted to those that do not require a prerequisite, and you must complete all transition program coursework with a grade of B or better.

Preparation Courses for the Major

In preparation for the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biology program, you must complete the following prerequisite courses.

Course Details

Preparation Courses for the Major

In preparation for the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biology program, you must complete the following prerequisite courses.

Course Name

An introduction to statistics and probability theory. This course covers simple probability distributions, conditional probability (Bayes’ rule), independence, expected value, binomial distributions, the central limit theorem, and hypothesis testing. Coursework may utilize Minitab software or text-accompanying courseware. A calculator with statistical functions is required.

This course examines higher degree polynomials; rational, exponential and logarithmic functions; and trigonometry and matrix algebra needed for more specialized mathematics, computer science, engineering, and other related fields. A computer and/or graphing calculator is highly recommended.


The first part of a comprehensive, two-month study of algebra and trigonometry in preparation for more specialized applications of mathematics. This course covers higher degree polynomials, rational functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, transformations and the algebra of function, matrix algebra, and the basic arithmetics of complex numbers.


The study of a selected literary motif or theme over time and/or across cultures. Theme examples include dark gothic, meta-fiction, the home, and war. Topics are variable and are selected by the instructor.

A survey of general chemistry topics that are important for high-level chemistry and science. This course explores thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, and quantum mechanics. Successful completion of a college-level algebra course is required for enrollment.

The second course in a three-part study of general chemistry. Topics of focus include: bonding, solutions, chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium, acids/bases, and thermodynamics.

The final course in a three-part study of general chemistry. Coursework will explore electro, nuclear, organic, bio, and coordination chemistry, as well as the chemistry of metals and non-metals.

An introduction to the fundamentals of biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics for students majoring in science. Topics of study include: organic molecules, cell structure and function, metabolism and enzyme activity, cellular respiration and photosynthesis, DNA structure, meiosis and mitosis, and Mendelian genetics.

An exploration of evolution, taxonomy, biodiversity, and ecology for students majoring in science. Study concepts include: evolutionary processes; taxonomy and phylogeny of the kingdoms of life; and ecological processes at the population, community, and ecosystem levels.

A study of the morphology and physiology of multicellular organisms—particularly plants and animals. Intended for science majors, this course focuses on plant structure and physiology, and comparative animal morphology and physiology.

Intended for science majors, this is the first course in a three-part study of non-calculus-based general physics. Topics of study include: one-dimensional and two-dimensional kinematics, dynamics, statics, work, energy, linear momentum, circular motion, and gravitation.

The second course in a three-part study of non-calculus-based general physics for science majors. Coursework focuses on temperature, kinetic theory, gas laws, heat, oscillatory motion and waves, and electricity.

The final course in a three-part study of non-calculus-based general physics for science majors. Topics of focus include: magnetism, electromagnetic induction and waves, optics, relativity, quantum physics, nuclear reactions, and elementary particles.

An introduction to the fundamentals of organic chemistry. This course covers the properties and reactions of hydrocarbons and their functional groups, aromatic compounds, and biological molecules. Special effort is made to demonstrate the interrelationship between organic chemistry and other areas of science, particularly biological, health, and environmental sciences.

This course introduces you to the practical aspects of organic chemistry. Coursework will explore basic techniques for handling, analyzing, and identifying organic compounds. You’ll also learn to synthesize simple and practical organic molecules.

This laboratory course in general biology is intended for science majors. Laboratory coursework includes: practicing the scientific method; examining cellular processes (e.g., respiration, photosynthesis, mitosis, and meiosis); observing Mendelian genetics; operating basic laboratory equipment; taxonomic classification; and investigating structure and function in prokaryotes, protists, fungi, plants, and animals.

This course augments the understanding of important chemistry concepts through hands-on experimentation. You’ll learn advanced chemistry laboratory techniques, modern instrument operation, and the skills necessary for accurate data collection and error analyses.

Designed for science majors, this practical laboratory course supplements the understanding of major concepts in general physics. Lab coursework will demonstrate one- and two-dimensional kinematics, work and energy, electric current, oscillations, and geometric optics.

* Course may be used to meet General Education requirements.

Required Courses for the Major

For the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biology, you must complete twelve foundation courses and seven upper-division elective courses.

The Master of Forensic Science (MFS) transition program allows you to register for two courses in the MFS program as part of your BS electives requirement. To register, you must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 and be within six courses of completing your degree. The two MFS courses are restricted to those that do not require a prerequisite, and you must complete all transition program coursework with a grade of B or better.

Course Name

A study of the relationship of plants and animals to their environment and to one another. This course emphasizes populations, the population-community interface, and community structure and interactions within the ecosystem.

An introduction to the principles of genetics and heredity. Course topics include linkage and pedigree analysis, DNA replication and repair, gene expression and regulation, inheritance of traits, genetic engineering, relationship of genetics to human health, and applying genetics to understand the evolution of species.

An exploration of evolutionary biology. This course examines the history of life, the fossil record, causes of microevolution (including natural selection and mutation), macroevolutionary processes (including speciation and extinction), evolutionary genetics and developmental biology (“evo-devo”), phylogeny construction, and taxonomy.

An introduction to cellular biology. Instruction focuses on the following topics: fundamentals of cell structure and function, inter- and intracellular communication through signaling and signal transduction, and cell growth and energy generation through aerobic respiration and photosynthesis. Coursework will examine cellular events and analyze specific case studies in the field of cell biology.

An examination of techniques essential to cellular biology, including cell culturing; western blotting; ELISA; and DNA, RNA, and protein extractions.

An introduction to molecular biology. This course will focus on the fundamentals of gene structure, organization, regulation, and expression. Topics of study include: genetic engineering, genome evolution, DNA replication, recombination, transcription, and post-transcriptional mechanisms in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells.

A study of techniques essential to molecular biology, including DNA extraction, purification and quantification; polymerase chain reactions; and restriction enzyme digestion.

A comparative study of invertebrates, including taxonomy, structure, physiology, reproduction, evolution, and behavior.

A laboratory companion to invertebrate zoology studies, this course involves a complementary mix of specimen investigations, demonstrations, and experiments.

A study of vertebrate life and the integration of anatomy, physiology, ecology, evolution and behavioral adaptations that enable them to survive effectively in their natural environment.

A laboratory complement to the study of vertebrate zoology, this course includes specimen investigations, anatomical examination, and live observations when feasible.

An examination of current topics in biology. Instruction and coursework will focus on evaluation, discussion, and analysis of peer-reviewed literature.

Suggested Upper-Division Elective Courses

Select seven of the following twenty courses:

Course Name

A study of animal behavior, this course integrates genetic, physiological, ecological, and evolutionary perspectives.

An examination of the structure and function of immune components, including the complement system, innate and adaptive responses, and immune cell signaling. Coursework analyzes fundamental immunity concepts, including antibodies, antigens, antigen-antibody complexes, allergic reactions, lymphatic and hematopoietic systems, cancer, and autoimmune and immunodeficiency diseases.

A fundamental study of plant biology, including structure, function, evolution, taxonomy, and the diversity of major plant groups.

An exploration of the flora, fauna, and biomes of California. This course includes field trips, with sites selected for each academic center within National University.

A global approach to the science of marine biology. This course studies life in the marine environment and the structure and function of various marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, mangroves, and estuaries. You’ll also engage in analysis and evaluation of the human impact on ocean ecology.

An experiential survey of marine life and habitats. Course field work will include fish species identification and quantification; surveying marine mammal (dolphins and manatees) ecology and behavior; identifying sea turtle species nests and ecology; identification and health assessment of seagrass; coral identification and health; and ecosystem health and methods of monitoring. This course requires international travel, as your studies will take place in a field laboratory in Turneffe Atoll, Belize. Contact instructor for approval and additional requirements.

An analysis of biotechnology information using software tools to store, manipulate, and
extract information from protein and nucleic acid sequence data. Course topics will include: genome annotation, gene and protein prediction, sequence alignment, and analysis of aligned sequences in the patterns of protein or species relationships and gene expression.

An exploration of techniques essential to bioinformatics. Coursework will focus on practical knowledge of databases, basic commands in Unix and R, sequence alignment and annotation, and gene-expression quantification.

This course comprises a project-based biology study under the direction of faculty. Topics and sites will be specifically designed in collaboration with teachers and fellow students. Units can be taken separately or cumulatively, and the course can be repeated depending upon your particular needs.

An introduction to the chemistry of carbon compounds and their properties, structures and reactions. This course examines the properties and reactions of aliphatic, halides, alcohols, esters, thiols and sulfides, and aromatic compounds. These studies, in conjunction with selected experiments, will provide an understanding of organic reactions and mechanisms.

In this course, you’ll apply common laboratory techniques to determine the structure and chemical properties of alkanes, alkenes, alcohols, alkyl halides, acids, and esters. All experiments will be performed using a small-scale or microscale approach.

An exploration of the properties and reactions of aromatic compounds, aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, amines, and amides. This course will also introduce the use of modern spectroscopic techniques to analyze and predict structures of organic molecules.

In this course, you’ll apply the laboratory techniques learned in CHE 350A to synthesize, purify, and identify organic compounds, including alcohols, aldehydes, aromatics, ketones, ethers, esters, amides and amines. All experiments will be performed using a microscale approach.

A study of structures and functions in principal classes of biological molecules: proteins, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, and lipids. A strong, current background in chemistry is required for successful completion of this course.

A continuation of CHE 360, this course examines the principles of cellular regulatory processes and synthesis in biological molecules.

An examination of the interactions between oceanographic, geological, and astronomical processes on the world’s oceans and their living components. You’ll study the interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere, and the effects these processes have on currents, weather, and biological activity.

An introduction to mathematical modeling. This course uses a variety of diverse applications from physical, biological, business, social, and computer sciences to explore the capabilities and limitations of mathematical models in aiding our understanding of the world. Instruction will focus on problem identification, models of solutions, and model implementation. A graphing calculator is required.

An exploration of the interdisciplinary features in geographic information systems (GIS). Topics of focus include geography; cartography; and computer science for scientific, business, and environmental applications. Coursework will teach you how to input spatial information into the computer, organize the data, and perform basic spatial operations.

An historic examination of science throughout all human cultures. This course focuses on the mutual interaction between science and society, especially in modern times.

Individual study under the direction of an instructor. This course requires prior approval of the appropriate academic department.

Master of Forensic Science Transition Program Courses

Select two of the following five courses:

Course Name

An exploration of forensic terminology, anatomy, and physiology of the human body. This course emphasizes the underlying pathology of traumatic and sudden unexpected natural deaths encountered in forensics. Topics of focus include sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), types of injuries and their characteristic features, and methods of human identification.

A comprehensive study of general principles and fundamentals of forensic toxicology. Coursework will examine poisons, action, toxicity, samples, and methods of collection, preservation, and analysis. Analysis methods detailed include color testing, microdiffusion, gas chromatography – mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and radioimmunoassay (RIA).

A survey of the basic functions and protocols of a forensic biology laboratory. This course focuses on quality control and assurance measures in forensic biology labs, as well as approaches for locating, identifying, and confirming the presence of biological evidentiary fluids encountered in casework. In addition, you’ll learn the fundamentals of forensic deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing.

A fundamental study of forensic anthropology. This course explores the current methods of determining personal identity, cause and manner of death, elapsed time since death, and other relevant information revealed by human skeletal remains. You’ll learn to gather and analyze evidence to determine sex, age, ancestry, stature, trauma, and pathology. Archaeological techniques used in processing a crime scene are also explored.

An examination of scientific techniques used in medico-legal investigations surrounding injury and death. This course studies injuries resulting from firearms, heat, chemicals, electricity, and transportation accidents. You’ll also learn to diagnostic features of child abuse, infanticide, asphyxial deaths, and death from poisons and drugs. Finally, you’ll learn to gather and report forensic medical evidence and records for use in court proceedings.

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss biological processes at all levels of organization: molecular, cellular and microbial, organismal, population, and ecosystem.
  • Explain the importance of unifying concepts in biology, including cell theory, genetics, and evolution.
  • Describe the structure and function of Earth’s organisms, as well as their roles in the natural world.
  • Apply the scientific method in laboratory-based and field-based inquiry.
  • Demonstrate effective oral, visual, and written communication and quantitative skills, including critical analysis of data and scientific literature.
  • Demonstrate computer and technology literacy, including the ability to access databases within the context of course research and project development.
  • Evaluate historical developments and research in biology, as well as current research and challenges.
Program Disclosure

Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.

Program availability varies by state. Many disciplines, professions, and jobs require disclosure of an individual’s criminal history, and a variety of states require background checks to apply to, or be eligible for, certain certificates, registrations, and licenses. Existence of a criminal history may also subject an individual to denial of an initial application for a certificate, registration, or license and/or result in the revocation or suspension of an existing certificate, registration, or license. Requirements can vary by state, occupation, and/or licensing authority.

NU graduates will be subject to additional requirements on a program, certification/licensure, employment, and state-by-state basis that can include one or more of the following items: internships, practicum experience, additional coursework, exams, tests, drug testing, earning an additional degree, and/or other training/education requirements.

All prospective students are advised to review employment, certification, and/or licensure requirements in their state, and to contact the certification/licensing body of the state and/or country where they intend to obtain certification/licensure to verify that these courses/programs qualify in that state/country, prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state’s/country’s policies and procedures relating to certification/licensure, as those policies are subject to change.

National University degrees do not guarantee employment or salary of any kind. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review desired job positions to review degrees, education, and/or training required to apply for desired positions. Prospective students should monitor these positions as requirements, salary, and other relevant factors can change over time.