Montana State University

Biological Sciences

Note: MSU's programs in the biological sciences are distributed across multiple departments.  MSU does not have a single Department of Biology.  For additional options see   Biological Sciences at MSU.

Department of Ecology

http://www.montana.edu/ecology

Four options are available in the Department of Ecology which lead to the B.S. in Biological Sciences: Biology Teaching, Conservation Biology and Ecology, Fish and Wildlife Ecology and Management, and Organismal Biology.

Students interested in secondary school biology teaching and Montana state certification must fulfill a Biological Sciences major and the professional education courses; a teaching minor or second area of certification is recommended.

Most positions for professional biologists require a graduate degree. The degree options are intended to provide the prerequisite educational background for graduate programs. However, admission to graduate programs is highly competitive and will depend on academic performance, scores on standardized exams (the Graduate Record Exams), and other factors.

Requirements for Admission to Upper Division Courses in Biology

For admission to upper division (numbered 300 or higher) Biology (BIOB, BIOE, BIOO, BIOM) and Fish and Wildlife Management (WILD) courses, students must have completed at least 45 total university credits, with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 for all courses with a "C-"or better for any prerequisite courses. Any student who enrolls in an upper division biology course without satisfying these requirements will be required to withdraw from the course.

Grade Requirements

To graduate with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, students must earn a grade of "C-" or better for every course required for the specific option (Conservation Biology and Ecology, Fish and Wildlife Ecology and Management, Organismal Biology, and Biology Teaching), including courses taken to fulfill required biology elective credits, all required courses in non-biology rubrics, and all upper division courses.


Curricula in Biological Sciences


CONSERVATION BIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY OPTION


The Conservation Biology and Ecology option will give students a clear understanding of the ways that natural and human-related processes affect species, communities and ecosystems, and relate this knowledge to its broad societal context. This option provides students with strong preparation for graduate study which is necessary for most jobs in Ecology and Conservation Biology. The defining characteristics of the degree include:
  • Understanding natural and human-related processes that affect populations, species, communities, and ecosystems
  • Understanding methods to quantify and mitigate effects on populations, species, communities and ecosystems
  • Strong emphasis on background in basic biology
  • Required grounding in courses on physical environment & human dimensions of conservation, including economics, law, history and social science
  • High standards for statistical knowledge
  • Emphasis on classes in written and spoken communication

Freshman Year F S
BIOB 103CS--Environmental Science & Society 3
BIOB 170IN --Principles of Biological Diversity 4  
BIOB 160--Principles of Living Systems (Chem pre-req)   4
CHMY 141--Chemistry I 4  
               COM 110US--Public Communication 3  
     Or      CLS 101US*--University Seminar  
WRIT 101W*--College Writing I 3
          *Students informed at Orientation in which semester to enroll
M 161Q--Survey of Calculus   4
PHSX 205--College Physics   4
Optional University CORE and Additional Electives       0
14 15


Sophomore Year F S
BIOB 375--Genetics 3
CHMY 143--Chemistry II 4  
CHMY 211--Elements of Organic Chemistry 5
ENSC 110--Land Resources & Environmental Science 3
ECNS 101IS--Economic Way of Thinking 3
GPHY 111CS--Intro to Physical Geography   4
PHL 236--Logic 3
WRIT 201W--College Writing II 3
STAT 216Q--Introduction to Statistics 3
STAT 217Q--Intermediate Statistics 3
16 17


Junior Year F S
Take one of the following:
     BCHM 380--Biochemistry 5  
     ENSC 245--Soil Resources 3  
BIOE 370--General Ecology 3
BIOE --Ecol Effect Climate Change   2
BIOB 480--Conservation Genetics 3
BIOB 420--Evolution 3
Take one of the following:
     BIOO 412--Animal Physiology 4  
     BIOO 433--Plant Physiology 4
STAT 411--Data Analysis I 3
Social Sciences Elective 3
University CORE and Additional Electives 3-6 0-6
16-17 15-17


Senior Year F S
BIOE 440--Conservation Biology 3
BIOE --Research in Conservation Biology 3
Take one of the following:
     BIOE 428--Freshwater Ecology 3  
     BIOO 415--Ichthyology 3
     BIOO 475--Mammalogy 3
     BIOO 470--Ornithology 3
     BIOE 455--Plant Ecology 3
Social Sciences Elective 3
Social Sciences Elective 3
University CORE and Additional Electives 6-9 6-9
15 15

SOCIAL SCIENCES ELECTIVE BLOCK (minimum of 9 credits to be completed)

Take at least two of the following (6 credits):
          ECNS 132--Econ & the Environment
          NRSM 430--Natural Resource Law
          PHL 322--Philosophy & Environmental Ethics
          PSCI 362--Natural Resource Policy
Take at least one of the following (3 credits):
          SOCI 355 --Population and Society
          HSTA 470--American Environmental History
          HSTR 484--World Environmental History
          ECNS 332--Economics of Natural Resources

SUGGESTED ELECTIVES FOR THE CONSERVATION BIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY OPTION:

Ecology & Evolution:

          BIOE 405--Behavioral & Evolutionary Ecology
          BIOE 408--Rocky Mountain Vegetation
          BIOM 415--Microbial Diversity, Ecology & Evolution
          BIOE 427--Aquatic Field Ecology Ecology
          BIOE 428--Freshwater Ecology
          BIOO 435--Plant Systematics
          BIOB 484--Population Genetics

Environmental Science:

          ENSC 245--Soils
          ENSC 272CS--Water Resources
          ENSC 370--Water Quality
          ENSC 351--Nutrient Cycling
          ENSC 345--Soil and Environmental Chemistry
          ENSC 410R--Biodiversity Survey & Monitoring Methods
          ENSC 448--Stream Restoration Ecology
          ENSC 465--Environmental Biophysics
          ENSC 468--Ecosystem Biogeochemistry & Global Change

Fish & Wildlife Management:

          WILD 301--Principles of Fish & Wildlife Management

Geography and Earth Science:

          ERTH 212RN--Yellowstone Scientific Lab
          ERTH 303--Weather and Climate
          GPHY 284--Introduction to GPS & Cartography
          GPHY 411--Biogeography
          GPHY 426--Remote Sensing & Digital Image Processing

Statistics:

          STAT 411--Methods for Data Analysis II

Social Sciences:

          ENSC 317--Economic Development
          PSCI 480--Environmental Politics

University requirements for graduation also must be completed, including university core requirements and a minimum of 120 total credits of which 42 must be in courses numbered 300 and above. The classes listed above satisfy university core requirements except that you must take also take one class each for the Diversity, Arts and Humanities requirements (courses with suffixes of D, A and H). Some of the suggested electives meet these core requirements. The curriculum above completes 37-41 credits numbered 300 and above (including 6 credits in the Social Sciences elective block.). You have some flexibility in the classes that you select to fill your Junior and Senior years. It is intended that you use these credits to develop strength in an area of emphasis that matches your interests and goals. We recommend that you consult the list of suggested elective below and speak to your advisor.


ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION OPTION

The Ecology and Evolution Option has been superseded by the Conservation Biology and Ecology Option. New students will not be admitted to this option effective summer semester 2012. Current majors in this option may continue in this option or transfer to another Ecology Department option.

The option in Ecology and Evolution combines (1) a basic sequence of courses in ecology, (2) a broad background in the sciences and Mathematics, and (3) a flexible curriculum of upper-division courses in biology and related disciplines. The program requires students to develop strength in one supporting science or in Mathematics and statistics. Because most professional positions in ecology and evolution require an M.S. or Ph.D., this program is designed to prepare students for graduate study, while allowing the flexibility to develop an area of specialization, or to study a broad range of disciplines related to ecology.

There are two possible biology sequences for Ecology and Evolution: BIOB 160 and BIOB 170IN or BIOB 260 & BIOB 258. The choice of sequence depends on prerequisites and influences both the freshman and sophomore year. If you prefer to begin biology immediately, or you will not complete STAT 216Q and CHMY 141 during your freshman year, you should take the BIOB 160 and BIOB 170IN sequence. If you will take CHMY 141 and STAT 216Q during your freshman year, and you intend to complete the B Chemistry sequence (see below), you may prefer to take the BIOB 260 and BIOB 258 sequence your sophomore year.

Students pursuing the Ecology and Evolution Option should begin each of the two supporting sequences in their freshman year. As the two supporting sequences are completed, students should shift their effort toward satisfying the requirements for upper division courses in BIOL and related disciplines.

BIOB 170 & BIOB 160 Sequence
Freshman Year F S
BIOB 170IN--Principles of Biological Diversity    4
BIOB 160--Principles of Living Systems      4
Begin the Support Courses     ** **
(Section I) below
*WRIT 101W--College Writing I (or)     3
Other Required Courses** and University Core     8 8
15 15
Sophomore Year [Recommended] F S
WRIT 201--College Writing II     3
Other Required Courses** and University Core     12 15
15 15

BIOB 258 & 260 Sequence

Freshman Year F S
CHMY 141--College Chemistry I    4
CHMY 143--College Chemistry II    4
STAT 216Q--Introduction to Statistics    3
M 161Q--Survey of Calculus      4
*WRIT 101W--College Writing I (or)    3  
Other Required Courses** and University Core     5 8
15 15
Sophomore Year F S
CHMY 211--Elements of Organic Chemistry    5
BCH 380--Gen Biochemistry    5
BIOB 260--Intro Biology: Molecules to Cells    4
BIOB 258--Intro Biology: Organisms to Populations    4
WRIT 201--College Writing II [Recommended]     3
Other Required Courses** and University Core     3 6
15 15

BOTH SEQUENCES

Junior Year F S
BIOB 375--General Genetics    3
BIOE 370--General Ecology     3
Other Required Courses** and University Core     12 12
15 15
Senior Year F S
BIOB 420--Evolution    3
BIOE 499--Senior Thesis/Capstone     2
Other Required Courses** and University Core     15 10
15 15

*Depending on first letter of your last name. Students are told at Orientation when to take WRIT 101W.

**Other Required Courses from (I) Supporting Courses and (II) Biology Electives

(I) Supporting Courses: Students must take one sequence in each of the following three categories. Sequence B or C must be selected in at least one of the three categories. Students taking the BIOB 258 & 260 Sequence must take the Sequence B in the chemistry category below.

Chemistry category
   Sequence A
     CHMY 121IN--Intro to Gen Chemistry         4
     CHMY 123--Intro to Organic & Biochem      4
     total chemistry credits. Sequence A     8
   Sequence B
     CHMY 141--College Chemistry I    4
     CHMY 143--College Chemistry II     4
     CHMY 211--Elements of Organic Chemistry    5
     BCH 380--Biochemistry      5
     total chemistry credits. Sequence B     18
Physics category
   Sequence A
     PHSX 205--College Physics I         4
     PHSX 207--College Physics II     4
     total physics credits. Sequence A     8
   Sequence B (requires M Sequence C for prerequisites)
     PHSX 220--Physics I     4
     PHSX 222--Physics II     4
     total physics credits. Sequence B     8
Mathematics and Statistics Category
     M 161Q--Survey of Calculus         4
     BIOB 318--Biometry     3
     total Math and statistics credits. Sequence A     8
   Sequence B
     M 161Q--Survey of Calculus    4
     STAT 216Q--Introduction to Statistics     3
     STAT 217Q--Intermed Statistical Concepts      3
     total M and statistics credits. Sequence B          10
   Sequence C
     M 171Q--Calculus I    4
     M 172Q--Calculus II     4
     STAT 332--Stats for Scientists & Engineers      3
     total Math and statistics credits. Sequence C     11

(II) Biology Electives: A minimum of 23 elective credits must be completed. Of these 23 credits at least 15 must be upper division; no more than 6 total credits of BIOE 490, 492 and no more than 2 credits of BIOB 497 can be applied toward these 23 elective credits. Elective credits are typically from courses in biology (BIOB, BIOE, BIOO, BIOM) and fish and wildlife management (F&WL) rubrics. Certain courses in other rubrics (LRES, BCH (UD only), ARNR, ERTH, GEO, and STAT) can be applied toward the 23 elective credits, with the prior approval of both your advisor and the certifying officer for the Ecology and Evolution option before the course is taken. If BIOB 258 and BIOB 260 are taken, then BIOB 256 is a highly recommended elective.

University requirements for graduation also must be completed, including university core requirements and a minimum of 120 total credits of which at least 42 credits must be in courses numbered 300 and above. Depending on supporting and biology elective courses selected, the curriculum requires 27 to 42 credits from courses numbered 300 and above. From 0 to 15 additional credits must be taken from courses numbered 300 and above to satisfy the university requirement for 42 credits.


FISH AND WILDLIFE ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT OPTION

The option in Fish and Wildlife Ecology and Management is a professional degree program offered for those students who have an interest in employment in these fields. Study leading toward a bachelor's degree emphasizes basic principles of animal ecology, with considerable work in related fields. Students graduating with a bachelor's degree will be qualified for entry-level positions in natural resource management. However, the four-year option primarily provides prospective fish and wildlife biologists an adequate background for graduate work, which is required for most professional positions in natural resource agencies.

Freshman Year F S
WILD 201--Intro to Fish & Wildlife    1
BIOB 103CS--Environmental Science & Society 3
BIOB 170IN--Principles of Biological Diversity    4
BIOO 230--Ident of Seed Plants     4
CHMY 121IN--Intro to Gen Chemistry       4
COM 110US--Public Communication (or)      3  
CLS 101US--University Seminar    
*WRIT 101W--College Writing I (or)       3
University Core and Electives     4 4
15 15
Sophomore Year F S
CHMY 123--Intro to Organic & Biochem      4
BIOB 160--Principles of Living Systems      4  
BIOO 310--Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy     4  
M 161Q--Survey of Calculus     4
Take one of the following:
     ERTH 101IN --Earth System Science   4
     ENSC 245IN--Soils      3
     ENSC 272CS--Water Resources 4
     GPHY 284--Intro to GIS Science & Cartography   3
University Core and Electives     3-4 3-4
15 15
Junior Year F S
WILD 301--Principles of F&WL Mgmt 3
BIOO 412--Animal Physiology 3
Take one of the following:
     BIOB 375--General Genetics 3
     BIOB 377--Practical Genetics 3
BIOE 370--General Ecology    3
Take one of the following:
     WRIT 201--College Writing II      3
     WRIT 221--Intermediate Tech Writing   3
Take one of the following:
     BIOB 318--Biometry    3
     STAT 216Q--Introduction to Statistics     3
University Core and Electives 3-6 3-6
15 15
Senior Year F S
F&WL 401--Fish & Wildlife Topics     2
BIOB 420--Evolution 3
Take one of the following pairs:
     BIOE 455--Plant Ecology     3
     BIOE 408--Rocky Mountain Vegetation 2
OR
     BIOE 428--Freshwater Ecology 3
     BIOE 427R--Research in Freshwater Ecology 3
Take two of the following:
     BIOO 415--Ichthyology    3
     BIOO 475--Mammalogy     3
     BIOO 470--Ornithology     3
Take one of the following:
     BIOE 405--Behavioral & Evol Ecology    3
     BIOE 440--Conservation Biology     3
     BIOE 445--Macroecology 3
     BIOB 480--Conservation Genetics      3
University Core and Electives 4-7 1-7
15 15

*Depending on first letter of your last name. Students are told at Orientation when to take WRIT 101W.

A minimum of 120 credits is required for graduation; at least 42 of these credits must be in courses numbered 300 and above. The curriculum includes 35-39 credits numbered 300 and above, so an additional three to five credits must be selected. Additional upper division electives must be taken in biology, fish and wildlife, or a related field (ANSC, NRSM, ENSC, GPHY, and STAT). You should consult with your advisor about the appropriateness of potential upper division electives taken outside the Biology set or WILD rubrics. This curriculum satisfies all about but 12 -18 credits of the University Core Requirements depending on which core courses are taken to meet the Diversity and Humanities core requirement. Students are expected to be aware of all requirements for graduation and to ensure that they meet these requirements.


ORGANISMAL BIOLOGY OPTION

The Organismal Biology option provides a rigorous program of study in plant or animal biology at the whole-organism, species, population, and community levels, while allowing students flexibility in selecting those biology courses that best meet their interests and objectives. It accomplishes this by requiring students to select 20 required credits in biology in consultation with their advisor to achieve a personal curriculum. In addition, students can use the elective credits to develop strength in a second area which may enhance their prospects of gaining employment with a bachelor's degree or their prospects of acceptance into specialized graduate programs. Most professional positions in biology require completion of one or more graduate degrees, and the Organismal Biology option is excellent preparation for graduate studies.

There are two possible biology sequences for Organismal Biology: BIOB 160 & BIOB 170 or BIOB 256 & BIOB 260. The recommended sequence depends on prerequisites and influences both the freshman and sophomore year.

BIOB 160 & 170 Sequence

If you prefer to begin biology immediately, have not had high school chemistry, or will not take STAT 216 during Fall semester of your freshman year:

Freshman Year F S
BIOB 170IN--Principles of Biological Diversity    4
BIOB 160--Principles of Living Systems      4
CHMY 141--College Chemistry I     4
CHMY 143--College Chemistry II     4
COM 110US--Public Communication (or)     3
CLS 101US--University Seminar    
(Depending or when you take WRIT 101W)    
*WRIT 101W--College Writing (or)     3
University Core and Electives, or Math pre-reqs 4 4
15 15
Sophomore Year F S
CHMY 211--Elements of Organic Chemistry     5
BCH 380--Biochemistry      5
M 161Q--Survey of Calculus     4  
PHSX 205--College Physics I     4
PHSX 207--College Physics II     4
Take one of the following:
     BIOB 318--Biometry (or)      3  
     STAT 216Q--Introduction to Statistics
University Core and Electives     3 2-3
15 15-16

*Depending on first letter of your last name. Students are told at Orientation when to take WRIT 101W.

BIOB 256 & BIOB 260 Sequence

If you had high school chemistry and will take STAT 216 during Fall Semester of your freshman year:

Freshman Year F S
BIOB 256--Intro Biol Cells to Organisms    4
CHMY 141--College Chemistry I     4
CHMY 143--College Chemistry II     4
COM 110US--Public Communication (or)     3  
CLS 101US--University Seminar    
(Depending or when you take WRIT 101W)    
*WRIT 101W--College Writing (or)       3
M 161Q--Survey of Calculus     4
Take one of the following:
     BIOB 318--Biometry (or)      3  
     STAT 216Q--Introduction to Statistics
University Core and Electives 2-5 0-3
15 15
Sophomore Year F S
BIOB 260--Cellular & Molecular Biology      4
CHMY 211--Elements of Organic Chemistry     5
BCH 380--Biochemistry      5
PHSX 205--College Physics I     4
PHSX 207--College Physics II     4
University Core and Electives     3 6
16 15-16

 

BOTH SEQUENCES

Junior Year F S
BIOB 375--General Genetics    3
Take one of the following:
     BIOE 370--General Ecology (or)     3
     BIOB 258--Intro Biol:Organisms To Popltns     3
University Core and Electives     12 12
15 15
Senior Year F S
BIOB 420--Evolution    3
BIOE 499--Senior Thesis/Capstone      2
Take one of the following:
     BIOB 425--Adv Cell & Molecular Biology 3
     BIOO 412--Animal Physiology     3
     BIOO 433--Plant Physiology     3
University Core and Electives     12-15 7-10
15 15

*Depending on first letter of your last name. Students are told at Orientation when to take WRIT 101W.

**Additional Required Biology Electives

A minimum of 20 credits of Biology electives also must be completed, from courses in BIOB, BIOE, BIOO, ANSC, NRSM, WILD, BCH (UD only), BIOM (except BIOM 497). At least 16 of these credits must be in upper division courses numbered 300 and above. Credits must be for regularly scheduled courses, except that up to 4 total credits of undergraduate research in Biology (BIOE 490, 492) and up to 2 credits of Biology Teaching (BIOB 497) may be included. Up to 6 credits of certain courses in basic biological sciences from departments other than these may be included, with the prior approval of the advisor and Organismal Biology Certifying Officer before the course is taken.

University requirements for graduation also must be completed, including university core requirements and a minimum of 120 total credits of which at least 42 credits must be in courses numbered 300 and above. Depending on courses selected, the curriculum includes 39 to 42 credits numbered 300 and above, so an additional three credits may need to be selected.


BIOLOGY TEACHING OPTION

The Biology Teaching Option certifies graduates to be qualified to teach secondary school biology. It is similar to the Organismal Biology Option, but includes professional preparation courses required for state teacher certification. Since the Biology Teaching Option includes 40 credits of biology courses, it is an extended major and the State of Montana does not require a teaching minor. However, employment opportunities will be enhanced by obtaining a second are of certification, usually a teaching minor (listed under College of Education, Health and Human Development). Obtaining a Biology Teaching major, a teaching minor, and certification will require more than eight semesters.

The Biology Teaching Option includes 40 credits of Biology (24 to 25 credits of basic biology courses, plus BIOM 103 or BIOM 360, and 12 Biology elective credits); supporting chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics courses; 32 credits in the university core; and 32 credits of professional preparation. Biology electives must include 7 to 8 credits of advisor-approved upper division credits in biological sciences.

Freshman Year F S
BIOB 170IN--Principles of Biological Diversity    4
BIOB 160--Principles of Living Systems   4
CHMY 141--College Chemistry I     4
CHMY 143--College Chemistry II     4
COM 110US--Public Communication (or)     3
CLS 101US--University Seminar    
*WRIT 101W--College Writing I 3
M 161Q--Survey of Calculus     4
Take one of the following:
     HDCF 150IS--Lifespan Human Devlpmt  
     EDEC 160--Early Childhood through Adolescent Development     3
University Core and Electives     1-4 1-4
16 16
Sophomore Year F S
BCH 380--Biochemistry    5
CHMY 211--Elements of Organic Chemistry     5
EDU 202--Early Field Experience     1
EDU 223--Ed Psy & Adolescent Development 3
Take one of the following:
     BIOM 103IN--Unseen Universe: Microbes       4
    BIOM 360--General Microbiology   5
PHSX 205--College Physics I     4
PHSX 207--College Phys II     4
16 16
Junior Year F S
Take one of the following:
     BIOB 375--General Genetics     
     BIOB 377--Practical Genetics    3
BIOE 370--General Ecology     3
BIOB 420--Evolution     3
BIOE 499--Senior Thesis/Capstone      2
Take one of the following:
     BIOO 412--Animal Physiology    3
     BIOO 433--Plant Physiology     3
EDU 370--Integrating Tech in Education    2
EDU 382--Assessment, Curric, Instruction     2
Take one of the following:
     BIOB 318--Biometry     
     STAT 216Q--Introduction to Statistics     3
University Core and Electives 5-8 3-6
16 16
Senior Year F S
BIOE 408--Rocky Mountain Ecosystems 2
EDU 497--Methods: 5-12 Science      3
EDU 395--Practicum: 5-12      1
HDCF 356--Exceptional Needs     3
EDU 211D--Multicultural Education     3
EDU 495--Student Teaching: 5-12     10-12
EDU 408--Professional Issues: 5-12     2
University Core and Electives     4
16 12-14

*Must be taken in assigned semester

University requirements for graduation also must be completed, including university core requirements and a minimum of 120 total credits of which 42 must be in courses numbered 300 and above. In order to student teach, your GPA in sciences and M must be at least 2.50, and your GPA in basic skills (M verbal writing) must be at least 2.50 with no grade less than "C".


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Updated: June 2013