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Biology Degrees and Programs

Our department offers several programs of study — each specific to the post-graduate plans of our students. We invite you to explore each major and minor program we offer to see which one best fits you. We invite you to explore

The Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology

The B.A. program allows students sufficient flexibility to explore a breadth of interests and still acquire an in-depth of knowledge of the sciences. Read degree requirements in the course catalog.

The Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology

The B.S. program is designed to meet the needs of students primarily interested in science and who intend to pursue graduate study and research in the biological sciences, careers in the health professions, or careers in other science related fields. Read degree requirements in the course catalog.

Pre-graduate Preparation in Biology

Both the B.A. and B.S. degree programs are acceptable for admission to graduate schools specializing in the biological sciences. Most graduate programs look more favorably on students who have a B.S. due to the more rigorous requirements of the degree. Students who are planning to pursue post-graduate education should consult with the pre-graduate school advisor as early as possible in their second year. For more information, contact Dr. Charles Toth at 401.865.2015 or at

Premed Preparation in Biology

Both the B.A. and B.S. degree programs meet the science requirements demanded for admission to professional schools specializing in the health sciences such as medicine, dentistry, optometry, and veterinary medicine. Most students interested in the health professions major in biology. However, some students whose interests lie in other areas may elect to major in non-science department, while still successfully completing the prerequisites for medical, dental, veterinary, or optometry school admission. Students who are planning for a career in the medical sciences should consult with the Advisor for Health Professions early in their freshman year. Read the requirements in the course catalog. Learn more about the Premed program.

The Double Major or Creating an Individualized Major

Students are offered the opportunity to initiate and develop combined curricular programs that they feel may better meet their needs than a single concentration. The double major requires that the student complete all degree requirements in the two departments elected. Several biology students each year elect a double major, most often in biology/chemistry.

The individualized program is designed for students whose needs transcend specific disciplines and that require a special curricular format. For example, a student with an interest in medical illustration may design a program incorporating courses in both biology and art but need not necessarily complete a major in both.

3 + 4 Optometry

We offer a combined degree program with the New England College of Optometry. This program is designed for the highly motivated student with a professional goal in optometry. It allows for completion of the B.A. or B.S. degree in biology and the O.D. degree (doctor of optometry) in seven years, rather than the usual eight. The first three years at PC offer a blend of liberal arts, basic, and biological sciences, which will prepare students for professional study. The next four years at New England College of Optometry (NECO) provide the coursework required to complete the PC baccalaureate degree, as well as the professional training required for the doctoral degree in optometry.

The Minor in Evolutionary Biology and Ecology

The minor provides a strong foundation in organismal and population biology and related disciplines. It features a strong hands-on component involving course work, laboratory experiences, and field studies. Six courses, totaling 22-23 credits, are required. Read about the minor requirements in the catalog.

Recommendations for Undeclared Students

Students interested in the biology major or pre-medical preparation should consider the following recommendations:

  • Before undertaking serious exploration of a major in biology, students are asked to consult with the chairperson of the department or the advisor for the health professions.
  • Freshman biology majors normally are required to take four specific courses including General Biology, General Chemistry, Calculus, and DWC. This is NOT RECOMMENDED FOR THE UNDECLARED STUDENT. Instead they should take General Biology (with lab), Calculus, DWC, and one elective/general degree requirement each semester in their freshman year:

IMPORTANT NOTE: Any student considering these courses should first consult with BOTH the appropriate undeclared advisor and the biology department chairperson. This recommendation is made with the intention of preventing serious academic difficulties that might otherwise be encountered.

These courses, with the exception of the electives, are two-semester sequential courses required of freshman biology and pre-medical students. An undeclared student who decides NOT to pursue the biology or pre-medical course of study, but who has completed this freshman year schedule, will have completed the general degree requirement in science and mathematics.