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Major / Minor Requirements

At Carthage, students can major in biology, minor in biology, or earn a teaching licensure in biology.

The biology curriculum at Carthage prepares students for graduate study and entry into medical, veterinary, dental, physical therapy and other professional schools. In addition, graduates may pursue careers in secondary education, academic and industrial research, quality assurance, forensic science, and a variety of not-for-profit and governmental environmental and conservation areas.

Students seeking teaching licensure in biology are advised to meet with the Biology Department chair, an Education Department representative, and their advisor to ensure that all requirements for the appropriate state licensure are met.

Current students: You should follow the official College Catalog from the year you entered Carthage and work with your advisors and the department chair to ensure all requirements are met.

The Biology Major

A major in biology consists of the following courses:

Core Courses — take all

  • BIO 1110 Molecules, Cells, and Organisms (4 credits)
  • BIO 1120 Organisms, Populations, and Systems(4 credits)
  • BIO 2100 Reflections in Biology (4 credits)
  • BIO 2400  Genetics (4 credits)
  • BIO 4120  Senior Seminar in Biology (4 credits)

Electives — take four

Students will be required to take four upper-level (3000 or 4000) level courses, not including Bio 4120 (Senior Seminar). One of these upper-level courses must be taken from each of the three Discipline Areas of Biology, which are:

Cellular and Molecular Biology

  • BIO 3340 Microbiology (4 credits)
  • BIO 3500 Advanced Cell Biology (4 credits)
  • BIO 4300 Immunology (4 credits)
  • BIO 4310 Developmental Biology (4 credits)
  • BIO 4320 Recombinant DNA Technology (4 credits)

Organismal Biology

  • BIO 3050 Plant Physiology (4 credits)
  • BIO 3300 Advanced Human Anatomical Systems (4 credits)
  • BIO 3310 Advanced Human Physiological Systems (4 credits)
  • BIO 3320 Entomology (4 credits)
  • BIO 3330 Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates (4 credits)
  • BIO 3350 Parasitology (4 credits)
  • BIO 4350 Dinosaur Evolution and Extinction (4 credits)

Ecological Biology

  • BIO 3100 General Ecology (4 credits)
  • BIO 3200 Aquatic Ecology (4 credits)
  • BIO 3210 Animal Behavior (4 credits)
  • BIO 4200 Advanced Ecology (4 credits)

The fourth upper-level Biology course may be taken from any of the three Discipline Areas, or from additional upper-level courses that do not fit into a Discipline Area.

Other Advanced Course Elective Options

  • CHM 3010 Biochemistry
  • NEU 3950 Neuroscience II
  • BIO 4100 Biostatistics and Experimental Design
  • BIO 4900 Research in Biology
  • Bio 400T Topics in Biology

Chemistry Courses — TAKE ALL

  • CHM 1010  General Chemistry I (4 credits)
  • CHM 1020  General Chemistry II (4 credits)
  • CHM 2070  Organic Chemistry I (4 credits)
  • CHM 2080  Organic Chemistry II (4 credits)

**The following courses will not count for credit toward a biology major: BIO 1010, BIO 1020, BIO 1030, BIO 1040, BIO 2500, BIO 2650, BIO 2810, and BIO 200T.

The Biology Minor

A minor in biology consists of the following: six courses in biology, or five courses in biology plus CHM 3010. 

Note: Medical Terminology Topics Course is excluded from the biology minor.

Senior Thesis in Biology

The Senior Thesis is developed in consultation with the department faculty. Theses may include a scholarly manuscript of research performed or a detailed proposal for future research. Alternative projects may be approved by the faculty.

Honors in the Major

Honors in biology requires a 3.5 GPA in biology, honors contracts in two advanced courses in biology, a presentation of an outstanding senior thesis project to the public and a panel of Biology Department faculty, and a formal recommendation from the Biology Department.

Current students, remember: You should follow the official College Catalog from the year you entered Carthage and work with your advisors and the department chair to ensure all requirements are met.


  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2019), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • Beyond the campus boundaries, dinosaur fossils are prepared at the Carthage Institute of Paleontolgoy in Kenosha. A lengthy pterodactyl flight away, Finca Esperanza serves as a base camp for J-Term medical and water quality missions to Nicaragua. 

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has been named a top producer of Fulbright Fellows three years running. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $20,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …