As an interdisciplinary minor in the School of Arts and Sciences, the required and elective courses introduce students to the methods and concerns of a wide spectrum of disciplines including English literature, history, sociology and  education, as well as other humanities and social science disciplines.
Most developments in today and tomorrow’s life sciences rely extensively on techniques and principles of chemistry and physics. The importance of this relationship has led to the design of a major which prepares students for advanced study in biochemistry, biophysics, cell biology, genomics, molecular biology, nanotechnology, neurobiology, structural biology and genetics-based biotechnology. It can also provide the basic science background for health professional schools and for prospective science teachers.
The freshman year will usually include either basic chemistry (CHEM 101-102 or 015-016) and its lab sections or physics (PHYS 150-151 or 170-171) and MATH 104-114 (biology courses are not part of the biochemistry major requirement). Students with A.P. credit for chemistry or math should take PHYS 150-151 and CHEM 241-242 or 251. Students with three or more A.P. science and math credits should contact the undergraduate chair before their first semester at Penn for information about the Vagelos Molecular Life Sciences Scholars Program.
An important part of the curriculum is that all majors work in faculty research laboratories, which can start as early as the freshman year. Juniors and seniors actively participate in organizing and running the Chemistry Department biological chemistry seminar series.
Biological Basis of Behavior
Biological Basis of Behavior is an interdisciplinary major in which students explore the relationship between behavior (both human and animal) and its organic bases. BBB offers courses in virtually all areas of neuroscience, ranging from cellular neurobiology to cognitive neuropsychology, and integrates these
interdisciplinary courses with basic science requirements in biology, chemistry and psychology. The program successfully integrates interdisciplinary teaching and research in neuroscience through the cooperative interactions of faculty and staff in several departments in the School of Arts and Sciences and the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.
One of the strengths of the major is the opportunity for students to pursue individualized research in the laboratories of the standing faculty at Penn. Each semester, more than 50 students are engaged in supervised research in areas as diverse as molecular neurobiology, chemical neuroanatomy, visual sciences and behavioral ecology.
The biology major provides a broad background in biology together with the opportunity to pursue specific areas of interest in greater depth. The requirements include two semesters of introductory biology, a choice of three intermediate level courses and four additional courses that may be selected in order to further develop a comprehensive understanding of biology or to specialize in a particular subject area. The requirements also include coursework in chemistry, math and, if desired, physics or statistics. The biology major can serve as preparation for graduate study in the biological sciences, graduate training in health-related professions, teaching or employment in a laboratory or conservation-related job.
The Biology Department offers courses in many aspects of biology, from the workings of cells and cellular components to species interactions and ecosystem function. Our curriculum keeps pace with recent developments in molecular biology and the study of evolutionary processes, including proteomics, computational genomics, molecular evolution and epigenetics.
After completing their introductory year, students can choose from a variety of courses to suit their individual interests and career goals. Some students further specialize by choosing a concentration in molecular biology, neuroscience, ecology and evolution, computational biology or mathematical biology.