New to Biology

Welcome to KU Biology! We are excited to have you join us!

Below is information that we hope will help you as you begin your biology major.

Biology Majors We Offer:

We offer six different biology majors in the Undergraduate Biology Program, and most offer both a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts option. See the graphic below for a description of each major:

Biology Spectrum showing different degrees offered at KU
*note: Biology BA and Human Biology only offer Bachelor of Arts degree options

Connect with your Biology Advisor:

Students who have officially declared a biology major should meet regularly with a biology advisor once a semester.

Biology Advising Team

Save the Date:

Welcome Biology Jayhawks! We are excited to meet you and help you explore Haworth Hall and your Biology major. Faculty and staff will be hosting events to help you experience the three most important F's in life: Food, Fun, & Friendship! Visit us from 1:00pm-3:00pm to meet staff and faculty and win free swag! Be there or be a **Punnett** Square!

Welcome Event 2024 Infographic

Frequently Asked Questions:

BIOL 105 Biology Orientation Seminar is an introduction to the biology majors at KU. In this 1 credit hour course, you will learn about the differences between the biology majors, hear from both current students and alumni, and create a plan for enrollment for the following semesters. You’ll also learn about ways to get involved in the KU biology program through research, study abroad, and student organizations. Your academic advisor will discuss enrolling in this course during orientation!

Biol150 is a 3-credit course that introduces key concepts of cells. In this course, you will learn about molecules that make up a cell and how the chemical properties of molecules impact cell structure, cell communication, and cell function. You will also learn about how cells make energy and how they reproduce to make new cells. You will be actively involved in the learning process when the course meets three times a week in person.

This 3-credit course, along with Biol 150, provides an introduction to fundamental concepts across biology. The two-course series gives you the opportunity to build a broad foundation of knowledge. If you aren't sure where your interests lie within biology, this will expose you to many possibilities! When you have a better idea of your path forward, you can pull from across this foundation as you focus your later work in more narrow areas of study. In Biol 152, we cover concepts at the cellular level and above. That includes strengthening your understanding of evolution, which underlies all aspects of biology. We then distinguish the main forms of life, with particular focus on diversity across animals and plants. Within those organisms, we appraise the structure and function of bodies, and among organisms we examine ecological interactions at the population to global levels. This course is offered in a hybrid flipped format, allowing  easy access to all the course content and more flexibility in how you schedule the work each week but also providing support and active practice with classmates and the teaching team in multiple weekly meetings.

Biology 154 is a hybrid lab which takes place in a blended format. Weekly lab topics will include lab activities associated with in-person materials (require you to attend lab) and online materials (to be completed on your own outside lab). These activities are designed to introduce you to several key core competencies including critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, scientific communication, and collaboration. In addition, these activities will introduce you to a variety of skills that you may eventually use as a scientist ranging from operating various pieces of lab equipment like microscopes to navigating large data sets on open-source scientific websites. All the above will be presented within the context of basic biological concepts of microbiology, cellular biology, ecosystems, evolution, genetics, physiology and more. The semester will culminate with an opportunity to apply all you have learned to a capstone group research project in lab. The process of science occurs all around you. It involves curiosity, observation, evaluation, and questioning. It does not occur in isolation. Scientists work together in small groups such as your lab room, but also in large communities such as online networks. The blended format of this course will provide a broad and realistic space for learning about this process and how scientists work. 

You can study in a variety of areas in Haworth Hall! We have the BioCenter for Collaborative Learning on the first floor of Haworth in room 1004 which has several tables and whiteboards for you to write out ideas or work through problems. Student TA hours are also frequently hosted in this space.

You can study in the Haworth Greenhouse on the 3rd floor, room Haworth 3014D. You can reach Room D by entering the headhouse at 3014 Haworth, then turning to the right. There is a door out onto the patio labeled C and D – go through that, and the second door on the left is greenhouse D. The greenhouse study space is open ~9 AM – 3 PM Mondays through Fridays.

We also have couches located on the first and second floors of Haworth if you’re looking for a comfy spot to study.

The closest spots for campus dining are the DeBruce Center and the Wescoe Underground. There is also a coffee shop in the School of Business.

Haworth Hall also has snack & drink vending machines located by 1st floor elevator bank.

Typically, students get involved in research they are interested in working with. Check out our “Getting Involved in Research” page for more information. Steps to get involved and reach out to faculty members can be found under “Here is what you need to do.”

Departmental Honors is open to any biology student! The requirements include completing two biology courses: BIOL 499 Introduction to Honors Research (2 hours) and BIOL 699 Honors Research Colloquium (1 hour). Students are also required to complete an independent research project under a biology faculty member's guidance, write an Honors Thesis, Honors Thesis, and give an oral presentation about the project. These are typically completed in a student’s final year. Students also need a 3.5 in their major at the time of graduation. More information can be found on ourdepartmental honors webpage.

No! Students can still complete their biology degree in four years starting in one of these courses. If you have questions about your plan for graduation and time to graduation, meet with your academic advisor. You can schedule an advising appointment through Jayhawk GPS.

You can schedule an appointment with your assigned academic advisor through Jayhawk GPS. You can also attend drop-in hours with your biology advisor. More information about advising appointments can be found at  

The Biology Majors Advisory Committee (BMAC) is a group of undergraduate biology students that represent and provide feedback about their academic experience, they meet twice per month to answer faculty and staff questions regarding policies, courses, degree requirements and more to provide the undergraduate student perspective. The goal of the BMAC is to receive feedback and understand how to improve the undergraduate biology experience. 

The BMAC also hold Drop-In Hours to meet with fellow students throughout the semester. Keep you eye on KU Biology Social media channels or the Biology Newsletter to find more about upcoming Drop-Ins.

To learn more about what the BMAC means from a student perspective, check out this letter from Rylee Crowell, a Biochemistry major who plans to graduate in 2025!

Smaug is the KU Biology program’s bearded dragon, and he was born in early August 2023! His full name is Smaug Scott Kells after the dragon from the Hobbit series and KU biology’s beloved Dr. Scott Hefty. His mom (or the biology mother of dragons) is our advisor, Bridgette Beck-Kells.

As a Leo, Smaug loves having visitors come to admire him while he pancakes on his basking platform. One of his favorite activities includes lounging in his hammock and reading affirmations to remind him how beautiful and fierce he is (the biology team hangs affirmations outside his enclosure).  Smaug eats a daily salad that is a mixture of greens and veggies--bell peppers are his favorite snack! He is also given protein (bugs) daily which mostly consist of crickets and dubia roaches. He is well loved by biology students, staff and faculty and you’ll have to pay him a visit the next time you are in Haworth!

You can visit Smaug, biology’s bearded dragon, in Haworth 2045. He normally is on break during university holidays, but is around the rest of the academic year.

The Undergraduate Biology Program shares information about events and opportunities through our weekly Biology Newsletter. Biology majors are automatically added to this email list and will receive this each week, so be sure to check for announcements.

We also frequently post opportunities on our social media. You can follow us on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook.