2015-2016 Catalog 
    Jul 24, 2024  
2015-2016 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Organismal Biology Major

Major Requirements

The major in organismal biology requires a minimum of 15 courses, distributed as follows:

4. Mathematics (one course)

5. Upper Division Biology Electives (6 courses)

Six upper division biology courses, including 3 courses with lab. Students must complete at least 1 from each group and at least 2 from group 1 or 3. Other courses also may be appropriate to fulfill the group requirements, if approved in advance by the biology faculty.

5. Senior Thesis (1 or 2 courses)

Organismal biology majors must complete a 1- or 2-semester thesis in biology. For further information, see Senior Thesis in Science, below.


The introductory courses in biology, chemistry, and physics may also be completed through both semesters of the Accelerated Integrated Science Sequence (AISS )

Senior Thesis in Science

The senior thesis is a general education requirement and the capstone experience of a student’s undergraduate education. Students must complete a senior thesis in at least one of their majors under supervision of a faculty reader who teaches within that major, unless granted a special exception.

Science majors have the following senior thesis options. Refer to the major requirements above for major-specific senior thesis requirements.

2-Semester Thesis with Summer Research (2 courses, 1 credit)

Students interested in completing a 2-semester thesis by conducting a substantial research project during the summer after their junior year should register for one of the following pairs of courses in the 1st semester of the senior year. There is no credit or lab fee for 189L.

1-Semester Experimental Thesis with Lab (1 course, 1 credit)

Students interested in a 1-semester experimental thesis with lab take one of the following in the 1st or 2nd semester of the senior year:

1-Semester Library Thesis without Lab (1 course, 1 credit)

Students interested in a 1-semester library thesis without lab complete an extensive library research thesis in the 1st or 2nd semester of the senior year, chosen from:


The Senior Thesis Research Project course (188L) or the Summer Research Project course (189L) may  not be counted as elective courses in the major.

Special Options for Majors

Dual Major in Science

Students selecting a dual major including science should discuss their program requirements with the conveners of the appropriate programs. Usually up to 2 electives in science may be waived for dual majors including science. Unless otherwise specified above or exempted by the appropriate convener of the Keck Science Department, science students with dual majors are required to complete a 1- or 2-semester thesis in science.

Honors in Science

To be eligible for departmental honors in a science major, students must:

  • Achieve a minimum GPA of 10.5 in courses in the major;
  • Complete a 1- or 2-semester thesis project in which the student has demonstrated excellence by making a significant contribution to the progress of the research, by producing a thesis document judged to be of honors quality by the department, by presenting the work in a cogent fashion, and by engaging in the departmental seminar program.

Students with a dual major including science who wish to be considered for honors in science will only receive honors if they:

  • Have completed all requirements for a full major in science and are granted honors, or
  • Qualify and receive honors in both disciplines of their dual major. See Academic Honors at Graduation  for details.

Study Abroad

All organismal biology majors, including dual majors, are strongly encouraged to spend at least one semester in study abroad at an advanced level. Off-campus study courses may substitute for courses in Groups 1, 2, and 3. Approved summer research experience may substitute for study abroad by prior arrangement.

General Education Requirements for Science Majors

General Education Requirement in Science

Every CMC student must complete one (1) laboratory science course offered by the Keck Science Department or elsewhere within the Claremont Consortium. This requirement must by satisfied by the end of the 2nd year at CMC.

General Education Requirements in the Social Sciences and the Humanities

For students with science majors, general education requirements in the social sciences and humanities must be met by courses outside of a student’s major field(s). Students in most science majors, including this major, must take courses in 3 of the 4 fields of the social sciences and in 2 of the 4 fields of the humanities for a total of 5 courses. 

Science majors with a dual or double major in either the humanities or the social sciences will be required to take an additional general education course in those categories.

Student Learning Outcomes of the Program in Organismal Biology

  1. Articulate the foundational scientific principles and findings in physiology, ecology, and evolutionary biology.
  2. Apply foundational principles, especially evolution, in different biological sub-disciplines.
  3. Ability to clearly communicate scientific principles orally and in writing.
  4. Apply critical, analytical, and scientific thinking skills, including:
    a. develop scientific questions and apply a variety of research tools and methods for answering them;
    b. read/understand original research;
    c. use quantitative approaches to data analysis, presentation, and modeling; application of quantitative/analytical tools.
  5. Articulate how science relates to current problems in the modern world, especially contemporary concerns such as conservation biology, climate change, and ecosystem degradation.