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Columbia University Course/Program Name
Application closes on
National :01 Jan
International :01 Jan

BA Biology

 Course Level
Bachelors / UG
Full Time

3 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

46040 USD
46040 USD

Application fee

International 75 USD
National 75 USD
Department of Biology
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7
TOEFL-IBT (min)100
TOEFL-PBT (min)600

World University Ranking

About this course

Biology explores the structure, function and evolution of diverse living systems. It addresses some of the most important issues of our time—genetic engineering, stem cell research, obesity, cancer and effects of global warming. Majoring in Biology prepares students to pursue a career in research, teaching or the allied health sciences. It is also relevant to careers as diverse as environmental policy, law, public health, creative writing and textbook development.

Students are offered a range of lecture courses that span the molecular, physiological and ecological levels of organization. Students also complete laboratory courses that help them learn how to design and test hypotheses, use modern scientific equipment, and interpret data. Finally, students learn scientific communication skills by critiquing research articles, writing laboratory reports and research papers, and participating in oral presentations and debates. The department encourages students to become involved in a research project under the guidance of a faculty member at Barnard or elsewhere in New York City.

Student Learning Goals

  1. Acquire knowledge of biological systems, from the molecular to ecological levels of organization.
  2. Understand the evolutionary basis of biology and the dynamic nature of life.
  3. Understand the role of experimentation in biology.
  4. Understand basic methods of experimental design and hypothesis testing.
  5. Develop effective presentation skills.
  6. Develop the ability to write a scientific paper.
  7. Understand statistical approaches to the analysis of data.
  8. Develop skills in critically analyzing primary literature.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an appreciation of the many different life forms on planet Earth.
  2. Have the ability to discuss a biological phenomenon from many different levels of organization (e.g., discuss HIV from the perspective of structure through host immune response to evolutionary and epidemiological issues).
  3. Describe the basic features of Mendelian genetics and the central dogma of molecular biology; understand the basic physiological processes of at least one organism; demonstrate and understanding of population level processes.
  4. Make an oral presentation on either an original research project or a published primary research paper.
  5. Generate a testable hypothesis and develop and execute a controlled experimental design.
  6. Write an original scientific paper and/or a review article.

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Eligibility Criteria

To be well-prepared for a college like Barnard, it is important to think about the academic community you are hoping to join. Barnard's general education requirements cover a wide range of subjects: literature, the social sciences, language and the arts, lab sciences, and quantitative areas. For this reason, you should acquire a strong foundation in high school, taking courses from the core academic subjects: math, science, English, history, and foreign language. Do your best to take the most rigorous classes available to you in which you can do your best work. For transfer students, our recommendations are similar. Take courses that are recommended to fulfill general requirements in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. If an area is a relative weakness, continue taking that subject while pursuing advanced coursework in areas of relative strength. Remember, we hope to see how you might contribute to our intellectual community, and your choices tell us what kind of a student you will be.

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Course Modules

There are four possible ways to complete a major within Biology. A student can obtain a general Biology Major or may complete one of the three majors specializing in a level of Biological organization: Cell and Molecular Biology, Physiology and Organismal Biology, or Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Introductory Biology and Genetics
All students complete the 1500-level introductory sequence followed by a course in Genetics:
BIOL BC1500x          Introduction to Organismal and Evolutionary Biology
BIOL BC1501x          Introductory Lab in Organismal and Evolutionary Biology
BIOL BC1502y          Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology
BIOL BC1503y          Introductory Lab in Cell and Molecular Biology
BIOL BC 2100           Molecular and Mendelian Genetics
It is recommended, but not required, that Genetics be taken immediately after completing the 1500-level introductory sequence.
Upper-level Courses
Students must complete five courses from the three categories below. To complete one of the three concentrations, at least 4 courses must be from the appropriate category and at least 1 from another category. To complete the Biology Major without a concentration, the five courses must include at least one course from each of the three categories. Although some courses are listed in multiple categories, a student can only use a course towards one of the categories. Additional Columbia courses that can be used to fulfill the major requirements are provided elsewhere (click here for details). If a student completes courses which make her eligible for more than one of the four majors then she may select which one is reflected on her transcript.
Cell & Molecular Biology
  • BIOL BC2278 Evolution
  • BIOL BC3308 Genomics and Bioinformatics
  • BIOL BC3310 Cell Biology
  • BIOL BC3320 Microbiology
  • BIOL BC3352 Development
  • BIOL BC3362 Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience
  • CHEM BC3282 Biochemistry I
  • BIOL W3034 Biotechnology
  • BIOL W3073 Cellular and Molecular Immunology
  • BIOL W3310 Virology
Physiology & Organismal Biology
  • BIOL BC2262 Vertebrate Biology
  • BIOL BC2280 Animal Behavior
  • BIOL BC2286 Statistics and Research Design
  • BIOL BC3320 Microbiology
  • BIOL BC3360 Physiology
  • EEEB W3011 Behavioral Biology of Living Primates
  • EEEB W3208 Explorations in Primate Anatomy
  • EEEB W4112 Ichthyology
  • BIOL W3005 Neurobiology: Development & Systems
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
  • BIOL BC2240 Plant Evolution and Diversity
  • BIOL BC2262 Vertebrate Biology
  • BIOL BC2272 Ecology
  • BIOL BC2278 Evolution
  • BIOL BC2286 Statistics and Research Design
  • BIOL BC3280 Applied Ecology and Evolution
  • BIOL BC3388 Tropical Ecology
  • EEEB W3087 Conservation Biology
  • EEEB W4110 Coastal Estuarine Ecology
The four majors are summarized in the following Table:
Course Selection
Five courses with at least one course from each of the three categories
Cell & Molecular Biology
Four courses from the Cell & Molecular Biology category, one from another category.
Physiology & Organismal Biology
Four courses from the Physiology & Organismal Biology category, one from another category.
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Four courses from the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology category, one from another category.
Three upper-level laboratory courses
Students may take any upper-level Biology lab courses for which they meet the pre- or co-requisite. A year-long research-seminar course (Guided Research and Seminar) may substitute for lab courses, as described below. Students may also take laboratory courses at Columbia (or other institutions) to satisfy the lab requirement, with permission from the department chair.
Guided Research and Seminar
Enrollment in the year-long sequence of Guided Research and Seminar (BIOL BC3591x, 3592y) fulfills two upper-level labs. This course is only available as a Fall-Spring sequence.
Senior Capstone Experience
Students complete the Senior Capstone Experience with either of the following two options:
One semester of Senior Seminar BIOL BC3595 -OR-
The year-long Senior Thesis Research and Seminar (BIOL BC3592x, 3593y)
Chemistry Requirement
All majors, regardless of their track, must complete at least one semester of General Chemistry (with laboratory) and at least one semester of Organic Chemistry (with laboratory).

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How to Apply

Submit all supporting materials

  • Request that all official high school and college transcripts be sent to Barnard College along with your high school's profile. Your guidance counselor will also need to submit the School Report.
  • Submit official standardized testing. For more information, please view
  • Submit Teacher Evaluation forms. We require letters from two teachers that taught you in core academic subjects (English, foreign language, history [social science], mathematics, or science) in your final two years of secondary school.
  • Your counselor will submit the mid-year report with your first semester senior grades by March 1st via the common application.
  • Submit TOEFL or IELTS (if applicable). In addition to SAT/ACT requirements, TOEFL/IELTS scores are required for students whose primary language is not English and who have not been enrolled in a school where English is the primary medium of instruction for four consecutive years

Optional Supplemental Materials

  • Students may choose to complete an on-campus or off-campus interview. For information on how and when to schedule an interview, please visit our admissions interview page. 
  • Students may choose to submit supplementary portfolios (art—including film, photo, drawing, painting, sculpture—music, dance, theatre, or creative writing) for review via Slideroom. 
    Please note: Supplementary material will not be reviewed by Barnard faculty, and unfortunately, during high volume periods, we cannot guarantee it will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee. 

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