Biology (BL)

Professors: C. H. Wideman, J. R. Johansen, J. L. Lissemore, C. A. Sheil (Chair), C. D. Anthony, M. P. Martin, R. E. Drenovsky, E. E. Johnson; Associate Professors: R. A. Saporito, J. I. Watling, P. J. Vanderzalm

Major Programs

Biology encompasses the study of all organisms, and our curriculum provides students a solid foundation in: 1) cellular and molecular biology; 2) organismal biology; and 3) evolutionary biology, ecology, and biodiversity.

Through course work and mentored student research, faculty emphasize the importance of evolution in biological phenomena, the role of environment in biological interactions, and ethical behavior in scientific endeavors. These experiences: 1) promote strong critical thinking and analytical skills; 2) provide hands-on experience in biological techniques; and 3) stimulate creative scientific thought.

The academic programs in biology prepare students for graduate and professional school, as well as for careers in the public and private sectors. Mentoring through academic advising, research, and internships prepares our students for future scholarship in addition to social and civic involvement.

The Biology major  is intended for students seeking careers that require a strong background in biology and chemistry, including health professions (such as medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician assistant, public health, and veterinary medicine), teaching, research, and other professions. This major also prepares students for graduate programs in biology and related disciplines such as organismal and evolutionary biology, ecology, developmental biology, physiology, and neuroscience.

The Environmental Science major is intended for students seeking careers in environmental and ecological fields, including environmental consulting, government, parks and recreation, teaching, research, environmental law, and other areas requiring strength in environmental science. This major also prepares students for graduate programs in ecology and environmental science.

The Cell and Molecular Biology major is intended for students seeking careers in medicine, biomedical research, biotechnology, pharmacy, healthcare, teaching, and other professions requiring a strong foundation in cellular and molecular processes. This major also prepares students for graduate study in fields such as cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, microbiology, pharmacology, and biochemistry.

All three majors require specific courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and other subjects. Students should be aware that some post-baccalaureate degree programs require physics for admission and should discuss course options with their advisors before making course decisions.

Major Declaration: To continue with coursework above BL 213 without conditions, students must be a declared major in Biology, Cell and Molecular Biology, Environmental Science, or Chemistry. The major declaration process in the Biology Department is as follows:

For intended Biology and Environmental Science majors:

  1. If a student has earned a GPA of 3.0 or better in BL 155 - BL 158, they may declare and be accepted to their intended major.
  2. Those students unable to declare after BL 155 - BL 158 have a second opportunity to declare and be accepted to their intended major after finishing the BL 155 - BL 160 series with a GPA of 2.5 or better.
  3. If a student has not earned the necessary GPA to declare their major by the end of BL155 - BL160, those with a BL GPA between 2.25 and 2.50 may earn conditional acceptance to the major. Students with conditional acceptance will be granted permission to enroll in 6 more BL credits (or two classes, not including BL 478) within 2 semesters. These courses must be approved by their Biology advisor and the Biology department chair within a standard academic plan document that illustrates how a student will finish the BL or ES degree within a 4-year undergraduate experience. Additionally, the student must earn an average of at least 2.70 in those two courses in order to remove the conditional acceptance as a major. However, a withdrawal or a grade below C- in these 6 credits (or in either of these courses) will remove them from eligibility to take additional BL courses.
  4. Students below a 2.25 BL GPA after completing BL 155 - BL 160 will not be granted conditional acceptance and will not be eligible to enroll in additional BL courses other than repeating courses within the Principles series to improve their BL GPA and re-attempt major declaration upon GPA improvement (i.e., BL 155 - BL 160 >2.5 GPA). Students at this point are strongly recommended to consider alternate degree pathways to ensure timely degree completion.

For intended Cell and Molecular Biology majors:

  1. If a student has earned a GPA of 3.0 or better in BL 155 - BL 158, they may declare and be conditionally accepted to the Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB) major. To be accepted to the CMB major, the student must earn a B- or better in BL 213.
  2. If a conditionally accepted CMB major does not earn a B- or better in BL 213, they will not be granted acceptance to the CMB major. Students at this point are strongly recommended to consider alternate degree pathways (e.g., as a Biology or Chemistry major) to ensure timely degree completion.
  3. If a student does not have a GPA of 3.0 or better in BL 155 - BL 158, the student has two options for continuing in the Department of Biology:
    1. The student may attempt BL 213 to continue in the CMB major. However, a B- or better must be earned in BL 213 and the student must have a GPA above 2.5 in BL 155 - BL 158 and BL 213 to be accepted to the CMB major. If this GPA is not attained, it is strongly recommended that the student considers alternate degree pathways to ensure timely degree completion due to the credit count and pathway complexity of this major.
    2. Therefore, it is more strongly recommended for the student to enroll in BL 159 - BL 160 and pursue a Biology major, in consultation with their advisor, to ensure timely degree completion. If the student earns a 2.5 or better in BL 155 - BL 160, they are eligible to declare a BL major (see point 3 and thereafter under “For intended Biology and Environmental Science majors”). 

Grade Policy for students in all biology majors:

  1. A grade of C- or higher must be earned in courses required for each major or minor. A grade lower than C- requires that the course be repeated. In the case of an elective course for a major or minor in which a grade below C- was earned, the student may petition to take an alternative course. Effective with the fall 2011 semester, this policy applies to all students in biology major and minor courses, whether they have declared or not yet declared a biology major or minor. Courses in which a grade lower than a C- was earned prior to fall 2011 do not have to be retaken.
  2. A cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 must be earned in courses required for each major or minor.
  3. A cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 must be earned in support courses required for each major. This policy applies to first-year and transfer students matriculating to John Carroll University in fall 2011 or later.

Major and Minor Requirements

Note: Students may earn a degree in only one of the majors listed here. Double and triple majors in biology are not permitted. A maximum of 3 credits of BL 295, BL 398 and BL 399 combined will be accepted for any of the biology majors. To receive a Bachelor of Science in biology, transfer students must complete a minimum of 17 credit hours in the Department of Biology at John Carroll University. To receive a minor in biology, students must complete a minimum of 13 credit hours in the Department of Biology at John Carroll University.

Comprehensive Examination: Students in all biology majors are required to pass the Major Field test (MFT) in Biology within 12 months prior to their anticipated graduation date.  The MFT is generally offered only once per year.

Professional Development Program: The Biology Department participates in the College of Arts and Sciences Professional Development Program, as designed for the majors in biology. Completion of the program will be noted in a student's academic transcript.