2011-2012 University Catalog 
2011-2012 University Catalog

■ Biology Undergraduate Program

Phone: 703-993-1050
Web: biology.gmu.edu


Director: Rockwood

Assistant Director: Otto

Biology Undergraduate Coordinator: Polayes

Medical Technology Coordinator: Peters

Professors: Rockwood

Term associate professors: Kocache, Polayes

Term assistant professors: Fondufe, Kalifa, Laemmerzahl, Luther, Madden, Otto, Tondi, Verhoeven

Adjunct faculty: Einhorn, Jones, McClintock, Wood-Salvesen, Yoder

The Biology Undergraduate Program is a collaboration between the School of Systems Biology and the Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP). In addition, the Program has its own dedicated teaching faculty. The Program is administered by the Biology Program Director and the Assistant Program Director. It is governed by a Biology Program Committee consisting of the Program Director, two Biology Program faculty, two faculty from the School of Systems Biology and two faculty from the ESP Department.

Course Work

The program offers all undergraduate course work designated BIOL and MTCH in the Courses  chapter of this catalog.

Undergraduate Degree Programs

The bachelor degree programs in biology provide a sound liberal arts education with substantial experience in quantitative and analytical thought, along with preparation for a related profession. In addition to ensuring the strong background necessary for graduate study in the many fields of biological science, the broad range of courses available at Mason allows students to develop careers in many areas, including secondary school teaching, environmental management, microbiology, molecular biology, biotechnology, genetics, and natural history. Alternatively, students may prepare for postgraduate studies in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, wildlife management, fisheries biology, or marine science. The program also offers a BS in medical technology. Additional information can be found at the Biology Program’s web site at biology.gmu.edu or by contacting the Biology Program office, David J. King Hall, Room 3005, 703-993-1050.


All biology majors are strongly urged to see an academic advisor regularly to help them plan their schedule, so they can graduate on time. Biology majors should see an advisor for permission to register prior to their first semester and again as they complete 60 credits and 90 credits. Medical technology majors must see the medical technology advisor to obtain permission to register each semester.

Students returning from suspension are required to meet with the Undergraduate Coordinator or designee prior to being allowed to register.

Call 703-993-1050, go to http://biology.gmu.edu or visit David J. King Hall, Room 3005, to make an advising appointment.

Residence Requirement for Transfer Students

Students majoring in biology are required to complete 16 credits in the major at the 300 and 400 levels at Mason in addition to meeting the university residency requirement of at least 30 credits at Mason.

Policy on Using Biology Program Laboratories

Only authorized experiments and exercises may be carried out in any program research or teaching laboratory and must be done under the supervision of a university faculty or staff member. No unauthorized work is allowed in any laboratory.

Policy on Using Organisms in Classes

Direct observations of actual organisms are considered an essential part of learning biology at all levels. Direct observations of organisms may involve the use of living or preserved specimens, dissections of organisms or parts of organisms, and microscopic examination of organisms or parts of organisms. All use of live animals conforms to National Institutes of Health guidelines for the use and care of laboratory animals. Activities specified above may be a required part of a course and thus serve as a basis for grading in the course. Any questions about the administration of this policy should be directed to the course coordinator or instructor.

Honors Program in Biology

Admission Requirements

Minimum requirements for invitation:

  • GPA in biology courses must be 3.5 or better
  • GPA in supporting requirements (math and other science) must be 3.0 or better
  • Grade of B or better in BIOL 213

Students should apply for admission to the Honors Program during their first or second year at the university.

Retention Requirements

Students in honors biology must maintain a biology GPA of 3.5 or better and a supporting GPA of 3.0 or better from the time they have accumulated 30 hours and thereafter. Students who fall below this standard will be given a one semester probationary period in which to bring their GPA back up to the minimum standard.

Requirements to Graduate with Biology Honors

Students are required to take 6 to 7 credits in honors courses in BIOL including three semesters of BIOL 494 (honors seminar, 1 credit) or two semesters of BIOL 494 and one semester of BIOL 493 (honors research, 1 credit). The GPA requirements are as follows:

  • Minimum 3.50 GPA in honors biology courses
  • Minimum 3.50 GPA in biology requirements
  • Minimum 3.00 GPA in supporting requirements
  • Minimum 3.00 GPA overall

Writing-Intensive Requirement

Mason requires all students to complete at least one course designated as “writing intensive” in their majors at the 300 level or above. Students majoring in biology fulfill this requirement by successfully completing BIOL 308. Medical Technology majors fulfill the requirement by completing BIOL 453.

Minor in Biology

Candidates for the minor in biology must complete 22 credits in Biology with a minimum GPA of 2.00 including BIOL 213, 214, 308, 310 and 311. A C or better must be earned in BIOL 213 before a student can advance to Upper Division courses. Note: Eight credits of coursework must be unique to the minor. For policies concerning minors, see the Academic Policies  chapter of this catalog.

Premedical, Predental, Prepharmacy, and Preveterinary Students

Web: prehealth.gmu.edu
Many students planning to enter medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary, optometry, or other health professional schools choose to pursue a major in biology. These students should consult the health professions advising web site on required course work and overall preparation.

Teacher Licensure

Students who wish to become teachers should pursue either the BA in Biology with a Concentration in Education or the BS in Biology with a Concentration in Education and consult the College of Education and Human Development  chapter of this catalog and attend an information session early in their undergraduate career. For more information, call 703-993-2892, e-mail gseadmit@gmu.edu, or go to gse.gmu.edu.

Biology for Nonmajors

Students who are not majoring in science or mathematics and wish to fulfill their natural science requirement may enroll in BIOL 103 and 104. With permission of the instructor, nonmajors may enroll in BIOL 213 for further study. Chemistry, physics, and mathematics majors should consult their faculty advisor to determine which biology courses to take.

BS in Medical Technology

This program requires the equivalent of three years of full time professional study at the college level preceding a senior year of professional education in an affiliated school of medical technology. All affiliated schools are accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

Responsibility for applying to schools of medical technology and gaining admission rests with the student; however, guidance is provided by the medical technology program director. Admission to medical technology schools is selective, so candidates should strive for strong academic standing. Students who fail to gain admission to a NAACLS-approved school are unable to complete the degree program. Such students may transfer to the biology major without loss of credits.

Application to medical technology schools should be initiated about a year before the desired entrance date. This fact, coupled with the large number of required courses in the pre-professional curriculum, makes it imperative that students in the program consult regularly with their faculty advisor. All medical technology majors and prospective majors are urged to enroll in MTCH 200 as early as possible. This course provides information on the profession, as well as the educational demands placed on candidates.

Students should be aware that the senior year spent off campus requires the following special interpretation of university policies. Transfer students must present at least 16 credits of 300-400 level biology or chemistry coursework taken at Mason. Students may present no more than 6 credits of D grades in biology and chemistry courses required in three years of pre-professional study. No unsatisfactory grades may be presented for courses in the senior year of professional study. Transfer students entering with more than 45 transfer credits are often unable to complete the pre-professional phase of their program in the usual three years of full-time study.

Senior students are registered at the university through special procedures. For details, consult the program director.

In addition to satisfying university general education requirements  for the BS degree and completing MTCH 200, candidates must present all courses in their pre-professional programs with a minimum GPA of 2.00. Students must earn a C or better in core BIOL courses and must earn a C or better in BIOL 213 in order to advance in the major. Because of the extensive professional education requirements stipulated by NAACLS, students majoring in medical technology are exempt from the university-wide general education requirement in the fine arts.

Major in Medical Technology as a Second Bachelor’s Degree

While the standard program for medical technologists is three years on campus followed by a fourth year at a clinical affiliate (3 + 1), many students elect to complete a bachelor’s degree before entering the clinical program (4 + 1). Students who have completed a BS in biology or chemistry at Mason and then undertake a fifth year at a clinical affiliate may be eligible for a second bachelor’s degree with a major in medical technology. Students wishing to receive the second degree must apply before entering their fifth year. For further information, contact a medical technology advisor.

Premedical Honor Society

Alpha Epsilon Delta Zeta Premedical Honor Society is a national student support group, providing professional school tours, educational programs, and lectures on health topics and the professional school admissions process to students interested in such health-related fields as medicine, dentistry, optometry, and veterinary medicine. Active membership is awarded to students who have completed at least three semesters with a minimum scholastic GPA of 3.00. Associate membership is also available.

Predental Society

Mason students who are interested in pursuing careers in dentistry are encouraged to participate in the Predental Society. This student organization organizes supplemental programming focused toward dentistry as a career.

Biology, Bachelor’s/Accelerated Master’s Degree

Qualified undergraduates may be admitted to an accelerated master’s program and obtain both a BS and an MS within an accelerated time frame. This program is open only to those students who wish to pursue the master’s degree concentrations in microbiology or molecular biology. Students admitted to this program may take graduate courses after completing 90 undergraduate credits, and up to 6 credits of graduate work may be used in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the undergraduate degree. If students earn at least a 3.00 in these classes, they are granted advanced standing in the master’s program and must then complete an additional 24 credits to receive the master’s degree. All other master’s degree requirements must be met, including a minimum of 18 credits taken for the master’s after the bachelor’s degree is complete.

Students with an overall GPA of at least 3.00 may apply for provisional acceptance to the accelerated master’s program after completing BIOL 213, 214, 308, 310 and 311; and CHEM 315 and 318; Three letters of recommendation, including one from a prospective thesis or project advisor, are required.

After completing 120 credits and all requirements for the bachelor’s degree, students are awarded a bachelor’s degree. Accelerated master’s students must then submit scores on the GRE and biology subject exam to have the provisional qualifier removed. Ordinarily, students should receive a minimum combined score of 1,100 on the verbal and quantitative portions of the general test and be in at least the 50th percentile on the subject exam.


    Undergraduate DegreeUndergraduate MinorBachelor’s/Accelerated Master’s Program