Mar 31, 2023  
2022-2023 Scripps Catalog 
2022-2023 Scripps Catalog

Organismal Biology Major

This major provides a research-and-field-oriented background for students interested in research careers in either physiology or ecology/evolution and their allied fields. For further information, consult with the organismal biology/ecology faculty, Professors Budischak, E. Ferree, Finseth, Gilman, McFarlane, Preest, or Thomson.

Requirements for the Major

A major in Organismal Biology requires a minimum of 15 courses plus senior thesis.


  and  , or BIOL042L KS Integrated Biology and Chemistry  and BIOL044L KS Introductory Biology  


Note: CHEM029L KS Accelerated General Chemistry with Lab  will count for both requirements.




  • Seven upper-division biology courses, including three with lab
  • At least six courses must be from the four groups listed below, with at least one course from each group AND
    at least three from Group 1 or Group 3. No more than one course from Group 4 may be counted. Other
    biology courses may also be appropriate to fulfill the group requirements, if approved in advance by the
    biology faculty.
  • One upper division Environmental Analysis course offered by Keck Science may count as a non-lab elective,
    but will not count towards any of the Group requirements.

Note: Students are strongly encouraged to pursue an in-depth research experience through either a study abroad program with a field biology component or an on- or off- campus summer research project. With prior departmental approval students may count off-campus courses towards electives and/or research experiences towards thesis.


One- or two-semester thesis: BIOL191 KS ; or BIOL188L KS  and BIOL190L KS , or BIOL189L KS  and BIOL190L KS .

Honors Requirements (All Tracks)

To be considered for departmental honors in one of the science majors, a student must:

  • Achieve a minimum grade point average of 3.67 in courses in the major.  
  • Achieve a minimum grade of A- on the thesis.
  • Complete a one- or two-semester thesis project in which the student has demonstrated excellence by making a significant contribution to the progress of the research and by producing a thesis document judged to be of honors quality by the department.
  • Present an oral progress report at the end of the first semester of a two-semester thesis and a poster at the conclusion of either a one- or two-semester thesis in which the student clearly explains the rationale for the project and the conclusions drawn, engages the listener, and knowledgeably answers questions.
  • Attend at least six scientific seminars during the semester (each semester for a two-semester thesis) and submit a brief and clear summary of each.