Biology is the science of life and includes an array of sub-disciplines such as ecology, botany, zoology, physiology, anatomy, genetics, microbiology and molecular biology. Biologists learn how living things work, how they interact with one another, and how they evolve. They may study cells under a microscope, insects in the rainforest, viruses that affect human beings, plants in a greenhouse, or animals in their natural habitats. The Molecular Biology curriculum encompasses the study of biology on a molecular level including the structure, function, and makeup of biologically important molecules such as DNA, RNA, and proteins.
Biologists increase our understanding about the natural world and help address a wide range of critical global issues from environmental sustainability to human health to maintaining viable and abundant food supplies. A BS in Biology or Molecular Biology establishes an excellent foundation for graduate studies, for an array of careers including human biology, ecology, environmental biology, cell and molecular biology, and for applied areas such as health care, forestry, biotechnology, environmental management and conservation, education, public policy, pharmaceutical development and research.
Incoming freshmen: view the New Students page for program entry requirements!
- BS in Biology (BIOL)
- Biology Minor (BIOL)
- BS in Molecular Biology (MOBI)
- BS in Marine Biology and Coastal Sciences (MBCS)
- BS in Science Informatics
- BS in Biology, Environmental Science Concentration (BIES)
- BS/MS in Marine Biology and Coastal Sciences, Undergraduate (MBBM)
IMPORTANT: These are only general guidelines. Because academic programs vary depending on the year of matriculation, always consult NEST for specific individual degree requirements. All students should also consult with their faculty advisor regularly to ensure all degree requirements are met.
Teacher Education Programs
- BS in Biology, MAT Teacher of Students with Disabilities Certification in Biological Science, Preschool-Grade 12 (BLBM)
- The Department of Biology also participates in the Master of Arts in Teaching degree programs run by the College of Education. To be admitted to this program, applicants must have a degree in biology or coursework equivalent to a degree in biology, with a minimum major grade point average of 2.75. Information on those programs is available through the College of Education.
- Students who wish to pursue P-12 in Biological Science teacher certification must apply to and be admitted to the Teacher Education Program. Please visit the Teacher Education Program web site for the required prerequisite courses, professional sequence of courses and other important Program requirements, guidelines, and procedures. Students are strongly advised to review the Teacher Education Program Handbook.
- Biology Teacher Certification
- Students with a baccalaureate degree in biology, with a minimum grade point average of 2.75, who are interested in teaching may pursue the Post-baccalaureate program for initial teacher certification
- Teacher Certification, Science Grades 5-8 (ESSC)
- This interdisciplinary program is designed to prepare current and future P-12 teachers to be eligible for the NJDOE certificate in Elementary School with Subject Matter Specialization: Science in Grades 5 – 8. The program requires students to complete coursework in each of the following disciplines: biology, chemistry, physics, and earth/space sciences in preparation for successfully passing the required Middle School Science (#5440) PRAXIS examination.
Other Teaching Opportunities
For graduate and undergraduate students interested in gaining teaching experience at the college/university level, there are opportunities to assist with undergraduate laboratories. Contact the department for more information.
Students also have the opportunity to serve as tutors in Biology or other subjects through the Center for Academic Development and Assessment’s Tutoring Program.
- Health Careers Program
Prepares highly motivated and academically capable undergraduates from financially and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds for admission to health professions, schools and careers in the sciences.
- Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP)
National Science Foundation funded program to aid minority students in their success in the STEM disciplines.
- Phage Genomics Program
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) funded program for freshman to research bacteriophage genomics.
- Science Honors Innovation Program (SHIP)
Research intensive program for undergraduates majoring in one of the CSAM disciplines.
Suggested four-year plans for our majors can be found on the Center for Advising and Student Transitions website.
General Education Requirements
The General Education Requirements can be very confusing, and can be very different among students in different programs or matriculation years. If this link does not answer your questions, please visit your faculty advisor for assistance.
Montclair State University has articulation agreements with other universities that allow students to complete a BS in Biology at Montclair and an advanced degree elsewhere, usually in a shorter amount of time than if the two degrees were completed independently.
|Undergraduate Programs||Faculty Advisor||Room|
|Marine Biology and Coastal Sciences BS/MS||Dr. Bologna||SH-112|
|Biology, last names A-B||Dr. Bologna||SH-112|
|Biology, last names C-H||Dr. Keenan||SH-207|
|Biology, last names I-O||Dr. Vanderklein||SH-116|
|Biology, last names P-Z||Dr. Sitnick||SH-134|
|Biology, Environmental Science Conc.||Dr. Bologna||SH-112|
|Biology, Teacher Education Conc.||Dr. Adams||SH-123|
|Molecular Biology||Dr. Monsen||SH-135|
See your Faculty Advisor to:
- Get general advice about coursework, curriculum, and career options
- Discuss academic problems and available resources
See one of the Pre-Professional Advisors to:
- Discuss coursework needed specifically for those programs
- Get advice about applying to those programs, including information about standardized testing, letters of recommendation, etc.
- Get information about articulation programs
See the Departmental Administrator or Department Chair to:
- Discuss issues that your advisor was unable to resolve
- Get initial advising as an incoming transfer student
- Get a credit adjustment to correct issues on your degree audit
- Get a Work at Another Institution form approved (note: must be stamped by the registrar first)
- Get approval for course overload and other things requiring approval of the chair
See the Director of Career Services to:
- Get co-op and internship approvals
General advising for CSAM students is also available. Visit Academic Advising for CSAM Students to learn more!
Frequently Asked Questions
- I can’t find the information I need on this website. Who should I contact?
- First, contact the specific advisor for your particular program. If they can’t help you, please contact the department chair, Quinn Vega.
- Who is my faculty advisor?
- Find your Biology Faculty advisor based on your major. (Your advisor can also be found on NEST). Most questions about degree programs can be answered by your faculty advisor. If you are a graduate student completing a masters thesis, your research advisor often assumes the role of academic advisor.
- I am a new transfer student. How do I transfer courses and find out what I need to take here?
- Your first step should occur during a MSU Transfer Day run by the Center for Advising and Student Transition. They will answer most of your general questions. You will find in many cases, the courses you took elsewhere will automatically be assigned Montclair State course numbers.
CAST will then direct you to the department chair of your major department. In Biology, the chair will evaluate all the biology courses you took at other institutions and advise you of the courses you need to take at Montclair State.
For non-biology transfer courses, you need to visit the department offices for each course you need evaluated.
CAST provides suggested Two-Year Graduation Plans to illustrate how a transfer student with an Associate’s Degree could complete the requirements for some majors within two years. These plans include advice on what courses in the major should be completed prior to transferring to MSU, and are very helpful in developing a specific plan tailored to an individual student’s needs.
- I would like to do research. Can I do research? How do I get access to the research lab?
- As a student in our department, you have many opportunities to pursue independent scientific research with faculty members. Visit our research page for more information.
- I am interested in doing an externship. Can I get college credit for it?
- In many cases you can receive college credit toward your major for externship experiences. For life science majors at Montclair State, this generally comes in the form of BIOL 409 Externship in Biology.
- Any faculty member can sponsor an externship, and every faculty member has a unique way of assessing the quality of your work. Typically, the student arranges the externship and puts their supervisor in touch with the sponsoring professor. The professor and on-site supervisor consult to determine the course grade.
- The University also has a Cooperative Education program that helps link students with externship opportunities in a more formal way. For information about the Co-Op program for biology or molecular biology majors, contact your faculty advisor.
- I’m interested in going to a professional school: medical, dental, veterinary, etc., what classes should I take?
- There is no “pre-med” major at Montclair State University. However, both the Biology BS and the Molecular Biology BS programs cover the undergraduate requirements for most medical, dental and veterinary programs.
While good grades and MCAT scores are important (and required for admission to professional schools), admission committees look at many additional factors, including experience, extra-curricular activities, volunteerism, etc.
Go to the advisor web page to find the contact information for the pre-med and pre health professional advisors.
- How can I enroll in a closed course section?
- Courses can be closed to enrollment for several reasons. The most common is that the section is filled to its capacity. In other cases a course may be enrolled by permission only because there are special requirements or unusual scheduling options.
- The first person to speak to is the instructor for the course. In 99% of cases, the instructor has the final say over course enrollments. If the instructor is not listed for the course, contact the department secretary, Stefanie Bryant.
- If, after speaking with the course instructor, you still have questions about enrollments, contact the department chair, Quinn Vega.
- All the courses are closed! What do I do now?
- First: Are all courses really closed, or just the sections or instructors you prefer? We will not overfill one course section if there are others you could take.
- Second: Contact your faculty advisor. Your advisor may be able to help you find alternatives.
- Third: If all else fails, contact the department chair, Quinn Vega for assistance. Keep in mind that there are over 1000 Biology majors and only one department chair. Contact the chair only when your faculty advisor is unable to resolve your problem.
- NOTE: The above apply only to biology courses. Other departments have different policies. Contact the department office in question for further information.
- My graduation audit says I am not ready to graduate, but I thought I was! What do I do?
- The audit can come back with problems for many reasons. Sometimes, a course you took was developed after you matriculated at Montclair State and the computer does not recognize it as applicable to your program. Sometimes you mistakenly took a course, thinking it would count for one category when in fact it only counts for another. Sometimes transfer credits were not evaluated.
- Take a look at your audit. An official copy came with your letter from the Registrar, but you can also examine your audit on DegreeWorks accessible through NEST.
- Take a look all the way at the bottom at “FREE ELECTIVES” – in 90% of cases, the culprit can be found here, instead of in the category where it belongs. In this case, contact the department chair, Quinn Vega for a credit adjustment.
- However, it is also possible you did not take the right courses, or did not take enough courses. For advice on how to remedy your particular case, contact your faculty advisor.
- I got a bad grade in one of my courses. Can I retake it and replace the grade?
- You may only repeat a course for credit if you earned less than a C- (i.e. D+ or lower). If you retake the course, the old grade will be dropped from your GPA calculation, but will still show up on your transcript as a replaced grade (i.e. “RF”). NOTE that the new grade replaces the old grade even if the newer grade is lower than the old one. For example, a D+ could be replaced by an F if you do worse the second time around.
- If you repeat a course for which you earned at least a C-, you waste your time and money. The new grade will not be entered into your GPA and it will show up on your transcript as “REPEAT NO CREDIT”.
- Note that you must have at least a 2.0 major GPA to graduate with a BS in Biology or Molecular Biology.
- I took a non-biology freshman experience course. Do I also need to take BIOL-199?
- You do not need to take BIOL 199 if you took another approved GenEd Freshman Experience course. We will accept the non-biology freshman experience course in lieu of BIOL-199.
- The course description says “dissection required” but I do not wish to perform dissection for personal reasons. What do I do?
- It is not uncommon for students, especially non-biology majors, to disagree with the practice of dissection.
The faculty of the Biology department feel that in many cases the best way to learn about organisms is to study them directly. For anatomy and physiology, this often requires the euthanizing of specimens to prevent pain and suffering.
It is possible that your instructor will provide alternative means of learning for you. The first step is to speak with the instructor during the first week of class to see if this is possible. If the instructor cannot accommodate you, contact the department chair, Quinn Vega to explore the possibility of switching sections.
- I am doing very poorly in my biology course, but the deadline to drop has passed. How do I withdraw?
- Once the final withdraw deadline has passed, you may not withdraw from a course. If you have exceptional circumstances, you should talk with the Dean of Students office to discuss your options.
- Can I withdraw from a class after the end of the semester?
- No. If you have exceptional circumstances, you should talk with the Dean of Students office to discuss your options.
- I feel I received an unfair grade in my biology course. Can I appeal?
- Look over the grade grievance procedure to see if you have probable cause to submit for an appeal of the grade.
- Where can I get free tutoring?
- Your student fees cover tutoring services. You can access the tutoring schedule and also sign up for study skills workshops at the Academic Success Center (ASC).
- Wehner Student Research Program (WESTREP)
- Amount: Up to $10000 ($3000 – Stipend, fixed; $5000 – Research, flexible; $2000 – Travel, flexible)
- Criteria: Wehner Student Research Program (WESTREP)
- Deadline: January 27
- Bonnie Lustigman Research Fellowship
- Amount: Up to two awards per year; $1000-$2000 each based on fund availability
- Criteria: Full-time undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in at least six credits and majoring in a major housed within the Department of Biology and Molecular Biology, in good academic standing, with a minimum grade point average of 3.5 in the major.
- The Bonnie Lustigman Research Fellowship has been established to financially assist talented undergraduate and graduate students to defray expenses of their own research while enrolled as a full-time Biology and Molecular Biology major at Montclair State University in the year in which the funds are awarded.
- An Award recipient must demonstrate a commitment to biology and molecular biology scholarship and research.
- This award is founded in loving memory of Professor Bonnie Lustigman.
- Deadline: March 15
- Notification: April 1
- Application: Bonnie Lustigman Research Fellowship (PDF)
- Charles E. Hadley Memorial Fund for Independent Student Research
- Amount: Up to $250
- Criteria: Demonstration of academic excellence and financial need.
- The Hadley Fund provides grants for undergraduate students who have displayed both excellence of work and need for financial assistance to complete their research and independent study projects in Biology.
- Deadline: March 15
- Notification: April 1
- Application: Charles E. Hadley Memorial Fund for Independent Student Research (PDF)
- Jacob Goodman Scholarship
- Amount: Approximately $500
- Application Deadline: Recipient will be selected based on academic achievement (GPA) during the Fall semester and the award issued for the following Spring semester. Students do not need to file an application.
- Criteria: Full-time undergraduate in the Biology Department with at least 90 credits completed towards the degree and at least one semester of study remaining. Financial need is not a consideration. Recipients will be selected based on academic achievement (minimum GPA of 3.2) and potential for making an outstanding contribution in the field of biology after graduation.
- The Jacob Goodman Scholarship provides scholarship assistance for full-time, undergraduate students enrolled in the Biology Department at Montclair State University.
- Viola Whitney Pfleger Fund
- Amount: Up to $800
- Criteria: Preferably a Biology major. Cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher in the major. Experience in horticulture preferred.
- The Viola Whitney Pfleger Fund has been established to support a student with sincere interest in botany or in conservation efforts affecting the plant environment.
- Deadline: March 15
- Notification: April 1
- Application: Viola Whitney Pfleger Fund (PDF)
- Dr. Al Stein Memorial Fund
- Amount: Approximately $250-500
- Applications: Applications will be considered starting February 15; because this fund is for students in need of emergency funds, applications may also be considered outside of the normal application period. Contact the Biology department in Science Hall room 107 for application.
- Criteria: Undergraduate recipients must have successfully completed one year of Biology core and collateral courses with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5 at the time of application. Graduate students must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 at the time of application.
- This fund has been established to financially assist full-time undergraduate and/or graduate students majoring in one of the degree programs offered in the Department of Biology and Molecular Biology. The Award is intended to assist students who are in need of emergency funds.
- * We encourage successful applicants to restore the funds to the Biology and Molecular Biology Department and the Dr. Al Stein Memorial Fund when they are financially able to, in order to help future students in need.
- Deadline: March 15
- Notification: April 1
- Application: Dr. Al Stein Memorial Fund (PDF)
- S. Marie Kuhnen Scholarship
- Amount: One scholarship per year; amount varies based on fund availability.
- Applications: Applications will be considered beginning February 15 – March 15.
- Criteria: Full-time undergraduate enrolled as a Biology major in the Department of Biology and Molecular Biology at Montclair State University, in good academic standing with a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average. The Scholarship will be awarded on the basis of academic achievement; the financial need of a candidate will be a consideration. A recipient may receive a scholarship for a maximum of two years.
- This fund has been established to financially assist one full-time undergraduate student enrolled as a Biology major at Montclair State University with an intention to teach. Student should be enrolled in field biology studies.
- Application: S. Marie Kuhnen Scholarship (PDF)