Build Your Knowledge of Living Things

From unraveling molecular pathways to studying entire ecosystems, if your passion lies with living things UNE’s Biological Sciences program may be just what you’re looking for. 

Our program offers three options to tailor your studies. You can major in Biological Sciences for a broad-based education or focus your studies with a concentration in Cellular and Molecular Biology or Ecology and Evolution. Regardless of the path you choose, with a strong focus on undergraduate research and a robust internship program, our Biological Sciences degree will set you apart in the eyes of employers and graduate schools alike.


Cellular and Molecular Biology focuses on the cellular processes that allow organisms to live, grow and adapt as well as the molecular mechanisms of disease and disease resistance.

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology focuses on relationships between organisms and their environment as well as selective pressures that have shaped organisms’ adaptations and the diversity on Earth.

A student in a white lab coat marks a petri dish with a permanent marker
A student measuring grass in the field

Why UNE for Your B.S. in Biological Sciences

As a Biological Sciences major at UNE, you have access to a wealth of faculty expertise from across our science and health programs. No matter what area of biology interests you, you'll experience:

nicole robitaille

Nicole Robitaille '18

Medical Biology (Pre-Physician Assistant Track), Physician Assistant (M.S.P.A.)

From a young age I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. I chose UNE because I knew both its undergraduate and graduate schools were well accredited in the health professions. The advisors, professors, and professional staff at UNE really helped prepare me for my future because they helped me to understand what it takes to get into Physician Assistant school.

By taking summer classes, I was able to get ahead, and I am currently on track to graduate a year early from undergrad with a Medical Biology/Pre-PA major and a Philosophy minor. I was also able to get a position as a Patient Care Assistant in Cardiopulmonary Rehab at Central Maine Medical Center to help me fulfill the necessary health care experience needed for PA school.

With a lot of hard work and help from the faculty and staff at UNE, I was recently accepted to the Physician Assistant Program at UNE and will begin school in May of 2018, right after graduation. Being a medical biology major is hard, but the small class sizes really let me get to know my professors. I quickly learned that the professors, both on the Biddeford and Portland campuses, genuinely cared about me and wanted me to succeed. When I got accepted to PA school, the professor for the program called me to congratulate me. Little things like that are the reason I chose to come to UNE in the first place and why I am proud and excited to continue my education on the Portland campus. 

The advisors, professors, and professional staff at UNE really helped prepare me for my future.

Medical Biology (Pre-Physician Assistant Track), Physician Assistant (M.S.P.A.)

What Will You Study? Biological Sciences Degree Curriculum Overview

As a Biological Sciences major, you have the option, but are not required, to concentrate in either Cellular and Molecular Biology or Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. 

B.S. in Biological Sciences Courses

The following are some examples of the courses you might take, depending on if, or on what, you choose to concentrate:

Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Bacterial Pathogenesis
  • Nociception
  • Developmental Neurobiology
  • Human Reproduction and Development
  • Cancer Biology
  • Autoimmune Disease
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Global Change Ecology
  • Human Evolution
  • Medicinal Plant Biology
  • Chemical Ecology
  • Conservation Genetics
  • Mammology
General Biological Sciences (no concentration)
  • Ecology/Evolution
  • Cellular/Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Parasitology
  • Ornithology
  • Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
  • Biology of Fishes
  • Virology
  • Invertebrate Zoology


CAS Core RequirementsCredits
Total Credits42–46
Program Required CoursesCredits
BIO 105 – Biology I: Ecology/Evolution4
BIO 106 – Biology II: Cellular/Molecular4
BIO 214 – Genetics4
BIO 400-level or higher capstone course chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor (not satisfied by internship/research**)3–4
CHE 110 – General Chemistry I or CHE 150 – University General Chemistry I4
CHE 111 – General Chemistry II or CHE 151 – University General Chemistry II4
CHE 210 – Organic Chemistry I or CHE 250 – University Organic Chemistry I5
CHE 211 – Organic Chemistry II or CHE 251 – University Organic Chemistry II or CHE 310 – Fundamentals of Biochemistry4–5
MAT 150 – Statistics for Life Sciences (Biological Sciences Core Program and Cellular and Molecular Biology concentration) or MAT 151 – Statistics for Environmental Sciences (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology concentration)3
MAT 190 – Calculus I4
PHY 110 – Physics I or PHY 210 – University Physics I4
PHY 111 – Physics II or PHY 211 – University Physics II4
Cellular & Molecular Area Course*3–4
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Area Course*3–4
Organismal Biology Area Course*3–4
Total Credits56–61
Open Elective Courses (as needed to reach 120 credits)Variable
Minimum Total Required Credits120

*Topic Area courses are to be selected in consultation with your advisor.
**Any BIO 400+ level course excluding BIO 404, 410, 495.

Topic Area Courses

Cellular and Molecular AreaCredits
BIO 203 – Histology4
BIO 365 – Immunology3
BIO 370 – Cell and Molecular Biology3
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology AreaCredits
BIO 307 – Conservation Genetics3
BIO 328 – Human Evolution3
BIO 333 – Evolution3
BIO 350 – Ecology4
MAR 335 – Animal/Behavioral Ecology4
Organismal Biology AreaCredits
BIO 204 – Parasitology4
BIO 232 – Microbiology or BIO 234 – Environmental Microbiology4
BIO 235 – Winter Natural History4
BIO 254 – Medicinal Plant Biology3
BIO 305 – Mammalogy4
BIO 306 – Virology3
BIO 319 – Ornithology4
BIO 330 – Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy4
MAR 320 – Invertebrate Zoology4
MAR 331 – Biology of Fishes4

BIO 290 may fulfill biology area requirements depending on the subject matter and advisor permission.

Additional Guidelines

Students wishing to pursue teacher certification in Life Science can complete a double major with Biological Sciences and Middle and Secondary Education or a major in Middle and Secondary Education and a concentration in Biological Sciences. For more information, see the Middle and Secondary Education catalog page.

The Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee

The Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee (PHPAC) consists of professional staff and faculty members of the College of Arts and Sciences. The major function of this committee is to draft letters of evaluation for students applying to health professions programs such as Medical, Dental, and Veterinary schools. Interested students should view our web page for information regarding the protocol for obtaining a PHPAC letter of evaluation.

Graduation Requirements

A minimum grade of C- must be achieved in all science and mathematics courses used toward graduation in any of the programs in the Department of Biology. A 2.00 cumulative average in sciences is a requirement for graduation in any of the programs in the Department of Biology.

Students in this major can participate in the pre-health graduate school preparation tracks.

To learn more about the Biological Sciences program visit the Academic Catalog.

Graduate Program Pathways

UNE’s B.S. in Biological Sciences provides an ideal stepping stone to a graduate degree if you choose to pursue one, laying a solid foundation for our traditional two-year M.S. program as well as UNE’s graduate programs in medicine, dental medicine, physical therapy, and physician assistant – all of which you may apply for through our GradVantage program.

We also offer a 4+1 B.S./M.S. track that lets you complete your undergraduate and master’s degrees in just five years.

Honors Program

We offer qualified students the option of graduating with Honors. This includes significant research, scholarship or creative activity under the direction of a faculty member. Interested students should consult with their advisor. 

Secondary Education

If your goal is to be a high school or middle school science teacher, you may enroll in secondary education courses at UNE to meet the standards for State of Maine certification (grades 7-12) upon graduation.

Academic Advising

First and Second Year Advising

All first-and second-year students are assigned a professional academic advisor. Academic advising gives you the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of:

  • Major specific and core required courses
  • Course selection, registration, and academic plans
  • Adjusting to the academic transition to college
  • Minors or secondary majors
  • Building internships and study abroad into your academic plan
  • On-campus resources available at UNE

You are encouraged to schedule appointments to meet with your advisor on a regular basis and not just in the weeks preceding the registration process.

Faculty Advisors

During your first two years, a member of the Biology faculty will serve as your secondary advisor. After the conclusion of your first two years, a faculty advisor will take over as your primary advisor for the remainder of your undergraduate studies. Faculty advisors are a great resource for information on curriculum-specific questions, research opportunities, and to provide insight into graduate programs or career options in your field of interest.

As a student in a Biology program, you are required to attend mandatory pre-registration advising appointments* with your primary advisor in the fall and spring. You will be given an alternate pin number to use at the time of registration and will receive an email with details on how to sign up for these meetings. Until you attend a mandatory advising meeting, you will not have access to register for classes in the following semester.

Pre-registration advising meetings must be completed during mid-October through mid-November of your fall semester and mid-March through mid-April of your spring semester.

*A drop-in appointment, faculty advisor meeting, or an appointment with a peer advisor will NOT complete this requirement.

Pre-Health Advising

Assistant Director of Pre-Health Advising James Gaffney works with all students interested in applying to a graduate school in the health professions. 

You are expected to perform successfully on admissions tests specific to your graduate program. For information regarding test prep options and when to take these exams, contact James Gaffney.

Learn more about pre-health advising

Biology Research at UNE: Fruit Flies and Chronic Pain

Look closer at the research that Biology professor Geoffrey Ganter, Ph.D., performs with the help of UNE students. Ganter’s lab focuses on studying fruit flies to understand the cellular, molecular, and genetic mechanisms of chronic pain.

Biological Sciences Careers and Graduate Study

Through coursework, labs, research, and internships, your degree in Biological Sciences will either set a sturdy foundation for graduate study or prepare you for a variety of exciting professions.

Our students have gone on to graduate programs such as:

And pursued many successful careers including:

  • Bioengineering Research Assistant
  • Environmental Manager
  • Environmental Specialist
  • Microscopy Research Associate
  • Pharmaceutical Research Associate
  • Public Health Research Assistant

B.S. in Biological Sciences Degree Facilities

Our oceanside campus in Biddeford provides you with some of the best research and classroom facilities in the nation for the study of biology.

Two students testing technology in the biology lab

Campus Resources

In addition to the typical resources found on a college campus, we also offer extensive computer resources, laboratories, and classroom facilities.

Harold Alfond Center for the Health Sciences

Sitting at the center of campus, facilities within the Harold Alfond Center for the Health Sciences include numerous lecture halls and teaching labs used by all majors within the School of Biological Sciences.

It is also the primary hub for undergraduate research within the School, housing the majority of faculty research labs and our indoor-access greenhouse. Take a virtual tour of the Alfond Center for Health Sciences

Peter and Cécile Morgane Hall

Morgane Hall contains the administrative offices of the School of Biological Sciences and most of its faculty. There are two lecture classrooms, two multi-purpose biology labs, and a genetics and microbiology lab.

The building also houses chemistry and physics labs with models and computer simulators for in-depth study of both biological and physical science concepts.

Take a virtual tour of Morgane Hall

Diverse Habitats

Within a short walk or drive from our Biddeford Campus, you may explore a variety of unique habitats, including UNE’s 350 acres of contiguous forest. The State of Maine’s Natural Areas Program has labeled the land a habitat of significant value due to its high density of pocket swamps and vernal pools. The area is comprised of both uplands and wetlands and is home to many species, including wild turkeys, deer, coyotes, and moose.

A bit farther afield, you may study some of Northern New England’s most intriguing ecosystems.

Local Habitats

Our campus offers the chance to explore the lush coast and rich woodlands of Southern Maine.

  • UNE Nature Trail: Our trail system on campus runs along the Saco River.
  • UNE's 363 acres of forest: Explored in many classes, is also great for mountain biking.
  • UNE's Ram Island: Our one-acre research island in Saco Bay. 
  • Basket and Stage Islands: Accessible at low tide over the sand flats.
  • East Point Bird Sanctuary: Owned by the Audubon Society with views of Wood Island lighthouse.
  • Biddeford Pool: The largest tidal pool in Maine, great for observing coastal wildlife.
  • The Saco Heath: A raised peatland (bog), home to the carnivorous pitcher plants (protected by the Maine Chapter of the Nature Conservancy).
  • Clifford Park: A 52-acre woodland preserve owned by the city of Biddeford, great for mountain biking and cross country skiing.
Regional Habitats

These protected lands serve as ideal day-trips from our campus.

  • Mount Agamenticus Conservation Region: 10,000 acres of biodiverse undeveloped forest.
  • Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge: A national wildlife refuge that spans 50 miles of coastline between York and Cumberland counties.
  • The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve: Expands our knowledge about coasts and estuaries with an emphasis on ensuring healthy salt marsh ecosystems.
  • White Mountain National Forest: 800,000 acres of federally managed forest and mountains in western Maine and New Hampshire. A 75-minute drive from campus.
  • Acadia National Park: Comprised of a cluster of islands on the Maine coast, Acadia is positioned within the broad transition zone between eastern deciduous and northern coniferous forests and hosts several species and plant communities at the edge of their geographic range. A 3.5-hour drive from campus.

Experiential Learning in the Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences Program

Research for Biological Sciences Majors

  • Conduct research as early as freshman year
  • Perform paid research over the summer
  • Engage in cross-disciplinary research with faculty from other programs, such as Environmental Studies, Marine Sciences, and the Center for Excellence for Neurosciences
  • Present at conferences and publish your findings

Research Opportunities

As a Biological Sciences major, you can work with faculty on research devoted to cellular and molecular biology or ecology and evolutionary biology.

Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Kristin Burkholder, Ph.D., Microbiology
    • Studies the interaction of bacterial pathogens with their environment and host cells by employing techniques of classical microbiology, molecular biology, cell culture, and microscopy.  
  • Geoff Ganter, Ph.D., Drosophila Neurogenetics
    • Employs genetic, microscopic, and behavior analysis approaches to identify targets for future pain medications.
  • Jenn Garcia, Ph.D., Molecular Genetics
    • Uses techniques such as northern blotting, next-generation sequencing, immunoblotting, molecular cloning, quantitative PCR, microscopy, and yeast genetics to understand mechanisms that regulate gene expression in response to stress
  • Lei Lei, Ph. D., Molecular Biology
    • Studies developmental neurobiology and molecular evolution using molecular and bioinformatic tools
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Jeff Parmelee, Ph.D., Herpetology
    • Studies amphibian and reptile ecology, including the monitoring of populations through fieldwork and citizen science initiatives
  • Ursula Roese, Ph.D., Chemical Ecology
    • Investigates chemical interactions between plants, insects, and microorganisms as well as applications that involve testing of plant compounds against human pathogens — using extractions and head space collections, as well as instrumentation to analyze organic compounds, including Gas Chromatography with Flame Ionization Detection (GC-FID) and Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS)
  • Steve Travis, Ph.D. Molecular Ecology
    • Equipped with a DNA sequencer and related instrumentation suitable for genetic analysis of individual, population, species, and community-level diversity and relationships.
  • Greg Zogg, Ph.D. Global Change Ecology
    • Studies how human activities impact plants, microbes, and biogeochemical cycles using both field and lab techniques, including measurements of nutrient flux and sequencing of microbial DNA

Internships for Biological Sciences Majors

Our students have completed internships at many exciting sites, including:

  • Animal Medical Associates
  • RadonCheck
  • Center for Wildlife
  • BBI Pharmaceutical
  • Partners for World Health
  • Mainely Kidz Physical Therapy

For more information visit the Academic and Career Advising Center.

A student takes notes while holding up a small bottle of clear liquid
Five students prepare to do fieldwork in a forest off the Biddeford campus

Travel Courses in the Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences

UNE's travel courses allow you to stay on track with your lab sciences and College of Arts and Sciences core curriculum while gaining enriching international experience.

The below travel courses are taught by Biology faculty.

Costa Rica

BIO 290/290L or BIO 451 Tropical Forests and Global Change

Greg Zogg, Ph.D.

This is a spring semester course that includes travel to Costa Rica for nine days during spring break, where you will explore the biodiversity of both tropical rainforests and dry forests. You will conduct fieldwork examining how human-induced changes in the environment — such as defaunation, invasive species, and global warming — impact these two forest types.

In addition, you will have the opportunity to zipline through the forest canopy, spend time at the beach, and enjoy the sights and sounds of tropical forests. Upon return, you will spend the rest of the semester drawing upon your travel experience to help you identify strategies to protect these natural systems from further human disturbance.

This course can be taken at either the 200- or 400-level, with students enrolling at the 400 level having greater expectations in terms of both depth of study and workload, and serving as research team leaders on group projects before, during, and after travel to Costa Rica.

U N E biological sciences students walk the rainforest in Costa Rica while taking a travel course



Kaushik Dutta

This is a semester-long seminar examining the importance of anatomical study as represented in the art of ancient Rome, and its re-emergence and elaboration during the Italian Renaissance.

The highlight of the course is a trip to Italy in May during which you will tour historic sites in Rome, Siena, Pisa, Florence, and Bologna, representing the birthplace of modern anatomical science in some of Europe’s oldest universities. You will discover the many varied connections between anatomical study and art, especially in Renaissance Italy.

An individual research project with a multimedia presentation will be required.

To enroll in these courses, you must submit an application to the Global Education Program. You can also apply for a Global Education scholarship when applying to these courses.

Apply Today

Ready to begin your future in UNE’s B.S. in Biological Sciences degree program?