Many students enter college knowing their majors since they have specific career goals in mind, and a major in biology will steer you toward careers such as health care, research and education. To prepare, you may want to map out the courses you'll take each year. First-year biology majors will have more coursework in the sciences to build a foundation for their degree. These courses will vary, depending on your state and school program requirements.
As part of your biology program, you'll take science courses each semester, and most science courses will have an associated lab as well. The first year, you'll take an introduction to biologic principles, a series to begin the program offered in your school and give you the foundation for more advanced studies. Depending on your school’s program, the beginning course may only last one semester and, if so, this may allow you to take another biology course your second semester. Your options may include coursework in subjects such as ecology or microorganisms, but your choices will depend on any prerequisites required for these classes, such as math or other biology courses.
Most programs will also require one or more chemistry courses, so these classes may also make up your first year of study. You will most likely begin with a general chemistry series. If general chemistry requires only one semester of study, you may choose to take organic chemistry your second semester.
You'll need to take math courses for your major, and the courses you'll need your first year will depend on your math skills. Some students may need to begin with pre-algebra or college algebra upon admission. However, if you had honors courses in high school or test high in mathematics on your college entrance exams, you may have the opportunity to start with statistics or other required math courses. The first time you register for classes, your academic adviser will tell you which math class you need to take.
College freshmen will need to take a first-year writing or set of core classes designed to improve written and verbal communication skills. You'll most likely need to write a variety of essays and research papers, and this will prepare you for coursework in other classes.
If you do not know a foreign language or have a limited number of years of study in high school, you may need to take one or two years of a language to earn your degree. This requirement will vary depending on the program and state requirements, and you can talk about this with your adviser to determine your particular needs.
As part of your biology degree, you will have the opportunity to take a certain number of credits in elective courses. Your college may offer electives in biology or other sciences that you can take. However, in your first year, you may not have the opportunity to take these courses since you'll need to take prerequisite math or science courses before you can register.