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List of Major Requirements

Applicable for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The Department of Organismal Biology and Ecology (OBE) studies the structure and function of organisms in an ecological and evolutionary context. OBE encompasses cross-disciplinary approaches such as physiological ecology, evolutionary ecology, systematics, and biogeography, which all provide complementary insights into the processes of evolutionary diversification and adaptation to life on earth.

Our research foci include botany, animal and plant ecology, comparative physiology, conservation biology, and molecular ecology. We strive to perform cutting-edge research and include students in these opportunities.

See the OBE Major's Handbook for all information pertinent to our major.



  1. Twounits - Introductory Organismal Biology: BE105 Biology of Plants and/or BE106 Biology of Animals and/or BE107 Biology of Microbes
  2. One unit - Ecology: BE208
  3. One unit - Intro to Molecular and Cellular Biology: MB131
  4. One unit - Population Genetics or Genetics: BE280 Population Genetics or MB201 Laboratory in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Genetics
  5. Three units - Chemistry: CH107 General Chemistry and CH108 General Chemistry II and CH250 Structures of Organic Molecules
  6. Two units - Mathematics: one in calculus and one in statistics OR math modeling
  7. Five approved OBE Electives: at least three must be upper-level and one of the three must be a capstone course in your last two semesters at CC.
  8. Attend and write abstracts for 3 OBE-approved seminars – first abstract is due junior year!! BEGIN EARLY!!


  1. (2) Twounits in Introductory Organismal Biology:
    • BE105 Biology of Plants, AND/OR
    • BE106 Biology of Animals, AND/OR
    • BE107 Biology of Microbes
    • Note: AP/IB credit cannot replace these organismal courses (but may count towards a lower level elective or as credit for MB131), see below
  2. (1) BE208 Ecology
  3. (1) MB131Intro to Molecular and Cellular Biology
    • An IB-HL score of 6-7 fulfills this requirement or may count as one lower-level elective credit; a Biology AP score of 5 does not fulfill this requirement but does count as one lower-level elective credit.
  4. (1) One unit in Population Genetics or Genetics:
    • BE280 Population Genetics, OR
    • MB201 Lab in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Genetics
  5. (3) Threeunits in Chemistry:
    • CH107 General Chemistry I, AND
    • CH108 General Chemistry II, AND
    • CH250 Structures of Organic Molecules
    • If you have Chemistry AP or IB credit on your transcript, you may obtain OBE credit by receiving a high score on your bypass exam for CH107. Ask the Chemistry Department to notify your OBE advisor about your score on the bypass exam.
    • Note: Graduate schools often require BOTH CH250 and CH251 Reactions of Organic Molecules.
  6. (2) Twounits in Mathematics:
    • Oneunit of calculus from:
      • MA126 Calculus I, OR
      • MA127 Calculus I and II accelerated, OR
      • MA129 Calculus II, OR
      • AP or IB credit recognized by the registrar in calculus
      • Note: The Mathematics Department website has a flowchart to assist you in deciding on the most appropriate class for you (see “Mathematics,” “Resources,” “deciding on your first CC math class”).
    • Oneunit of statistics or math modeling from:
      • BE220 Biostatistics and Experimental Design, OR
      • MA256 Mathematical Models in Biology, OR
      • MA117 Probability and Statistics, OR
      • MA217 Probability and Statistical Modeling, OR
      • EV228 Analysis of Environmental Data, OR
      • AP or IB credit recognized by the registrar in statistics
      • Note: While the statistics/modeling requirement is fulfilled by AP credit in statistics, students with this AP credit will benefit from taking BE220.
  1. (5) Fiveapproved OBE Electives:
    • Of these 5, at least 3 must be upper level (300 or 400) and at least two of your upper level electives must be a BE course;
    • One of these upper-level BE electives will be your senior capstone coursethis requirement must be completed in the last two semesters prior to graduation. The following courses count as capstone:
      • BE409 (if it meets the “Senior Capstone” requirements - ask the faculty member supervising your research);
      • BE499 Senior thesis;
      • BE308, BE365, BE366, BE367, BE370, BE390, BE410, BE412, BE415, BE421, BE475, BE332, BE440 (check with your advisor as options vary from year to year).
    • You may ONLY choose electives from the following:
      • All BE courses (EXCEPT BE100), all MB courses (the FYE MB109 only counts as 1 elective) AN207, AN306, CH382, EV422, GY205, HK204, HK304, or HK321.
      • Up to TWO research blocks (BE309/BE409/BE499) may count as electives.
      • BE280 may count as an upper-level elective IF taken after MB201 or MB231.
      • AP/IB Biology credit may count as one unit of lower level elective credit (ask your advisor).
      • Note: you may petition the department to consider other courses (such as new offerings) to count as electives.
  1. Three Seminar abstracts: attend three OBE-approved seminars as a junior/senior, summarize each in an abstract (see appendix III for example), and submit each abstract electronically to both Donna Sison and your advisor no later than the first Monday of the block following the seminar. Students must turn in at least their first abstract by the end of junior year.