The mission of the VMI biology department is to broadly train students to understand how living organisms function and to appreciate the intricacies and interactions that govern all living systems. This mission supports the broader VMI mission of creating citizen soldiers, by equipping students to make informed decisions that will better society. We accomplish this by providing students with broad training and fundamental background in the biological sciences, while providing the opportunity to specialize in the sub-disciplines described under “Academic Concentrations in Biology.” Also, we offer in collaboration with the Physical Education Department an Exercise Science minor. The degree programs are particularly good at preparing majors to pursue post-graduate education in the biological and health sciences and allow for specialization that matches student interests and career plans. Faculty members believe that interaction with cadets in the classroom, laboratory, and on an individual basis is critical in the development of the successful biology major. In keeping with this philosophy, class sizes are small, laboratories accompany most courses, advising is conducted on an individual basis, and undergraduate research is encouraged. The biology department also provides a summer research experience. The Dr. Fred C. Swope Summer Scholars Program is an intensive ten-week program that introduces selected students to the scientific method, research design and data analysis, data presentation, use of sophisticated laboratory instruments, and independent research. Each student conducts a research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor. This research is at the “cutting edge” of science, and student/faculty publications have resulted from these projects. Normally, cadets are selected to participate in this program between their second and first class years. Many additional opportunities for undergraduate research exists, allowing students to engage in a one-on-one interaction with a faculty mentor in their area of interest as early as the summer following the fourth class (freshman) year.
Common Core Course Requirements
All B.S. biology majors are required to complete the following courses:
Core Area Pairings
In addition to these courses, a B.S. major must select one course from each of the following core area pairings:
Additional hours (10) must be selected from any area within the biology curriculum except for research hours to total a minimum of 43 hours in biology. In addition to the biology courses, B.S. majors must complete two semesters of Organic Chemistry with lab (CH 223 and CH 229 , CH 224 and CH 230 ), Biochemistry (CH 322 ) or Ecological Biochemistry (BI 325 ), Quantitative Analysis I and II (MA 125 and MA 126 ), and General Physics I and II (PY 120 and PY 115 , PY 121 and PY 116 ). To broaden the education, six credits of any English, rhetoric, and humanistic studies (ERH) courses above the 100 level are required. Additionally, 12 non-science elective (LA) credits must be completed in English, rhetoric, and humanistic studies, history, economics, business, psychology, political science, or modern languages. The remainder (9) of the 136 hours required for graduation can be taken from any department on Post. Cadets completing the B.S. degree often complete minors in other disciplines. A minor in chemistry can be completed by taking one additional course from selected courses in the chemistry curriculum. The requirements for minors in psychology, history or English, rhetoric, and humanistic studies areas, for example, fit in well with our elective requirements.
Additional Core Curriculum Requirements
All B.S. and B.A. biology majors are also required to satisfy four additional Core Curriculum requirements:
- Two writing intensive courses must be taken with one in the biology major.
- Two Civilizations and Cultures courses (6 credits).
Minor in Exercise Science
The Minor in Exercise Science is designed to provide cadets with a comprehensive introduction to the foundations of exercise and fitness. This interdisciplinary minor can be declared through the department of biology or the department of physical education.
Synopsis of the B.S. Curriculum in Biology
Total Semester Hrs: 19.5 - 20.0
Total Semester Hrs: 15.5 - 16
Total Semester Hrs: 17.5 - 19.5
Total Hours: minimum 136
*Minimum Grade of C Required.
Academic Concentrations in Biology
These concentrations offer an opportunity for cadets to focus their interests in various fields of biology and to develop intellectual pursuits with their professors as mentors in undergraduate research. If cadets wish to pursue an area of specialty, they are strongly encouraged to select one of the concentrations listed below no later than fall pre-registration during their third class year. A student successfully completing a concentration will earn a BS or BA degree with recognition of the concentration on the final transcript.