Students who entered Johns Hopkins in the current academic year should refer to the Academic Catalog for a current list of major requirements. Students who entered Johns Hopkins University in a previous academic year should refer to the catalog of that academic year.

Biology at the Johns Hopkins University emphasizes the relationship of structure to function in biological systems; how anatomical, cellular, and molecular structures are related to biological functions of development, regulation, movement, growth, and reproduction. Students majoring in biology require an understanding of mathematics, chemistry, and physics to fully appreciate biology. To best comprehend more complex biological events occurring at the organismal level, students focus initially at the molecular and cellular level.

The requirements of the biology major are not only excellent preparation for graduate and professional studies, but they also satisfy all the requirements for admission to medical school.


Emily Fisher
Director of Undergraduate Studies
181 UTL
[email protected]

Core Course Requirements

The following courses are required for the Bachelor of Arts in biology degree:


  • General Biology I & II 020.151-152
  • Genetics 020.303
  • Molecular Biology 020.304
  • Cell Biology 020.306
  • Cell Biology Lab 020.316
  • Biochemistry 020.305
  • Biochemistry Project Lab 020.315 or Protein Engineering Biochemistry Lab 250.253
  • Genetics 020.303
  • Developmental Biology 020.363
  • Developmental Genetics Lab 020.340


  • Introductory Chemistry I 030.101
  • Introductory Chemistry II 030.102
  • Introductory Chemistry Lab I & II 030.105-106
  • Introductory Organic Chemistry I 030.205
  • Introductory Organic Chemistry II 030.206
  • Introductory Organic Chemistry Lab 030.225 or Chemical Chirality Lab 030.227

Note: Some additional chemistry options are available. Please consult the course catalog.


  • Calculus I & II 110.106-107 or 110.108-109


  • General Physics 171.103-104, 171.101-102, or 171.107-108
  • General Physics Lab 173.111-112

At least three courses totaling 8 credits or more from additional upper-level biology electives listed in Appendix I.

One of the upper-level electives must have a 020 number.

Additional Requirements

The student must earn a grade of C- or better in all required core courses. Grades of D or F must be resolved by retaking the course, with one exception: in the final semester of the senior year, a graduating senior is allowed a single D in a required course. After the first semester of their first year, no required course can be taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory.

The student must accumulate 120 credits to graduate. Students must also complete 12 credits of writing-intensive (W) courses. The major requirements and writing-intensive credits may overlap with each other and with the other categories of courses.  We encourage one expository writing course.

Students are encouraged to prepare a long-range plan of their four years at Hopkins. There are several reasons for long-range planning. First, most required courses have prerequisites. For example, students must take Organic Chemistry before they take Biochemistry, or must take Cell Biology before taking Developmental Biology. Second, some required courses that students usually take in different years might be scheduled so that they conflict and cannot be taken in the same semester. Third, students should arrange their schedule to best balance their workload, allowing the greatest opportunity to do well in the courses. Spending 30 minutes with the catalog, the course schedule, and this list of required courses, students can plan out their program at Hopkins and have a clear view of what will be required of them.

View a sample schedule.

Advanced Placement Exceptions

Students earning a 5 on the advanced placement biology exam, or a 6 or 7 on the International Baccalaureate exam, earn credit for General Biology I and II (020.151-2) and therefore do not need to take the courses. These students should consider taking General Physics during the first year. They should also explore first seminars and other offerings.

If students have advanced placement credits in chemistry equivalent to 030.101 and 102 Introductory Chemistry I & II, the requirement for the Introductory Chemistry Lab 030.105-106 is waived. It would be possible for these students, while taking Calculus, to take General Physics during the first year.

Advanced placement credits in 110.106-107 Calculus I and II will satisfy the requirement for the biology major. If a student tests into and successfully completes Calculus II, the biology department will waive the requirement for Calculus. These students, however, should consider additional math (Calculus III, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations) or statistics. This is especially important for students wishing to apply to medical school programs after graduation, since these programs usually require one year of mathematics and/or statistics courses taken while in college.

Students should consider taking additional biology courses during their first and sophomore years. This could include First Year Seminar (FYS), Protein Engineering and Biochemistry Lab (250.253), or independent research.