Program Overview

Mission Statement

The Department of Biology and Biotechnology will make scholarly scientific and technological advances that will address the changing needs of society. We will prepare well educated scientists able to approach problems with creativity and flexibility. A key element in this preparation is active participation in the process of scientific inquiry.

Program Educational Objectives

The educational objectives of the Department of Biology and Biotechnology are to prepare students to function as scientists and educators in a broad array of biological disciplines. We recognize that the well educated scientist needs facility in technology and skill in critical thinking to function effectively in the professional arena as well as in the global community.

Program Outcomes

Students graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from the Department of Biology and Biotechnology:

  • have mastered a broad range of basic lab skills applicable to biology and biotechnology.
  • have mastered applied research skills at an advanced level in at least one area of biology and biotechnology.
  • know and understand a broad range of basic biological concepts, and can apply and analyze these in at least one speciality area.
  • are able to generate hypotheses, design approaches to test them, and interpret the data from those tests to reach valid conclusions.
  • have developed the ability to place their own work in a broader scientific context.
  • have developed oral and written communication skills relevant to professional positions in biology and biotechnology.
  • can find, read and critically evaluate the original scientific literature.
  • possess skills necessary for life-long professional learning.
  • can function effectively as members of a team.
  • demonstrate adherence to accepted standards of professional and ethical behavior.

Program Distribution Requirements for the Biology and Biotechnology Major

Requirements Minimum Units
1. Mathematical Sciences, Physics, Computer Science, Engineering (Note 1) 5/3
2. Chemistry 5/3
3. Biology & Biotechnology (Note 2) 10/3
4. Laboratory experience (Note 3) 4/3
5. Related courses (Note 4) 3/3
6. MQP 1


  1. BB 3040 may count toward this requirement.
  2. Biology & Biotechnology coursework must include 2/3 units at the 1000 level, 4/3 units at the 2000 level, and 4/3 units at the 3000/4000 level, of which at least 1/3 unit must be at the 4000 level. BB 1001 and BB 1002 may not count toward the major requirement. At least 2/3 unit of Biology & Biotechnology coursework must be taken from each of three major divisions of biology (below). The 2/3 unit for each division may include courses from any level (1000-4000).
    • Chosen from BB 2000 and 3000 level labs and the Experimental Biochemistry labs, CH 4150 and CH 4170
    • Must include at least ½ unit of work at the 2000 level.
    • Only one Experimental Biochemistry lab may be used (either 4150 OR 4170).
    • In addition, you may not count both CH 4150 and any of BB 3516, BB 3518 or BB 3519. Likewise, you may not count both CH 4170 and any of BB 3512, 3518 and 3520.
  3. Chosen from the Related Courses List or additional BB 3000/4000 level courses.

The Three Major Divisions of Biology

  1. Cellular and molecular biology
    BB 1035 Introduction to Biotechnology
    BB 2002 Microbiology
    BB 2550 Cell Biology
    BB 2920 Genetics
    BB 2950 Molecular Biology
    BB 3055 Microbial Physiology
    BB 4008 Cell Culture Theory and Applications
    BB 4010 Advanced Molecular Genetics
    BB 4065 Virology
    BB 4550 Advanced Cell Biology
  2. Biology of the organism
    BB 1025 Human Biology
    BB 3101 Anatomy and Physiology I
    BB 3102 Anatomy and Physiology II
    BB 3080 Neurobiology
    BB 3120 Plant Physiology and Cell Culture
    BB 3620 Developmental Biology I
    BB 363X Developmental Biology II
    BB 3920 Immunology
  3. Organisms in their environment
    BB 1045 Introduction to Biodiversity
    BB 2030 Plant Diversity
    BB 2040 Principles of Ecology
    BB 3140 Evolution: Pattern and Process
    BB 4150 Environmental Change: Problems and Approaches


BME 4541 Biological Systems
CE 3059 Environmental Engineering
CH 2330 Organic Chemistry III
CH 3510 Chemical Thermodynamics
CH 4110 Biochemistry I
CH 4120 Biochemistry II
CH 4160 Membrane Biophysics
CH 4190 Regulation of Gene Expression
CHE 3301 Introduction to Biological Engineering

Undergraduate Research Projects

The biology and biotechnology facilities offer an exceptional learning opportunity since research in an active laboratory group is the principal teaching tool. Tools for modern biochemistry, molecular biology, tissue culture, fermentation, ecology, microscopy and computer integration are all available to undergraduates.

In conjunction with the faculty, students who wish to expand their educational opportunities pursue many off-campus projects each year. Investigations may take place at institutions that have traditionally worked with WPI, such as the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the Worcester Biotechnology Research Park, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, and the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratories. The department also has established links with several companies that provide opportunities for project work and summer employment in applied biology and biotechnology.

Undergraduate research projects may be proposed by individual students or groups of students, or may be selected from on-going research activities of the faculty. The departmental faculty must be consulted for approval of a project before student work begins.

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