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Requirements for the Botany Major

Prospective botany majors should consult with the general undergraduate botany advisor by the beginning of the junior year to outline a course of study appropriate to the student's needs. Major Declaration forms may be obtained in the department office.

To be accepted as a major in botany, a student must have a grade point average of 2.5 for all science courses taken during the freshman and sophomore years.

In addition to fulfilling university and L&S requirements, students must fulfill the following requirements for the botany major and the total number of credits in Biology, Botany and Independent Research must equal at least 30.

Students preparing for graduate school are strongly advised to take the recommended courses, which are frequently required for entry into post-undergraduate programs.

Botany undergraduate requirements:


One intermediate level course in statistics/probability (Statistics 301 OR 371)

Recommended: One calculus course (Math 211 OR Math 221)

It is strongly recommended that most students take calculus in addition to statistics. For students seeking a B.S. degree in botany, this recommendation would be fulfilled through the L&S requirement for two intermediate level math courses.


One semester of physics (Physics 115 is the best choice if only one course is to be taken).

Recommended: Two semesters of physics (Physics 103/104 OR Physics 201/202 OR Physics 207/208)

Physics 115 (Energy) may be the best option if only one course is to be taken. However, for students who may go on to graduate school, a two-course sequence is strongly recommended, as some graduate programs may require it. Physics 207/208 is calculus-based, and is the recommended two-course option for biologists. Physics 103/104 is an introductory level course sequence, without a calculus prerequisite. Physics 201/202 is primarily directed towards engineering students.

Physics 107 and 109 do not count toward the botany major. These two courses are taught at the elementary level and are not appropriate for science majors.


General Chemistry (Chem 103/104 OR Chem 109)
Organic chemistry: one semester (Chem 341 OR Chem 343)

Recommended: Organic chemistry sequence (Chem 343/344/345)

Chemistry 341 is the best option for organic chemistry if only one course is to be taken. However, for students who may go on to graduate school, the three-course organic chemistry sequence is strongly recommended instead of Chemistry 341, as some graduate programs may require a sequence of organic chemistry courses.

Introductory Biology

One of the three following options:

Option A: General Botany (Botany 130)
Option B: Introductory Biology (Botany/Zoology/Biology 151/152)
Option C: Biocore (Biocore 301 and 303, and two of the three lab courses: 302, 304, 324)

Option A, the 5-credit introductory course (Botany 130), provides an elementary knowledge of the major areas of Botany and satisfies the prerequisite of an introductory course required for advanced work. This option is recommended. Students who take Botany 130 may also count Zoology 101 with or without Zoology 102 (3-5 credits of Animal Biology) towards 30 credits of the Botany Major.

Option B, the two-semester course sequence Introductory Biology (Botany/Zoology/Biology 151/152) also satisfies the prerequisite of an introductory course, but both semesters must be completed.

Prospective botany majors should also consider the Biology Core Curriculum program (Option C), a sequence of courses that can satisfy both introductory biology and some intermediate/advanced (I/A) course requirements. Admission to Biocore is based on applications due in mid-March. Check here for more information.

No more than one introductory course sequence may be applied toward the major, with the following exceptions: 5 credits of Botany 130 may be applied if students complete one semester of Biocore, but only 3 credits of Botany 130 may be applied if two or more Biocore courses are taken.

Botany 100 and 260 do not serve as prerequisites for advanced courses and do not count toward the botany major. Students who have taken Botany 100 and then decide to pursue a major in Botany must take Botany 130.


Genetics 466 or Biocore 587: Biological Interactions or Agronomy 338:Plant Breeding and Biotechnology


One intermediate or advanced course in four of the following five areas:

  1. Plant Structure (Botany 300 or 305)
  2. Ecology (Botany 455, 460)
  3. Plant Physiology (Botany 500 or Biocore 485&486)
  4. Cryptogamic Botany (Botany 330, 332, 360 or Microbio 303)
  5. Systematics (Botany 400, 401, 422 or 474)

Recommended: courses in all five of the above areas; Biochemistry 501; Zoology I/A courses up to 5 credits of which will count toward the major. No more than 5 credits of Zoology will count toward the 30 credit Botany major requirement, including Zoology 101/102 and Zoology I/A courses.

Independent Research Experience

Majors are required to complete an independent research project. This can take any of two forms:

  1. Senior Thesis. Students enroll for 4 to 6 credits of Senior Thesis (Botany 691 and 692) OR 6 credits of Senior Honor Thesis (Botany 681 and 682) over a period of 2 semesters, typically in their senior year.

  2. Senior Composition. Students enroll for 2-4 credits of Directed Study (Botany 699) in order to complete an independent research paper based on primary literature in an area selected in consultation with an advisor. This should occur during one of their last 3 semesters.

Conceiving, executing, and writing a research project under any of these options represents a valuable experience central to the scientific enterprise. Juniors must plan ahead to meet this requirement by actively seeking appropriate research opportunities with their advisor or another suitable faculty supervisor in advance. Students wishing to count courses similar in spirit and content from another department or university should make such requests in writing to the Senior Thesis Coordinator (Professor Sytsma) before their final year.