Biology

You should plan to take the two introductory courses in Biology in order to develop a strong foundation in Biology and prepare for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or standardized exam:

AP credit does not place you out of these courses. BIOLOGY 201L (Gateway to Biology: Molecular Biology) and BIOLOGY 202L (Gateway to Biology: Genetics and Evolution) can be taken in any order, although note that BIOLOGY 201L has CHEM 101DL (Core Concepts in Chemistry) as a prerequisite. If you are just beginning at Duke and do not have AP credit in Chemistry or Math, we recommend that you begin with Chemistry and Math in your first semester, and postpone BIOLOGY 201L or BIOLOGY 202L to your second semester or even to your sophomore year. This is quite acceptable, even if you are going to be a Biology major.

If you have not had a firm foundation in Biology in high school, you might also consider enrolling in BIOLOGY 199D (Introduction to Biological Thinking) before enrolling in BIOLOGY 201L (Gateway to Biology: Molecular Biology) and BIOLOGY 202L (Gateway to Biology: Genetics and Evolution). This course provides a broad background in Biology and critical thinking skills which will be needed for further Biology courses.

Premed students should also add a Physiology course, since Physiology will be on the MCAT and neither BIOLOGY 201L (Gateway to Biology: Molecular Biology) nor BIOLOGY 202L (Gateway to Biology: Genetics and Evolution) cover this topic. Choose one of the following:

  • BIOLOGY 329D (Principles of Animal Physiology)—offered in the fall
  • BIOLOGY 329L (Principles of Animal Physiology)—offered in the spring
  • BIOLOGY 278LA (Physiology of Marine Animals)—taught at the Duke Marine Lab
  • CELLBIO 503 (Introduction to Physiology)—offered in the spring.

Note that BIOLOGY 329D and BIOLOGY 329L have as pre-requisites BIOLOGY 201L (Gateway to Biology: Molecular Biology), PHYSICS 141L (General Physics I) and CHEM 101DL (Core Concepts in Chemistry). CELLBIO 503 (Introduction to Physiology) is a graduate-level course that also requires a good foundation in Biology. A free, online course on Human Physiology similar to CELLBIO 503 has been taught through Coursera, although we recommend that you take a Physiology class in a regular class setting and for a grade.

We encourage you to take additional Biology courses. Upper-level Biology courses (those numbered 200 and above) will help you develop thinking and reasoning skills in science, and they will help you prepare for standardized exams and the rigorous coursework you will find in a health professions school. Examples include: BIOLOGY 212L (General Microbiology), BIOLOGY 214L (Experimental Cell and Molecular Biology), BIOLOGY 220 (Cellular and Developmental Biology) and BIOLOGY 414LS (Experiments in Developmental and Molecular Genetics). Evolutionary Anthropology courses with and without lab are science courses that will be included in your science GPA, but they should not be taken in place of BIOLOGY 201L (Gateway to Biology: Molecular Biology) and BIOLOGY 202L (Gateway to Biology: Genetics and Evolution).

Pratt Students

You should take BIOLOGY 201L (Gateway to Biology: Molecular Biology) and BME 244L (Quantitative Physiology with Biostatistical Applications). BME 244L covers Physiology. BIOLOGY 202L (Gateway to Biology: Genetics and Evolution) is recommended, but optional. If BIOLOGY 202L is not taken, you should self-study genetics before the MCAT.

Dental, Veterinary and Physical Therapy Students

Schools may require additional Biology courses. Be sure to check the websites of the schools you may apply. Some veterinary schools may prefer Animal Physiology (BIOLOGY 329D, BIOLOGY 329L, BIOLOGY 278LA) rather than Human Physiology (CELLBIO 503).  

Texas Residents

The University of Texas medical schools require four semesters of Biology (two with laboratory). Trinity students will complete three semesters of Biology at Duke—BIOLOGY 201L (Gateway to Biology: Molecular Biology), BIOLOGY 202L (Gateway to Biology: Genetics and Evolution), and a Physiology course. The fourth course might be AP credit in Biology or BIOCHEM 301 (Introductory Biochemistry I: Intermediary Metabolism). However, if you have a 5 on the AP Chem Exam and have gone straight into Organic Chemistry, then BIOCHEM 301 may need to be used as a Chemistry course to fulfill the Chemistry requirement rather than as a Biology course. Check the websites of Texas medical schools and if you need to add a Biology course, you can do so in your junior or senior year.