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:

  • Biology 201L ( Molecular Biology) and
  • Biology 202L (Genetics and Evolution)

AP credit does not place you out of these courses. You can take them in any order; they are not sequenced.  However, Biology 201L has Chemistry as a prerequisite.  Most prehealth students will begin with Chemistry and Math in their first semester, and then add Biology in the spring of their first year or in the fall of their sophomore year.  This is quite acceptable and common, even for prospective Biology majors.

We strongly encourage you to enroll in a Physiology course, since some questions on the MCAT may have a basis in Physiology.  A background may also be useful for research projects or for when you shadow physicians or work with patients and their families.  There are four Physiology courses offered, you should choose one:

  • Biology 329D (Principles of Animal Physiology with a discussion group)—offered in the fall
  • Biology 329L (Principles of Animal Physiology with a laboratory)—offered in the spring
  • Biology 278LA (Physiology of Marine Animals)—taught at the Duke Marine Lab
  • Cell Biology 503 (Introduction to Human Physiology)—offered in the spring.

Note that Biology 329D and 329L have prerequisites of Biology 201L, Chem 101DL, and Physics 141L.  Cell Biology 503 is a graduate-level course that also requires a good foundation in Biology. A free, online course on Human Physiology similar to Cell Bio 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 (EVANTH) 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 and 202L.

Pratt Students

You should take Biology 201L and BME 244L (Quantitative Physiology with Biostatistical Applications). BME 244L replaces Biology 202L and a Physiology course and a Statistics course.  If you do not take Biology 202L, you should self-study this material for 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, 329L, 278LA) rather than Human Physiology (Cell Bio 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 and 202L and a Physiology course. The fourth course might be AP credit in Biology or Biochem 301. However, if you have a 5 on the AP Chem Exam and have gone straight into Organic Chemistry, then Biochem 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.