Part-time Undergraduate Programs

Undergraduate Biological Sciences Major

The science of biology is the study of living organisms at all levels of complexity and in all their diversity. The biological sciences major in Northwestern University School of Professional Studies’ part-time degree program develops and enhances the intellectual and creative potential of life sciences students. The program, comprised of evening and Saturday courses, provides a foundation in biology, mathematics, chemistry and physics. A major in biological sciences is the first step toward a careers as a physician, dentist, veterinarian or researcher, or in the fields of healthcare, education, and pharmaceutical sales.

The biological sciences major is a robust combination of Northwestern University science curriculum and courses in human biology that are unique to the School of Professional Studies. This rigorous, part-time program in SPS provides students with deep and current knowledge of human biology through courses taught by Northwestern University faculty and researchers.

Program Goals

Graduates will be prepared to:

  • Understand the organization and function of basic biological systems
  • Know the core mathematical and chemical principles relevant to biology and genetics
  • Handle and interpret scientific data
  • Engage in research

Degrees

Distribution Requirements

Biological Sciences Major Requirements

  • BIOL SCI  215  Genetics and Molecular Biology

    This course is the first of a four-course sequence that is completed by BIOL SCI 217 in the fall quarter, BIOL SCI 219 in the winter and BIOL SCI 308 in the spring. The genetics and molecular biology course covers the principles of inheritance; gene function; mechanisms by which DNA is replicated, transcribed into RNAs, and translated into proteins; and the basics of the process of natural selection. Prerequisite: one year of general chemistry with laboratory (CHEM 101, 102, 103)

    BIOL SCI 215 is scheduled in an intensive session in September, before the start of the fall quarter.


    View All Sections
  • BIOL SCI  217  Physiology

    This course is the second in a four-course sequence that is completed by BIOL SCI 219 in the winter and BIOL SCI 308 in the spring. The physiology course covers organization and functioning of the major organ systems in mammals.A lab course, BIOL SCI 220 Genetic and Molecular Laboratory, may be taken concurrently with this course. 


    View All Sections
  • BIOL SCI   219  Cell Biology

    This course is the third course in a four-course sequence that is completed by BIOL SCI 308 in the spring. The cell biology course covers mechanisms that cells use to compartmentalize and transport proteins, to move, to regulate growth and death, and to communicate with their environments. This course was formerly BIOL SCI 216. A lab course, BIOL SCI 221 Cellular Processes Laboratory, may be taken concurrently with this course. Prerequisite: CHEM 103.


    View All Sections
  • BIOL SCI  220  Genetic and Molecular Processes Laboratory

    Laboratory techniques and experiments in fundamental aspects of transmission genetics and molecular biology. Credit for this course is 0.34 units. Prerequisite: CHEM 103.


    View All Sections
  • BIOL SCI  221  Cellular Processes Laboratory

    Laboratory techniques and experiments in fundamental aspects of cell biology. Credit for this course is 0.34 units. Prerequisite: CHEM 103.


    View All Sections
  • BIOL SCI  222  Integrative Laboratory

    A culminating lab. Credit for this course is 0.34 units. Prerequisite: CHEM 103.


    View All Sections
  • BIOL SCI  308  Biochemistry

    This course is the conclusion of a four-course sequence, BIOL SCI 215, 217 and 219. The course course covers basic concepts in biochemistry, emphasizing the structure and function of biological macromolecules, fundamental cellular biochemical processes, and the chemical logic in metabolic transformations. This course was formerly BIOL SCI 218. A lab course, BIOL SCI 222 Integrative Laboratory, may be taken concurrently with this course. Prerequisites: BIOL SCI 216 or 219 and CHEM 210-A.


    View All Sections
  • BIOL SCI  315  Advanced Cell Biology

    This course is a brief tour-de-force in the field of cell biology, covering how cells reproduce themselves, maintain structural integrity, perform metabolic functions, and communicate within themselves and with other cells. Through readings, lecture and in-class presentations, students will learn the form and function of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Prerequisite: 210-C or BIOL SCI 216 or 219.


    View All Sections
  • BIOL SCI  327  Biology of Aging

    This course examines various biological aspects of aging, from molecular to evolutionary, and explores what is presently known about how and why we age. Through discussions of experimental data from primary literature, we will study normal aging processes and disease states related to aging. Instead of providing a comprehensive overview, the course aims to develop a fundamental framework of how to think about the biology of aging and our ability to read and analyze current scientific literature. Prerequisites: BIOL SCI 210-C or BIOL SCI 216/219 and 217.


    View All Sections
  • CHEM  101  General Chemistry (with lab, CHEM 121)

    This course is the first of a three-course sequence that is completed by CHEM 102 in the winter quarter and CHEM 103 in the spring quarter. Topics covered in the course include descriptive chemistry: elements and compounds; basic chemical calculations: mole problems, stoichiometry, and solution concentrations; gas laws; thermochemistry; quantum theory and electronic structure of atoms; periodic properties of the elements; chemical bonding. Includes a Saturday laboratory, CHEM 121. Prerequisite: high school chemistry, college algebra, or higher college math course.


    View All Sections
  • CHEM  102  General Inorganic Chemistry (with lab, CHEM 122)

    This course is a continuation of CHEM 101 in the fall quarter. The sequence is completed by CHEM 103 in the spring quarter. Topics to be covered in the course include additional topics on chemical bonding, descriptive chemistry: inorganic reactions, condensed phases and solid-state chemistry, phase equilibria, solutions and colligative properties, introduction to chemical equilibrium, nuclear chemistry, thermodynamics. Includes a Saturday laboratory, CHEM 122. Prerequisite: grade of C- or higher in CHEM 101 or equivalent course, or consent of instructor.


    View All Sections
  • CHEM  103  General Physical Chemistry (with lab, CHEM 123)

    This course is the third and final course in general chemistry, the continuation of CHEM 101 and CHEM 102. Topics covered include equilibria in aqueous solutions: acid-base, complex ions, solubility equilibria; electrochemistry and oxidation-reduction reactions; chemical kinetics; descriptive chemistry: representative elements and industrial processes; coordination chemistry; introduction to organic and biomolecules; special topics. Includes a Saturday laboratory, CHEM 123. Prerequisite: grade of C- or higher in CHEM 102 or equivalent course, or consent of instructor.


    View All Sections
  • CHEM  210-A  Organic Chemistry I

    This course is the first of a three-course sequence that is completed by CHEM 210-B in the winter quarter, and CHEM 210-C in the spring quarter. Basic concepts of organic chemistry will be presented, including hybridization, resonance, nomenclature, stereochemistry, and reaction mechanisms. The preparation and reactions of alkyl halides, alkenes, alkynes, and alcohols will also be covered. Additional Saturday morning lectures are scheduled once the quarter begins. Prerequisite: one year of general chemistry with a grade of C- or higher.


    View All Sections
  • CHEM  210-B  Organic Chemistry II (with lab, CHEM 230-B)

    Chemistry 210-B is the second course in a three-term sequence in organic chemistry. It covers the chemistry of the major oxygen- and nitrogen-containing functional groups, as well as the chemistry of aromatic compounds. Mechanism is emphasized in the study of these materials. The course includes a laboratory component which includes an introduction to basic organic laboratory techniques, as well as the preparation, purification and characterization of organic substances. Includes a Saturday laboratory, CHEM 230-B. Prerequisite: grade of C- or higher in CHEM 210-A or equivalent course.


    View All Sections
  • MATH  220  Differential Calculus of One-Variable Functions

    This course covers definition of a function; trigonometric, exponential, logarithmic and inverse functions; graphs, limits, continuity; derivative of a function; product, quotient and chain rule; implicit differentiation; linear approximation and differentials; related rates; mean value theorems; curve plotting; optimization problems; Newton's method; and antiderivatives. Prerequisite: three years of high school math, including trigonometry, or MATH 113.


    View All Sections
  • MATH  224  Integral Calculus of One-Variable Functions

    This course is focused on definite integrals and the fundamental theorem of calculus. Techniques of integration including integration by parts, trigonometric integrals, trigonometric substitutions, partial fractions, numerical integration, and improper integrals are covered. Topics also include: applications of integration (computation of volumes, arc length, average value of functions, the mean value theorem for integration, work and probability), sequences and series (the integral and comparison tests, power series, ratio test, introduction to Taylor's formula and Taylor series, using series to solve differential equations). Prerequisite: MATH 220 or equivalent.


    View All Sections
  • PHYSICS  130-A  College Physics I

    This is the first quarter of a three-quarter algebra-based physics course with lecture and laboratory. Physics is the most basic of the sciences, dealing with the behavior and structure of matter. Lectures and labs illustrate physical principles: mechanics, motion, momentum and energy, and fluids. Requires concurrent enrollment in the PHYSICS 131-A lab. Prerequisite: college algebra or higher college math course.


    View All Sections
  • PHYSICS  130-B  College Physics II

    This course is the continuation of PHYSICS 130-A algebra-based physics with lecture and laboratory. Harnessing the forces of electrical power; how they have altered the way we live and perceive ourselves in the universe. Lecture demonstrations illustrate physical principles: electricity and magnetism, DC and AC circuits. Requires concurrent enrollment in the PHYSICS 131-B lab. Prerequisite: PHYSICS 130-A or equivalent course.


    View All Sections
  • PHYSICS  130-C  College Physics III

    This course is the continuation of PHYSICS 130-A,B. Wave motion, optics, and introduction to the basic concepts of modern physics including quantum mechanics, relativity, and atomic physics. The course focuses on conceptual understanding of basic physical principles and their real-world applications. Demonstration experiments will be used to illustrate physical phenomena and concepts. Requires concurrent enrollment in the PHYSICS 131-C lab. Prerequisite: PHYSICS 130-A, B or equivalent course.


    View All Sections
  • STAT  202  Introduction to Statistics

    This course provides an introduction to the basic concepts of statistics. Throughout the course, students will learn to: summarize data using graphs and tables; explain/calculate descriptive statistics, confidence intervals, correlation, regression, and probability; and explain tests of significance and data-production including sampling and experiments. Basic knowledge of algebra is recommended.



    View All Sections
  • 5 300-level ANTHRO or BIOL SCI electives   

Electives