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Program Overview

Advanced Studies in Biology for the Health Professions

Advanced Studies in Biology for the Health Professions

Advanced Studies in Biology for Health Professions draws students from a wide range of backgrounds who are interested in careers in medicine, physical therapy, physician assistant studies or other health careers. Students complete four to eight advanced undergraduate courses in biology to help them prepare for professional programs.



About Advanced Studies in Biology for the Health Professions

Advanced Studies in Biology Required Courses

Select at least four courses** from the following:

  • BIOL SCI 308 Biochemistry
  • BIOL SCI 312 The Evolutionary Biology of Human Anatomy
  • BIOL SCI 313 Human Anatomy
  • BIOL SCI 315 Advanced Cell Biology
  • BIOL SCI 316 Human Structure and Function
  • BIOL SCI 317 Regional Human Anatomy Lab (.34 units*)
  • BIOL SCI 318 Advanced Human Physiology
  • BIOL SCI 327 Biology of Aging
  • BIOL SCI 328 Microbiology
  • BIOL SCI 342 Evolutionary Processes
  • BIOL SCI 355 Immunobiology

*BIOL SCI 317 is .34 units. Students electing to take BIOL SCI 317 would need to take a minimum of four other courses to earn the certificate.

**Please note that this is not a grade enhancement program, and thus students are not allowed to retake courses that were previously completed at another university as part of this certificate program. Students applying to this program should select courses that they have not previously attempted.

Courses in biological anthropology may be applied to the certificate, with the approval of the Assistant Dean of Undergraduate and Professional Studies.

In addition to the program requirements, students have the option to enroll in any of the courses offered at SPS (e.g., calculus, psychology, bioethics). However, elective courses will not count toward the minimum of four courses for the certificate.

View Advanced Studies in Biology Courses

Additional Information

Students who need to complete the introductory core prerequisites for medical or professional health graduate programs may wish to consider one of the Professional Health Careers programs.

Advanced Studies in Biology Tuition

Post-baccalaureate students at Northwestern's School of Professional Studies pay per course. For more information about financial obligations and tuition, please visit the Tuition page.

Admission for Advanced Studies in Biology

In addition to completing an online application, you'll also need to submit a few supplemental materials. A list of requirements for admission including application deadlines and tips on how to apply can be found on the Admission page.

Advanced Studies in Biology Registration Information

Whether you're a first-time registrant or current and returning student, all students register using our online student registration and records systems. Important information about registering for courses at SPS, including registration timelines and adding or dropping courses in which you are already enrolled, can be found on the Registration Information page.

Advanced Studies in Biology Pre-Health Professional Student Group

Learn how students support one another through forums, resources and social networks on the Advanced Studies in Biology Pre-Health Professional Student Group page.

Find out more about Advanced Studies in Biology

Program Courses:Course Detail
Fundamentals of Neurobiology <> BIOL_SCI 302-CN

This course will explore the structure and function of the mammalian central nervous system from the molecular to behavioral level. This course will emphasize a number of foundational concepts in neurobiology, including neuronal and glial structure and function, neurophysiology of membrane, resting and action potential, synaptic physiology, an introduction to sensory perception, and an emphasis in neuronal plasticity in learning and memory. We will consider how the nervous system develops and changes with experience throughout life, and how these systems can be affected by injury or disease. Prerequisites: BIOL SCI 215 and BIOL SCI 219. Recommended: BIOL SCI 308.

View BIOL_SCI 302-CN Sections
Biochemistry <> BIOL_SCI 308-CN

This 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. Students who have previously taken BIOL SCI 218 should not register for this course.

A lab course, BIOL SCI 221, may be taken concurrently with this course. Prerequisites: BIOL SCI 217 and CHEM 210-A.

View BIOL_SCI 308-CN Sections
Human Anatomy <> BIOL_SCI 313-CN

This course is an introduction to human anatomy. Topics include: system approach to anatomical organization; sections of the body; musculoskeletal and nervous systems; embryology development. Lectures are supplemented by selected prosections of human cadavers and dry exercises using bones, models, and computer animations. Prerequisite: BIOL SCI 165, 170, or equivalent course.

View BIOL_SCI 313-CN Sections
Human Anatomy <> BIOL_SCI 313-DL

This course is conducted completely online.This is a course on human anatomy, focusing on morphology and function. It follows both a regional and systems approach. All course content, activities, and assessments will be online learning activities and assessments. The course will also have a broad emphasis on clinical application that is applicable to all health care professions. The course covers gross anatomy of the human body; therefore, images of human cadavers will be presented in your textbook, as well as in other course resources. Readings are assigned from the Marieb, Wilhelm and Mallatt text. Prerequisite: BIOL SCI 165, 170, or equivalent course.

This course will be conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition. There will be optional online office hours on Thursday from 6:15-9:15pm.

View BIOL_SCI 313-DL Sections
Advanced Cell Biology <> BIOL_SCI 315-CN

In this course, students will gain an understanding of important topics in cell biology. We will discuss membrane structure and dynamics, cell signaling, cytoskeletal dynamics, cell division cycle, organelle structure and function, regulation of gene expression and cell-cell communication. A focus of the course will also be on understanding how experiments are designed and conducted. Students will gain experience with critical reading of primary scientific literature, learn the history of major discoveries in cell biology, and will be exposed to recent breakthroughs in modern cell biology and cell biology techniques. Evaluation will include class participation, quizzes, a final exam, a presentation, and homework sets. Prerequisite: 210-C or BIOL SCI 216 or 219.

View BIOL_SCI 315-CN Sections
Human Structure and Function <> BIOL_SCI 316-CN

Students will gain a good working knowledge of the function of the musculoskeletal system in modern humans in this course, along with a comparative perspective emphasizing the adaptive contexts of the evolutionary transformations leading to our modern anatomy. The course examines the structural, functional, and evolutionary anatomy of humans, with primary focus on the musculoskeletal system of the postcranium. The regional anatomy of the muscles, bones and joints in the human body serves as a basis for more general biomechanical principles of anatomical systems. Discussions of the development evolution and clinical significance of human structure complement the functional emphasis on these anatomical regions. Class lectures are supplemented by selected prosections of human cadavers, in-class lab sessions examining bones and models, and computer animations and exercises. Prerequisite: BIOL SCI 313, equivalent anatomy course, or permission of instructor. Class is limited to 15 students.

View BIOL_SCI 316-CN Sections
Regional Human Anatomy Lab <> BIOL_SCI 317-CN

This is a lab course utilizing prosections and demonstrations of human cadavers. It is an advanced anatomy course examining the details of human body systems. Topics include: Body wall and cavities, contents and features of the thorax and abdomen (cardiac, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal systems), pelvis (genito-urinary system), spinal cord and back, innervation and blood supply of the upper and lower limbs, cranial cavities and contents, cranial nerves and blood supply of the head and neck. The majority of the coursework will be done in the cadaver lab, with limited lectures to introduce topics. The lab work will be guided by a lab workbook, handouts and instructor demonstrations. Models, bones (skeletal materials), skulls, and medical images will supplement the cadaver prosections. Lab work will be assessed by the weekly lab assignment, three practical quizzes and a written final exam. A research project will be assigned to allow the student to bridge their knowledge of lab anatomy with more clinical concepts. Students are expected to follow all lab safety guidelines including the cadaver lab dress code; also students should show respect for the cadavers at all times.

Credit for this course is 0.34 units. 

Prerequisite: BIOL SCI 313. Students should have completed BIOL SCI 313 before enrolling in this course.

Registration requirement: This course is limited to students in the professional health careers certificate program only and requires a permission number for enrollment. Email for a permission number.

View BIOL_SCI 317-CN Sections
Advanced Human Physiology <> BIOL_SCI 318-DL

Advanced Human Physiology is a fully online course that builds on the concepts covered in BIOL SCI 217 Physiology or an equivalent physiology course focusing on the body as an integrated set of systems. Our task will be to construct a global view of the body, its systems, and the many processes that keep the systems working. This course emphasizes an integrated approach to studying all major organ systems including neural, autonomic/somatic motor, endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, digestive, and reproductive physiology. In addition to integration, we will focus on the clinical relevance of the organ system that will include abnormal function, disease states, and medications used to bring the system back to normal functioning.

Prerequisites: BIOL SCI 217 Physiology or an equivalent Introduction to Physiology course that provides an introduction to the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, digestive, endocrine, reproductive, neuronal and autonomic systems.

Note: This course cannot be taken unless the student has previously completed an introductory physiology course.

View BIOL_SCI 318-DL Sections
Biology of Aging <> BIOL_SCI 327-CN

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 219 (formerly BIOL SCI 216 or BIOL SCI 210-C), and BIOL SCI 217.

View BIOL_SCI 327-CN Sections
Microbiology <> BIOL_SCI 328-CN

This course provides an introduction to microbiology with an emphasis on bacteria and viruses and their impact on human health and society. Topics covered include: introduction to microbiology including the evolution of microorganisms; essentials of bacterial, archaeal, eukaryotic and viruses; morphological, physiological and genetic elements; the general principles of bacterial growth and control of microorganisms in the environment; principles of microbial molecular biology and genetics including basics of bacterial genome replication; bacterial pathogenesis and current challenges regarding antimicrobial resistance. This course will also provide an introduction to the primary microbiology literature. Prerequisite: BIOL SCI 210-C or BIOL SCI 217.

This course will have a lab component integrated into the lecture time. A lab fee will be applied to tuition.

View BIOL_SCI 328-CN Sections
Evolutionary Processes <> BIOL_SCI 342-CN

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" - Theodosius Dobzhansky

Evolution is a central unifying biological discipline since it is within an evolutionary framework that the rest of biology is understood. An understanding of evolution is key to understanding the origin and maintenance of the diversity of life on Earth. This course reviews the dynamics of genetic variation in populations through evidence from natural history, experimentation, and theory. Topics include: natural selection, genetic drift, inbreeding, mutation, and geographic structure of populations, and will be reinforced through examination and discussion of primary literature. Prerequisites: BIOL SCI 215 and 219.

View BIOL_SCI 342-CN Sections
Immunobiology BIOL_SCI 355-CN

Immunobiology is the study of the response of higher organisms to foreign substances and pathogenic organisms. We will examine the role of the immune system in both health and disease. The field of immunobiology integrates recent developments and techniques in molecular biology, cell biology, and physiology. The emphasis of this course will be on the human immune system and how its successes, failures and compromises affect our lives. Students will understand how disorders such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, and autoimmune diseases develop in the context of a failed or over-active immune system. Course grades will be based on quizzes, one midterm, one final, and one homework assignment. Prerequisite: BIOL SCI 210-C or BIOL SCI 217.

There is no available section.
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