Plan of Study

The curriculum in EEB is based on an initial set of core prerequisites and core requisites (core requisites are required courses which also count as one of the eight departmental classes required for graduation).  Because biology is the most derived of the natural sciences, the core prerequisites and core requisites are more numerous than those for most departments. 


  • 2 terms of introductory biology: EEB 211 and either EEB/MOL 214 or EEB/MOL 215). Non majors can use an AP score of 5 to fulfill EEB 211. ALL EEB majors must take EEB 211;
  • Mastery of calculus to the level of MAT 103 or above, or advanced placement (an AP score of 5 on the AB test or an AP score of 4 on the BC test);
  • 2 terms of introductory chemistry (or equivalent, or an AP score of 5);
  • The first term of introductory physics (or the equivalent, or an AP score of 5; note that medical schools require two terms; physics can be delayed to the junior or senior year if necessary);
  • A statistics course:  SML 201 is preferred.  Other options include ECO 202, ORF 245, POL 345, PSY 251, SOC 301 or WWS 332; the statistic requirement must be fulfilled by the end of fall term senior year.  It is preferred to fulfill the statistics requirement before junior year, but at the latest it must be fulfilled by the end of fall term senior year.

These prerequisites should typically be completed by the end of sophomore year (physics and statistics are two exceptions). Prerequisite courses may not be taken using the P/D/F grading option.

Department Requirements for the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021

Students must successfully complete a minimum of 8 upper-level departmental courses at least 6 of which must be EEB courses. (Only grades of C- or better are allowed for a course to count as a departmental.) 

Students can choose their departmental courses from six areas of study as listed below, but must ensure that their courses represent at least 4 different areas of study (e.g., EEB 309 and 321 core courses count towards Evolution & Genomics and Ecology & the Environment areas of study respectively). 

  1. EEB 309 – a core course. Must be taken by end of fall semester Junior year. Counts towards Evolution & Genomics.
  2. EEB 321 – a core course. Can be taken in either the Junior or Senior year. Counts towards Ecology & the Environment.
  3. 6 additional upper-level departmental courses choosing from these areas of study:
    1. Ecology & the Environment: EEB 321; EEB 346*; EEB 338*; EEB 417.
    2. Evolution & Genomics:  EEB 309; EEB 326; EEB 409; 
    3. Conservation & Biodiversity:   EEB 303, EEB 308, EEB 380*.
    4. Behavior & Organismal Biology:  EEB 311, EEB 313, EEB 314, EEB 329, EEB 403, EEB 404*, EEB 406*.
    5. Infectious Disease: EEB 304, EEB 327, EEB 328*, GHP 351.
    6. Mathematical & Computational Biology:  EEB 324, EEB 325.

*  Offered as part of a semester abroad program

  1. Other EEB elective courses will count as EEB departmentals, even if they do not fulfill one of the aforementioned areas of study. E.g. ANT 206B, EEB 384, EEB 386
  • First semester of organic chemistry and either biochemistry (MOL 345) or microbiology (MOL 380) can each be counted as a departmental course. However, the second semester of organic chemistry will not count as a departmental.
  • Other molecular biology courses (MOL) may count as an EEB departmental with the prior approval of the EEB departmental representative, however the student must have six EEB departmentals to graduate. 
  • It is best to fulfill the statistics requirement before junior year, but it must be fulfilled by the end of fall term senior year (see Prerequisites)

Laboratory Requirement

EEB students must complete an upper-level laboratory course.  In most cases, this will be satisfied by the core course EEB 321.

Pre-medical Students

Students interested in medical school should consider taking EEB 314 Comparative Physiology, Medical schools require 2 terms of physics; physics can be delayed to senior year. The health profession advisers at Princeton recommend that students interested in studying abroad, particularly in EEB’s field semesters, should do so. They recommend contacting them early to formulate a plan of study that allows students to both fulfill the pre-medical prerequisites and study abroad spring of their junior year.

Studying Abroad

Princeton’s Tropical Field Programs. Students interested in learning about or undertaking research in the tropics have a number of options.

1. Panama. The department offers a spring term in Panama in conjunction with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Students take four intensive three-week courses in sequence, beginning with an introduction of key concepts in tropical ecology and conservation. The program also includes courses on coral reefs, parasitology, and anthropology (focusing on Pre-Columbian peoples and their land-use practices). 

2. Kenya. This four-course program on Tropical Biology and Sustainability, also taught in three-week segments, takes place at Princeton University's Mpala Research Centre in central Kenya and other sites in Kenya, in collaboration with scientists there, EEB faculty, other appropriate faculty from Princeton University, and faculty from Columbia University; Columbia students participate in the program. The courses delve into the ecology of savannas, conservation in Africa, the natural history of mammals, tropical agriculture, engineering and field hydrology and paleoecology. 

3. Other. Individual students are welcome to pursue other independent field opportunities, with scientists from the Smithsonian Institution and the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, or other research institutions, such as the School for Field Studies at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, or James Cook University in Australia.

Senior Departmental Examination

A one-hour oral examination, consisting of a defense of the thesis research and general questions in the biological sciences will be held in May.