The study of life

The Biology Department at UPEI has a strong tradition of helping people realize their potential through deep consideration of the biological world. A scientific understanding of the plants and animals is, in many ways, its own reward. But it is also a pathway to many exciting and fulfilling career opportunities. A biology program is a common route toward the health professions (human and veterinary medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, etc.), for which we offer strong pre-professional programs. It can also lead to careers in environmental analysis, biotechnology, laboratory diagnostics, and many other things. Biology graduates also often establish other sorts of careers (lawyer, business professional) for which the knowledge of biology can be a strong personal and professional asset.

The strength of our educational programs derive from the strength of our scholarly activity and research. Our faculty hold grants from the Natural Sciences and Research Council of Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Atlantic Innovation Foundation, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and Prince Edward Island Health Research Institute, among others. Our faculty have research programs in neurobiology, arctic insect ecology, cancer cell biology, watershed ecology, pollination biology, coastal habitat ecology, animal habitat fragmentation, heart and stroke physiology, aquatic toxicology, plant ecological genetics, among others.

Reilly Sullivan

Reilly Sullivan, a fourth-year biology student and varsity athlete at the University of Prince Edward Island, has been awarded a 2023 3M National Student Fellowship by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE). 


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Course Structure

Note: Current UPEI students should refer to Student Planning in myUPEI and the UPEI Academic Calendar governing their entry year, and speak to an academic advisor about course requirements. The course structure presented for this program is a recommended, unofficial progression for prospective students.

Note: As per Academic Regulation 1h, all undergraduate degree programs require successful completion of IKE-1040 (new for students beginning or returning after re-application in Fall 2022); one of UPEI-1010, UPEI-1020, or UPEI-1030, and a Writing Intensive Course. 



Requirements for a Major in Biology

A student enrolled in the Majors program in Biology will complete a minimum of 42 semester hours in Biology, and additional courses in Science according to the program outlined below. Students may choose to take a general Biology degree or to obtain a Life Sciences or Environmental Biology specialization. Students in the ‘pre-vet’ program should follow the Life Sciences specialization, and may select courses of interest in animal biology or other areas.

Note: Biology 1310-1320 are introductory Biology courses required for all students enrolled in the Biology Majors program. Biology 1310 and Biology 1320 must be completed prior to enrollment in Biology courses at the 3000 and 4000 levels.

General Biology Stream

Core Biology Courses Hours Credit
Biology 1310-1320 6
Two of Biology 2020, 2040 and 2060 6
Two of Biology 2210, 2220 and 2230 6
Biology 3260 or 3820 3
at least seven additional Biology electives at or above the 2000-level that fit the following criteria: at least two must be at the 4000 level 21

Required courses in other departments, and electives to total 120 semester hours of credit as listed under Specializations.

Elective courses in the General Biology Program (can be used as "alternate" stream courses)

*Biology 2020 - Botany
*Biology 2040 - Zoology
*Biology 2060 - Microbiology
Biology 3120 - History of Biology
*Biology 3520 - Molecular Biology Research Techniques
*Biology 4210 - Design and Analysis of Biological Studies




The Honours program in Biology is designed to provide research experience at the undergraduate level within the BSc program. It is available to students with a strong academic background who intend to continue studies at the postgraduate level in Biology or some related field, or to students who intend to pursue a career where research experience would be an asset. Students may also carry out a less intensive research project by registering for Biology 440.

The Honours program differs from the BSc Major program in having a research and thesis component. The total number of courses is the same, five courses per semester for eight semesters, but the honours thesis course counts as 12 credits, so the total semester hours of credit for the Honours is 126, compared to 120 hours for the BSc Major. The research component is to be completed within the BSc program and would normally require the equivalent of one summer (four months) preceding the graduating year. Evaluation of the research data and writing of the thesis would normally be done during the fall and/or spring session in Biology 490: Advanced Research and Thesis.

Course Requirements of the Honours Program

Students may complete an Honours Degree in any of the three Biology streams (General, Life Sciences, Environmental Biology). The program is the same as the Majors program with the addition of Biology 4900, Biology 3310, and two other Biology electives (taken from any stream). These would normally be completed in the student’s final year.

Fourth Year: Honours Biology

  • *Two Biology electives at 4000 level (these must be in the Life Sciences or Environmental Biology lists if students have declared a specialty) 
  • *Two additional Biology electives at the 2000 level or above 
  • Biology 4900 (Advanced Research and Thesis) 
  • *Biology 3310 
  • 1 Elective

* at least four of the required Biology electives must have a laboratory component in all streams.

Honours Entrance Requirements

For admission to the Honours program or Honours Conversion program, students should have a combined minimum average of 75% in all previous courses taken in the second and third years of study; and a combined minimum average of 75% in all previous biology courses taken. Permission of the Department is also required and is contingent on the student finding a thesis advisor, on being assigned an advisory committee, on acceptance of the research project by the Biology Department, and on general acceptability. Students interested in doing Honours should consult with the Departmental Chair as early as possible and apply to the program no later than 31 March of the student's third year.


To graduate with a BSc Honours in Biology, students must complete 126 semester hours of credit which includes 12 semester hours of credit for the research and thesis, attain a minimum average of 75% in all Biology courses combined, and achieve a minimum overall average of 70% in all courses submitted for the degree.  Students failing to meet these requirements may transfer their program to the BSc Biology Program or to other degree programs.

Note: Detailed information to students on the Honours Program is available from the Department.


Minor in Biology


To qualify for a minor, students must complete a total of 21 semester hours of credit in Biology, 6 semester hours of which are required courses. The requirements for a minor in Biology are:

Biology 1310-1320 (6 hours of credit) and any 5 Biology electives at 2000 level or above (15 semester hours)

Total Semester Hours = 21

A researcher looks through a microscope
A researcher looks through a microscope
Course Requirements for the Areas of Specialization


Students may apply for a particular specialization any time before the end of their third year. Those that have not specified a specialization must meet the requirements for the General Biology Stream. The Life Sciences specialization may be of interest to students who intend to pursue careers or graduate studies related to veterinary medicine ('pre-vet'), human health professions, or research/innovation in biomedical or biotechnological sciences. The Environmental Biology specialization may be of interest to students interested in careers or graduate studies related to biodiversity and conservation, or wildlife biology in the modern context of climate change and human interactions. The General Biology stream will give students a broad background in biology, with good preparation for all areas of Modern Biology.

Students may apply for a particular specialization any time before the end of their third year. Those that have not specified a specialization must meet the requirements for the General Biology Stream.

Life Sciences Specialization
(including Pre-Veterinary Medicine Stream)

Core Biology Courses Hours Credit
Biology 1020 or 1030 3
Biology 1310-1320 6
Biology 2040 and 2060 6
Biology 2210 and  2230 6
Foods and Nutrition 2110 or Physics 2430 3
Biology 3260 3
Biology 3520 or Physics 3520 3

at least six additional Biology electives at or above the 2000 level that fit the following criteria:
- at least two must be at the 4000 level and be from Life Sciences
- at least an additional two must be selected from the Life Sciences Specialization list
- at least one must be selected from the Environmental or General Biology lists


Required courses in other departments, and electives to total 120 semester hours of credit as below. 

Environmental Biology Specialization

Core Courses Hours Credit
Environmental Studies 1010 3
Biology 1310-1320 6
Biology 2020, 2040 and 2060  9
Biology 2220 and 2230 6
Biology 3820 3
at least seven additional Biology electives at or above the 2000 level that fit the following criteria:
- at least two must be at the 4000 level and from the Environmental Biology list
- at least an additional two must be selected from the Environmental Biology Specialization list
- at least two must be selected from the Life Sciences or General Biology lists

Required courses in other departments, and electives to total 120 semester hours of credit as listed below. 

Required courses from other departments

  • One of UPEI 1010, 1020, or 1030; and
  • IKE 1040; and
  • One Writing Intensive Course
  • Chemistry:
    • Chemistry 1110 and 1120 (6 credit hours)
    • Chemistry 2410-2420 or Chemistry 2430 (3 or 6 credit hours - credit will not be given for both Chemistry 2430 and Chemistry 2410 or 2420)
    • Chemistry 3530 or Biology 2250 (3 credit hours - required for the General Stream and Life Sciences; Chemistry 3530 or 2020 is required for Environmental Biology)
  • Physics:
    • Physics 1210 (or 1110) and Physics 1220 (or 1120) (6 credit hours)
  • Mathematics and Statistics:
    • Math 1120 or Math 1910 (3 or 4 credit hours)
    • Stat 1210 (formerly 2210) (3 credit hours)
      • Note: Some students may wish to take upper level Mathematics, Chemistry, or Physics courses for which Mathematics 1910-1920 is required: therefore Mathematics 1910-1920 may be taken in place of Mathematics 1120 but the statistics requirement of Statistics 1210 remains. Credit will not be given for both Mathematics 1120 and Mathematics 1910.
  • Other electives: The remaining number of semester hours required to complete the requirements for the Biology major (a total of 120 semester hours) will be made up from courses selected by the students.

Note: Please see Academic Regulation 14(3): Application of Certain Professional Courses.

Suggested Course Sequences

First Year

  • Introductory Biology (BIO 1310-1320)
  • Introductory Chemistry (CHEM 1110-1120)
  • Calculus (MATH 1120 or 1910)
  • Statistics (STAT 1210)
  • Physics for the Life Sciences (PHYS 1210 and 1220)
  • One of UPEI 1010, 1020, or 1030
  • Introductory Environmental Studies (ENV 1010) or a human or animal health course (BIO 1020 or 1030) or Electives

Second Year

  • Biodiversity courses (BIO 2020, 2040, 2060)
  • Cell and Molecular Biology and/or Ecology and/or Genetics (BIO 2210, 2220, 2230, 2240)
  • Organic Chemistry and Environmental Chemistry or Biochemistry (CHEM 2410-2420 or 2430; CHEM 2020; CHEM 3530 or BIO 2250)
  • Nutrition 2210 or Physics 2430. Students interested in a Medical and biological Physics minor should take Physics 2220, Modern Physics for Life Sciences [can also be taken in third year]
  • Electives (to make up 30 hours of credit)

Third Year

  • Core physiology or evolution (BIO 3260 or 3820)
  • Research Methods and Communications (BIO 3310)
  • Molecular Biology Research Techniques (BIO 3520) or Biomedical Imaging (PHYS 3520) [can also be taken in fourth year]
  • *Biology electives (2000 level or above) as indicated above for your specialization
  • Electives (to make up 30 hours of credit)

Fourth Year

  • Two Biology electives at 4000 level from the required specialization
  • Electives (to make up 30 hours of credit)

List of Courses that may be used towards the specialization areas in Biology

  • Courses in the "General Biology" section may be used as "alternate electives" in any specialization
  • Certain Biology 4410 (Directed studies) or 4420 (Special Topics) courses, or courses transferred from other universities for Biology credit, may be credited to one specialization or the other with prior permission of the Chair.
  • Courses that are required components for one specialization or the other (e.g. Biology 2210 and 3260 for the Life Sciences specialization; Biology 2220 and 3820 in the Environmental Biology specialization can be counted as "alternate" electives for the other specialization. Bio 2020, 2040 and 2060 may also be counted as alternate electives when not used to satisfy core requirements for either specialization in the second year.

Elective courses in the Life Sciences Specialization

*Biology 2260 - Human Anatomy and Histology
Physics 2430 - Physics of the Human Body
*Biology 3110 - Plants and People
Biology 3750 - Medical Microbiology
Biology 3220 - Bioinformatics
*Biology 3230 - Genetics II
*Biology 3040 - Vertebrate Zoology
*Biology 3240 - Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
*Biology 3350 - Animal Behaviour
*Biology 3710 - Life of Mammals
*Biology 4010 - Human Physiology and Pathophysiology
*Biology 4020 - Comparative & Environmental Vertebrate Physiology
*Biology 4030 - Developmental Biology
*Biology 4040 - Endocrinology
*Biology 4050 - Medical Biology
Biology 4350 - Biology of Sex
Biology 4710 - Molecular Biotechnology
*Biology 4720 - Biology of Cancer and Other Diseases
Biology 4750 - Basic and Clinical Immunology
Paramedicine 4010 - Social Determinants of Health
Foods and Nutrition 4520 - Aging: Biological & Lifestyle Perspectives

Refer to the current admission requirements to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program.

Elective courses in the Environmental Biology Specialization

*Biology 3040 - Vertebrate Zoology
*Biology 3140 - Plant Community Ecology
*Biology 3270 - Field Coastal Ecology
*Biology 3350 - Animal Behaviour
*Biology 3510 - Ornithology
*Biology 3610 - Biology of Fishes
*Biology 3660 - Plant-Animal Interactions
*Biology 3710 - Life of Mammals
*Biology 3910 - Marine Biology
*Biology 4110 - Wildlife Biology
*Biology 4130 - Conservation Genetics
*Biology 4520 - Biogeography and Macroecology
*Biology 4540 - Biodiversity and Conservation Ecology
*Biology 4620 - Watershed Ecology
*Biology 4650 - Marine Community Ecology
*Biology 4850 - Environmental Toxicology

Co-operative Education
Combining classroom studies with practical work experience

The UPEI Co-op Program is an integrated approach to university education which enables students to alternate academic terms on campus with work terms in suitable employment. The success of such programs is founded on the principle that students are able to apply theoretical knowledge from course studies in the workplace and return to the classroom with practical workplace experience. Students who successfully complete all the requirements of the program will have the notation entered on their transcripts and on the graduation parchment.

Students accepted into the program complete at least three paid work terms of normally 14 weeks duration, and three professional development courses. Credits earned through completion of work terms are counted as general electives.

The Co-op option is available to full-time students in the Biology Major or Honours program Applications to the Co-op Education Program are normally made after completion of the first year of study. Credits earned through completion of work terms are counted as general electives.

Visit the Co-operative Education Program website for more information.

Admissions Criteria
What's required for Science admission?

High School Graduates

Canadian High School Equivalency Chart

  • Grade 12 Academic English
  • Grade 12 Academic Mathematics
  • Two Grade 12 Academic Science subjects (acceptable subjects: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Computer Science, Oceanography, Animal Science, Environmental Science)
  • One additional Grade 12 Academic course

Please note: Successful completion of Grade 12 Chemistry (or equivalent) is required as a prerequisite for permission to register in CHEM-1110.

Please refer to the UPEI Academic Calendar for complete admissions information.

Fees and Funding
Faculty of Science Programs Tuition

UPEI's undergraduate tuition is the second-lowest in the Atlantic region, and we offer millions of dollars in scholarships and awards. 


$6,828 per year, based on 30 credit hours ($682.80 per 3 credit course).
International students pay $8,010 per year in addition to full-time student tuition.

For a complete breakdown of part-time or full-time study as a student in the Faculty of Science, visit our Tuition and Fees page.

Scholarships and Awards

UPEI supports you and your educational goals. We administer millions of dollars in scholarships and awards to our undergraduate and graduate students every year. Depending on your faculty or program, and year of study, you may be eligible for available awards.

Search the complete list of scholarships for information and application forms. 

Celebrating Student Achievement

Including Guaranteed Entrance Scholarships and Academic Excellence Awards, these awards recognize the academic achievements of all students who meet the eligibility criteria while studying towards their first undergraduate degree.

Visit the Scholarships site for complete information.

Faculty Members
Your mentors. Our professors.

UPEI has about 250 faculty—exceptional scholars, teachers, and mentors, with more being hired each year as we open new, progressive, and unique programs. But the story isn’t just in the numbers. It’s in the quality of our people. Award-winning faculty from around the globe have made UPEI home. Here, you’ll learn directly from these world-class professors and researchers in small classes where you’ll have easy access to them.