United States Air Force Academy

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Life at Every Level


Cadet looking at petri dishes

The Biology Major will prepare cadets to become Air Force officers skilled at critical thinking, grounded in the natural world, open to alternative perspectives, and capable of identifying solutions in complex environments.

The goal of the Biology major is to produce leaders who:

  • are biologically literate
  • use scientific thinking as a component of their decision-making process
  • effectively communicate information to a wide variety of target audiences
  • cultivate attitudes and values consistent with biological literacy

The Biology major offers an effective balance between required foundational courses and cadet-selected flexibility. In addition to the USAFA Core curriculum, the Biology major comprises 9 core courses (including organic chemistry), as well as Biology (3), Basic Sciences (1), and Academy (1) electives. The required courses represent and explore the spectrum of biological levels, from the molecules within cells to the organisms within ecosystems; the elective courses allow emphasis in environmental and organismal biology, cellular and molecular biology, and human biology. The strong biological foundation provided by these required courses, together with the flexibility and specialization provided by the electives, will allow cadets to tailor an academic program to meet their own interests, to pursue specialized areas of interest, or to prepare for advanced degrees/careers in the Air Force Medical Service (medicine, dentistry, nursing, physician assistant, aerospace physiology, bioenvironmental engineering, and physical therapy). Upon graduation, cadets can enter a wide variety of career fields in the U.S. Air Force.

The most effective approach to the Biology major involves some early intentional scheduling of USAFA Core courses. Cadets should enroll in Chem 100 and Chem 200 in their four-degree (freshman) year. Biology 215 is a prerequisite for the Biology majors’ courses, and should be taken by the Fall semester of your three-degree (sophomore) year. However, if transferring from another major, cadets can still complete a Biology major in two years.

The Biology major is designed such that, by completion of our multi-disciplinary curriculum, our graduates shall demonstrate that they have attained the following Student Learning Outcomes:

  • an ability to apply a strong conceptual foundation of biological knowledge
  • an ability to apply scientific and quantitative reasoning
  • an ability to apply modeling and simulation
  • an ability to operate within the multidisciplinary nature of Science
  • an ability to effectively interpret and communicate scientific information, including ethical and social controversies, to a targeted audience
  • an ability to independently investigate and seek answers about the natural world (matter, energy, time, and their relationships)
  • development of a thoughtful perspective on the inherent value of the natural world and humanity’s relationship to it
Within the Air Force
  • Any Rated or Line of the Air Force AFSC
  • 44XX: Medical Doctor
  • 43AX: Aerospace & Operational Physiologist
  • 46FX: Flight Nurse
  • 47GX: Dentist
Outside the Air Force
  • Physical therapist
  • Bioenvironmental engineer
  • Conservation Scientist
  • Nutritionist
  • Vertebrate Zoology
  • Botany
  • Genetics
  • Anatomy and Physiology: Sensory and Motor Integration
  • Principles of Evolution
Beh Sci 110
Chem 100
Chem 200
Comp Sci 110
English 111
For Lang 1
For Lang 2
History 100
Math 141
Math 142
Biology 215
Biology 330
Biology 332
Chem 230
Econ 201
English 211
Engr Mech 220
Law 220
MSS 251
Physics 110
Pol Sci 211
Aero Engr 315
Biology 331
Biology 360
Biology 363
Biology 380
Biology Opt
ECE 315
History 300
Math 356
Philos 310
Sci Breadth Opt
STEM Option
Academy Opt
Astro Engr 310
Biology 459
Biology 480
Biology Opt
Biology Opt
Open Opt
Sociocult Opt
Soc Sci 311

For full program requirements and course descriptions, download the current Course of Instruction Handbook.


Environmental and Organismal Biology Option
Combines knowledge the physical world, the human element and problem-solving skills to understand man’s role and impact on the planet Earth.

Bioenvironmental Engineering Option
Applies engineering and scientific knowledge and techniques to identify and manage risks for health protection; develop procedures, techniques and equipment; conduct and supervise engineering services and participate in medical facility programs.

Cellular and Molecular Biology Option
Combines the study of biochemical and cellular-level processes to understand the rapidly growing fields of genetic engineering, immunology, disease defense, hormonal control, aging and cancer.

Human Factors and Performance Option
Allows cadets to study the physical, physiological, mechanical and psychological factors related to the man-machine interface (human factors) or to optimizing and teaching neuromuscular skills (performance, athletics).

Aerospace Physiology Option
Studies the management of aerospace physiological training and hyperbaric therapy units, performance of research and provision of expertise on the human aspects of manned high-altitude/high-speed flight (including space flight).

Physical Therapy Option
Prepares cadets to provide professional care that can be applied to patients referred from most disciplines of medicine.

Professional or Advanced Degree Option
Designed for cadets pursuing graduate school or a professional health degree.


We accept AP credit toward Bio 215 (Introductory Biology with Laboratory) for sufficiently high scores on the AP Biology exam. The transfer of credits for equivalent courses is handled on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by the Department Head and the Biology 215 Course Director.


Dr. David Hale
Associate Professor of Biology
(719) 333-6035