Biology (BS)

Program Description

Biology is concerned with the workings of life in all its varied forms. In recent years, the life sciences have been revolutionized by the development of molecular, cellular, genomic, and bioinformatic techniques that are being applied to study fundamental processes in organisms. As a result, there has been a transformation in the understanding of life, from the genetic networks that guide how embryos develop to uncovering natural genetic variation and how life adapts to diverse environments at unprecedented resolution. These and other discoveries in biology are shaping society by improving human health, enhancing rational management of our environment, developing forensic science, and augmenting the production of renewable energy with the concomitant sequestering of pollutants. In addition, the rapid growth of the life sciences has fueled new ethical and legal issues that impinge on biological discoveries and their applications.

Recent developments in the biological sciences have led to a focus on systems biology, which aims to integrate the vast amount of molecular data that can now be captured, providing new insights into how and why biological systems are adaptable and robust. These developments have brought to light the interdisciplinary nature of modern biology, requiring an integrated exposure to fundamental concepts in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics.

The major in Biology offers students the opportunity to learn introductory science in an integrated format in the Foundations of Science sequence and to use contemporary tools and approaches to solve problems in areas of the current life sciences. Intermediate and advanced courses provide a broad and intensive background in modern biology for those interested in careers in research, health-related fields, biotechnology, and education, among others. The advanced courses emphasize the fundamental concepts and principles mastered in the Foundations of Science sequence, continuing the emphasis on using interdisciplinary approaches to understand the natural world.

The major in Biology is taught by faculty who carry out research in state-of-the-art laboratories in various areas in the life sciences. The Program in Biology at NYU Abu Dhabi has strong interactive ties with the Department of Biology, the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, and other laboratories located at NYU New York and within the NYU global network.

Organic Chemistry 2 is not required for the major in Biology. However, it is highly recommended for students who intend to apply to medical or dental school and for students interested in graduate school in the life sciences. In addition, majors in Biology are encouraged to complete MATH-UH 1003Q .

The study away pathway for the Biology major can be found on the NYUAD Student Portal at Students with questions should contact the Office of Global Education.

The program strongly recommends that not more than one biology elective be taken while studying away.


The program offers the following specializations:

Brain and Cognitive Science

Available for Biology majors only.

The Biology major offers a specialization in Brain and Cognitive Science (BCS), which emphasizes the function of the nervous system and places a special emphasis on the biological and psychological processes through which organisms gain and access knowledge.

BCS investigates some of the deepest mysteries facing science. These concern the higher functions of the central nervous system: perception, memory, attention, learning, language, emotion, personality, social interaction, decision-making, motor control, and consciousness. All psychiatric disorders, neurological diseases, and developmental disorders are characterized by dysfunction of the neural systems in the brain.

Experimental approaches in BCS vary from analyses of molecular and cellular mechanisms in nerve cells and groups of nerve cells to behavioral studies of whole organisms. Theoretical tools include mathematical and computational modeling approaches that have proved useful in other areas of science. Experimental questions include issues related to biophysical and neurochemical mechanisms within single nerve cells, functional neural circuits consisting of small numbers of neurons, the behavior of large systems of neurons, and the relationship between the activity of elements of the nervous system and the behavior of organisms, as well as the neural substrate of cognitive processes.

Students who elect to complete the major in Biology with the BCS specialization replace three of the four electives in biology with the following required courses: BIOL-UH 3211 Experimental Neurobiology, BIOL-UH 3117 Molecular Neurobiology, BIOL-UH 3101 Behavioral and Integrative Neuroscience, and one Laboratory Elective such as BIOL-UH 3220 Experimental Systems Biology offered by the Biology program or PSYCH-UH 3617EQ Lab in Visual Neuroscience offered by the NYUAD Program in Psychology. The BCS specialization also requires completion of PSYCH-UH 2410 Cognition or PSYCH-UH 2412 Cognitive Neuroscience offered by the NYUAD Program in Psychology.

Biology majors who seek to complete the BCS specialization are strongly encouraged to complete Organic Chemistry 2 and Introduction to Probability and Statistics, depending on their career goals or plans for graduate and professional school.


Available for Natural Science majors only.

The Biology, Chemistry, and Physics majors offer a specialization in Biophysics which emphasizes the crosstalk between these three disciplines in understanding biological function.

Everything obeys the laws of physics, and biological systems are no exception. The complexity of biological systems, however, is compounded by the fact that they span a broad range of interacting spatial scales from a few atoms to global ecosystems, and that life inherently functions far from the equilibrium. This complexity poses problems for physicists, chemists, and biologists that are at once interesting and challenging. Biophysics addresses these problems through an interdisciplinary approach that builds on strengths in physics, chemistry, and biology.

Biology majors who elect to complete the Biophysics specialization must complete all courses required for the Biology majors, three required Biophysics courses, and one elective selected from the list below. No more than two of these courses can be used to satisfy the elective requirement for the Chemistry major. The other three would be in addition to the minimum elective requirements for the major.


New York University's Office of Undergraduate Admissions supports the application process for all undergraduate programs at NYU.  For additional information about undergraduate admissions, including application requirements, see How to Apply