Gateway Courses

The Life Sciences departments offer a variety of gateway courses that serve as an introduction to particular concentrations or fields of study.  Students typically take these courses, which provide a basis for more advanced study, in the sophomore year. Most of the gateway courses also fulfill requirements for related concentrations.

Gateway Course for Biomedical Engineering

Engineering 53: Quantitative Physiology as a Basis for Bioengineering

This course provides a foundation in human organ systems physiology, including cardiac, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal, and neural systems, with an emphasis on quantitative descriptions of organ systems function and control.  The courses examines the ways in which dysfunction of organ systems can lead to human disease.

Gateway Course for Chemistry

The Chemistry concentration does not have a single gateway course.  Chemistry concentrators typically take one or two of the following in the freshman year:  Life Sciences 1a, Life and Physical Sciences A, Physical Sciences 1, Physical Sciences 10, and Physical Sciences 11.  This is typically followed by two semesters of organic chemistry, either Chem 20 and Chem 30 or Chem 17 and Chem 27.

Gateway Course for HDRB

SCRB 10:  Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology.  

This course presents fundamental concepts in developmental biology in the framework of the developing and regenerating mammal.  The course emphasizes experimental methodologies that allow us to understand developmental biology.

Gateway Courses for HEB

The HEB sophomore tutorial, held in the spring semester, is a small, discussion-based course required for Sophomore concentrators. In this highly interactive course, students read scientific papers that focus on key topics in our field, and discuss discuss and write about the findings and ideas that have shaped the field of human evolutionary biology. Topics include cooperation, cognition, culture, race, diet, bipedalism, and more. Through the course, students are introduced to the core questions, issues, and methods in our field, focusing on evolutionary theory, the concept of adaptation, and their application to human evolution.  

Sophomores who are interested in HEB can explore a variety of different courses.  Options include:



  • HEB 1330: Primate Social Behavior
  • SLS 16: Human Evolution and Human Health**

** NOTE: During academic year 2018-2019, HEB Concentrators seeking to fulfill their Evolution distribution requirement with SLS 16 should enroll in HEB 1386, which is replacing SLS 16 for our concentrators in the Spring semester. Non-concentrators should note that HEB 1386 does not replace SLS 16 as a General Education course.


Gateway Course for Integrative Biology

OEB 10:  Foundations of Biological Diversity.

This course provides an integrated approach to the diversity of life, emphasizing how chemical, physical, genetic, ecological and geologic processes contribute to the origin and maintenance of biological diversity.  Topics include the evolution of metabolic pathways, multicellularity and structural complexity; causes and consequences of differences in diversity over space and time; the role of species interactions (including symbioses) as an evolutionary force; and the evolution of humans and their impact on the environment.

Gateway Course for MCB and CPB

MCB 60:  Cellular Biology and Molecular Medicine.

This course provides an introduction to the principles of molecular and cellular biology and their connections to biomedicine. We explore how medical syndromes provide insights into biological processes and how biological mechanisms underlie human disease and physiology. Topics range from DNA repair, protein folding and vesicle transport to metabolism, cell migration and cancer. Lectures focus on the experimental evidence for key concepts, and the weekly sections combine a discovery-based laboratory research project with discussions that emphasize problem solving and primary literature.

Gateway Course for Neurobiology

MCB 80: The Neurobiology of Behavior. 

This sophomore course is the gateway to the Neurobiology concentration and a pre-requisite for all advanced Neurobiology courses. The material taught in MCB 80 provides a strong foundation in molecular, cellular, and systems-level concepts in Neurobiology. Moreover, it provides a survey of the major topics of research and investigation in the field more broadly. This course may also count as a related field course for Psychology, CNEP, HEB, and IB.

Gateway Courses for Psychology

Students who plan to study psychology typically take SLS 20: Psychological Science during their freshman year.  This course provides an introduction to the sciences of mind, including foundational concepts from neuroscience, evolution, genetics, philosophy, and experimental methods, and specific topics such as perception, memory, reasoning and decision-making, consciousness, child development, psychopathology, personality, language, emotion, sexuality, violence, morality and social relations.

Students also take at least one of the following courses during the first two years:  Psychology 14: Cognitive Neuroscience, Psychology 15: Social Psychology, Psychology 16: Developmental Psychology: Psychology of Early Childhood, Psychology 18: Abnormal Psychology, MCB 80: Neurobiology of Behavior, MCB 81: Fundamentals of Neuroscience, or SLS 15: Origins of Knowledge: Developmental Psychology.