Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

Biology is concerned with the workings of life in all its varied forms. Over the past few decades, the life sciences have been revolutionized by the development of molecular, cellular, genomic, and bioinformatics techniques that are now being utilized to study fundamental processes in organisms as well as applying this information to improve human health, enhance rational management of our environment, develop forensic science, and augment the production of renewable energy with the concomitant sequestering of pollutants, as well as approach ethical and legal issues that impinge on biological discoveries and their applications. The Biology curriculum aims to produce scientists with inquisitive minds who are self-reliant and who seek high quality of information about how the natural world works.

Building on the foundational science courses in chemistry, physics, biology, students in the Biology major learn to use the contemporary tools and approaches that are available to solve problems in areas of the current life sciences. In developing the major, we are first focusing on covering the essential “pillars of biological concepts”: molecular and cellular biology, genetics, and evolution. We also ensure that students are trained in modern methods of quantitative and computational analysis. The major is structured that students can take a diversity of upper-level courses upon completion of the core courses. These 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 biology major allows students to pursue independent research that could lead to an undergraduate thesis.

The Biology program at NYU Shanghai has strong interactive ties with the Department of Biology and the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology at NYU in New York, and the Biology program at NYU Abu Dhabi, as well as with other laboratories across the NYU Global Network.

NYU Shanghai, in partnership with the NYU Graduate School of Arts and Science and the NYU Department of Biology, invites applications from exceptional students for PhD study and research in Biology.

Participating students are enrolled in the NYU GSAS Biology PhD program, complete their coursework at the NYU Department of Biology in New York, and then transition to full-time residence at NYU Shanghai where they undertake their doctoral research under the supervision of NYU Shanghai faculty.

Highlights of the Program

  • NYU degree upon graduation
  • Graduate coursework at the NYU Department of Biology in New York
  • Research opportunities with and close mentorship by NYU Shanghai faculty
  • Access to the vast intellectual resources of NYU GSAS and NYU Department of Biology
  • Cutting-edge research environment at NYU Shanghai, including a thriving community of PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, and research associates, activities such as a regular program of seminars and visiting academics, and links with other universities within and outside China
  • Financial aid through the NYU Shanghai Doctoral Fellowship, including tuition, fees, and an annual stipend equal to stipends received by all NYU Biology PhD students
  • Additional benefits exclusive to the NYU Shanghai program, including international health insurance, housing assistance in New York, and travel funds

NYU Shanghai seeks to cultivate globally-minded graduates through innovative teaching, world-class research, and a commitment to public service.

Our student body currently consists of 1,300 undergraduate and graduate students, half of whom are from China. Students from the United States and some 70 other countries represent the other half. Our faculty of renowned scholars, innovators, and educators are recruited from the world’s best research universities.

In teaching, NYU Shanghai aspires to prepare its students for lives of discovery, satisfaction, and contribution. Students at NYU Shanghai will study with world-class faculty who nurture their capacity for original, rigorous, and critical thinking and with diverse and intellectually gifted classmates. They will pursue a liberal arts and sciences education in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics while immersing themselves in English, the language of international communication. They will master cross-cultural skills in a community where half of the student body hail from China and half represent countries from around the world. Finally, NYU Shanghai students will learn the role that great cities play in human progress and the interdependent relationship between China and other countries.

In research, NYU Shanghai aspires to produce original, rigorous, and important insights across a broad set of academic domains. Such insights do more than extend existing knowledge in predictable ways; they provide fresh understanding that is fully consistent with our observations and, at the same time, promise to have a significant influence on the thinking of others.

In public service, NYU Shanghai aspires to promote healthy development within the many communities it inhabits. It strives to be a responsible actor in the individual lives of students, teachers, and staff; in the local neighborhoods that surround its campus, the district of Pudong, the city of Shanghai, and the nation of China; in East China Normal University, in New York University; in the interdependent society of humankind, and in a truly global ecosystem.

Degree Requirements – 2020-21 Bulletin* = offered in Fall 2021 in Shanghai. The requirements below are from the 2020-2021 bulletin. Please refer to the previous years of academic bulletin if you are following a different major version. Not every course listed is taught every semester, and in any given semester other courses may be offered that fulfill this requirement. Requirements may be met through equivalent courses in the Global Network with prior approval.

BIOL-SHU 21Foundations of Biology IPre-req or co-req: MATH-SHU 131 Calculus or MATH-SHU 201 Honors Calculus
BIOL-SHU 22Foundations of Biology II*Pre-reqs: MATH-SHU 131 Calculus or MATH-SHU 201 Honors Calculus AND BIOL-SHU 21 Foundations of Biology I
BIOL-SHU 123FoS Biology Lab*Pre-reqs: MATH-SHU 131 Calculus or MATH-SHU 201 Honors Calculus AND BIOL-SHU 21 Foundations of Biology I
CHEM-SHU 125Foundations of Chemistry I*Pre-req or co-req: MATH-SHU 131 Calculus or MATH-SHU 201 Honors Calculus
CHEM-SHU 126Foundations of Chemistry IIPre-req: CHEM-SHU 125 Foundations of Chemistry I AND pre-req or co-req: MATH-SHU 131 Calculus or MATH-SHU 201 Honors Calculus
CHEM-SHU 127 ORCHEM-SHU128FoS Chemistry I Lab* ORChemistry II Lab Pre-req or co-req: CHEM-SHU 125 Foundations of Chemistry IPre-req or co-req: CHEM-SHU 126 Foundations of Chemistry II
PHYS-SHU 11 ORPHYS-SHU 91General Physics I* ORFoundations of Physics I Honors*Pre-req or co-req for PHYS-SHU 11 or PHYS-SHU 91: MATH-SHU 131 Calculus or MATH-SHU 201 Honors Calculus
PHYS-SHU 12 ORPHYS-SHU 93General Physics II ORFoundations of Physics II HonorsPre-req: PHYS-SHU 11 General Physics I Pre-req : PHYS-SHU 91 Foundations of Physics I Honors OR PHYS-SHU 11 General Physics I with B+ or higher grade 
PHYS-SHU 71FoS Physics Lab*Pre-req or co-req: PHYS-SHU 91 Foundations of Physics I Honors or PHYS-SHU 11 General Physics I
PHYS-SHU 94Physics II LabPre-req: PHYS-SHU 71 FoS Physics I Lab

Note that Foundations of Physics III is NOT required for Biology majors.

NEUR-SHU 100Math Tools for Life SciencesPre-req: BIOL-SHU 22 Foundations of Biology II or permission by the instructor
BIOL-SHU 250Organismal SystemsPre-req: BIOL-SHU 21 Foundations of Biology I
CHEM-SHU 225Organic Chemistry I*Pre-req: CHEM-SHU 126 Foundations of Chemistry II
CHEM-SHU 225LOrganic Chemistry I Lab*Co-req or pre-req: CHEM-SHU 225 Organic Chemistry I
BIOL-SHU 998Integrated Science CapstoneThis course must be taken in the last semester before graduation.
Note: Not every course listed is taught every semester, and in any given semester other courses may be offered that fulfill this requirement. Requirements may be met through equivalent courses in the Global Network with prior approval.
BIOL-SHU 30Genetics*Pre-req: BIOL-SHU 22 Foundations of Biology II
BIOL-SHU 31Genetics Laboratory*Pre-req or co-req is BIOL-SH 30 Genetics or BIOL-UA 30 Genetics
BIOL-SHU 44Microbiology and Microbial GenomicsPre-req: BIOL-SHU 250 Organismal Systems
BIOL-SHU 50ImmunologyPre-req: BIOL-SHU 250 Organismal Systems
BIOL-SHU 58Evolution 
BIOL-SHU 200Topic: Molecular Biology of CancerPre-req: BIOL-SHU 22 Foundations of Biology II
BIOL-SHU 261Genomics and Bioinformatics*Pre-req: BIOL-SHU 21 Foundations of Biology I AND BIOL-SHU 42 Biostatistics or other Statistics course AND CSCI-SHU 11 Introduction to Computer Programming 
BIOL-SHU 263Developmental BiologyPre-req: BIOL-250 Organismal Systems, or BIOL-SHU 22 Foundations of Biology II
BIOL-SHU 271Cell Biology: Body’s Battle with CancerPre-req: BIOL-SHU 21 Foundations of Biology I
BIOL-SHU 314Advanced Cell Biology LabPre-req: Foundations of Biology I or II or Foundations of Biology Lab
BIOL-SHU 997Biology Independent Research (2-4 credits)* Note that one 4-credit Independent Study is allowed to count towards the Biology major elective. Two 2-credit Independent Studies can’t satisfy the major elective. Students need to fill out the permission form.
BIOL-SHU 999Biology Undergraduate Research ThesisStudents must receive invitation of Biology Area Coordinator
BIOL-SHU 1128Systems BiologyPre-reqs: BIOL-SHU 250 Organismal Systems and BIOL-SHU 261 Genomics and Bioinformatics
CCEX-SHU 116Where the City Meets the SeaPre-req: None
CHEM-SHU 881Biochemistry I*Pre-req: CHEM-SHU 226 Organic Chemistry II
CHEM-SHU 882Biochemistry IIPre-req: CHEM-SHU 881 Biochemistry I
MATH-SHU 160Networks and DynamicsPre-reqs: MATH-SHU 131 Calculus with C or higher grade or MATH-SHU 201 Honors Calculus  AND MATH-SHU 140 Linear Algebra.
NEUR-SHU 201Introduction to Neuroscience*Pre-req: BIOL-SHU 21 Foundations of Biology I and co-req: BIOL-SHU 22 Foundations of Biology II
NEUR-SHU 222Perception*Pre-req: NEUR-SHU 201 Intro to Neural Science or PSYC-SHU 101 Intro to Psychology
Students are strongly encouraged (but not required) to take Organic Chemistry II as a general elective. Additionally, pre-health students may wish to take Introduction to Psychology or another relevant social sciences course, as required or recommended by some medical schools. Students interested in pursuing careers in the health sciences should meet with advising staff early on to ensure adequate course planning.

Nyu Shanghai Acceptance Rate

NYU Shanghai Receives Record Number of Applications for Fall 2021

NYU Shanghai

A record 18,713 students applied for admission to NYU Shanghai in Fall 2021, a 12 percent increase over the previous year. International applicants from countries other than the United States spiked by a remarkable 53 percent, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants from the United States, who still represent the majority of international applicants, also grew by 6 percent.

Earlier this month, NYU reported that it had received a record 100,000 applications for first-year admission to all three of its degree-granting campuses – New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai.  

“With its three global campuses and academic centers around the world, NYU was able to respond with lightning speed at the start of the pandemic by shifting students to other campuses or study-away sites, and creating the ‘Go Local’  program. I don’t think there is another university anywhere that can match the options we’ve provided to our students,” said Annie Lu, Director of Admissions at NYU Shanghai.

The nearly 19,000 applicants — 2,246 of whom are from China — will compete for a chance to take one of 500 spots in NYU Shanghai’s Class of 2025, likely making this fall’s freshman class the most selective since NYU Shanghai was founded nine years ago.

Students from some 155 countries applied to NYU Shanghai this fall with the largest number of applicants coming from the United States, India, Pakistan, South Korea, Canada, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Brazil. Admissions counselors were encouraged to see that International underrepresented minority applicants grew by 6 percent, while first-generation college applicants increased 16 percent. 

“Students from around the world are connecting with NYU Shanghai’s unique mission, and applying in numbers that really demonstrate that excitement. This year is shaping up to be one of the most competitive pools we’ve seen yet,” Lu said. 


NYU Shanghai currently consists of nearly 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students.  Half of the student body is  from China, while the other half come from over 70 countries/regions around the world. A faculty of more than 200 scholars recruited from the world’s best research universities work with students to pursue a rigorous liberal arts education that will prepare them to become globally-minded graduates adept at cross-cultural communication and cooperation. 

Upon graduation, students receive two diplomas: An NYU degree (the same degree granted at NYU’s New York and Abu Dhabi campuses) and a Chinese-accredited NYU Shanghai diploma. Some 60 percent of the recently-graduated Class of 2020 chose to further their education at top universities including Harvard University and Cambridge University, while 40 percent of the graduates joined the workforce, earning job offers from leading employers such as Morgan Stanley, Alibaba, and Facebook.

Applications to NYU Shanghai’s five master’s and 10 PhD programs have also experienced similar gains, rising 40 percent for some programs compared to 2020. The university is currently recruiting its first-ever class of Sociology PhD students and a new class of Interactive Media Arts master’s students. Applications are still being accepted for NYU Shanghai’s programs in TESOL, Data Analytics & Business Computing, Quantitative Finance, and Social Work.  

Last year a record 157 students enrolled in NYU Shanghai master’s and PhD programs. “Over the last five years, NYU Shanghai has leveraged our relationships with NYU’s top graduate schools and steadily broadened our offerings for graduate students in Shanghai. We are enrolling more and more talented and ambitious students to our programs and are very much looking forward to continued growth and achievement,” said Eric Mao, NYU Shanghai Associate Dean of Graduate and Advanced Education.

After receiving a record number of applications for Fall 2019’s freshman class, NYU Shanghai has accepted 966 international students from a pool of 13,807 applications worldwide, resulting in an international acceptance rate of 7%.

Overall, NYU Shanghai received a combined 16,750 applications from international and Chinese students, an increase of 25% overall from the previous year. While application numbers soared among Chinese applicants this year – rising 45 percent to nearly 3,000 total applicants – final admission rates for Chinese students will not be known until applicants find out the results of their Gaokao – or national college entrance examinations – in July. Chinese applicants undergo a separate admissions process and will ultimately represent 50 percent of the student body.

This year’s admitted international students come from 95 countries worldwide and reflect NYU Shanghai’s commitment to building a diverse student body. Students from the United States represent the majority of admitted international students, but the admissions office also sent good news to significant numbers of successful applicants from South Korea, Pakistan, Canada, India, and Thailand.

“This year’s admitted class not only demonstrated excellent academic qualifications, but also an unprecedented level of understanding and commitment to China,” said Annie Lu, Director of Admissions for NYU Shanghai. “They are eager to be here, and we can’t wait for them to join us.”

Overall, the three campuses of the NYU Global Network – New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai – reviewed nearly 85,000 admission applications for the Class of 2023. As in the previous year, approximately 6,500 students are expected to enter the freshman class for fall 2019 across all NYU campuses.

Nyu Shanghai Majors

NYU Shanghai currently offers the 19 majors listed below. 

BiologyBusiness and Finance
Business and MarketingChemistry
Computer ScienceComputer Systems Engineering
Data ScienceEconomics
Electrical and Systems EngineeringGlobal China Studies
Honors MathematicsHumanities
Interactive Media ArtsInteractive Media and Business
MathematicsNeural Science
PhysicsSocial Science
Self-Designed Honors Major (SDHM) 



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