Guidelines And Recommendations For Biology Majors

1) Consult the Biology Department Student Handbook see the most recent copy of the course rotation schedule to consider a four-year course of study, then meet with your Biology Department advisor to discuss your plan. This plan will serve as a flexible guide. It will help you to look ahead with an eye to avoiding future scheduling problems. This approach becomes especially important for fitting in courses that are not offered every semester or every year. It will also help you consider the possibility of spending a semester abroad. This basic plan can be revised from year to year, but it will serve to keep you on track.

2a) Keep in touch with your advisor throughout the year so you can be aware of any scheduling changes that are being planned for the following semester or year which might affect you. Success favors the prepared mind.

2b) Be sure you are assigned an advisor in the Biology Department as soon as you declare yourself a Biology major. Often times students want to keep their Elon101 advisor however it is important to get someone in the department who knows the ins and outs of the Biology major best to help guide you. See the appropriate page at the Academic Advising Website to formally declare your major, at which point we can then set you up with a Biology department advisor.

3) Tips for planning your 4 years academically

  • Ideally, you will complete the 200-level courses required for your B.S. degree (Population Biology, Principles of Genetics and Introductory Seminar for Biology Majors) by the end of your second year. Population Biology and Introductory Seminar should be taken in the same semester (co-requisites). Upper-level biology classes are not scheduled so as to minimize conflicts with 100- and 200-level courses because these courses are often prerequisites for 300- and 400-level courses. Students who wait until their junior or even senior year to take a 200-level course in biology often encounter significant scheduling problems with upper-level biology classes or physics.
  • Biology Senior Seminar is only offered in the fall semester.
  • Take co-requisite courses in the same semester. You are required to take the laboratory component of a course (e.g., BIO 113) during the same semester as the lecture component (e.g., BIO 111). Introductory Seminar (BIO 261) should be taken in the fall or spring of your second year along with Population Biology (BIO 212) because your research project in Pop Bio will be a focus for your Sophomore Seminar course work.
  • If you plan to take a course at another university and transfer the credit, make sure you check with your Biology Department advisor as well as the registrar. A four-credit biology or chemistry course from another college or university will transfer if you receive a grade of C or above and you have received approval from the registrar’s office prior to beginning the academic work at the other school.
  • Try to anticipate what classes will best prepare you for other classes. For example, Statistics (MTH 212) is not a prerequisite for Introductory Seminar (BIO 261) but it certainly helps. Biodiversity (BIO 231) is not a prerequisite of Field Biology (BIO 335), but the background supplied is tremendously helpful.

4) Choose your General Studies requirements wisely. Do not view them as courses to get out of the way. You should choose courses that satisfy your intellectual appetites outside the sciences. These courses should help you to develop an expanded worldview. They can also provide a welcome change of pace in a semester packed with science courses. You can also choose to pursue a minor that complements your interest in biology. For example, a psychology minor would add a new perspective for students interested in animal behavior, and a sociology or anthropology minor would be appropriate for for those interested in the evolution of humans. Students interested in wildlife biology and conservation should consider a minor in statistics, math or computer science.

5) If you will be spending a summer or winter term in some activity related to biology, investigate the possibility of receiving internship or research credit to satisfy the Biology Department Experiential Requirement. Your experience might satisfy the experiential component of the B.S. and B.A. Biology degrees. You will not be able to receive credit for such an experience after the fact. You must be registered for internship credits prior to beginning the experience.

6) Plan ahead when trying to arrange a research (BIO 499) or internship (BIO 481) experience. Talk to the professor who will supervise your research or internship prior to registering for these courses. Find out what will be required of you beforehand to make sure you can satisfy the time commitment. Remember, 40 hours of on-the-job experience is required for each credit hour of internship. Internships are available during summer and winter term as well as in the fall and spring semesters. The Biology Department expects at least three hours of research per week for each credit of research. So, students who sign up for two credits of BIO 499 should expect to spend six hours per week working on their research projects, in addition to a weekly one-hour meeting with their research advisor. More details about internships and undergraduate research are provided in the section of this handbook titled “Experiential Requirement Guidelines.”

7) Remember that course substitutions are generally not permitted. You will not be allowed to substitute research, internship or special topics seminars (BIO 37_) for Senior Seminar (BIO 462). Students who do complete 4 s.h. of BIO 499 may use those credits to satisfy 4 s.h. of the Biology Electives Requirement. Additionally, 4 s.h. of biology special topics courses may also be used to satisfy the Biology Electives Requirement.

8) Be aware that graduate or professional programs may require courses for acceptance that are not required, or even counted, for your B.S. degree. Some graduate programs in wildlife biology may require calculus or computer science courses, while some medical programs may require human anatomy and human physiology. If you are thinking about attending a graduate or professional school, it is a good idea to contact them early (sophomore or junior year) to learn about their admission requirements.

(Summer ’15)