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Academic Advising In Biology

Advising Guide for Biology majors

Download the advising guide (.pdf, 260kb) for Biology majors.

Upon arrival at Binghamton University

 Freshman and transfer student orientation sessions are held in the summer. These are very important because students learn what courses they should be taking for the biology major. They also register during orientation session.

Declaration of the Biology Major or Minor

Transfer students can declare their major at orientation or at any time thereafter.

Students who enter Binghamton University as freshmen may declare the major at any time after they have completed at least 12 credits in college, at least 8 of which are in the introductory biology, chemistry, physics or college level mathematics courses. They initiate this process by meeting with a Biology faculty advisor. The advising schedule is posted on the Biology Department website every semester.  Exceptions are made for students with NY State STEM funding.

When preparing for the appointment, students who have had science and mathematics courses at other colleges must bring appropriate pages from course catalogs or on-line academic bulletins so that the advisor can determine which courses satisfy Biology degree requirements. For example, students who have taken biology and chemistry courses elsewhere should bring the entire listing of biology and chemistry courses offered by that college. This is so advisers can determine whether the course was at the level for science majors, or courses for non-majors. Be sure to keep your appointment.

Considering your interests and career goals, you and your advisor will discuss the major to select – the B.A. or the B.S. and in the case of the B.S., the concentration that is best for you. Your advisor will discuss with you the courses that you plan to take to fulfill requirements for your major. You should also discuss plans you might have regarding internships, research, jobs, summer programs, or volunteer service relative to your career plans. The actual declaration of major consists of filling out and signing a short form.

Students may not major in both Biology and Biochemistry, or in both Biology and Integrative Neuroscience.

Students must have completed 60 credits before declaring a minor.

Listserv for Biology majors and minors

At any time, whether before or after declaration of a Biology major or minor, students are encouraged to consult with official Biology-faculty advisors or other Biology faculty members for advice. At the time that you declare your major, you should sign up to be on the listserv sent out to Biology majors and minors. To do this, go to the website and follow instructions to sign up in the biomaj-l listserv. It is highly recommended that you use your Binghamton e-mail address so that you will be registered in the listserv from semester to semester. If you use another e-mail address, you should repeat the registration process every semester.

DARS report and  transcript  

The DARS, accessible through BUBrain, is a Degree Audit Reporting System that helps students to determine how close they are to completing degree requirements in their chosen major. A Biology faculty advisor can help answer questions or solve problem situations that arise relative to those requirements that pertain directly to the Biology major. All other questions should be brought to the Harpur College Academic Advising Office. Students’ academic transcripts of courses taken at Binghamton University are also accessible by the student through BUBrain. Advanced Placement and transcripts of courses taken at other institutions are also accessible through other sections of BUBrain.

It is VERY IMPORTANT that you check your DARS report thoroughly every semester and especially when registering for courses to be taken in the last two semesters before you graduate that will give you time to complete.

Course selection and registration

Registering for a course that has several components – lecture, discussion, laboratory
Closed out of a course?
Typical course load for full-time students
AP and College-level courses in high school 
Deciding whether to drop a course or change grading option 
Becoming involved in an internship
Enrolling in a course at another institution
Unforeseen circumstances that interfere seriously with courses

Registering for a course that has several components - lecture and discussion / laboratory
In the course schedule for the semester that you are registering for, you will see a course, e.g. Biology 117. In the list, you will find Lec 90 and then several "Dis" (Discussion) and "Activity" (in other words, Laboratory) sections. First, make sure that your schedule can accommodate the time when Lec 90 meets. Then, select a discussion and laboratory section that meets your needs. Finally, register in all three. BUBrain has a CRN for each component.  Sometimes, there are two CRNs for lectures that are scheduled at the same time and in the same room.  Check for the CRN that corresponds to your major. 

Closed out of a course?
BUBrain specifies the seat capacity for each section, how many are taken, and how many remain.  If the course is cross-listed (for example, Biology 301 and Biochemistry 301), BUBrain also specifies the seat capacity in all sections added together, the sum of seats taken and the sum of seats remaining.  If there are no remaining seats that you can register in, some faculty members will accept petition forms that can be downloaded here (.pdf, 58kb).

Make certain that you fill out the form completely and that you have resolved any schedule conflicts. Otherwise, your petition cannot be processed and the seat may be given to another student.  Consult a Biology faculty advisor if you cannot register in enough courses to be fully enrolled or to graduate.     

Typical course load for full-time students
Most of the courses offered carry 2 or 4 credits. In Biology, usually, each credit hour may represent one hour of lecture a week, one hour of discussion a week or three to four  hours of laboratory a week. Although the minimum number of credit hours to be a full-time student is 12, the typical course load is 16 credit hours. If this turns out to be too much, you can drop a 4-credit course and still be a full-time student. You cannot drop a course if you only carry 12 credit-hours to begin with. This is very important for students on financial aid who must be full-time students. You may not register for more than 18 credit hours except by successful petition under exceptional circumstances to Academic Advising. We strongly discourage freshmen and beginning transfer students from overloading.

Students are strongly advised to pace themselves. Do not attempt more than two courses in the Mathematics and Science division in the first year. After that, you will be able to judge for yourself what you can undertake.

AP and college-level courses in high school
The commonly occurring situations are described below. In ALL cases, be sure that your DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System) report shows the credits that you think you should have. If you have a problem getting credit for a biology course, see an official Biology-faculty advisor.

Advanced Placement in Biology
A score of 5: Equivalent to Biology 117 and 118, which will both be automatically credited to you. You can proceed on to upper-level courses but it may be advisable to wait at least one semester before doing so since most students in those classes will be upper-level students who have already learned what college courses demand of students. Concentrate first on your introductory chemistry courses and other mathematics and science electives required for the major.

A score of 4: This is equivalent to either BIOL 117 OR BIOL 118. A Biology faculty advisor can help you decide which one to take.  Once you take one course, your AP Biology will be made equivalent to the course you did not select.  If this does not show up on your DARS, see a Biology faculty advisor.

A score of 3: You will receive general college credit but must take our entire introductory biology sequence BIOL 117 and 118.

International Baccalaureate
A score of 7 in the high level examination will be equivalent to Biology 117 and 118. A student who received a score of 6 in the high level examination would take either Biology 117 or Biology 118. The student must see a Biology faculty advisor to get this done.

College-level course
If you have finished an 8-credit college level biology course (with labs) meant for students going to be biology majors, you will get credit for BIOL 117 and 118. For other configurations of introductory courses, you should see a Biology faculty advisor

Advanced Placement Courses in mathematics and other sciences
The Biology Department will apply the ruling of the Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics departments toward specific requirements for the Biology major.

Deciding whether to drop a course, withdraw from a course or change grading options
Students can DROP and ADD courses at the early part of the semester. The deadline for such changes is always listed in the university calendar as the "drop and add " deadline. Students can WITHDRAW from a course. The deadline for such changes is also listed in the university calendar as the "course withdraw" deadline. The student will not be given a grade for the course, but W (for withdraw) will appear in the transcript. This is the same deadline for changing the grading option from a letter grade to Pass/Fail. A biology course taken with the Pass/Fail option does not fulfill Biology course requirements for the Biology major, with the exception of courses with mandated P/F options. Besides considering the grade expected from the course, students should also consider how the P/F grade may be viewed in the future by someone making decisions about entry to graduate schools or employment.

Except for BIOL 494, 495, 496 and 497, Biology courses must be taken on a normal grading option to count toward the Biology elective required for the major. You may take additional courses beyond what is required for your Biology degree with the Pass/Fail option and they can count toward graduation. You may also take the mathematics and other science courses required for the Biology major on a Pass/Fail basis.  Be advised again that this may not be an option for you depending on your career goals. Moreover, Harpur College sets a limit to the number of courses that you can take on a Pass/Fail basis.

Becoming involved in an internship
Some internships may qualify to earn credit as either BIOL 494 or BIOL 495. The rule of thumb is that the work done results in students learning as much BIOLOGY as he/she learns in a course. [Please note that there is a difference between patient care and learning Biology.]. If you think that the internship you have arranged may qualify as BIOL 494 or 495, please refer to Internship section on this website. 

Taking a course at another institution in the summer with intention to transfer the credits to Binghamton
First note that there is a residency requirement. BA Biology majors who arrived at Binghamton University in the Fall of 2010 or later must take 24 credits of the core courses and upper level Biology electives required for the major at Binghamton University. BS Biology majors who arrived at Binghamton University in the Fall of 2010 or later must take 32 credits of the core courses and upper level Biology electives required for the major at Binghamton University. For students who arrived earlier, the residency requirements are listed in the bulletin of the year they arrived at the university.

Download the transfer credit petition form. (.pdf, 48kb)

Fill it out and either see a biology faculty advisor or drop it off at the Biology Dept. office in Science 3 Rm 210. Provide links to descriptions of ALL the courses taught by the relevant department of that institution. Before deciding to take mathematics and science courses elsewhere, consider that that someone making decisions about entry to graduate schools or employment will also take into consideration the rigor of the course and the institution offering the course. Also consider that there is a residency requirement for the biology major and for Harpur College.

Unforeseen circumstances that interfere seriously with courses
Contact the office of the Dean of Students




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Last Updated: 2/23/15