Placement Information for Introductory Courses

Most students should begin with BIOL-181 "Adaptation and the Organism" in the spring semester of their first year and BIOL-191 "Molecules, Genes & Cells" in the fall semester of their sophomore year.  This will require completing MATH-111 "Intro to the Calculus" and CHEM-151 "Introductory Chemistry" or their equivalents--in the student's first year.

If you have AP credit that you wish to use to place out of one or, in rare cases, both Biology introductory courses, please use the following form to seek placement into advanced courses in the Department.  Please note that placement is not automatic and must be approved by the Department.  Return the completed form to the Biology Department office in McGuire Life Sciences 328.

Place Out Form: 

Students who have placed out must substitute an advanced laboratory course during their time at Amherst.  Students placing out of BIOL-181 must substitute a laboratory course from our "Bin III" category (evolutionary explanations); students placing out of BIOL-191 must substitute a laboratory course from "Bin I" (molecular and cellular mechanisms).  Thus, students placing out of BIOL-181 or BIOL-191 must take the other introductory lab course + 3 advanced lab courses (4 lab courses total).  In the exceptional case of a student having placed out of both intro courses, he/she must take 4 advanced lab courses.  Please see the Biology Major page for a list of Bin III and Bin I laboratory courses. 

Petitioning the Department for Off-Campus Credit

The Department of Biology will consider for credit courses taken off-campus (e.g., Five College courses, or those taken while studying abroad).  To petition for credit toward the major requirements, students should prepare a letter to the Department, sending it electronically to their academic advisor and the ADC for Biology and including the following information.

  1. Your name, class year, and advisor's name.
  2. All departmental requirements you have completed to date, including both biology and physical science courses required for the major.
  3. The semester/year you went (or are planning to) be abroad, the name of the program, and information about the course(s) for which you would like to receive credit.  For each course, please include the following information.
    • Course title and number
    • Course description (e.g., from the course catalog)
    • If you have already completed the courses (or have access to the following information), please attach a copy of the syllabus and indicate the textbook used.
  4. Finally, indicate what category of  credit (bin, elective, laboratory, or seminar) you believe is most appropriate for the courses taken off-campus.

Following submission of your letter, your major advisor will bring the request to the department for review and to determine the level of credit to be awarded.  Your major advisor will write back to you with confirmation, and relay the information to the ADC to be entered in your record as fulfilling a major requirement.

Last Updated:
1 September 2016 KAR