Placement Information for Introductory Courses

Please refer to Information for New Students for advice on what to take in your first year. At this link you will find examples of paths into the Biology major.

Students with a Biology AP score of 5 who want to consider placing out of either course must first meet with a Biology Faculty member involved with the course they want to place out of, or an advanced course for which that intro course is a pre-requisite. Approval for placing out requires filling out the following form and submitting it to the Department ADC, Karen Racz.

Place Out Form: 

Students who place out of an introductory Biology course 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); please be warned that these classes are generally not open to first year students.  Students placing out of BIOL-181 or BIOL-191 are still required to take a minimum of 7 Biology courses (one intro and 6 advanced courses, including one intro lab and 3 advanced lab courses).  In the exceptional case of a student having placed out of both intro courses, they must take a minimum of 4 advanced laboratory 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:
20 August  2018 KAR