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 BIOL-181 or BIOL-191 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 appropriate form and submitting it to the Department ADC, Karen Racz.

For the Class of 2021 and Earlier
Biology majors placing out of BIOL-181 must substitute a course from the Evolutionary Explanations subject bin (Bin III); students placing out of BIOL-191 must substitute a course from the Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms subject bin (Bin I). Please be aware that these classes are generally not open to first year students. Please see the Biology Major page for a list of Bin III and Bin I laboratory courses. 

For the Class of 2022 and Forward
Biology majors placing out of BIOL-181 must take both courses from the Organismal Core. Students placing out of BIOL-191 must take both courses from the Cellular/Molecular Core. Please see About the Major on the Biology department web site for specific course information.

Placing out will not reduce the number of courses required for the major. Students placing out of BIOL-181 or BIOL-191, or in exceptional cases both, must take a minimum of four semesters of laboratory work (one intro lab and three upper-level labs or four upper-level labs).

Study Abroad

Biology majors who are interested in studying abroad are strongly advised to take the required core courses (BIOL-291 or BIOL-370/371; and BIOL-230 or BIOL-320/321) on campus. For relevant courses taken while studying abroad, you may petition the department to request credit for the advanced elective requirements of the Biology major. Students may petition for a course taken abroad to count towards the advanced laboratory requirement if it includes at least 33 hours of laboratory/field work. In either case, students should provide a course description or syllabus to their advisor for departmental approval. Please note that we require that at least 5 of the 7 required Biology courses for the major (2 introductory, 2 core, 3 electives) be taken on our campus.

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.