Frequently Asked Questions
The Biology B.S. program is a structured program that requires students to complete additional coursework in the physical sciences and mathematics (i.e., organic chemistry, calculus-based physics, and calculus II).
The Biology B.A. program also has a solid foundation in biology, but allows more flexibility in course selection by removing some of the chemistry and quantitative requirements that characterize the B.S. program. Thus, students in the B.A. program can either add more depth and focus around a sub-discipline or have more breadth, either within the biology curriculum or by taking advantage of the B.A. elective options. Many students use this flexibility to allow them to either double major or explore other subjects of interest outside of the Biology Department.
Admission to graduate programs is not based on the type of degree, but rather on the preparation for their specific program. Since admission requirements vary by graduate program, we urge all students to contact the graduate programs in which they are interested for specific admissions requirements. Students in the pre-medical program will typically complete the B.S. degree since this option automatically fulfills pre-medical requirements as part of the degree.
There are two important things that biology majors should consider when planning to study abroad.
First, Biology B.S. majors need to plan how to fulfill their Introductory Physics requirement. Most students will study abroad during their junior year and this is also a time in the curriculum when B.S. majors are completing their Physics Requirement. Since Introductory Physics is a two-semester sequence, students will need to wait until their senior year to complete the requirement or they make take a calculus-based Physics course over the summer, with department approval. Pre-Med students should be aware that delaying Physics until their senior year may also mean delaying the MCAT. Please see further information from the Pre-Medical Program about Studying Abroad.
Second, both B.S. and B.A. majors should plan out their biology electives to make sure they will complete the necessary electives for graduation. The Biology department allows majors to carry over a maximum of one biology elective for each semester that they are abroad.
Students should get their biology courses approved in the Biology office before they go abroad by completing a course approval form. Courses will not be substituted until your return and the transcript has been received by Boston College. Pre-departure approval is highly recommended for the guarantee of substitution.
To learn more about the Study Abroad process please visit the Office of International Programs.
Yes, students can take either a biology elective or a co-requisite course (Chemistry, Math, or Physics) in a summer session. Students must get these courses pre-approved by the individual department before they register for a summer course. Students seeking approval for a biology elective should print out the course description and bring it to the Biology office in Higgins 355.
Summer classes must be taken at a four-year college or university. University Student Services also provides additional details about summer courses on their Academic Policies page.
Introduction to Physiology (BIOL 3030) is a freshman/sophomore course with broad, comprehensive coverage of physiology. This course has a pre-requisite of BIOL 2000 (Molecules and Cells) and is specifically designed for students in the pre-medical program (biology majors and non-majors). This course does not have a laboratory.
Human Physiology with Lab (BIOL 4330) is restricted to juniors and seniors and has a pre-requisite of BIOL 3030 (Introduction to Physiology).
IMPORTANT NOTE: Students planning on attending post-graduate programs in health fields that require a physiology lab should plan ahead and take BIOL 4330 in addition to the BIOL 3030 lecture, depending on graduate program requirements.
Biochemistry I (CHEM4461) and Biological Chemistry (BIOL4350) differ in that Biochemistry I is designed to be taken in sequence with Biochemistry II (CHEM4462). If you are a Biochemistry Major, please note that it is required to take Biochemistry I and II or Biological Chemistry and Molecular Biology; you can't mix and match the two.
Though the Pre-Health Program is a program of study that does not require a specific major, the Biology Department offers access to their advising resources and guides. For further information about the specific needs of your pre-health track, please visit the Pre-Health Department.
Biology BS requirements generally meet pre-medical/pre-dental requirements, though students should research the specific programs they are interested in for confirmation that all requirements are met. Biology BS majors who are in the pre-med program should take Physics 1 & 2 with labs and consider adding statistics.
Non-Biology BS majors should also contact the Pre-Health department for advising on how to meet requirements for their future pre-health goals.
Students should always check directly with the graduate program of their interest since admissions requirements will vary by graduate program. However, these students should consider coursework in the following areas.
Anatomy and Physiology:
Many post-graduate allied health professions require an A&P sequence, often with accompanying labs. Biology majors will not be given permission to take the A&P sequence through the nursing program. Rather, biology majors should enroll in Human Anatomy with Lab (BIOL 4260) and Human Physiology with Lab (BIOL 4330). Both of these courses are biology electives and are best taken in sequence.
Microbiology (BIOL 4140) is a biology elective. This course has an associated lab BIOL 4150 (Microbiology Labratory); it is an optional part of the course and earns the student one credit. Alternatively, students needing a laboratory can enroll in the Microbiology Lab for Health Professionals (BIOL 2210). Since the BIOL 2210 lab is not offered in the same semester as BIOL 4140, biology majors can take this lab before or after taking BIOL 4140, with department permission.