Department advisors can help students with a variety of tasks and questions including:

Declaring a Major or Minor in Biology

Students intending to declare a major or minor in any biology program other than neuroscience should:

  1. Meet with the UPBM program manager to make a schedule for completing major or minor requirements and receive an advisor assignment.
    1. To book a time, visit the UPBM program manager booking website. All meetings are 30 minutes in length and conducted through zoom. The zoom link will be in meeting confirmation and reminders.
  2. Once the schedule is made, make an appointment with the major or minor track advisor for further review and approval of the plan.
    1. To set up a Zoom meeting, send an email to the faculty advisor with a few dates/times of availability.
  3. Once the UPBM program manager notifies you that the advisor has approved your schedule, file a Major/Minor Declaration Form with the college.

Please note that the initial schedules made are tentative, and students do have the ability to make changes. After officially declaring your major, students are encouraged to visit their advisor periodically to communicate changes and progress.

Requesting an Exception to Major/Minor Requirements

To get an exception, students must consult with their advisor and submit a petition to the UPBM committee of track coordinators.

Suggested Biology Courses for First-Year Students

BIOL 101: Genes, Germs, and Genomics
(Instructor: Dr. Cheeptip Benyajati)

An introduction to selected principles of the biological sciences explored through current topics in biology. Areas of study include the organization of life, the scientific method, and understanding data. Biological and biomedical topics of contemporary interest to be discussed may include but are not limited to, cancer, aging, stem cells, genetic engineering, genetic counseling, the genetic and molecular basis of human disease, precision medicine, and personal genomics, and the human microbiome. Classes involve lectures and workshop-style cooperative learning, which requires students' active participation. This course is designed for non-science students. It is not suitable for students interested in going to medical school or other health-related professions. BIOL 101 can be used in the following clusters: Biological Principles (N1BIO002), Understanding the Biological World (N1BIO003), Chemistry and Life Science (N1CHM0003), Life on Earth (N1INT015), and Technology, Food, and Society (N1INT019)

BIOL 110L: Principles of Biology I
(Instructor: Dr. Michael Clark/ Dr. Alexis Stein)

First semester in a course sequence for all biology majors. The course will provide an introduction to biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, and animal physiology. Emphasis will be placed on quantitative learning and data analysis; weekly workshops will emphasize the construction and interpretation of graphs. If you need assistance getting into this course go to, complete the survey, and the biology department will follow up with you. Prerequisites: Completion or concurrent enrollment in CHEM 131 or equivalent

*Please note that the BIOL 110 course offered during the spring semester does not include a lab. Students who plan to major in biological science should take BIOL 110L during the fall semester.

BIOL 112L: Perspectives in Biology I
(Instructor: Dr. Xin Bi / Dr. Alexis Stein)

The first semester in a year-long introductory course sequence. The material will include diverse aspects of genetics, biochemistry, and molecular and cellular biology. BIOL 112 accesses this material via topics such as genome structure and dynamics, gene regulation, RNA and protein metabolism and function, cellular organelles, as well as genome editing, animal cloning, and synthetic biology. Thus, while BIOL 112 is designed to prepare students for subsequent coursework, it does not present content in the order found in most textbooks. This course also differs from BIOL 110 in that material will be covered in greater depth and there will be greater emphasis on experimental approaches and data analysis. It is designed for confident first-year students with a strong biology background who have obtained a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Biology test, or an IB score of 6. Completion or concurrent enrollment in CHEM 131 or equivalent is required.

Dual Major/Degree Restrictions and Computational Minor Guidelines

Students can declare only one program of study within the biological sciences. A "double major" or "dual degree" in more than one biology major is not permitted. See the sophomore page for more information on double majors and dual degrees. Visit our majors page for the complete list of biological science tracks to which these guidelines apply.

Biological science majors may earn a minor in computational biology as long they comply with the College’s overlap policies.

Incorporating AP, IB, and A-Level Transfer Credits

AP biology credit policy: Students who scored a 4 or 5 on Advanced Placement biology exams receive four general college credits; however, it cannot be used to satisfy any of the requirements for the biology major or minor.

IB biology credit policy: Students who scored a 6 or 7 on the International Baccalaureate exam receive four general college credits; however, it cannot be used to satisfy any of the requirements for the biology major or minor.

AP and IB students eligible to take concentrated introductory course series: Students who received credit for AP or IB biology scores are eligible to take BIOL 112/113: Perspectives in Biology I and II.

AS (Advanced Subsidiary) and A-Level (Advanced) Exam credit policy: Students who have taken A-Level courses and scored an ‘A' would receive general college credit, eligibility to enroll in the BIOL 112/113 series, but will not be approved to receive credit for BIOL 110.

Note: The biology department does not approve AP, IB, or A-Level biology credit for use toward major requirements.

Transfer Credit Restrictions and Guidelines

Students who want to apply coursework from other institutions outside of the University of Rochester* toward their biology degree must provide evidence of the following:

  • Courses were not “pre-professional” in nature (i.e., nutrition, nursing, or technical training, such as EMT training)
  • Courses were offered in the biology department or equivalent
  • Courses counted toward a biology degree at the institution that offered them
  • Courses overlapped in content with biology courses offered at the University of Rochester

Before undertaking coursework elsewhere, students should have their biology courses evaluated, approved by their major advisor, and then submitted to the College Center for Advising Services (CCAS) to ensure that the course can count toward their undergraduate degree. Visit the following website for process overview and biology transfer credit form to get started.

Students who need to transfer credit for non-biology coursework should see the CCAS course approval page for form and further instructions.

*With the exception of the courses specified in the master list of transferable courses at MCC.

Please note that University of Rochester courses must fulfill at least half of the requirements in biology concentrations. These restrictions do not apply to ancillary field courses. Be sure to consult your advisor before considering courses at other institutions.

Getting Involved in Research

Our department has many great ways to get involved in research including:

See getting started in research and finding a mentor for helpful tips.

The Office of Undergraduate Research is another useful resource for getting research funding, learning about undergraduate research conferences, and more.

Becoming a Teaching Assistant

The department recruits undergraduate students to lead workshops, recitations, or laboratory sections associated with many of the courses offered. See the teaching assistant page for list of current opportunities and application instructions.

Getting Credit for Teaching

Students must first apply and be accepted into a teaching assistant position and then sign up for BIOL 390. For more information see the supervised teaching page.

Preparing for Health Professions

Graduate and medical degree programs in the health professions frequently have admissions requirements that include two semesters of introductory biology I and II, biochemistry, general chemistry, organic chemistry, general physics, and calculus. One semester of Genetics is highly recommended. Some programs may have additional requirements such as microbiology. Be sure to check the pre-requisite courses of the programs you are interested in applying to and consult a health professions advisor.

For detailed information on premed course requirements, academic planning, and the MCAT, visit the Applying to Health Professions Programs site.

Biology Advisors

For appointments with advisors send an email to the appropriate faculty person with your availability. See their page for contact information:

In addition to their advisor, students also have access to the following resources: