Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about the Biology Major and Minor

Questions about using Biology for the Lab Science GER

Questions about Introductory Courses and Labs

Questions about transferring credits

Questions about signing up for courses

Questions about the Biology Major and Minor

What are the Major and Minor requirements?

The requirements for both the Biology Major and the Biology Minor can be found at http://biology.barnard.edu/biology-major.  If you have any questions after reading these pages, then speak with your advisor.

What Columbia courses can I take to fulfill requirements?

Most Columbia Biology and E3B courses (as well as a few others) can be used to fulfill Major/Minor requirements or the science GER. It is important to note that there are several Barnard/Columbia course pairs that are mutually exclusive (for example, BIOL BC3360 Animal Physiology and BIOL W3006 General Physiology). A partially complete list of acceptable Columbia courses is available at http://biology.barnard.edu/columbia-courses. Please note that due to frequent changes in course names and offerings, this list may not be complete. If you have any questions you should consult the Associate Chair.

How do I declare a Biology Major?

You should first select one of the faculty members in the department to be your major adviser (see How do I select or change a major adviser? below) and then fill out the Major Declaration Form, which is available at the Registrar. You will need to indicate the name of your Biology adviser and get the form signed by either the Department Chair or Associate Chair.

How do I declare a Biology Minor?

Once you know what courses you will take to fulfill the minor requirements, then you can complete the Minor Declaration Form that is available at the Registrar and get it signed by the Department Chair or Associate Chair.  For more information click here.

How can I use research to fulfill a Major requirement?

Currently the Biology Department is changing the way that research courses are organized. How you use research towards the Biology Major depends on what year you graduate. Details can be found at http://biology.barnard.edu/how-do-i-get-credit-for-research.

What course do I take if I just want to do research for degree credit?

If you simply want to take research for degree credit, not as Major or Minor credit, then you should take BIOL BC3597 (Guided Research). There is no seminar component of this course.

How do I get involved in research?

There is no formal mechanism for finding a research project. You should look at areas of research for faculty at Barnard (www.barnard.edu/biology/faculty.html ) and at other campuses in the New York region to find out who is doing research in an area that interests you. Once you have a few possibilities, contact that faculty member to enquire about possible openings in the lab and projects that might be available. The earlier you start, the better.

How do I select or change a major advisor?

Any faculty member in the department can serve as your adviser. You should pick somebody whose area of biological specialty is similar to yours and/or somebody with whom you feel comfortable. You should then speak with them to determine whether or not they are taking new advisees. If you haven't yet declared your major, then you can fill out the Major Declaration Form from the Registrar, which has a place to include the name of your adviser. If you are changing your adviser, then you can simply fill out the Major Adviser Change form from the Registrar.

Do AP credits help fulfill any requirements?

AP credit is transferred by the registrar's office. If you got a Biology AP score of 4 or 5 then the Registrar will add 3 points to your transcript. In addition, you are exempt from BIOL BC1001 (if you take this course you will lose your AP credit) and can complete the science GER either by taking BIOL BC1002y only or by taking the complete 1500-level series. For the Biology Major and to fulfill the Pre-Health requirements you still need to take the full BIOL BC1500-level Introductory Biology sequence.

Questions about using Biology for the Lab Science GER

What Biology courses can I use to complete the GER?

Assuming you didn't get AP credit (if you did, see the question below the next), you can complete the Lab Science with Biology with any one of the following sets of courses:

BIOL BC1001x then BIOL BC1002y
BIOL BC1001x then BIOL BC1500x and BIOL BC1501x
BIOL BC1001x then BIOL BC1502y and BIOL BC1503y
BIOL BC1500x and BIOL BC1501x and BIOL BC1502y and BIOL BC1503y

What Biology courses should I use to complete the GER if I am Pre-Health?

Pre-Health students MUST take the complete 1500-level Biology sequence to fulfill the pre-health requirement. If you feel that you have a weak Biology background you should speak to a member of the department about taking BIOL BC1001x as preparation for the 1500-level sequence.

I received AP credit for Biology. How do I complete the GER?

If you receive AP credit in Biology then you are exempt from BIOL BC1001 (if you take this course you will lose your AP credit) and can complete the science GER either by taking BIOL BC1002y only or by taking one semester of 1500-level biology. For the Biology Major and to fulfill the Pre-Health requirements you still need to take the full BIOL BC1500-level Introductory Biology sequence.

What about experiments on animals?

There are no dissections or experiments that harm animals in either 1000-level laboratory course. Nor are any animals destroyed after experimentation. Therefore, it is possible to complete the Science GER with Biology BC1001 followed by BC1002 and not do any invasive or harmful experiments on animals.

Questions about transferring credits

How do I get transfer credits approved?

It is strongly recommended that you obtain approval for any non-Barnard course before taking the course. You can get approval from the Associate Chair once you have completed the Transfer Form from the Registrar. (Note: this applies for any Biology course, irrespective of whether you are taking it to fulfill major or minor requirements, to fulfill the science GER or simply as degree credit.)

How do I get study-abroad approval?

It is strongly recommended that you discuss your plans for studying abroad with your Biology advisor before enrollment. In addition, you should speak with the Study-Abroad Dean for advice. Once you decide upon the classes you want to take, you will need to work with the Study-Abroad Dean to obtain approval. She uses an on-line system, which sends links to your preferred courses to the appropriate departmental chairs for approval.

How do I obtain approval for summer courses?

It is strongly recommended that you obtain approval for non-Barnard courses prior to taking the course. You can get approval from the Associate Chair once you have completed the Summer Course Approval form (see Registrar website). (Note: this applies for any Biology course, irrespective of whether you are taking it to fulfill major or minor requirements, to fulfill the science GER or simply as degree credit.)

How do I transfer AP credit?

You need to contact the organization that administers the AP tests (Educational Testing Service), and ask them to send your AP scores to the Barnard registrar's office.

Questions about signing up for courses

Which Introductory course should I take?

The answer to this depends on your background in Biology. Please consult http://biology.barnard.edu/introductory-biology-courses for a discussion of which course is appropriate. If you still have any questions, please feel free to consult with any faculty member in the department.

How do I sign up for upper level lab courses?

Upper levels labs are now listed as L-courses.  To sign up for a lab, follow the L-course signup procedures as outlined on the Registrar website: http://barnard.edu/registrar/registration-program-filing/special-sign-up

Please note that if you receive a spot in the lab, you MUST attend the first lab.  If you are absent from the lab, you will be dropped from the course and your spot will be filled.

I didn't get into the upper level lab I wanted. What do I do now?

If you're on the waiting list for a lab, then there is still a chance that you will get into the course. You should speak with the professor to determine when s/he will offer the course again. Further, you should attend the first lab period to see if any slots have opened up. Realize that we give preferential access to seniors. So, if you are a junior and did not get into a lab, you are almost certain to get into the same lab as a senior.

How do I sign up for a Senior Seminar?

All Biology Senior Seminars are limited to 12 students and students must sign up with the department for any seminar they want to take. Regardless of which semester you plan to take seminar as a senior you must sign up in the spring semester the year before so that we can ensure that there are enough slots available for all seniors. There is a specific date at which sign up begins during the program planning period; this date is listed outside the Department Office (1203 Altschul) as well as various places around the department and also on the website. Simply come to the Biology Office during the hours announced and sign up; it is first-come first-serve. After the official sign up date you can still sign up at any time assuming the seminar still has available slots.