Advising

The Undergraduate Studies program in the Department of Biology offers many options for study, research and intellectual enrichment.  We encourage you to develop a program that is appropriate for your particular scientific interests, academic schedules and career objectives.  The biology faculty are available to provide advising and assistance throughout the course of a student's academic career. 

How do I delcare my major?
Sophomores can declare a major by completing a Long Range Plan and submitting it to the Academic Advising Center. You can declare your major any time during your sophomore year but no later than the Friday before mid-semester break during your fourth semester of enrollment. For most students, this deadline is the Friday that spring break begins. The Academic Advising Center provides detailed information on the declaration process.

How do I get assigned to an advisor in the Biology Department?
Once declared, you will be assigned a faculty advisor by the Undergraduate Studies office. The assignments may be based on a student's interest in a particular area of biology or a preference for a particular advisor. Students may indicate their preferences by filling out an Advisor Request Form, however some advisors may not be available to due a full roster or sabbatical leave. New majors are encouraged to fill out an advisor request form in parallel with submitting their declaration. Advisor assignments may be changed on the student's request and may also change because of sabbatical leaves and other demands on faculty time.  You can see the list of available advisors.

Note that Duke's Office of Health Professions Advising is the best source for advising and questions related to pre-health.

Advising during Registration

During the registration period, students meet with their advisors to review their progress and approve a course schedule for the next semester. Advisors will review with the students their official advisment report on DukeHub to ascertain progress in the major. At the conclusion of the advising session, the advisor will check the "Eligible to Enroll" checkbox on DukeHub to authorize a student for registration. 

During pre-registration, it is the student's responsibilty to make an appointment for advising. Advising appointments are usually 20 minutes long and times available for advising vary from one faculty member to another. Contact your advisor early in the advising period, well before the opening of your registration window.

Advising

Undergraduate Studies Office & Director of Undergraduate Studies

The Undergraduate Studies office, located in Room 135 BioSci, includes the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), the Associate DUS, and the staff assistant to the Directors.

The Undergraduate Studies office provides advising for students who have not yet received faculty advisors, whose faculty advisors are unavailable, or who have questions and problems that their faculty advisors cannot address. The DUS should not be a substitute for faculty advisors. However, questions about approval of exceptions, transfer of credit, or advanced placement should always be directed to the Associate DUS. Questions about other administrative matters related to the undergraduate program in biology can also be addressed to the Undergraduate Studies office.

All questions regarding Trinity College requirements, course withdrawals or academic leaves should be taken to your academic dean.

Faculty Advising

Students declare a major in biology by filling out a Long Range Plan on DukeHub and getting their pre-major advisor's approval. Once declared, each biology major is then assigned a faculty advisor by the Undergraduate Studies office. The assignments may be based on a student's interest in a particular area of biology or a preference for a particular advisor. Students may indicate their preferences by filling out an Advisor Request Form, however some advisors may not be available to due a full roster or sabbatical leave. New majors are encouraged to fill out an advisor request form in parallel with submitting their declaration. Advisor assignments may be changed on the student's request and may also change because of sabbatical leaves and other demands on faculty time.

Faculty advisors are available by appointment during the semester to discuss all aspects of the student's academic concerns, including post graduation plans. Questions and problems that cannot be resolved by the faculty advisor should be directed to the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). Any exceptions to major requirements or questions about transfer of credit should also be directed to the DUS. 

Guide for First-Year Students

Can I get Advanced Placement in Biology?

A score of 4 or 5 on the AP Biology exam will provide you with advanced placement credit, Biology 20. However, all biology majors, regardless of whether you’ve had AP Bio or not, will start the same biology ‘gateway’ courses: Biology 201L and 202L. These courses will introduce the three foundations of modern biology: molecular biology, genetics and evolution. The gateway courses will take you deep into the topics, beyond AP Bio, and provide a foundation for other advanced courses in biology.

In addition, advanced placement is possible in chemistry, math and physics, depending on your exam scores and by the decision of the respective departments. Students who place out of the first year of chemistry or math will not have to retake those courses for the biology major. 

Note that although you can only use two AP credits to reduce the number of credits you need to take for graduation (from 34 to 32), any number of AP credits can be used for placement out of introductory courses. So, advanced placement in chemistry, math and physics will reduce the courses needed to complete the biology major, freeing you up to take more advanced courses or courses in other disciplines.

How do I get started in Biology Courses?

BIO 201L  Gateway to Biology: Molecular Biology (taught Fall & Spring)
Introduces major concepts in biology through the lens of molecular biology: DNA structure and function, replication, transcription, and translation. Prerequisite: Chem 101DL or equivalent.

BIO 202L  Gateway to Biology: Genetics and Evolution (Fall & Spring)
Introduction to principles transmission genetics and evolution.  May be taken before Bio 201L with a strong biology background (e.g. AP Bio).

What courses should I take in my first two years?

What you take depends on your preparation (see the table of suggested schedules). It is most important to have some exposure to math and chemistry before taking most upper-level Biology courses. It is also important to take a Gateway courses BIO 201L and BIO 202L before starting the upper-level courses, typically in the sophomore year.  If you are considering summer school, the summer after your first or second year is a good time to take physics.

Suggested Schedule Options for the First Two Years

Placement Options:

First Year Fall

First Year Spring

Second Year Fall

Second Year Spring

 

 

No AP Credits

 

 

 

Calculus I*
MTH 111L  or 122L

Intro Chemistry
CHM 101DL  or 110DL

Calculus II
MTH 112L  or Statistics 101 or above or BIO 204

Organic Chemistry**
CHM 201DL

Organic Chemistry***
CHM 202L

Gateway: Mol Bio
BIO 201L or Gen & Evo 202L

CHM 210DL ***

Gateway: Gen & Evo
BIO 202L or BIO 201L

w/ AP Biology

 

 

 

Calculus I*
MTH 111L  or 122L

Intro Chemistry
CHM 101DL or 110DL

Calculus II
MTH 112L or Statistics 101 or above or BIO 204

Organic Chemistry**
CHM 201DL

Gateway
BIO 201L or BIO 202L [limited seats available for 1st years]

Organic Chemistry***
CHM 202L

Gateway
BIO 201L or BIO 202L

CHM 210DL ***

Gateway
BIO 202L  or BIO 201L

 *If you have not had calculus in high school, then check the math placement guidelines as you may wish to start in Math 105L rather than Math 111L or 122L. 
**Chem 201DL may also be deferred to the second year, Fall semester.
***Chem 210DL and 202L are not required for the major but are strongly recommended for premeds and those planning on graduate school for biochemistry or related areas

Can I do research and independent study?

All biology majors are encouraged to pursue independent research in the biological sciences under the supervision or sponsorship of a faculty member. The faculty member may be in any Duke department, including Medical Center departments. You can register for independent study and receive a grade and academic credit for your research. Most students will complete at least one or two semesters of independent study during their junior or senior year, although some students begin in their second or even their first year. No credit can be awarded for paid work.

There is no limit on the number of semesters your can enroll in Independent Study, although there only two semesters of independent study can be counted towards the major. Independent Study will also satisfy one of the two laboratory course requirements for the major, as well as the Small Group Learning Experience (SGLE) requirement for graduation. Additionally, Independent Study can be used to satisfy the Trinity requirement for a Research Course (R). Students may also request a Writing (W) code for an independent study with approval of their Research Supervisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Many students will have their work published in the scientific literature and use their research as the basis for graduation with distinction. For more information, please visit our independent study page.