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. All biology majors will start the biology ‘gateway’ courses: Students with Biology AP 5 may take Biology 203L in the Spring semester.  All students may take Biology 201L and 202L (if not 203L). 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?

First‐year students can explore biology with first‐year seminars (Biology 89S and Focus courses); biology courses numbered < 200 do not count toward the biology major but are often a great way for students to explore their interest and gain background in biology. There are two introductory course sequences for the biology major:

Sequence 1. For any student: Two-Course Gateway Sequence

Biology 201L: Molecular Biology, requires Chem 21 (AP 5) or 101DL or 110DL* (offered Fall & Spring)
Biology 202L: Genetics and Evolution,  no prerequisite (offered Fall & Spring)

 This is the normal sequence for students without AP 5 in Biology. Students may take these courses in any order.  However, although Biology 202L has no formal prerequisites, it does build on basic molecular biology concepts and vocabulary learned in a prior biology courses. Students who took Biology 201L, AP Biology, or who otherwise have a strong preparation in biology typically perform better in Biology 202L than students without a prior biology course.
 
Sequence 2. For students with Biology AP 5: One-Course Gateway Sequence

Biology 203L: Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Evolution,  requires Biology AP 5, and Chem 21 (AP 5) or 101DL or 110DL*  (offered Spring only)  
      
Biology 203L will cover the same material as Biology 201L and 202L in a one semester course. Therefore students who have taken Biology 201L or 202L may not take Biology 203L. Prospective biology majors must take either Biology 203L (if they have Biology AP 5), or both Biology 201L and Biology 202L.  Biology majors who satisfy their Gateway requirement with Biology 203L will have the opportunity to take an additional upper-level elective course, in lieu of the second Gateway.

*Chemistry course pre-requisites are enforced at registration

NOTES ABOUT COMMON SITUATIONS:
 
Typically, there are few seats available in Biology 201L and 202L for the fall semester – that’s OK.  Prospective Biology majors do not need to take them in the fall and should focus on getting on track with their math, chemistry, and foreign language requirements. Most students planning to take a Gateway course will start as early the spring of the first year, or fall of their second year.

Biology courses numbered <200 are often a great way for students to explore their interest or gain background in biology.  For example, students can explore biology with first-¬‐year seminars (89S courses) and Focus courses, or with 100-level lecture courses. However, these courses do not count toward the biology major.

Prehealth students should expect to take either Biology 203L (if they have Biology AP 5) or both Biology 201L and 202L,  as all the covered material will be on the MCAT.  However, they typically start with Chemistry & Calculus in the fall, and would then enroll in Biology 201L, 202L in the spring or in the fall of their sophomore year or 203L in the spring.  This is acceptable even for students who plan to major in biology.  
 
Students who are planning to major in chemistry, biophysics, biomedical engineering, neuroscience, psychology, or evolutionary anthropology may use Biology 203L. Students without Biology AP 5 may need to complete one or both of Biology 201L and 202L. For the latest updates, check the website for your intended major.

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.