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.