FAQs for current students

This page is an ever-evolving page. Questions will be added as they come in. Please do not hesitate to email the webmaster with questions that are pertinent to Biology majors. In the meantime, here are some commonly asked questions.

For FAQs about registration issues in general or general education coursework, click here.
A valuable resource for helping you is the University's Advising Website.

If you wish to submit a question for this section, click here.


Q: Do I have to maintain a certain GPA as a bio major?
A: Yes, you must maintain your GPA at 2.0 or above.

Q: If I get below a "C" in a course, does it mean that I have to repeat it?
A: No. Any grade that is above a "D" is considered passing, and you get credit for the course. However, if you get a very low grade in a major or cognate course, and you are interested in applying for medical/dental/veterinary/graduate school, you may want to consider retaking the course.

Q: If I am a Biology major, am I a "Pre-Med" major as well?
A: This is a common misconception. There is no such thing as a "pre-med" major in our school. Theoretically, you can be an English major and still apply for medical school. All you really need is the minimum course requirements (Chem 112, 113, 232, 233 with labs, Biol 141-142 with labs, Phys 120-121 with labs, Math 114, and a year of English Literature). It just so happens that the Biology major requires these courses as part of the degree. However, if you can take these courses within the credits of an English major, then you can apply for medical school.
Bear in mind that while the above is true, the Biology major provides much of the necessary training for critical thinking, discipline, and work ethic needed for advanced study (such as medical school). Courses do not only teach you content; they also teach you thought process, analysis, and integration.

Q: Speaking of "Pre-Med", how do I find out which courses will help me prepare for the MCATs?
A: The short answer is this: "If you know what you are doing, then EVERY course helps you. If you don't, then none of them will..."
You must approach your coursework with this mindset: you do not take a course to learn WHAT to think, but HOW to think. If all you are interested in is facts and information, you can learn these by reading any book. What is critical to learn in courses are the SKILLS and THOUGHT PROCESSES involved in each academic discipline. Learn how to think about the subject matter. Learn how to synthesize and integrate information. Learn how to analyze material that is unfamiliar.
And remember that "the role of faculty is not to COVER material, but to UNCOVER it".
If all you are learning from your coursework is facts and information, you are going about it the wrong way.

Q: If I am thinking about applying to medical school, does it mean that I cannot do a study abroad semester?
A: This is a common misconception. You CAN study abroad, but it requires careful planning. You also may have to take summer/intersession courses to catch up.

Q: How difficult is it to study abroad for one semester or one year?
A: Not at all. We at the university strongly encourage study-abroad because it is such a rich and rewarding educational experience. The main constraint for studying abroad is a) financial, and b) transferring credits. You can find more detailed information through these links: the University's website, the Study Abroad Program Page, or the Study Abroad Home Page . For more information, consult with Michael Simons, the study abroad advisor.

Q: I go home in the summer, far away from Scranton. Can I take major or cognate courses in another college, and then transfer the credits here?
A: Yes (although we generally do not advise doing this). To do so, what you need to do is obtain a syllabus from the course. Download the form for transferring credits from another university. To approve the transfer, the chair of the department of your course should determine whether the course in the other college, and the course at the U of Scranton are equivalent (for example, Organic Chemistry at Temple University vs. Biol 233 at the U). If he/she deems that they are equivalent, then your form will be signed and you can have the credits count towards your degree.
Occasionally, you might find a legitimate Biology majors course that we do not offer here at the university (for example, a course like Mycology or Herpetology). This is an excellent opportunity for you to broaden your intellectual horizons. If this is the case, you could seek approval from the Biology Department chair for approval, and this course can count towards your major.
We recommend that you try to seek approval BEFORE you take these courses at another institute. It will make your life easier when you try to transfer your credits.
Note that you CANNOT take a course that you have failed in the University by taking it at another institution. For more details, consult the undergraduate catalog.

Q: How do I add a minor to my Biology major? Is there a time limit for when I can do this?
A: Go to the Registrar's office (St. Thomas 3rd Floor) and get the "Curriculum Change" form. Fill it out and have your advisor sign it, and get the appropriate signatures (Chair, Dean). You can add a minor at any time before you apply for graduation.

Q: Is it possible to change advisors within the Biology major? If so, how do I do it?
A: Yes you can. Here is the process:

  • the student should meet with the faculty member that is being requested as an advisor and find out if the faculty member is willing or able to take the student on as an advisee.
  • if the faculty member is willing and able to take the student on as an advisee, the faculty member needs to use department letterhead to write a note to the CAS Associate Dean requesting the change. The student’s “old” advisor’s name should be included along with the student’s Royal ID number.
  • if the request is approved by the CAS Dean’s Office, the change of advisors will be made by the Registrar and the Registrar will notify the “old” advisor to have the advising file sent to the “new” advisor. The "new" advisor will also have access to the student's records through UIS, and will also have the student's registration PINs, etc.
  • once you have done so, please be a "good advisee" by scheduling meetings with your new advisor in a timely fashion (and with ample time before registration deadlines), keeping your appointments, keeping on top of your academic record, knowing the deadlines, etc.

Q: Is it possible for a Biology major to get an advisor from another academic department?
A: You can do this only if you have a double major. In this case, you will still see a Biology Faculty member for advising in addition to the faculty member in your other major. Otherwise, you cannot get an advisor from another department. The Biology faculty are the ones who know the Biology curriculum best; it is to your advantage that you seek advice from them regarding your academic curriculum.
However, this does not prevent you from seeking advice from others. There are numerous resources in the university: the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) can help you with academic issues. The Counseling Center can assist you with personal issues. The Office of Career Services can help you with career questions
and give you helpful advice on job applications and interviews. The Student Activities Office can help you get involved with extracurricular activities on and off campus.

If you wish to submit a question for this section, click here.