The Self-Advisor for the Biology Major

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GE Requirements
Biology Major Requirements
Errors on your CAPP
Changing your academic advisor

We at the University of Scranton provide you with the opportunity to build a relationship with your academic advisor for the purpose of gaining assistance in planning your educational career, in learning the skills needed for academic success, and learning how to access the variety of resources and services available at the University of Scranton. You are assigned a faculty advisor beginning your sophomore year; the faculty advisors can help, encourage, and guide you to define and develop realistic goals and educational/career plans. If you find it necessary to change your academic advisor, follow the instructions outlined below.

However, as a student it is important that you take charge of your own education. Remember, one of our goals here at the University is to give you the skills and motivation to take charge of your educational, professional, and personal development.  Advising is an educational process that, by intention and design, facilitates your understanding of the purpose and meaning of higher education, and fosters your intellectual and personal development towards academic success and lifelong learning.
Remember that advisors give "advice", which you may or may not choose to follow. Advisors will not and cannot force you to do anything.

A valuable resource for helping you is the University's Advising Website.

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Specific information for Biology Freshmen

As freshmen, your advising will be handled by the CAS Advising Center. Most of the useful information will come from them, as well as from your Freshman Seminar class in the Fall semester. However, feel free to study this document so that you can plan your four-year undergraduate career ahead of time.

Please click here for the an overview of the timeline for Freshman Advising. Stay on top of it!

Specific notes on different areas of your CAPP report

A. Areas required of all majors on campus

1. Social/Behavioral Science (6 credits, 2 courses)

Register for these courses that have a (S) designation. Typical courses include Psyc 110 and Soc 110. SJLA students take INTD 110J and one other course approved for Social/Behavioral Science.

2. Humanities (12 credits, 4 courses)

Register for these courses that have a (C_). These courses are CA (Art, Music, Theater), CF (Foreign Language), CH (History), or CL (Literature) . You must register for six credits (2 courses) in any one of the CF, CH or CL areas. You should get the six additional credits (2 more courses) from any of the other remaining areas, but you cannot take more than three from Art / Music / Theatre area (CA)

For example:

  • if you take three CL (or 3 CF or 3 CA) courses, only two of these count towards your Humanities credits. Your third one will be unused or will count towards your free electives.
  • you cannot take two CA courses and have both of them count towards your Humanities
  • some Theater courses count as CA and some count as CL. If you really want to take two theater courses, make sure one of them is CL (such as THTR 110 or 211).
  • if you are taking a foreign language minor or double major, some of these courses can count towards the Humanities requirements. Some foreign language courses are designated CF, and some are CL. So if you take some foreign language courses for your minor that are CF and others that are CL, then technically, you can fulfill all your Humanities requirements with language courses. Any remaining language courses that you take to compete your major/minor count as Free Electives.

3. Theology/Philosophy (15 credits, 5 courses)

There are four required courses: T/RS 121 & 122 (Theology I and II), PHIL 120 (Intro to Philosophy), and PHIL 210 (Ethics). The fifth course should be selected among the courses that have a (P) designation (it could either be a Philosophy or a Theology course). Make sure that the course that you select has a (P) designation in front of it.

4. Cultural Diversity and Writing Intensive Courses (2 courses each)

These courses have a (D) or (W) designation. You do NOT have to take separate courses to fulfill these requirements - courses may satisfy other program requirements. For example, BIOL 245L (General Physiology) fulfills both your Bio major requirement and your Writing Intensive requirement. Select biology, humanities, social/behavioral, or free elective courses that have either a (D) or (W) designation to fulfill these requirements

5 . Free electives (12 credits, 4 courses)

You can use these to take ANY academic course that you want. These courses CAN count towards your minor as well, but they CANNOT count towards your major. You cannot take PHED activity courses (see #7 below), but the PHED academic courses like PHED 160 (Coaching) or PHED 202 ( Sports Administration) can count toward the free electives.

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B. Areas required of biology majors

1. The Biology Major (39 credits)

  • The General Biology I and II courses (BIOL 141, 141L, 142, and 142L) take up 9 of these credits.
  • The remaining credits come from the variety of courses offered by the department. With the exception of BIOL 195, these courses must have a course number of 240 or higher.
  • At least ONE course should be taken from EACH of the content areas (Cellular/Molecular, Systems, and Multiorganismal).

To help you navigate these requirements, there is a no-credit course called Biol 479.  All this "course" entails is you working with your advisor to complete this checklist (MS Word or PDF format) and assemble any required supporting documentation.  Once this checklist is complete, take the completed form and all the attached supporting documents to the Department Chair, who will then certify that you completed this requirement.

You do not register for Bio 479 via My.Scranton.  To register for Bio 479, see your academic advisor or the Department Chair. 

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2. Cognates (30 to 34 credits)

What is a cognate, anyway? The word derives from "co" (meaning "together") and "gnatus" (or "natus", meaning "birth"). A cognate is a course that is intellectually related to (or "born with") your discipline due to common skill sets or thought processes. For the biological sciences, the cognates are mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

Many of these cognates are required for post-graduate study. The Medical College Admissions Tests (MCATs) include questions on all cognate areas, and medical / graduate schools often require that you have these cognate credits prior to admission. Therefore, these cognate requirements serve a practical purpose as well.

Occasionally, students will transfer cognate credits from other institutions (such as students who study abroad, or students who take summer classes at local universities). When these courses transfer, they may end up a credit short (for example, if an Organic Chem lab is only worth 1 credit at the home institution, and our Chem 233L is 1.5 credits). So you will be short 0.5 credits in your cognate. If this happens, you must obtain a waiver from the department chair, allowing you to waive the 0.5 or 1 credit for graduation.

For the Biology major, the following cognates are required:

a. Chemistry:

  • General and Analytical Chemistry I and II, and the labs (CHEM 112, 112L, 113, and 113L; 9 credits total)
  • Organic Chemistry and Lab (Chem 232, 232L, 233, and 233L; 9 credits total)

Note: Chem 112/113 and 232/233 are "sequence" courses - that is, the courses actually run over an entire year. Therefore, when you select a section for the Fall semester (for 112 or 232), you are automatically registered for the same section in the subsequent Spring semester. So if you do NOT plan to take the second course in the sequence in that subsequent semester (i.e. 113 or 233), you must drop the course from your course schedule.
Unless you have a very good reason for doing so (see the Chemistry Department Chair), you will not be allowed to switch sections from one semester to another.

b. Physics:

  • General Physics I and II, and the labs (PHYS 120, 120L, 121, 121L; 8 credits total).
  • Biology majors may opt to take Physics 140 and 141 instead of 120 and 121. The content/coverage of these courses are identical; however, the problems and applications presented in PHYS 120/121 are algebra based and those in PHYS 140/141 are calculus based (so MATH 114 - 221 are co-requisites for these courses). Thus, the difference lies in your preference: if you really like to use Calculus, then take the 140/141 sequence.
  • Don't forget that if you opt for 140, you must take the 141. You cannot "mix and match"; that is, take 140 and 121.
  • You CAN "mix and match " the labs (that is, take PHYS 140 and 120L). You can also take the labs in different semesters from when you take the lectures.

c. Math: MATH 114 (Calculus, 4 credits) is required. MATH 103 (4 credits) is a prerequisite for MATH 114, so in that way, it is also required.

The rules for earning credits for the mathematics cognate are a bit complicated.

  • you MUST have at least 3 academic credits (take an actual course) in MATH 114 or higher
  • you may waive courses by taking placement exams. We offer placement exams for MATH 103 (and, if you are very advanced, MATH 114). Waivers do not earn you academic credit. They just allow you to take higher courses in which the waived course was a prerequisite.
  • you CANNOT transfer credit for MATH 103 from other institutions or from AP. You can only use this to waive prerequisites
  • you CAN transfer credit for MATH 114 from other institutions

So, there are a number of possible scenarios:

i. You do not have any math credit when you start at the University . If this is the case, take MATH 103, then MATH 114. This fulfills your cognate requirements.

ii. You have MATH 103 advanced placement but no MATH 114. In this case, you fulfill the MATH 103 prerequisite and can take MATH 114. You only earn actual course credit for MATH 114 to fulfill your cognate requirements.

iii. if you take and pass the advanced placement test for Math 114, you are still required to take any 3 or 4 credit mathematics course at the level of Math 114 and above

iv. You have MATH 114 credit (most likely through another school). In this case, you can transfer the CREDITS for MATH 114 requirement, and this filfills the mathematics requirement for the major

So in scenarios ii and iii above, how do you fulfill your required congate credits ? You can take either:

  • Math 114 (even if you have placement for it.... hey, it should be an "easy A"), an advanced mathematics course such as MATH 142 (Discrete Structures), 204 (Math Stats), or 221 (Calculus II)
  • a statistics course such as BIOL 379 (Bio. Stats.) or PSYC 210 (Stats. in the Behavioral Sciences)
  • a chemistry course such as CHEM 350 (General Biochemistry I), 352 (Chemical Toxicology). 360 (Biophysical Chemistry), or 450 (Biochemistry I); if offered, other upper-level chemistry courses (with course numbers 240 and above) qualify
  • another Biology course with course numbers 240 and above (this course does NOT count towards your major credits).
  • upper-division Physics courses (numbered 240 and above) would qualify. However, many of these have prerequisites that typical Biology majors would not have, so this option is often difficult

If you do any of the above, you may end up short with 0.5 or 1 cognate credits. But this is OK - you can still graduate - you must obtain a waiver from the department chair, allowing you to waive the 0.5 or 1 credit for graduation.

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Errors on your CAPP report:

If there are any errors in your CAPP report, or if you need to reallocate courses on your CAPP:

  • Print out a copy of your most current CAPP (you can use WebCAPP to do this) and see your academic advisor.
  • If the advisor agrees that corrections must made, he or she will circle the error, write in the correction, sign the CAPP form and forward a copy to the CAS Dean’s Office.
  • The CAS Dean’s Office staff will review the CAPP and if there is an error, the Registrar’s staff will be asked to make the correction.
  • After the correction has been made in the Registrar’s Office, the Registrar will notify the CAS Dean’s office that the correction has been made.
  • At that point, the CAS Dean’s Office staff will send a corrected copy of the CAPP to the CAS student and his or her faculty advisor. The student can also check the UIS Web CAPP to see if the error has been corrected.

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Changing your academic advisor :

If you find it necessary to change your academic advisor, it is possible to do so. However, we recommend that you carefully consider your decision. Remember that our faculty are often carrying full advising loads, and adding advisees to one faculty member cuts down the amount of time that the faculty member can devote to other advisees. So please make sure that your decision to switch advisors benefits both parties.

Here is the procedure:

  • 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.

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