Students who are interested in any of the Program in Biology majors or minors are encouraged to check in with our office early in their academic careers.
It is not necessary to complete every prerequisite before declaring a major in the Program in Biology. See a major advisor or visit the Peer Advising team for more information!
To schedule an advising appointment, please visit the Biology online scheduling site. U-M login is required. Appointments are scheduled for 30 minutes; the duration of the appointment will depend upon what the student wishes to discuss. Students may discuss any aspect of their academic careers! (NOTE: Please be advised that the first three weeks and the last three weeks of fall and winter terms are the busiest times for advising in the Program in Biology. During this time it may take one or two weeks to get an appointment, so plan ahead.)
Peer Advisor Walk-in Advising
Drop-in advising with Peer Advisors will be available during busy times of the year and will be published at the office, on this site, and via email announcements! (Meet this year's Peer Advisors.) If you have an immediate concern, you may stop by anytime to see if an advisor or staff member has time to answer a quick question. You may have to wait, but we can usually provide some immediate assistance. Complicated issues will likely require a follow-up appointment.
Request a Major/Minor Release Online
Major/minor releases can be requested without an advising appointment only for students who meet the following criteria:
- Declared Program in Biology or Neuroscience major or minor
- LSA Online Audit Checklist is error-free
If these apply to you, you may request a release online (no appointment necessary).
[Note: If these do not apply to you, please make an advising appointment.]
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
What is the "Program in Biology?"
The Program in Biology is made up of two departments: the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department (EEB) and the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) Department. There are seven majors and three minors offered through the Program in Biology (some with other departments' participation).
The majors are: Biology, Biology, Health, & Society, Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology (MCDB), Ecology & Evolutionary Biodiversity (EEB), Microbiology, Neuroscience, and Plant Biology. You should meet with an advisor to discuss the differences amongst the majors and determine which one is right for you.
How do I choose and declare a major?
If you are just beginning your career at Michigan, it is not necessary to decide on a specific major right away. Instead, you should decide whether or not you are interested in pursuing a degree in science. If you are interested in any of the natural sciences, we suggest you begin the prerequisite courses as soon as possible. Specifically, we recommend taking the chemistry and math prerequisites in your freshman year and taking BIOLOGY 171, 172, and 173 (the introductory biology sequence) no later than your sophomore year. Once you have taken a majority of the prerequisite courses, including Introductory Biology, you will be in a position to make an informed decision on what concentration to choose based on your interests.
Once you have decided on what major or minor you wish to declare, you must make an appointment with a major advisor. During this meeting the advisor will help you fill out the appropriate paperwork to officially submit your declaration in a major or minor program.
You should have a major GPA of at least a 2.0 to declare a major, and prerequisite courses for the major are included in the GPA calculation. You should meet with a major advisor to discuss the program and your plans to declare early in your college career.
You may declare before you finish all of the prerequisites, but an advisor may recommend that you take additional course work if you have not demonstrated an aptitude for the biological sciences.
How does AP credit count toward my major?
Students who receive a score of 4 or 5 on the Biology AP test will receive credit for Biology 195, and are eligible to register for any course listing introductory biology as a prerequisite.
Students who receive a score of 3 on the AP exam will receive credit for biology 100. Such students will need to take Biology 171, 172, and 173 to satisfy their introductory biology requirements.
Can I elect two majors (or a major + minor) within Biology?
You cannot elect two majors offered by the same department. For example, if you declare a Biology major, you would not be able to elect a CMB or EEB major because the Biology major is administered by both the EEB and MCBD departments.
One notable exception is the election of an EEB major/minor and either a CMB or Neuroscience major. This is because the EEB major is administered solely by the EEB department, the CMB major is administered solely by the MCDB department, and the Neuroscience major is administered by the MCDB and Psychology departments.
Aside from the exception noted above, an academic minor in Biology, EEB, or Plant Biology is not open to students electing a major in the Program in Biology or Biochemistry, nor to students who are electing an academic minor in Environmental Studies or Global Change.
What are the grade requirements for the majors?
A passing grade for a course taken in the Program in Biology is D-.
A major GPA of 2.0 is recommended in order to declare a major and required to graduate. All prerequisites, major courses, courses from the department(s), and cognate courses are used in the calculation.
Note: If a course has been repeated, both grades will be used to calculate the major GPA. That is, if you earned a D+ in a class, repeated the course and earned a B, the credits and honor points for both the D+ and B will be included in the major GPA calculation.
Can I take a prerequisite or major course pass/fail?
Prerequisites other than introductory biology may be taken pass/fail; however, it is not recommended, especially for chemistry. Remember that you must earn at least a C- to pass a course you take pass/fail.
You may not take courses you use for the major pass/fail.
What courses can I use for my major?
Major requirements and electives lists are described here.
A few credit restrictions to be aware of:
- Human Physiology courses do not count toward any of the majors.
- UROP credit does not count toward any of the majors.
- Only one course may overlap between a major and a minor.
There is no restriction on the number of courses that may overlap between two approved majors. (If the majors overlap to a significant degree, the value of the double-major is questionable.)
Can I request that a major requirement be waived?
Major prerequisites or required courses cannot be waived! However, substitutions for prerequisites may be approved if the student demonstrates that he or she has mastered the topic of a prerequisite. For instance, a student who did not achieve a high enough score on the AP exam to receive credit for calculus, but nonetheless elected Math 215 and received a passing grade, should have 215 approved as satisfying the calculus requirement. You must meet with an advisor to request an exception.
The course I need is full. Should I get on the wait list?
Yes! If any Biology, Ecology or Evolutionary Biology (EEB) or Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB) course becomes full, students are strongly encouraged to use the waitlist. The waitlist is used to determine whether additional sections can be opened (when possible).
Overrides will be issued at the discretion of the instructor for a given course, prioritized by a combination of the student’s major, class schedule, graduation plans, and order on the waitlist. Students on the waitlist must attend the first day of class or discussion and notify the instructor or GSI of their desire to enroll in the course. Students issued overrides will have a set amount of time to register (varies based on the period of registration). The Registrar’s Office will clear the waitlist of students’ names with expired overrides.
I received a poor grade in a course, should I retake it?
To graduate with any major, a student must achieve an overall grade point average of 2.0. A grade of D- is still a passing grade as long as the overall GPA in the concentration is acceptable. A passing grade generates honor points, which are used to calculate the GPA.
Credits for a repeated course that was passed the first time will not count towards graduation. Grades for repeated courses will be indicated on the transcript each time the course is repeated; however the repeat grade will only contribute toward the student’s GPA when the initial grade for the course was D+ or below.
“I” (incomplete) grades must be made up by the fourth week of the next fall or winter semester in which the student is enrolled. Otherwise, the grade will lapse to “E”.
Students dissatisfied with grades received in Biology courses may follow grade grievance procedures, which can be obtained from Undergraduate Student Services Office.
Requesting an Exception to a Requirement
Any student with a major or minor in one of the Program in Biology plans may request an exception to a program requirement by completing the form linked below. Exceptions will only be granted for courses that meet the spirit and meet or exceed the rigor of the requirement in question. Requests will be reviewed by the Program in Biology Curriculum Committee and students can expect a response in 7-10 business days. Questions? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org