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Undergraduate Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Pre-Majors

How many courses are required for the biology majors?
The biology major consists of 11 courses, including two in chemistry or physics, plus nine biology courses chosen from an approved list. The biopsychology major consists of ten courses- five in biology and five in psychology. Biochemistry majors require Chemistry 1 or 11, 2 or 12, 31,42 or 43, 51/53.52/52. 171 and 172; Biology 13, 41, 50 (or Biology 54 or Chemical and Biological Engineering 163), and 105; Chem 31 (Physical Chemistry), which has Math 34 and Phys 2 as prerequisites. Please see the department website for further details.

What courses should I take in my first and second year if I am interested in a biology major?
Your first and second years are your opportunity to explore courses of your interest! We recommend that students begin by taking Bio 13: Cells and Organisms and Bio 14: Organisms and Populations. These courses will explore common topics in biology and provide you a knowledge base that will allow you to be successful throughout your degree.

Where can I view Biology Department courses?
The Biology department courses for the current semester are available on our website or on SIS. Course details for the coming semester are posted to SIS approximately 1-2 weeks before advising period. You can also view a comprehensive course list on the biology department website.

Do I need to take Bio 13 before Bio 14?
No, you do not. You can take the courses in any order. Bio 13 is offered in the fall and will cover general biological principles and widely uses methods related to cell and molecular biology, genetics, immunology, and biomedical sciences. Bio 14 is offered in the spring and will cover topics in animal and plant physiology, development, genetics, and population biology with emphasis on evolutionary mechanisms.

Can I take Bio 13/Bio 14 and Chem 1/ Chem 2 at the same time? In what order should I take them?
It is not recommended that students take Bio 13/14 and Chem 1/2 at the same time, as they are time-intensive laboratory classes. Each course is 5 SHU's.

Can I Use AP Biology credit towards my biology major?
Yes, an AP score of 5 will count as an equivalent of either Bio 13 or 14. Refer to Tufts Pre-Matriculation Credits.

Is biology the right major for me if I am pre-health?
Biology is a useful major for students who are pre-health because the curriculum has significant overlap with the MCAT, DAT, and GRE requirements for graduate school. However, students apply and are admitted to health profession graduate schools with a number of different majors-- biology being one of them. Please refer to Tufts Pre-Health Advising for more information.

How do I declare a major?
First, you will need to select an advisor in the Biology Department. Meet with them during office hours to discuss what courses you've taken so far and your interests in the biological science. Once you select your advisor, you will need to complete a Declaration of Major/Minorform. This can be found under the Tufts Registrar website.

Can I declare a second major/minor?
Yes! Many biology students have a second major or minor. Notify your advisors that you will be pursuing a second major or minor and they will be able to provide you with guidance for success.

How can I participate in research with the Biology Department?
We recommend that students review our faculty laboratory websites and attend our weekly seminar series to determine the types of research that is being conducted in our department. If you are interested in a particular lab, you can meet faculty during office hours to discuss your research goals as an undergraduate. You can also join Tufts Biology Research Club. This student run club will connect you to active research labs in the Biology Department, Chemistry Department and Tufts Medical School.
The Biology Department offers research courses for students interested in conducting independent research. These courses provide students the opportunity to actively engage with scientific literature and design their own experiments. You are not limited to the Biology Department! Several students seek research opportunities in other departments, at the Tufts Medical School, or outside institutions.

What is the difference between Biopsychology and Cognitive Brain Science?
Biopsychology is an interdepartmental major that evaluates the intersections of or neurobiology and behavior. This major investigates how the brain and neurotransmitters influence behavior. Cognitive Brain Science is a concentration within the Psychology Department. It is an interdisciplinary area drawing on psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy of mind, and computer science. A Cognitive and Brain Sciences degree provides an excellent preparation for careers in the sciences, computer fields, health professions, law, and education.

How can I find out more about events and opportunities in the Biology Department?
Reach out to Monica Morin, the Undergraduate Program Coordinator, at monica.morin@tufts.edu! She can add you to the biology e-list so you can start receiving the weekly newsletter.

Declared Majors

How do I set up an appointment with my advisor?
Meet with your advisor during office hours. Office hours can be found on the Biology Department website or just outside the Biology Department office (Robinson 369). Please note that advisors will be available to discuss courses during advising period each semester.

Can I Use AP Biology credit towards my biology major?
Yes, an AP score of 5 will count as an equivalent of either Bio 13 or 14. Refer to Tufts Pre-Matriculation Credits.

Does Bio 93/94 count toward my major requirements?
No, this course is graded as pass/fail. No major course may be taken pass/fail. It qualifies as research experience for summa cum laude honors eligibility.

Do the Bio 195: Topics in Biology & Bio 196: Selected Topics courses count toward my major requirements?
Course credit toward a biology major is at the discretion of the instructor.

Can I count Bio 13 or 14 as an advanced lab?
No. Your advanced laboratory requirement must be a biology lab numbered higher than Bio 14.

Can I count Bio 193/194 as an advanced lab or as an elective?
Bio 193 or Bio 194 (but not both) may be used as one of the two electives for the biology major. Bio 193 or 194 can be used to fulfill an advanced lab requirement. A student can take Bio 193 and count it as an advanced lab and then take Bio 194 and have it count as an elective.

Can I count PSY 31, CEE 006, or CEE 15 as an elective?
The class of 2021 may count these courses as an elective. The class of 2022 and beyond can only count courses taught in Biology Department or cross-listed in biology as an elective.

Can I count my advanced lab as an elective?
Advanced laboratory courses can count as electives as long as the advanced laboratory course(s) was (were) not also used to satisfy a group A, B, C, or Q requirement.

How many courses can I double count for my double major or minor?
Please refer directly to Tufts Bulletin.
Majors: Half of the courses taken towards a major can count towards another major. If that student has only 2 majors, then whichever has the fewer required courses determines what may double-count. Courses taken for a major may double-count with foundation or distribution requirements.
Minors: Two courses towards a minor may double-count, whether that's toward foundation requirements, distribution requirements, another minor, or major.

I want to take a summer course at another institution, or I want to study aboard. How do I know if these courses are approved for biology course credit?
Please refer to the Transfer of Credit process.

I am getting ready to graduate. What do I need to do?

  1. Print out a copy of your Advisement Report from SIS.
  2. Complete a Concentration Checklist for each major. Checklists are available on our website or in the Biology Department office in Robinson 369. Please print 2 copies of your Concentration Checklist.
  3. Bring the Advisement Report and Concentration Checklists to your advisor and ask them to sign only the Concentration Checklist (both copies).
  4. Once these are signed, bring the packet to Dr. George Ellmore's mailbox in Robinson 369. When Dr. Ellmore has signed the Checklist(s), you will receive an email from the department administrator to pick up the packet and bring to Student Services. It is your responsibility to bring the packet to Dowling Hall prior to the deadline.

Am I eligible for summa cum laude honors?
To be eligible for a summa cum laudedegree, a student must have completed biology research equivalent to Biology 93. Comparable research in related fields will also be considered. View Tufts University's requirements for Dean's List and Latin Honors in the Tufts Bulletin.

How can I participate in research with the Biology Department?
We recommend that students review our faculty laboratory websites and attend our weekly seminar series to determine the types of research that is being conducted in our department. If you are interested in a particular lab, you can meet faculty during office hours to discuss your research goals as an undergraduate. You can also join Tufts Biology Research Club. This student run club will connect you to active research labs in the Biology Department, Chemistry Department and Tufts Medical School.
The Biology Department offers research courses for students interested in conducting independent research. These courses provide students the opportunity to actively engage with scientific literature and design their own experiments. You are not limited to the Biology Department! Several students seek research opportunities in other departments, at the Tufts Medical School, or outside institutions.