Academic Advising in Biology

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General advising information

What to do first | Classes to take | LAC | Elective classes | Capstone | Pre-health | ETS | COF | List of advisors | Four year plans

What to do first

If you are a freshman or sophomore...

You should attend a group advising session (schedule coming soon). If you have any questions about group advising, please contact Dr. Robert Reinsvold (970-351-3076).

If you are a junior or senior...

Go see your academic advisor every semester to discuss your academic schedule, your capstone experience, your career goals, or whatever is on your mind. If you don't know who your advisor is, and you are a declared biology student, please call us at 970-351-2921 or send an email to

Schedule an appointment with your advisor as early as possible in the semester and before it becomes an emergency. If you need to discuss registration for the next semester, please schedule an appointment before your registration date.

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What classes to take and when

The required classes to take are listed in the four-year plans of study for each of the emphasis areas. It is extremely important that you follow the four-year plan for your emphasis as closely as possible. Many science classes have prerequisites that need to be completed first. If you have any questions about the four-year plans or prerequisite classes, please contact your academic advisor.

Elective classes may not be offered every semester or even every year. To help you plan, please see the calendar of biology course offerings.

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Liberal arts core (LAC) classes

Liberal arts core (LAC) classes are intended to provide the breadth of knowledge that a liberal arts education should provide. These classes are often referred to as General Education classes at other institutions. The courses in your major (biology) will provide the depth of knowledge that you will need for your chosen career path. LAC classes are organized into areas (1-8) based on the areas of knowledge that they cover.

LAC classes fulfilled by the biology degree

Some of the introductory classes required of the biology degree fit into these areas, and they fulfill the required credit hours for those LAC areas. In some cases, the biology degree will require more than the minimum number of LAC classes in a particular area because of the depth of knowledge needed. The required biology classes that fulfill LAC area requirements are listed below.

  • LAC Area 1 (Communication -- 6 hours) is fulfilled by ENG 122 (College Composition -- 3 hours) and SCI 291 (Scientific Writing -- 3 hours).
  • LAC Area 2 (Mathematics -- 3 hours) is fulfilled by STAT 150 (Introduction to Statistical Analysis -- 3 hours).
  • LAC Area 6 (Physical and Life Sciences -- 7 hours) is fulfilled by BIO 110 (Principles of Biology -- 4 hours) and CHEM 111 (Principles of Chemistry I -- 5 hours).
  • LAC electives is a category that permits you to take any additional LAC courses that may be needed to fulfill the minimum of 40 LAC credit hours required by the University. As a biology major, MATH 171 (Calculus I for Life Science -- 4 hours) and PHYS 220 (Introductory Physics I -- 5 hours) count toward that 40 credit hour minimum.

LAC classes not fulfilled by the biology degree

For those LAC areas that are not fulfilled by required biology classes, you are free to take any of the courses listed in the UNC catalog for LAC areas 3, 4, 5, 7 & 8. If you wish to graduate by taking the minimal 120 credit hour requirement for a biology degree, we have the following suggestions which allow you to "double-dip".

  • LAC Area 3 (Arts and Humanities -- 6-9 hours): See comments for areas 7 & 8.
  • LAC Area 4 (History -- 3 hours): AFS 101 (Development of Black Identity -- 3 hours) will fulfill the requirement of area 4 as well as the requirement of area 8 at the same time.
  • LAC Area 5 (Social and Behavioral Sciences -- 3-6 hours): See comments for areas 7 & 8.
  • LAC Area 7 (International Studies -- 1 course) and LAC Area 8 (Multicultural Studies -- 1 course): Many of the classes in these areas can also partially fulfill the Area 3 and Area 5 requirements. Look for the asterisk (*) next to the class in the LAC section of the UNC catalog. The area that you can "double-dip" is indicated in brackets [ ].

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Biology electives

Biology elective classes are typically offered on a rotating basis every other year. Descriptions and prerequisites for these courses are provided in the UNC catalog. The number of biology elective classes required to complete a biology degree will depend on your emphasis area. Details of these requirements can be found in the four year plans for each emphasis area as well as in the UNC catalog.

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Capstone experience

The capstone experience is intended to give you specific hands-on experience that is directly related to your career goals. As a biology major, one credit of capstone experience is required. Please discuss this unscheduled course with your advisor.

  • Directed Studies (BIO 422) -- for research activities
  • Internship in Biological Sciences (BIO 492)
  • Clinical Internship in Biological Sciences (BIO 493)
  • Undergraduate teaching experience (BIO 494)

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Pre-health information

At UNC, "pre-health" refers to programs that share the ability to prepare students for entrance into one of the advanced professional health schools such as (but not limited to) medical, dental, veterinary, physician assistant, or physical therapy schools. If you are interested in pursuing a medical, dental, or other pre-health career, we recommend the Biological Sciences major with an emphasis in Prehealth and Biomedical Sciences. If you want information on the pre-health clubs at UNC, check out the pre-health web site. For academic advising specific to your pre-health career goals, please see the pre-health advisor, Dr. Ginger Fisher (970-351-2210).

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The Educational Testing Service (ETS) exit exam

You will need to take the ETS exam before you graduate. You will not graduate unless you take the exam. Your score on this exam does not appear on your diploma, and it does not impact your GPA. We only use it for comparison purposes, as a measure of how well we are doing as a biology program relative to the many other biology programs across the country.

The exam is administered by Career Services (351-2790). You will need to call to schedule an appointment. An appointment must be made prior to the test date. Walk in exams are not permitted.

Colorado's College Opportunity Fund (COF)

The COF is the state program that funds your education if you are a Colorado resident. If you are not registered with the state, you will pay a much higher tuition than other state residents. It is worth your while to check this our.

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Transfer students

Helpfull links: Transfer admissions website

Transferring from another institution

If you transfer from any other institution of higher education to UNC and you declare biology as your major program of study, you should do the following things:

  1. Be familiar with the courses that transfer to UNC. After being accepted to UNC, the university will review your academic transcripts from other institutions and determine which courses may be accepted for credit at UNC. The list of accepted transfer courses will be sent to you. Be sure to bring this list with you when you meet with your academic advisor or with the biology transfer advisor. The list will indicate courses that have been accepted into various categories such as:
    • Liberal Arts Core courses (general education credits). The university admissions office determines which transfer courses fulfill Liberal Arts Core requirements.
    • University elective courses. These courses can apply to your degree, but not necessarily to your major.
    • Biology major required courses. These courses will count toward those that are required to fulfill the biology major. Transfer courses may be sufficiently similar to an existing required biology course that they will be accepted as such, or they may be accepted as a biology elective course. In other cases, a transfer course may not meet the biology requirements at all and will count only toward a university elective. The biology transfer advisor makes this determination.
  2. Meet with your academic advisor. When you decide to declare biology as your major program of study, you should visit the main office of the School of Biological Sciences (Ross Hall, room 2480). Our office staff will be able to help you declare your major, and they will assign you an academic advisor. You should meet with this person as soon as possible for help with selecting the courses that you will need to take.
  3. Meet with the biology transfer advisor. The biology transfer advisor will make the final determination of what courses can apply to the biology major. If you have course syllabi or catalogs from the institutions that you attended prior to UNC, these can be very helpful.

Transferring from another major program at UNC

If you change your major to biology from any other major at UNC, there are special rules that apply to you. For example, some 200-level biology courses may be substituted for upper-division biology courses depending on the grade that you received. You should talk to your academic advisor to see what is possible.

The biology transfer advisor

Throughout the year, the biology transfer advisor is Frank Skufca who can be reached at:

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Classes and schedules

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Student survival

You will save yourself some stress if you are familiar with the requirements of the biology degree which depend upon the emphasis area that you have chosen. More general information that can help you to successfully complete your degree can be found through the links below.