Majors and Prospective Majors FAQ

Q1: I am a student in SEAS or CC. I need to take Biology UN2005 or UN2006 but it conflicts with another class I need (or want) to take. What can I do? 

Did you know that there are two sections of UN2005 (& UN2006)? The lectures are given twice a day, at 10:10 am (section 1) and at 4:10 pm (section 2). You can register for either section. Whichever section you are registered for, you can attend lectures at the 'other' time. Exams for both sections are usually given at 4:10, and arrangements are made if you have a class that conflicts with the afternoon exam time. If you have to take a course that overlaps with UN2005 for only a few minutes, you can fill out an overlap form (obtainable from your class office) and register for both courses. Whichever lecture section you sign up for, be sure to register for -- and attend -- a recitation (UN2015). Recitations start the second week of classes.

If you need additional information, contact Dr. Mary Ann Price or Dr. Michelle Attner or see the UN2005/UN2401 web page which should direct you to a recent Course Works web site that includes recordings of last year's lectures, a sample exam, etc.

Q2: I took AP calculus in high school. How much math do I need to take to complete the biology major?

You need to complete the equivalent of two terms of college level calculus, or one term of calculus and one term of statistics. A course in computing/programming, or a bio course that includes a computing component, is not required, but is highly recommended. Completion of advanced math in high school may fulfill part or all of the calculus requirement.  For information on placement in math courses, and evaluation of your high school calculus, see    

Note that completion of AP calculus courses may fulfill some or all of the bio major requirements, but AP but may not fulfill premed admission requirements. 

Q3: I want to work in a research laboratory. How do I get started?

All the details are spelled out on the web page: "Finding Undergraduate Research." To see current faculty interests, click on “faculty” at the top left of the research web page, or go directly to faculty.

Q4: I declared my major with GS or my CC class center, but I'm not sure who my advisor is, or how to plan my program. What should I do?

Look at the Biology Undergraduate Welcome Page. The welcome page has an overview of how to find what you need. There are links there to advisors (names, hours, e-mail addresses), and to the majors’ page, which has a detailed description of how to declare a major and links to the requirements for all the biology related majors.  

Q5: I haven't declared my major yet, but I need advice. I looked at the undergraduate page and read all the FAQ's but I still have questions. Who can I talk to?  

Check the list of Advisors. Feel free to consult the appropriate advisor (the choice depends on the major and your last name) whether you have declared or not. You don't have to be a bio major to ask a question (or get an answer!). 

Q6: How can I get (or apply for) honors in biological sciences at graduation? 

See Honors.

Q7: Which is easier, UN2005 or UN2401?

Neither -- they're both the same! The only difference is that UN2005 has required recitations and UN2401 has optional recitations. (That's why UN2005 is 4 pts and UN2401 is 3 pts.) The exams in the two courses and the grading scales for the exams are the same - the scale is set using the scores of the UN2005 (undergraduate) students. Therefore the exam scores needed to earn an A are exactly the same in each class.

Q8: What is the best way to find out which biology courses are offered in the upcoming term(s)?

Go to Courses.


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Department of Biological Sciences
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Columbia University
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Department of Biological Sciences
600 Fairchild Center
Mail Code 2402
Columbia University
1212 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027
[email protected]
212 854-4581