Frequently Asked Questions from Majors & Prospective Majors in Biology & Related Fields

Q1: I am a student in SEAS or CC. I need to take Biology C2005 or C2006 but it conflicts with another class I need (or want) to take. What can I do? Answer

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

Q3: I want to work in a research laboratory. How do I get started?  All the details are spelled out on the web page:  "How to do Research."  Some of the links may be outdated. We apologize for any inconvenience; all links should be updated shortly. 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? Ans: 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: What is the best way to find out which biology courses are offered in the upcoming term(s)? Go to Courses.

See the CC advising page for more questions and answers along the same lines. Some of the questions (& answers) are the same, but the approach is different, and there is some additional information.

For additional questions often asked by First Year Students, see FAQ's for First Year Students.

For additional questions often asked by GS students, see FAQ's for GS Students.            

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Q1. I am a student in SEAS or CC. I need to take Biology C2005 or C2006 but it conflicts with another class I need (or want) to take. What can I do? 

Ans: You can register for C2005 (or C2006) and attend the lectures of F2401 (or F2402). See combined C2005/F2401 web page for rooms and times. You will need to fill out an overlap form, which can be obtained from any class center. Do not worry if you cannot register early for C2005 by phone -- room in the class is not limited. Just be sure to come to the first day of class -- either to C2005 or F2401 -- and to sign up for & attend a C2005 recitation (details below). 

Why not just register for F2401? The lectures in the C and F classes are identical, but the set up of the recitations is different, because the C and F classes are designed for different types of students. C2005 is designed for full time undergraduates who can attend day time classes and F2401 is designed for postbacs and undergraduates who cannot attend during the daytime. C2005 has required recitations (with weekly quizzes) to make it easier to keep up and to learn the material; F2401 has optional recitations (no quizzes). Because of the required recitation, Bio C2005 is 4 points while Bio F2401 is 3 points. (The same similarities and differences apply to Bio C2006 vs. F2402.) Undergraduates in Columbia College & SEAS are expected to take C2005. GS undergraduates may take either class, but postbacs must register for F2401. (Note that all exams in both classes, except the final, are given at night.) Students from either class may attend either set of lectures; students can switch back and forth as their schedules change (or they oversleep) or even go twice a day if they want. However, C2005 students must attend C2005 recitations and F2401 students may attend only F2401 recitations. Sign up for recitation occurs after the first class meeting; instructions for sign up will be provided in class and on the course web page. 

Which is easier, C2005 or F2401? Neither -- they're both the same! 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 C2005 (undergraduate) students. Therefore the exam scores needed to earn an A are exactly the same in each class. However the percentage of A's in each class is often different because the composition of the two classes is not the same. 

If you need additional information, contact the instructors or see the C2005/F2401 web page which includes notes from last year's lectures, a sample exam, etc.

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

Ans: If you took AP calculus, you need to take at least one additional semester of mathematics at Columbia. If you took the equivalent of one semester of calculus in high school (Calculus AB) you need to complete your calculus sequence by taking  either V1102 (Calculus IIA) or V1106 (Calculus IIS). If you took Calculus BC, you can finish up the requirement with either of these or V1207 (honors math). You have to take one semester of math at Columbia to get credit for your AP calculus. You are encouraged to take additional mathematics and/or statistics at Columbia, but you don't have to take additional math to fulfill the requirements for the biology major.

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