FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q1: I am planning to major inthe biological sciences (biology, biochemistry, etc.) What biology course should I take, and when? Answer
Q2. I am planning to be premed. Do I take the same courses as a bio major in my first 2 years? Ans: Yes!
Q3: I am really interested in biology. Why should I take chemistry first? Answer
Q4: I am not planning to be a doctor or science major, but I want to fulfill my science requirement by taking biology. What course(s) should I take? Answer
Q5: I got a 5 in AP Biology and I am leaning toward molecular biology or medicine. What should I do? Answer
Q6: Will I get credit for my AP biology if I take the introductory biology course? Answer
Q7:If I skip C2006-C2006, and go right to a 3000 level course, how does that affect the requirements for the major? Answer
Q8: I have read the bulletin and the Q & A given here, but I still have questions. Where do I go for advice? Answer
Q9: Does AP credit count toward the science requirement? Answer
Q10:What is First Year Seminar? Answer
Questions and Answers:
Q1: I am planning to major in the biological sciences. What biology course should I take, and when?
A1: Whatever introductory biology class you decide to take, you should take chemistry now, including lab, in your first year. You can take introductory biology at the same time, although most students wait until their second year. You are encouraged to take First Year Seminar, BIOL C2908, now, in your first semester (see question 10). There are two major introductory biology classes in the fall semester, ENVB C2001 (environmental & evolutionary emphasis) and BIOL C2005 (molecular bio & biotech emphasis). Majors in the biological sciences may start with either class. C2001 may be taken in the first or second year, while C2005 is generally taken in the second year because it has a prerequisite of 1 year of college chemistry. (See questions below for more details.)
Our general recommendations are as follows:
If you are primarily interested in molecular biology, biochemistry, or biophysics, take chemistry (including lab) now, in your first year, and take BIOL C2005-C2006 in your sophomore year. (This is generally recommended even if you have a 5 on the bio AP. See question 5.)
If you are primarily interested in environmental science, take chemistry now, and then either (1) take ENVB C2001 this fall along with chemistry or (2) let the biology wait until your sophomore year. For additional information on environmental biology, contact Bill Hahn (firstname.lastname@example.org) at CERC.
If you are planning to major in neurosciences and behavior, chemistry is recommended (not required) but you are urged to take chemistry and/or psychology in your first year and BIOL C2005-2006 in the second.
If you absolutely cannot face chemistry now, then you should start with ENVB C2001 in your first term and take chemistry later. Return to Questions
Q3: Why should I take chemistry right away?
A3: All college biology courses (except First Year Seminar) use a lot of chemistry, because chemistry is needed to understand current ideas about almost all aspects of biology. Biologists use chemistry as language, the way physicists use math. You can explain physics without math, or biology without chemistry, but it takes a lot longer and the explanations are not as satisfying.So we either have to teach chemistry as we go along, or ask students to take chemistry before biology. ENVB C2001 uses the first approach ("teach it as we go") so students can take biology right away without waiting a year. BIOL C2005 uses the second approach ("chemistry first") on the grounds that almost everyone is going to take chemistry anyway (eventually),so you might as well take it first.
If you achieved an AP5 in chemistry, you may consider taking BIOL C2005 in your first year. Otherwise, if you jump straight into Biology C2005 without a year of college chemistry, you are likely to find the chemical details overwhelming. .Return to Questions
Q4: I am not planning to be a doctor or science major, but I want to fulfill my science requirement by taking biology. What course(s) should I take?
A4: If you want to take a full year of bio, you can take BIOL C1015 (Molecular Bio & Evolution for Nonscientists) plus Science C1002 (Theory & Practice of Science, Biology). The two terms can be taken in either order. If you want to take one term of bio, you can take either Bio C1015 (Molecular Biology and Evolution for Non-Scientists), SCI C1002 (Theory and Practice of Science, Biology) or Bio W1300 (Environmental Science). Return to Questions
Q5: I got a 5 in AP bio and I am leaning toward molecular biology or medicine. What should I do?
A5: You should take chemistry as a first year student; either general chemistry, intensive general chemistry or intensive organic chemistry for first year students. Consult Chemistry department for placement. In your second year you will probably want to take BIOL C2005-C2006 as it demands not only more detail but more thought and application of knowledge to problem solving than the usual AP course. (You can take ENVB C2001 and BIOL C2006 if you prefer.) However, if you feel you are qualified, you can skip C2005/C2001 and start with C2006 or a 3000-level biology course as a second year student. If you are not sure what to do, consult the instructors of C2005. Sample past exams and info on how to contact the instructors is available on the C2005 homepage.
If you are eager to get started on biology right away, you can take ENVB C2001. If you did very well in high school chemistry, you might be able to take BIOL C2005 in your first year -- but you have to get permission from one of the instructors. (No special permission required for C2001.) We do not advise taking a 3000 level biology course as a first year student. You should not even think about this unless you have had an extraordinary preparation in high school. Even if you are sure you have the necessary preparation, it is essential to get the approval of an advisor in the biology department before registering for a 3000-level biology course in your first year. Return to Questions
Q6: Will I get credit for my AP biology if I take intro bio over again?
A6: Yes. If you got a 5 on the bio AP test, you get 3 points of credit toward graduation whether you take C2005-C2006 or not. But you don't get credit towards the Biology major; C2005-C2006 is considered sufficiently different from the average AP course to count as a separate class. Return to Questions
Q7:If I skip intro bio, and go right to a 3000 level course, how does that affect the requirements for the major?
A7: You have to take the same number of courses toward any bio related major, whether you start with C2005 or not. If you skip any of the courses because you have already covered the material, you must take an equivalent number of more advanced courses. Return to Questions
Q8: I have read the bulletin and the Q & A listed here, but I still have questions. Where do I go for advice?
A8: Consult the bio pages on the web or go to the bio office, 600 Fairchild, for additional info on advisors, major requirements, etc. Return to Questions
Q9:Does AP credit count toward the science requirement?
A9: No. AP credit counts toward the number of points required for graduation, but it does not count towards fulfillment of the science requirement. You can fulfill your Columbia science requirement by taking courses in other sciences (or math) or by taking biology courses at Columbia. See answer to Q1 for details on biology courses for science majors and answer to Q4 for details on courses for nonscientists. (Note: If you had a good AP course in any science, the courses for nonscientists in that field may be too elementary.) Return to Questions
Q10: What is First Year Seminar?
A10: Bio 2908, first year seminar in biology, is a one-point course taught in the fall term. Its purpose is to introduce students to current areas of biological research. Research scientists from Columbia and other institutions in the N.Y. area talk about their work at a level that first year students can understand. (Chemistry 2408 is a similar course in chemistry taught in the spring term.) All students interested in biology and related fields (biochemistry, neuroscience, etc.) are encouraged to take first year seminar. For more details see First Year Seminar .Return to Questions
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