COVID-19 Biology Department FAQs
Major and minor declarations are now processed using the Major Declaration and Change eSign Form. In Section I, you must indicate your intended biology emphasis (e.g., marine biology) in the “student comments” field so that we may assign you to a faculty advisor in your area of interest. When complete, submit the form to firstname.lastname@example.org
Biology Advising is operating remotely! You may schedule a Zoom video call or phone appointment by calling 360.650.6165 or emailing us email@example.com. When you contact us, please indicate the days and times that you are available as well as the type of appointment you prefer to help make scheduling easier.
Advancement to Phase II Biology in Spring Quarter 2020
The Phase II Advancement Workshop is cancelled for Spring 2020 and the workshop requirement is waived for students seeking entry into Phase II Biology. While students are still highly encouraged to connect with their faculty advisor this quarter, there is no longer an advising related requirement for advancement into the major.
If you are enrolled in BIOL 206 or are retaking a course to improve your GPA in Spring 2020, you must complete and submit a Major Declaration and Change eForm to firstname.lastname@example.org. On this form, you must indicate your desired emphasis (e.g., molecular and cell) within the “Student Comments” section. If you are unsure what emphasis to select, you should reach out to your faculty advisor or biology advising for assistance. This new eForm is in lieu of the blue major declaration card you would have completed at the workshop.
The Biology Department will begin processing these eForms on a rolling basis during the last week of April before summer and fall registration periods open in early May. As in past quarters, students who meet Early Advancement criteria will have access to upper level Biology courses when their registration time opens. If you do not meet Early Advancement criteria, or if you are retaking a course, your eForm will remain pending until final grades are posted at the end of the quarter. Information regarding how Early Advancement into Phase II has changed due to the new P/NP grading policy for spring is outlined in additional FAQs below.
P/NP Grading Policy for Spring 2020
Yes. Any course for which you earn a P grade is eligible to be applied to your major requirements. If a student earns any grade higher than a D+, they will receive a P grade. If you opt for a letter grade, you must earn a C – or higher for the course to be applied to your major requirement
The effects of the P/NP grading policy for Spring 2020 will vary based on your individual situation. The following represents some common scenarios for Phase I students:
If you are enrolled in BIOL 206 and did not meet Early Advancement criteria, but have at least a 2.9 (2.85) across your previous CHEM and BIOL intro courses (not counting your grade in BIOL 206):
Students will be eligible for Phase II pending a P grade in BIOL 206. If CHEM 163 is being taken concurrently, the same procedure will apply to that course.
If you are enrolled in BIOL 206 and did not meet Early Advancement criteria, and do not have at least a 2.9 (2.85) in your previous CHEM and BIOL intro courses (not counting your grade in BIOL 206):
The Biology Department will request final letter grades from instructors to determine Phase II eligibility, allowing students to use the BIOL 206 grade to increase the prerequisite coursework GPA to meet the criteria for admission to Phase II. The letter grade will not be visible on transcripts or affect the cumulative GPA unless a letter grade is specifically requested from the instructor. If CHEM 163 is being taken concurrently, the same procedure will apply to that course.
If you have previously completed all six CHEM and BIOL intro courses and am currently retaking one course to increase your GPA to be eligible for Phase II:
The Biology Department will request final letter grades from instructors to determine Phase II eligibility. The letter grade for the retake course will not be visible on transcripts or affect the cumulative GPA unless a student specifically requests a letter grade from the instructor.
Early Advancement allows students to enter Phase II of the Biology Major prior to the beginning of registration for the subsequent quarter. Due to the P/NP grading policy for Spring 2020, the requirements for Early Advancement have changed slightly. Students will be eligible for Early Advancement to Phase II if they have a P midterm course grade in BIOL 206, and if they have also earned at least a 3.0 GPA across their previous BIOL and CHEM intro courses (CHEM 161, 162, 163, BIOL 204, 205). If CHEM 163 is being taken concurrently with BIOL 206, then the student must also have a P grade in CHEM 163 at the midpoint to qualify for Early Advancement.
Due to the complicated nature of the Western’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with an understanding that everyone will be affected by the move to online instruction in different ways, the Biology Department does not expect or encourage students to request a letter grade over a P grade for the sole purpose of being competitive on their application. For students with a P grade from prerequisite coursework (CHEM 161, 162, BIOL 204, 205 in the new process), the grade will not be used in the calculation on the major application. For those who choose to receive a letter grade for prerequisite coursework, that grade will be included in the application GPA. More information about the new admissions policy is now available on the Biology Department website under the section Admission to the Biology Major.
Advancement to Phase II Biology in Summer Quarter 2020
Yes. While the introductory biology series is not offered at Western in summer quarter, students may choose to complete an equivalent course at another institution for transfer. Please take good care in verifying the course you choose is equivalent to Western's BIOL 206 before enrolling. You must submit your final grade to Western and complete the Major Declaration and Change eForm as soon as possible for access to upper level biology courses when fall registration re-opens in late August. At the very latest, eForms must be submitted prior to the first day of fall quarter 2020 for entry into the biology major under the GPA only policy. A full list of in-state transfer equivalencies is available via Western’s Transfer Equivalency Guide.
Yes. If you did not meet the 2.9 (2.85 or higher) GPA requirement (average across CHEM 161/175, 162/176, 163/225 and BIOL 204, 205 and 206), and have not already retaken one of six Phase I courses listed, you would be eligible to retake a course and apply for entry into the major at the conclusion of summer quarter. In this case, you must submit your final grade to Western (if an equivalent course was taken elsewhere) and complete the Major Declaration and Change eForm as soon as possible for access to upper level biology courses when fall registration re-opens in late August. At the very latest, eForms must be submitted prior to the first day of fall quarter for entry into the biology major under the GPA only policy.