Incoming Students for 2021-2022

Welcome!

We are excited that you are considering a major within the Biology Department at Western.  

Although we cannot meet in-person this summer, we hope that you will take a few moments to explore the resources available on our website. You may be interested to learn more about the course requirements for each of our programs, how to get involved in undergraduate research, or our ongoing commitment to equity and inclusion.  

How do I declare a major? What courses should I register for? Can I meet with a biology advisor? In the sections below, we’ve compiled information relevant to the types of questions we frequently receive from incoming transfer and first-year students. Details regarding our scheduled virtual events for department specific advising throughout the summer are included in the sections below.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, or you simply want to start a conversation or introduce yourself, we’d love to hear from you. Please reach out to us to schedule an appointment.

We look forward to meeting you!

Alexis and Maren

First-Year Students

You may declare a biology pre-major at any time by completing the universal Major Declaration Esign form. It is helpful if you indicate your area of interest (e.g., marine biology) within the “Student Comments” section. If you are unsure what emphasis to select, you will have the opportunity to discuss your interests and potential options with a department advisor during orientation. Under the Signatures and Attachments section, route the form to BiologyAdvising@wwu.edu in the “Email to” box. Once you click submit, the form will be sent to our Biology Advisors for approval. 

Once you declare your biology pre-major, you will be assigned to a faculty advisor in the area of interest that was indicated on the form. Biology pre-majors are added to our Biology Major and Minor Application course in Canvas and may expect to be notified regularly via email about general advising opportunities, course registration information and special events.

Interested in the Biology Minor? Please email us at biologyadvising@wwu.edu for access to the application.

You should plan to attend one of our department information sessions for additional information on course planning and major selection. 

Due to the heavy workload associated with lab-based courses, we advise new students to take no more than two science courses per quarter (including math) during your first year. Course load will increase as you move through your program requirements. Your first quarter schedule will vary depending on the math course appropriate in relation to their ALEKS MPA score or prior completion of a Calculus I equivalent.

During each session of Fall Advising and Registration, the Registrar’s Office will release a limited number of seats in courses typically needed by first-year students. Keep in mind that many of these courses may appear closed and that these additional seats may not show as available until immediately before your registration appointment.   

Biology courses at the 300 and 400-level are only available to students formally admitted into the Biology Major or Minor and students declared in other select programs for which that course is a requirement. Major restrictions for each course are posted in Classfinder under the days/times for each course section.

AP Biology: AP or IB biology credit is equivalent to BIOL 101. This course may be applied towards GUR requirements, but will not count towards the biology major. BIOL 101 is an intro course designed for non-majors and should not be taken by students with a strong biology interest.  

AP Chemistry: A score of 3 or higher on the AP Chemistry exam will technically satisfy the requirements for CHEM 161 and 162 for a student’s major. However, we strongly suggest having a conversation with an advisor before registering for CHEM 163 with AP credit alone. Depending on AP score and comfort level, we may recommend starting at CHEM 161 or 162 before taking CHEM 163. 

AP Calculus: The Biology Department accepts AP Calculus scores that are equivalent to MATH 124 or higher to satisfy the math requirement for their biology degree program. Students who score a 2 or a 3 on the AB exam (AP 66) should speak with a math advisor and plan to register for MATH 118 or MATH 124. 

Biology is a competitive major with a multi-part application process.  

Before you are eligible to apply, you must successfully complete BIOL 204, BIOL 205, CHEM 161, and CHEM 162 (or the equivalent courses) with C - or higher. It is recommended that students apply at the beginning of the quarter in which they are registered for BIOL 206 to avoid delays enrolling in upper-level coursework.

Students will need access to the Canvas course entitled “Biology Major and Minor Admission Application” to complete the application process. The application requires submission of the application webform, completion of the Biology Knowledge Assessment, and written responses to the four essay prompts.

Biology pre-majors are given access to the Canvas course during the formal declaration process. If you are a prospective student without an active Western email account, please reach out to us directly for access to the Canvas course.

More information on the application requirements is available here.

 

 

 

On select Fridays throughout Fall Advising & Registration, the Biology Department will host a virtual information session at 11am via Zoom to share information regarding the major and course planning for fall quarter. Students and their families are encouraged to bring questions or concerns with them to help guide the discussion. Access to these info sessions requires a reservation

Friday, August 6

Friday, August 13

Friday, August 20

Transfer and High Credit First-Year Students

Biology is a competitive major with a multi-part application process.  

Before you are eligible to apply, you must successfully complete BIOL 204, BIOL 205, CHEM 161, and CHEM 162 (or the equivalent courses) with C - or higher. It is recommended that students apply at the beginning of the quarter in which they are registered for BIOL 206 to avoid delays enrolling in upper-level coursework.

Students will need access to the Canvas course entitled “Biology Major and Minor Admission Application” to complete the application process. The application requires submission of the application webform, completion of the Biology Knowledge Assessment, and written responses to the four essay prompts.

Biology pre-majors are given access to the Canvas course during the formal declaration process. If you are a prospective student without an active Western email account, please complete this webform for access to the Canvas course.

More information on the application requirements is available here.

If you have any questions or concerns about transfer course equivalency, please contact us as soon as possible so that we may resolve any issues ahead of your Fall Advising & Registration appointment. Reviewing a course for equivalency involves submission of a detailed course syllabus for review and the request may take up to two weeks to be completed.

More information is available here, under the section “Understanding Transfer Equivalencies” 

All upper-division biology courses (300/400 level) are restricted to students admitted into the Biology Major or Minor with the exception of some courses that are also accessible to students declared in other academic majors for which that course is a requirement.  

Major restrictions for each course are listed in Classfinder notes under the days/times for each course section.

Staff and faculty advisors will be available virtually on a drop-in basis on each of the dates below between 11:00am-1:00pm (PST). Individual meetings will be held with faculty advisors in Zoom break-out rooms. Access to these advising sessions requires a reservation

Wednesday, July 21

Thursday, July 22

Monday, July 26 

Tuesday, July 27

Wednesday, July 28

Thursday, July 29

Staff and faculty advisors will be available virtually on a drop-in basis on each of the dates below between 11:00am-1:00pm (PST). Individual meetings with faculty advisors will be held in Zoom break out rooms. Access to these advising sessions requires a reservation

Monday, August 2 

Tuesday, August 3 

Wednesday, August 4 

Thursday, August 5