Biology Major FAQs

If you don’t find answers to your questions here, please contact the Biology Department at 909.621.8561 or biology@hmc.edu.

Off-Campus Courses

Seminar Requirements

Laboratory Requirements

Biology Major Electives

Colloquium Requirements

Pass/Fail Courses

Course Changes

Other

Can I substitute a course taken at one of the other Claremont Colleges for a biology core course?

No. Biology core courses (Biology 54, 101, 108, 109 and 113) must be taken at HMC. The department may approve exceptions (by petition) for students who study abroad or participate in a domestic exchange semester if a comparable course is available at the exchange university.

Can I take a biology course at one of the other Claremont Colleges if a course on the same topic is also offered at HMC?

No. If a biology course is offered both at HMC and at one of the other Claremont Colleges, HMC biology majors must take the HMC course. If exceptional schedule conflicts prevent a student from taking the HMC course, the student must obtain departmental approval (by petition) to register for the off-campus course.

Can chemistry courses taken at one of the other Claremont Colleges be used to fulfill the chemistry requirements of the HMC biology major?

Yes. With the advisor’s permission, a year-long organic chemistry course taken at Pomona or Keck Joint Science can be substituted for HMC’s Chemistry 56/58 and 105/111. For students who elect the molecular biology option, a physical chemistry course taken at Pomona or Keck Joint Science can be substituted for HMC’s Chemistry 51. (Note that these substitutions do not apply to Joint majors in Chemistry & Biology.)

Can a biology seminar course taken at one of the other Claremont Colleges be used to fulfill the HMC biology major seminar requirement?

No. The biology seminar requirement can only be fulfilled by taking one of the seminar courses offered by the HMC biology department.

Can laboratory courses taken at one of the other Claremont Colleges be used to fulfill the HMC biology elective laboratory requirements?

No. Two upper level laboratory courses must be taken at HMC, selected from among Bio 103: Comparative Physiology Laboratory, Bio 110: Experimental Ecology Laboratory, Bio 111: Molecular & Cellular Biology Laboratory, and Bio/Chem 184: Methods in Biochemistry.

How many credit-hours will I receive for an off-campus course with a lab?

You will receive four credit-hours for an off-campus course with a lab.

What HMC biology courses count as seminar courses?

Seminar courses include Bio121: Marine Ecology (fall), Bio122: Cell & Developmental Biology (spring), Bio164: Genetics (spring), Bio183: Topics in Physiology (fall), Bio189: Topics in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (fall), and courses listed as Bio185 or 186: Special Topics in Biology. Bio189 is offered yearly; all other seminars are offered on an every other year rotation.

Can a biology seminar course taken at one of the other Claremont Colleges or a bio-related seminar taken in another HMC department be used to fulfill the HMC biology major seminar requirement?

No. The biology seminar requirement can only be fulfilled by taking one of the seminar courses offered by the HMC biology department.

Can I substitute Chemistry 111 (Organic Lab) for one of my required upper-level biology labs?

No. Biology majors and joint majors may not substitute Chemistry 111 (Organic Lab) for an upper-level biology lab.

Can I substitute a non-biology technical elective for an upper-level biology course?

Yes. With the advisor’s approval, students completing the regular biology major may substitute one non-biology technical elective for an upper-level biology elective. Generally, such exceptions are only granted when the non-biology course contributes to a coherent concentration in a particular area of biology (examples of frequently approved courses are Bioengineering and Biophysical Chemistry). Students completing the molecular biology option within the biology major may substitute one additional chemistry course for an upper-level biology course. The non-biology course may not be used to fulfill the biology seminar or upper-level laboratory requirements. Joint majors in Chemistry & Biology may not substitute an additional chemistry course for an upper-level biology elective.

Can I count research units earned by taking Biology 161/162 (Research Problems) towards my upper-level biology elective units?

No. Biology 161/162 (Research Problems) cannot be used to fulfill the upper-level units needed for completion of the biology or joint majors.

Can I count units earned by taking Biology 197/198 (Directed Reading) towards my upper-level biology elective units?

Yes. A maximum of two units of Biology 197/198 (Directed Reading) can be used to fulfill upper-level biology elective units. If an independent laboratory research project is conducted for Biology 197/198 credit, the results must be presented either in a formal written report, or as an oral or poster presentation at a regional or national meeting.

What should I do if I have a conflict with colloquium in a semester when I am required to take it?

All Biology majors must complete four semesters of colloquium (Biology 191/192). Joint Chemistry & Biology and Mathematical & Computational Biology majors must complete two semesters of biology colloquium. If colloquium conflicts with anotherrequired course or with scheduled practice for a varsity sport or an official college musical group, the student may submit a petition to the department requesting permission to participate in an alternative colloquium option. The alternative typically requires attending a specified number of off-campus biology colloquia and submitting a short written summary of each to the departmental colloquium coordinator. The alternative colloquium requirement may be taken no more than twice by Biology majors, and no more than once by joint majors. Note that students completing the molecular biology option may substitute up to two semesters of Chemistry 199 for Biology 191/192.

If I took a biology core course or biology elective as a substitute for Biology 52 can I count it towards the biology major?

Yes. If you received placement for Bio52 and took a biology core course or biology elective as a substitute, that course can be counted towards the biology or joint majors.

If I study abroad, what biology courses can I count towards the major?

In general, any upper-level biology course (i.e. a course with a minimum of Introductory Biology as a pre-requisite) taken abroad can be used to fulfill unrestricted biology elective units. Courses taken abroad cannot substitute for the biology seminar or upper-level laboratory course requirements, which must be taken at HMC. Courses taken abroad can substitute for biology core courses (101, 108, 109 or 113) only if departmental approval is obtained (by petition) in advance. One semester of the biology colloquium requirement is waived for students who study abroad.

Can I take a pass/fail course in the biology major?

No. Courses taken pass/fail cannot be counted towards completion of the biology major or either of the joint majors.

How do I go about substituting courses or making changes to my major?

petition form (PDF) is required for requesting course substitutions or other changes to the biology major requirements.