Study Abroad for Biology

Study Abroad for Biology Majors

Biology majors should plan to go abroad during the fall or spring semester of their junior year. Because of the year-long senior research requirement, going abroad in fall of senior year necessitates choosing a senior research project that can be conducted in two successive spring semesters and requires starting that project during junior year.

Some places biology majors have studied abroad recently:

  • University of Salamanca, Spain
  • University of Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Organization for Tropical Studies (Duke University), Costa Rica
  • University of Westminster, England
  • Beaver College Program in Florence, Italy

Department Rules Regarding Transfer Credit

  • It is often possible to count courses taken abroad toward the biology major. The easiest way to do this is to use those courses to meet the major’s elective requirements.
  • If you want to count a course toward the biology core course requirement (Bio 101, 108, 109 or 113), you must petition the department in advance (petition form; petitions should be submitted to the department chair).
  • Courses taken abroad do not typically count toward the lab or seminar requirements.
  • The biology colloquium requirement is waived for the semester you study abroad.
  • Question regarding transfer credit for study abroad can be made to department Chair Cathy McFadden (mcfadden@hmc.edu).

Spring vs. Fall

If you are planning to go away spring semester of your junior year, it is advisable to take at least one biology core course (Bio 101 or 108) during spring of sophomore year. If going away in the fall of junior year, it is advisable to take Bio 109 in fall of sophomore year.

Interested in Molecular Biology?

For students with a strong interest in molecular biology, it is easier to go abroad junior spring rather than junior fall. Molecular biology (Bio 113 + lab) and organic chemistry are only offered fall semester, and waiting until senior fall to take these courses will make it difficult for you to do senior research in any area of molecular biology.

Transfer Units

At many institutions, four courses is the maximum load you are allowed to take. This normally transfers into 16 Harvey Mudd units.

Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts

Make steady progress on your on-campus humanities, social sciences, and the arts (HSA) courses, since HSA courses taken abroad will count as off-campus courses.

Preparing for the Unexpected

It is a good idea to identify and petition for approval of more courses than you will actually take while abroad. This helps if there are unexpected changes in offerings by your host institution. Advance approval is required for your protection—it is best to avoid surprises about what will and won’t transfer when you return.

Keep in Touch

If you go away in the spring of your junior year, maintain contact with your academic advisor so that you can be kept informed about senior research opportunities.

For Further Advice

Professor Catherine McFadden has agreed to help advise biologists in consultation with the Study Abroad Committee. She can be reached via email at mcfadden@hmc.edu. Visit the Harvey Mudd Study Abroad Program website for more information.

Study Abroad for Joint Chemistry and Biology Majors

Joint chemistry and biology majors should plan to go abroad during spring of junior year. Because many of the major requirements are fall semester courses (Chem 105/111, Chem 103/109, Bio 111/113 and Bio/Chem 189), the only feasible way to go abroad during a fall semester is to arrange in advance to substitute courses taken abroad for one or more of these required courses. Going abroad in fall of senior year also necessitates choosing a senior research project that can be conducted in two successive spring semesters and requires starting that project during the junior year.

Recent Study Abroad Locations for Joint Majors

  • University College, London, England

Department Rules Regarding Transfer Credit

You must receive departmental approval in advance for any courses you wish to transfer for credit toward the major. Petitions should be submitted to the relevant department chair.

To substitute a course taken abroad for a biology core course (Bio 101, 108, 109 or 113), you must petition the department in advance (petition form; petitions should be submitted to the biology department chair).

Biochemistry courses can be substituted with advance approval.

The colloquium requirement is waived for the semester you study abroad.

Spring Travel

If you are planning to go abroad spring of junior year, it is advisable to take at least one biology elective course (Bio 101 or 108) in spring of sophomore year.

Transfer Units

At many institutions, four courses is the maximum load you are allowed to take. This normally transfers into 16 Harvey Mudd units.

Preparing for the Unexpected

It is a good idea to identify and petition for approval of more courses than you will actually take while abroad. This helps if there are unexpected changes in offerings by your host institution. Advance approval is required for your protection—it is best to avoid surprises about what will and won’t transfer when you return.

Keep in Touch

If you go abroad in the spring of your junior year, maintain contact with your academic advisor so that you can be kept informed about senior research opportunities.

For Further Advice

Professor Catherine McFadden has agreed to help advise biologists in consultation with the Study Abroad Committee. She can be reached via email a mcfadden@hmc.edu. For more information, visit the Harvey Mudd Study Abroad Program website.