Contact Information

Department Chair
Daniel Shain

Department Secretary
Janet Caruso
(856) 225-6497

Undergraduate Biology
Kwangwon Lee
(on sabbatical leave)

Graduate Biology
William M. Saidel

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Undergraduate FAQ

The following questions are answered below (click on any one of them):

Undergraduate

How do I officially declare my major as biology, and why is it important to do it sooner rather than later?

To declare your major, please contact the Registrar’s Office.

Later, if you want to change your major just repeat the process.

Officially declaring your major provides you with very important benefits–namely, you will automatically receive email messages alerting you to changes in course offerings, registration deadlines, biologically-related employment opportunities, and the like. Such emails are sent to all students whose departmental code is 120. Even if you are unsure of your major, being listed as a 120 student will permit you receive Biology Department news and thus test-drive the biology major for awhile.

I’m thinking about transferring to Rutgers from a NJ county/community college. How can I determine if the science courses I’m taking at the county/community college are the correct ones for the biology major at Rutgers?

Visit the webpage of the New Jersey Transfer Initiative and follow the instructions. This website will help you determine how each of your NJ county/community college courses will transfer to Rutgers. Be aware that this website works only for county/community colleges in New Jersey.

One of the most frequent questions that transfer students have is what biology elective courses can they transfer. The answer is none. All biology elective courses (with or without lab) required for the biology degree at Rutgers-Camden are 300-level courses. Community colleges do not offer 300 level courses.

I want to be pre-med, but Rutgers doesn’t have a pre-med major. How does that affect me and my chances of getting into medical school? Can I major in biology instead and still fulfill the medical school requirements?

Long ago most colleges and universities offered a pre-med major, but this is no longer the case. Most medical schools now say that they prefer pre-med students to major in a particular discipline — any field of study — instead of merely taking an assortment of courses lumped together as “pre-med courses.” Consequently, most medical schools require only a relatively small number of courses for admission: General Biology I & II, Chemical Principles I & II, Organic Chemistry I & II, General Physics I & II, and at least one semester of calculus. (All the above science courses must include the accompanying lab, and a student may substitute Elements of Physics for General Physics if desired.) In addition, students must complete a major of their choice. Some pre-med students choose to major in biology because all the required pre-med courses are also required for the biology major, and thus a student can complete two sets of requirements simultaneously. Other pre-med students prefer to major in another discipline — such as chemistry, psychology, history, English, art, or anything else. There are many reasons for doing so. For example, some students feel they will get enough biology in medical school, and thus they want to focus their undergraduate years in another area. Other students feel that choosing a non-biology major may make their application stand out when it is reviewed by the medical school admissions committees. Still other students choose a major based on their contingency plan — what major would help them in a “back-up career” in case they are not accepted into medical school or in case they change their minds. The bottom line: The pre-med major is a thing of the past. A pre-med student can major in any discipline as long as he or she completes the nine required science and math courses.

Are my AP Biology credits able to be used if I major in biology?

Yes, if your AP Biology score is high enough and if you have that score sent to Rutgers, Rutgers will give you credit for Biology 101 or Biology 101 & 102 (depending on your score). Those credits will appear on your Rutgers transcript and consequently can be used to fulfill any of the appropriate Rutgers requirements, such as the General Biology requirement for the biology major.

If a biology course has an accompanying lab, must I take the lab?

That depends. Some of the biology elective courses do not have a lab, some have an optional lab, and some have a required lab. This will be clearly indicated in the Schedule of Classes.

I received a D in course taken for the biology major — will it count?

Yes. As long as you pass the course — and D is a passing grade — it will count toward the biology major and toward the 120 credits you need to graduate. Other majors may have different requirements, and if you decide to switch you should check the current catalog. Regardless of your major, you will need an overall grade-point-average of 2.0 in order to graduate.

May I take a course at another college or university?

No, except in very special circumstances that you can justify academically. Basically, once you are a Rutgers student you must take only Rutgers courses. If you think there are compelling reasons why you should take a course at another institution (either during the summer or the academic year), you must complete an “Application for Permission for Transient Work” that can be downloaded from the Student Affairs website.

That form requires the approval of several offices on campus. Be certain to obtain such approvals in advance, otherwise you risk taking a course that will not be transferable.

Why is it crucially important for me to have a Rutgers computer account and to have my current email address listed in the Rutgers Online Directory?

All official University announcements (including announcements sent to biology majors) are sent via email to the email address listed for you in the Rutgers Online Directory. If you are not listed in the Online Directory — or if the listed email address is one you don’t check — then you most likely will not receive important announcements such as class cancellations, registration deadlines, free ticket opportunities, events on campus, and so on.

To be listed in the Rutgers Online Directory you must first establish a Rutgers computer account. In the computer labs (such as Room 131 and Room 108 in the Business & Science Building) the computers are set up to guide you through the process. Alternatively, you can establish an account online by visiting the Camden Computing Services homepage, and at the top of the right column clicking on “Creating a Computer Account and NetID.” Then follow the instructions for Camden students.

To view your listing in the Rutgers Online Directory, go to the Camden Campus’s homepage, click on “Search Rutgers” (in the left margin), and type in your own name. After viewing your listing, you can make changes including the option of having your Rutgers email forwarded to another email address — one that you check often. The bottom line: don’t miss the news!

As a biology major, will I receive a bachelor of science (BS) degree or a bachelor of arts (BA)?

You will receive a BS. You also have an option to receive BA degree. Please discuss it with your Faculty Mentor, if you want to receive BA instead of BS degree.