Declaring the Biology Major

Students intending to major in Biology should take at least one semester of introductory biology in their freshman year. Candidates with an interest in molecular biology are advised to take the introductory courses in track 1 (Biol 121, 123, and 124) rather than the track 2 series (BIOL101 and 102). In addition to introductory biology, a student who intends to major in Biology should plan to take the required introductory courses in math and chemistry, as well as other Biology courses, for a total of approximately 9.0 cu, by the end of sophomore year. Early completion of these courses provides useful preparation for other biology courses.


For entrance to the Biology major, a candidate should have completed at least one biology course at Penn, normally Biol 121, 101, or 102. Students following Track 1 must have a plan for completing the lab requirement before declaring the major. The grade point average in courses for the Biology major taken up to that point (including the required courses in math, physics, and chemistry) must be at least a "C" (2.0). No course in the major may be taken pass/fail.


The usual time to apply for the major is during sophomore year, before pre-registration takes place in the spring semester. Before applying for a major, a student should first create an online worksheet through Penn-In-Touch and then see their academic advisor in the College (LPS students meet with their advisor in the College of Liberal and Professional Studies) who will review the online worksheet and make it official.


To apply for the Biology major, you must complete a Biology Department Student Information Form and make a tentative plan of courses to be taken to satisfy the major requirements by filling out the Course Sequence Worksheet. If you plan on having a concentration, you must complete a concentration worksheet (see the appropriate concentration page or you may visit the academic office to request a worksheet). Submit the completed form directly to the Biology Department Academic Office. You may request a specific advisor, otherwise, advisors are assigned according to your declared area of interest and the advisor's student load. If a Biology major wishes to change advisors, he or she should contact the Biology Department Academic Office.


After your application has been processed, we will notify you by e-mail whether you have been provisionally admitted to the major and who has been assigned as your major advisor. You should arrange an appointment with your advisor and, on your way to the appointment, pick up your major file containing your information form and worksheet from the Academic Office. This meeting provides you an opportunity to discuss additional or alternative courses that can best suit your interests, while assuring your planned course sequence satisfies the major requirements. Once your major advisor has approved your planned sequence of courses, you must return your major file to the Academic Office. You will be formally admitted to the Biology major only after returning the approved forms. Inquiries about the status of your application should be directed to the Biology Department Academic Office or bio-undergraduate@sas.upenn.edu.

Transfer students usually state their choice of major upon admission to the University. This does not automatically admit them as Biology majors. Transfer students must have at least one grade for a Biology major course taken at the University of Pennsylvania before applying for the major.