FAQs

Current Students

Does a biology degree prepare me for medical or dental school?
Yes, many biology majors go on to pursue degrees in medicine, dentistry, and other graduate fields. The prerequisites for medical and dental school are built into the biology and College of Science curricula. Notre Dame Biology majors are well prepared for their graduate education and are accepted at high rates into medical and dental schools (90% and 100%, respectively).

Can I study abroad as a biology major?
Yes! Several programs can accommodate biology majors including the Puebla, Mexico; Dublin, Ireland; and London, England sites (and others with permission). Biology majors have the opportunity to take courses that count towards their major while experiencing the culture and education of a different country. It is recommended that biology majors study abroad during the fall of junior year if applying to medical or dental school, though some can study abroad in spring as well. Visit international.nd.edu for more information about Notre Dame study abroad!

Can I have a second major or minor if I am majoring in biology?
Yes, and in fact, the majority of biology majors have a second major and/or minor. The biology major offers a flexible schedule in which students are encouraged to pursue their multidisciplinary interests.

I started off in a different major.  If I switch to biology, will I still be able to graduate on time?
The answer to this question depends on when you switched majors and what your previous major was, but most students who switch from another science major as late as first semester sophomore year have no problems graduating in four years. After the first four semesters, the core and elective curricula become flexible and allow a student to create a course load that fits his or her needs.

Can I use my science AP credits towards the biology major?
Biology majors may use AB or BC Calculus AP Credit towards the math requirement in the College of Science. Many biology majors pursue graduate, medical, dental, or veterinary school after graduation, all of which prefer core science courses taken at the college level; for that reason, the Notre Dame College of Science and Biology major does not typically accept science AP credits.

What summer opportunities and funding sources are available to biology majors?
A complete listing can be found under the “Undergraduate Research” tab to the left, but biology majors have the opportunity to continue their research full time in the summer with funding from the College or University.


Prospective Students

What is the profile of a “typical” biology major at Notre Dame?
The most accurate answer would be to say that there is no “typical” biology major. Some double major with Theology or Philosophy, others with Spanish or Economics. Some biology majors are pursuing graduate or medical school, while others hope to enter industry or teach. Most participate in research to some extent. That said, all biology majors are united by their curiosity, motivation, and passion for science. They form friendships in the lecture hall that extend outside the classroom.

How soon can I get involved in research?
Our first recommendation would be to slow down! Take a semester or two to meet people, adjust to living away from home, and taking classes that might be challenging for you. If you are interested, there is an Introduction to Undergraduate Research course in the spring of your freshman year that can help you understand the research process before entering a lab. Some students join a last as early as first semester year, while others join junior year. There is no right or wrong but instead various options that help you to explore your interest in research!

What is a typical class size for biology majors?
Freshman begin with two semesters of introductory biology in a large lecture hall but have the opportunity to meet students and experience a smaller class size in their introductory labs. Each progressive year, classes become smaller and more specialized, providing personal attention to students.

What sets apart the biology major at Notre Dame from that of other universities?
The Notre Dame Biology Major provides a holistic, research-oriented approach to the biological sciences. It teaches the core tenants of all fields of biology while allowing students to choose electives that fit their interests. Hands-on learning and application of classroom knowledge in a research setting are valued in the Notre Dame biology major with the goal of improving human and environmental health.

What is the difference between BIOS 10161/10162 (Biological Sciences 1) and BIOS 20201/20202 (General Biology A/B)?
BIOS 10161/10162 (Biological Sciences 1/2) is designed for freshmen Biology, Environmental Science, and Neuroscience intended-majors, whereas BIOS 20201/20202 (General Biology A/B) is designed for SCPP and Science-Business majors sophomore year. Both two-course sequences count equally towards the Biology major and fulfill the introductory biology component of the core.

What courses should I take in preparation for the MCAT and medical school?
The traditional Biology major course sequence (see sample curriculum) covers most of the recommended courses prior to taking the MCAT in the spring semester of junior year. Additional recommended courses for both the MCAT and medical school include Biochemistry, Psychology, Sociology and/or Anthropology, Biostatistics, and Ethics. Research the medical schools to which you are applying for any other requirements.


Parents

What careers do science majors pursue?
In past years, biology majors have gone on to pursue graduate school, medical school, dental school, jobs in industry, teaching, volunteerism, and other careers. The major provides not only a basis in the biological sciences but critical thinking skills that can be applied in many contexts and professions.

I will be visiting my daughter/son next weekend and would like a tour of the science facilities.
We would be delighted to show you the facilities and showcase our students’ research.

I am concerned about my daughter/son’s workload. What academic and/or community-building resources are available?
Within the biology major, we have a vertical mentoring program called “Uplift” – an opportunity for students to interact with other biology majors in both an academic and non-academic setting. Uplift encourages healthy studying habits and provides underclassmen with advice from students who recently experienced a similar course load. Your daughter/son can contact her/his advisor or professor for details or how to join. Outside the major, the Office of First Year Studies as well as your daughter/son’s dorm can provide additional resources.