Frequently Asked Questions

I can't find the information I need on this website. Who should I contact?
First, contact the specific advisor for your particular program. If they can't help you, please contact the department chair, Quinn Vega.
Who is my faculty advisor?
Find your Biology Faculty advisor based on your major. (Your advisor can also be found on NEST). Most questions about degree programs can be answered by your faculty advisor. If you are a graduate student completing a masters thesis, your research advisor often assumes the role of academic advisor.
I am a new transfer student. How do I get my courses transferred and find out what classes I need to take?
Your first step should occur during a MSU Transfer Day run by the Center for Advising and Student Transition. They will answer most of your general questions. You will find in many cases, the courses you took elsewhere will automatically be assigned Montclair State course numbers.
CAST will then direct you to the department chair of your major department. In Biology, the chair will evaluate all the biology courses you took at other institutions and advise you of the courses you need to take at Montclair State.
For non-biology transfer courses, you need to visit the department offices for each course you need evaluated.
CAST provides suggested Two-Year Graduation Plans to illustrate how a transfer student with an Associate’s Degree could complete the requirements for some majors within two years. These plans include advice on what courses in the major should be completed prior to transferring to MSU, and are very helpful in developing a specific plan tailored to an individual student’s needs.
I would like to do research. Can I do research? How do I get access to the research lab?
As a student in our department, you have many opportunities to pursue independent scientific research with faculty members. Visit our research page for more information.
I am interested in doing an externship. Can I get college credit for it?
In many cases you can receive college credit toward your major for externship experiences. For life science majors at Montclair State, this generally comes in the form of BIOL 409 Externship in Biology.
Any faculty member can sponsor an externship, and every faculty member has a unique way of assessing the quality of your work. Typically, the student arranges the externship and puts their supervisor in touch with the sponsoring professor. The professor and on-site supervisor consult to determine the course grade.
The University also has a Cooperative Education program that helps link students with externship opportunities in a more formal way. For information about the Co-Op program for biology or molecular biology majors, contact your faculty advisor.
What classes should I take if I'm interested in going to a similar professional school: medical, dental, veterinary, etc.?
There is no "pre-med" major at Montclair State University. However, both the Biology BS and the Molecular Biology BS programs cover the undergraduate requirements for most medical, dental and veterinary programs.
While good grades and MCAT scores are important (and required for admission to professional schools), admission committees look at many additional factors, including experience, extra-curricular activities, volunteerism, etc.
Go to the advisor web page to find the contact information for the pre-med and pre health professional advisors.
How can I enroll in a closed course section?
Courses can be closed to enrollment for several reasons. The most common is that the section is filled to its capacity. In other cases a course may be enrolled by permission only because there are special requirements or unusual scheduling options.
The first person to speak to is the instructor for the course. In 99% of cases, the instructor has the final say over course enrollments. If the instructor is not listed for the course, contact the department secretary, Stefanie Bryant.
If, after speaking with the course instructor, you still have questions about enrollments, contact the department chair, Quinn Vega.
All the courses are closed! What do I do now?
First: Are all courses really closed, or just the sections or instructors you prefer?
We will not overfill one course section if there are others you could take.
Second: Contact your faculty advisor. Your advisor may be able to help you find alternatives.
Third: If all else fails, contact the department chair, Quinn Vega for assistance. Keep in mind that there are over 1000 Biology majors and only one department chair. Contact the chair only when your faculty advisor is unable to resolve your problem.
NOTE: The above apply only to biology courses. Other departments have different policies. Contact the department office in question for further information.
My graduation audit says I am not ready to graduate, but I thought I was! What do I do?
The audit can come back with problems for many reasons. Sometimes, a course you took was developed after you matriculated at Montclair State and the computer does not recognize it as applicable to your program. Sometimes you mistakenly took a course, thinking it would count for one category when in fact it only counts for another. Sometimes transfer credits were not evaluated.
Take a look at your audit. An official copy came with your letter from the Registrar, but you can also examine your audit on DegreeWorks accessible through NEST.
Take a look all the way at the bottom at "FREE ELECTIVES" - in 90% of cases, the culprit can be found here, instead of in the category where it belongs. In this case, contact the department chair, Quinn Vega for a credit adjustment.
However, it is also possible you did not take the right courses, or did not take enough courses. For advice on how to remedy your particular case, contact your faculty advisor.
I got a bad grade in one of my courses. Can I retake it and replace the grade?
You may only repeat a course for credit if you earned less than a C- (i.e. D+ or lower). If you retake the course, the old grade will be dropped from your GPA calculation, but will still show up on your transcript as a replaced grade (i.e. "RF"). NOTE that the new grade replaces the old grade even if the newer grade is lower than the old one. For example, a D+ could be replaced by an F if you do worse the second time around.
If you repeat a course for which you earned at least a C-, you waste your time and money. The new grade will not be entered into your GPA and it will show up on your transcript as "REPEAT NO CREDIT".
Note that you must have at least a 2.0 major GPA to graduate with a BS in Biology or Molecular Biology.
I took a non-biology freshman experience course. Do I also need to take BIOL-199?
You do not need to take BIOL 199 if you took another approved GenEd Freshman Experience course. We will accept the non-biology freshman experience course in lieu of BIOL-199.
The course description says "dissection required" but I do not wish to perform dissection for personal reasons. What do I do?
It is not uncommon for students, especially non-biology majors, to disagree with the practice of dissection.
The faculty of the Biology department feel that in many cases the best way to learn about organisms is to study them directly. For anatomy and physiology, this often requires the euthanizing of specimens to prevent pain and suffering.
It is possible that your instructor will provide alternative means of learning for you. The first step is to speak with the instructor during the first week of class to see if this is possible. If the instructor cannot accommodate you, contact the department chair, Quinn Vega to explore the possibility of switching sections.
I am doing very poorly in my biology course, but the deadline to drop has passed. How do I withdraw?
Once the final withdraw deadline has passed, you may not withdraw from a course. If you have exceptional circumstances, you should talk with the Dean of Students office to discuss your options.
Can I withdraw from a class after the end of the semester?
No. If you have exceptional circumstances, you should talk with the Dean of Students office to discuss your options.
I feel I received an unfair grade in my biology course. Can I appeal?
Look over the grade grievance procedure to see if you have probable cause to submit for an appeal of the grade.
Where can I get free tutoring?
Your student fees cover tutoring services. You can access the tutoring schedule and also sign up for study skills workshops at the Academic Success Center (ASC).
I’m completing a Masters degree in Biology/Molecular Biology. What is a masters thesis? Should I do one?
A masters thesis is an in-depth and original research project conducted during your graduate studies. Students generally conduct these projects over the course of several semesters under the guidance of a faculty advisor. All students should consider the "thesis option" because prospective employers and continuing programs (i.e. PhD) are more interested in applicants with substantial research experience.
Learn more about the research activities of the department faculty. Most faculty members are delighted to speak with graduate students interested in their research.

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