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Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to some of our most frequently asked questions below:


Q: I am a pre-health undergraduate, should I pick up a biology major?   

A: Yes! Biology is the central science for medicine, and completion of the recommended pre-health curriculum constitutes completion of over 80% of the biology major. Further, several of our concentrations that constitute the remainder of major course work are tailored to enhance students’ knowledge of health oriented sub-disciplines such as Human Health and DiseaseMolecular NeurobiologyMolecular Genetics and Genomics, and Cell and Developmental Biology.    


 Q: How do I declare a biology major? 

A: To declare a biology major: 

  1. Download the declaration form and fill out the student and major/minor information sections. Be sure to select a concentration within the major.
  2. Save the pdf named as: “<Your Last Name>_<Your Student ID>”.
  3. Submit the form to pbs@northwestern.edu for department approval. You are welcome to request an advising appointment in advance of declaring. 
  4. The department approver will submit the completed and signed petition to: wcas-forms@northwestern.edu.  

Q: Can I place out of Biol_sci 201? 

A: Yes! If you believe that your studies have prepared you well enough in biology that you don’t need 201, you may sit our placement exam. The next placement exam will be available mid-academic year. Please contact our office if you would like to request a placement exam. 


 Q: How do I reach the office? 

A: Please email us at pbs@northwestern.edu or call us at 847 - 467- 2310 


Q: The class I would like to take is full, what can I do? 

A: If a class is full, only the professor can decide to allow more students into the course. You can email the professor directly with your request, and, with their approval, our office can issue you a permission number to add the course to your schedule. This process is typically used for advanced students who need a course to graduate or move forward in a sequence of courses. Please remember to be polite in your request and briefly explain why you are making your request.  


 Q: Why do I have a major advisor? 

A: Major advisors are assigned to undergraduates in biological sciences to give your academic career the benefit of expert guidance. Your major advisor will assist you with tailoring your major coursework to suit your Northwestern direction and career trajectory. Further, your major advisor will help you navigate your graduation requirements within the major. 


 Q: How do I find my major advisor? 

A: When a biosci major first declares, we will send a welcome email with the name and contact information of their dedicated major advisor. You are welcome to email pbs@northwestern.edu if you are unable to locate this information. 


Q: How can I meet with my major advisor? 

A: As health and safety are paramount, we are holding our advising appointments virtually over Zoom or phone. If you know the name and email of your major advisor, you may reach out to them directly and request the appointment. If you need help locating your major advisor, please email pbs@northwestern.edu and our program assistant will provide you with their name and contact information. 


 Q: I want to do an independent research study, what is the process?  

A: Biology majors do Independent research through our 397, 398, 399 sequence. Please see our research page for more information. 


 Q: How can I find a research lab? 

A: The Science Research Workshop can assist biological sciences majors in finding laboratories that may be accepting undergraduates for academic year research positions; biosci majors may also contact the Director of Biological Sciences. 


Q: I'm struggling with my coursework, where can I find help?  

A: Northwestern has dedicated resources to support academic success for all students; visit the portal to learn about and access those resources. One of those helpful resources is Drop-in Peer Tutoring. The Writing Place is also an excellent source of academic support; students can receive assistance on a variety of different types of writing and services are not limited to writing for English courses. 


 Q: I feel overwhelmed by life, is there someone at Northwestern who can help me? 

A: Yes! Northwestern’s primary mental health service at Northwestern is called CAPS with offices on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses. CAPS provides a set of core services, including clinical services, educational workshops, and consultation with faculty, staff, and parents. There is no charge for CAPS services. All full-time matriculated students who go to CAPS will receive a personalized care plan tailored to their specific needs 


Q: Where can find information about how the university is responding to the COVID19 pandemic? 
A: Please visit the university’s page dedicated to sharing information about Northwestern’s pandemic response.  https://www.northwestern.edu/coronavirus-covid-19-updates/ 

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