Frequently Asked Questions
- When should I see an Academic Advisor?
You must see your major advisor every semester to have your registration hold removed. Bring your filled out 4 year plan with you and DO NOT wait until the last minute to get your hold removed.
- Who is my Academic Advisor?
Declared Biology students who have earned 0-59 units will receive major and general education advising from the College of Science Student Success Center (CoS SSC; DH 212).
Students who have earned 60 or more units will receive major advising from their assigned faculty advisor [pdf]. Advising assignments [pdf] are based on students' declared biology major. The College of Science Student Success Center provides General Education advising to students with 60 or more units.
During the summer, major advisors do not hold office hours. Plan ahead and see your advisor during the semester. Summer advising is only done by the Department Chair (ask at Department Office DH 254 for an appointment).
- What will I discuss with my major Advisor?
Each semester your advisor [pdf] will help you plan your course schedule and ensure you are on track to graduate in a reasonable time. Your advisor can also suggest resources to help you achieve your career goals. To make the most of your advising session, come prepared with a filled out 4 year plan that includes your grades and the courses you plan to take. To plan your courses, consult the relevant program catalog and roadmap for your major (BA, BS Ecology & Evolution, BS Marine Biology, BS Microbiology, BS Molecular Biology, BS Systems Physiology). Consult the course frequency list [pdf] to make sure the courses you want will be offered that term.
- What catalog should I use to plan my courses and file for graduation?
A student, who has been in continuous attendance, may normally choose to meet the SJSU campus graduation requirements in force:
- At the time they began continuous enrollment at a California community college or other CSU campus; or
- At the time they entered SJSU; or
- At the time they graduate from SJSU.
By maintaining continuous attendance and selecting option (1) or (2), students can be assured that their SJSU campus graduation requirements will not change. Their right to choose one of these options is called “catalog rights.” SJSU will use the matriculation term (i.e. option 2) as the initial option (default) for all students; however, students who would benefit from an earlier or later term based on continuous enrollment, may request option (1) or (3) from their faculty advisor.
Recently, the number of units for biology degrees was reduced to 120 units, so many students find the current catalog to be the best choice. Links to the current catalogs can be found for each specific major (BA, BS Ecology & Evolution, BS Marine Biology, BS Microbiology, BS Molecular Biology, BS Systems Physiology).
You can also view older catalogs, if needed.
- How can I determine if courses I took at another institution will satisfy SJSU degree
You can find a list of courses that articulate with SJSU Biology major courses here. For articulation questions about other courses, see the SJSU Articulation Site.
- How do I declare a Chemistry minor?
- What should I do if I decide to take a different course than is listed on my graduation
If you decide to take courses different from those listed on your submitted graduation plan you must discuss this with your major advisor and fill out a substitution form. All substitution forms are approved and submitted by your major advisor only. Substitution forms are not accepted directly from students.
- How do I change my major to Biological Sciences or my current concentration to a different
concentration if I am already a Biological Sciences major?
Beginning Fall 2014, all students interested in declaring a degree or different concentration within Biological Sciences must first register for and attend a Change of Major Workshop. This is an informational workshop that details important information about the degree and the College of Science and the process for declaring the major.
The workshop days and times are posted and available for registration. Space is limited; in order to attend you must register to secure your spot. Registration links can be found on the College of Science Student Success Center website.
If you have any questions or challenges registering for the workshop, please contact the College of Science Student Success Center at 408-924-5193.
Please review the change of major process on the CoS SSC website. After you have attended a Biology Change of Major Workshop, and received a Biology change of major application, you must request an application in order to apply to Biology.
College of Science Change of Major Application Deadlines:
- May 1st (Fall)
- December 1st (Spring)
- How and when do I file for graduation?
- What should I do if I need to change my graduation date?
If you have submitted a graduation application but will not complete your requirements by the graduation date you applied for. Fill out the following Change of Graduation Date Form. You must meet with your major advisor for the review and approval. All graduation date changes must be discussed with your major advisor. The graduation date change petition is not automatically approved.
- If I am graduating in the fall, can I still walk at graduation in the spring?
With prior approval of the Biological Sciences Department Chair you can walk during the Spring Graduation ceremony if you are planning to graduate the following fall. Schedule an appointment by going to the Biological Sciences Department office (DH 254).
- How can I get involved in undergraduate research?
Completing undergraduate research is a great way to learn how science is actually done and to prepare yourself for a variety of careers. If you are interested in a PhD, research experience is essential. To get involved in research, start by contacting faculty members whose research interests you (see our Research site for more information).
Most faculty are contacted by more students than they can accept.
Here are a few tips to make yourself stand out:
- Show evidence of academic success by getting good grades, especially in the classes most related to the research you are interested in. (Don't worry, it is not necessary to get straight A's)
- Do your homework. Explain why you are interested in the labs that you contact. Read their papers, talk to students in the lab right now, etc.
- Make a good first impression. Ensure that all of your communications are professional.
- What resources are available for students struggling in the major?
For a more complete list, see our Academic Resources site. The earlier you find the support services you need to succeed in your classes the better. Most introductory classes have associated workshops that will help you get extra practice and help in the material.
Peer Connections Tutoring and Mentoring — Peer Mentors can assist you with many aspects of university life, including study skills, adjusting to life as a college student, getting connected on campus, and personal issues. For more information, visit the mentoring site. Peer Connections also offers workshops on a wide variety of topics including preparing for the Writing Skills Test (WST), improving your learning and memory, alleviating procrastination, surviving your first semester at SJSU, and other related topics. Visit the workshop section for this semester's schedule.
List of other On-Campus Resources including the Writing Center, Counseling Services, Accessible Education Center, and more.
- What are the reasons I can be placed on probation in the major?
Students who are on University Probation are automatically on Probation in the Major. Students in good standing in the University may be identified as being on Probation in the Major in two ways:
- Academic Probation - GPA for major course work and support courses fall below 2.0
- Progress Probation - students not making sufficient progress towards the major as defined by the Probation Policy.
Students will be notified by SJSU messaging and email that they are on probation and will be given a detailed list of necessary steps with regard to the process. Read the full policy on Academic Probation in the College of Science [pdf], including how to get off of probation, how you can be disqualified from the major, and how you can be reinstated in the major.