How do I get involved in research?
There are three ways students get involved in research: on a volunteer basis, for credit, and for pay. Volunteering in a lab is very flexible; you work with your lab mentor to decide your responsibilities and schedule and there isn’t a formalized application process or program. Undergraduate Research in Biology, the credit option, requires an application and a requisite number of hours committed to each week. There is also an Honors Research option for seniors. Research for pay is arranged with a faculty member through grants, work study, and most commonly through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, or UROP. While students can do any of these three options at any point during their time at BU, we usually recommend starting with volunteering before moving onto the for credit or for pay options. Volunteering allows you to ease into the responsibilities for research, which is especially useful for students in their first year, when they are adjusting to being in college and figuring out what a balanced schedule will look like for them.
How do I find a research position?
We recommend students look on the Biology Faculty page to see if there are any faculty members doing research of interest to the student. When reaching out to a faculty member, students should treat the request to work with the faculty member in their lab like a job application, explaining the reasons why they are excited to be a part of the specific research and why they are a good fit for the lab. Another place to check is the UROP Opportunities listings as faculty from all across BU, including the medical campus, will post opportunities for research there. Students can also talk with their teaching fellows and peers to find opportunities and we will periodically email opportunities to students. One last option students can consider and often take advantage of, is working a university-affiliated lab in Boston. Students can choose this option as long as they ask a Biology faculty member to act as a sponsor for the research.
Are there any internships available for Biology students?
The Biology Department does not run any specific internships for its students but we encourage students interested in internships to look into our recommended internship resources.
Can I study abroad as a Biology major?
Yes, you can. There are several options that we recommend for Biology majors including the Science Programs in France, Germany, and Spain that take place fall semester of sophomore year; the Marine Semester offered in the fall semesters and usually taken junior or senior year; and the Tropical Ecology Program offered in the fall and spring semesters and usually taken junior or senior year. There are a number of other programs that may work for Biology majors but students should be aware that they will likely need to have their proposed schedule approved before they go abroad so the courses taken abroad can be equated to the appropriate courses at BU. Additional information on all Study Abroad programs can be found on Study Abroad website. It is also worth noting that often times, a student’s financial aid can travel with the student when they study abroad, helping to manage the cost of the semester abroad.
Who is my academic advisor?
During your first year, your academic advisor will be Stacy Straaberg Finfrock if you are a Biology major or are specializing in Neurobiology (NB), Ecology & Conservation Biology (ECB), or Behavioral Biology (SBB). Ben Bradbury-Koster will be your academic advisor if you are a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) major or are specializing in Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, & Genetics.
At the end of your first spring semester, you will be assigned a faculty advisor based on your area of study. You can check your advisor at any time by going to the Student Link, and clicking Academic Advising under the Academics tab.
Where can I find important dates for the academic year?
Is there a pre-med major? What's the best major for pre-med students?
BU does not have a pre-med major. Students who are considered “pre-med” (also known as prehealth) are those working towards careers in health-related professions such as medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. When students or parents say “pre-med students” what they are usually referring to are students working to complete all of the required prerequisites for health profession schools. These requirements can be completed with any major at BU and Biology students will complete most prehealth required courses through courses required by their major. We recommend students meet with their Biology Department advisor and an advisor in the Pre-Professional Office to make sure any additional pre-health requirements not met by major requirements are planned for.
Why do you offer a BA in Biology instead of a BS? Can students get a BS instead?
The BA in Biology refers to the liberal arts nature of the degree. Beyond requirements for their major, all students in the College of Arts and Sciences at BU must complete general education requirements which typically include humanities, social sciences, writing, and foreign language. These additional requirements make the Biology major in line with a liberal arts degree. As of this time, there is no option for a BS instead of a BA. We have not had any of our alumni report that they have been negatively impacted by receiving a BA instead of a BS.
What research opportunities do you offer for students?
Students can participate in research at BU in three capacities: volunteering, for credit, and for pay. Volunteering is arranged by the student with a lab mentor and is structured by both parties’ to work with individual schedules and needs. For credit is a program available for students who wish to receive academic credit for research done in the field of biology. The time commitment is 3 hours per week per credit during the academic year and 8 hours per week per credit during summer terms. Research for pay is when students are paid to participate or support research and is usually through work-study or the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Students are encouraged to start with volunteering, especially during their first year at BU, so they can learn the responsibilities and rigors of performing research and adjust to college life more smoothly.
What internship opportunities do you offer for students?
There are no permanent internship opportunities through the Biology Department. The College of Arts and Sciences and the Center for Career Development have resources on internships for students. Many Biology students will participate in research in place or in addition to a traditional internship experience.
How often are students taking classes taught by professors vs. TFs or post-doc lecturers?
Students majoring in Biology or its specializations will always have classes taught by professors, but in some introductory courses, they may have a TF or a post-doctoral lecturer teaching a smaller discussion or lab section associated with the course. As students take more specialized courses or higher-level electives, they will be in smaller classes taught entirely by a professor.
What is FERPA?
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of a student’s education records. In compliance with this law, BU does not release information from education records where the student can be identified, even to the student’s parents or guardians. More information on FERPA can be found with the Office of the University Registrar.