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Advising FAQ

WEBPAGE UNDER REVIEW

This FAQ has been created for undergraduate students in the Departments Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (BMB) and Plant Biology (PLB).

Enrollment

  1. How do I request an override for a course (new STUDENT Information System)?

  2. How do I get into a full course?

  3. How do I drop a course and when are the drop deadlines?

  4. How late into the semester can I add courses?

  5. How can I find classes that start later in the semester?

  6. Where can I check to see if a course has prerequisites?

  7. Why did I get an error message or why was I denied when I tried to enroll in a course?

  8. Can I repeat a course at MSU? What happens to my GPA if I repeat a course? Is there a repeat credit limit?

  9. Can I take classes at another college or university and transfer them to MSU?

Major, Minor, and Graduation Requirements

  1. How do I change my major?

  2. What is a passing grade in a course? What minimum GPA do I need to graduate?

  3. Where do I access major requirement checklists and four year plans for majors in PLB or BMB?

  4. How do I use Degree Navigator to check on my progress toward completing degree requirements?

  5. How do I declare a minor?

  6. What minors can I take?

  7. What electives can I take?

Campus Resources

  1. Where can I find resources if I am a Pre-HEALTH Student (Pre-Med, Pre-Dental, Pre-Pharm, Pre-PA, etc.)?

  2. Where can I find what scholarships are available?

  3. What tutoring resources are available at MSU?

Research and Summer Opportunities

  1. How do I find an undergraduate research position?

  2. What summer research opportunities and internships are available?

  3. What is the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) and where can I find more information?

Graduation and Commencement

  1. Why do I need to apply to graduate?

  2. How do I apply to graduate?

  3. Can I walk (i.e. attend commencement) in spring even if I’m graduating in summer?

  4. Where do I get more information about commencement

ENROLLMENT

How do I request an override for a course (new Student Information system)?

Overrides are handled by the department or program that administers the course. Department or program contact information can be found in MSU's Student Information System (SIS) under the Classes tile. After selecting Class Search & Enroll on the right, search for and select the course you are trying to enroll in. The contact information will appear on the right-side of the page. Many departments have an online override request form, or more information about overrides, on their webpage (these are usually under an Undergraduate tab). A list of Natural Science override request forms can be found on the Physiology Department page

If the department webpage doesn't have an override form, please contact the department or program to ask how to request an override. Many departments require that you contact the professor first. If the professor isn’t listed, you can ask who is teaching the course when you contact the department.

For HRT, PLP, and CSS course overrides, please contact Susan Gruber at grubers@msu.eduTop

How do I get into a full course?

You will need to add yourself to the waiting list.  Here are instructions for doing that: https://sis.msu.edu/_assets/documents/students/QuickGuide-WaitList.pdf

You can also contact the department to see if they will do an override but be warned that for lab courses, this is not very likely, so adding yourself to the waiting list is best.

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How do I swap courses?

Using the swap function is a great way to have the system automatically move you from one course to another course that may be full but then opens up at a later time.  For more information, visit this page:  https://sis.msu.edu/_assets/documents/students/Enroll-SwapClasses.pdf

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How do I drop a course?

If you are planning/considering dropping a course please note the following:

The first drop deadline (refund deadline)

  • You will not receive a refund if you stay within the flat rate tuition block. In other words: If you are between 12-18 credits, and you drop a course and your credit load stays within 12-18 credits, you will not receive a refund (because it is the same price).  2 ways you could receive a refund under the flat rate tuition plan:
    •  If dropping a course drops you to 11 or below, you will receive a refund. 
    • If you are at 19 or higher credits and your drop brings you to 18 or below, you will receive a refund. 

The second drop date (drop date without a grade reported).  If you drop a course by this deadline no refunds are granted, but the class will not appear on your transcript.

  • If you receive any form of financial aid (i.e loans, grants, scholarships, etc) and you are planning to drop a course/course that would result being below full-time status (12 credits), BEFORE dropping a course/courses you need to contact the Office of Financial Aid to check if being below full-time status would impact your aid package.
  • If you are an international student and you are planning to drop a course/courses that would result being below full-time status (12 credits), BEFORE dropping a course/courses you need to contact The Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) to check if being below full-time status would impact your visa status.

Here are instructions on how to drop courses off of your schedule:  https://sis.msu.edu/_assets/documents/students/Enroll-DropClasses.pdf

Add/Drop Deadlines can be found by clicking on the course after doing a search.

(Look for the "section dates" area in the class information page after clicking on the course)

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How late into the semester can I add courses?

Students can typically add classes during the first week of the semester.

There are very few courses that can be added after the first week of classes and beyond, however, so if you are intending on swapping courses, do not drop your course until you have successfully added a new course.

Late adds (after the add period for the class has ended) are handled by the department or program that administers the course. You usually need to contact the professor to get permission to add the class, and if it’s approved, the department or program administrative staff will process the enrollment. If the professor isn’t listed on the Courses page, you can call the department and ask who is teaching the course. You can find a professor’s contact information on the Find People link in the upper right hand corner on the MSU homepageTop

How can I find classes that start later in the semester?

Although most classes start during the first week of the semester, there are some that start later in the semester.

There are usually a few one-two credits KIN classes that start late. A few other course codes that we’ve noticed that sometimes have late start classes are ANP, HRT, ISS, IAH, SOC, HST, and PLS.

For instructions on searching for courses, please visit this site: https://sis.msu.edu/_assets/documents/students/ClassSearchandEnroll.pdf

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Where can I check to see if a course has prerequisites?

The course prerequisites are listed to the right, after you do a search for a particular course and then click on it.  

You can also view prerequisites on the university course descriptions page by going here:  https://reg.msu.edu/Courses/Search.aspx

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Why did I get an error message or why was I denied when I tried to enroll in a course?

If students can't enroll in a course, then the first thing that we recommend is that they check the course description to make sure that they have completed the prerequisites and there aren't any restrictions on the course.

To access the course description, click on the course and you will see requisites/restrictions listed to the right and/or you can visit the course descriptions page:  https://reg.msu.edu/Courses/Search.aspx

"Prerequisite": The online registration system doesn't recognize equivalent courses for prerequisites, so if you have haven't taken the exact listed courses, you need to request a prerequisite override from the department or program that administers the course (see FAQ for more information).

"Restrictions": Some courses are restricted to certain majors or students within a certain college. If may be possible to request an override into a restricted class. You will usually need to contact the course professor directly.

"Not open to student with credit in": Courses listed here are deemed by the university to coexist with the course you are seeking, and whose content is so closely related to this course that a student who completed any courses listed should not have automatic access to this course.

For more information on the definitions of course characteristics, click here.
More FAQ for MSU Course Descriptions can be found hereTop

Can I repeat a course at MSU? What happens to my GPA if I repeat a course? Is there a repeat credit limit?

NEW (Effective Summer 2022 and beyond)

A new course repeat policy now allows any undergraduate to retake any class up to twice, regardless of the grade they earned in their previous attempt, and with a 20-credit cap on retake credits. This new course repeat policy will be in effect for students beginning in Summer 2022 and will apply to all prior semesters’ courses. 

Students may request a one-time repeat extension above 20 repeat credits, but the extension is not guaranteed. Requests are processed through the Office of Academic Affairs within the student’s college.

In order to process a repeat extension request, students need to complete a Repeat Extension form from their college. Download the College of Natural Science form or see Leslie, Evelyn, or an LBC advisor for the Lyman Briggs form. Next, review the completed form in an appointment with your academic advisor and then follow the steps below indicated on the form:

  • College of Natural Science students, please schedule an appointment with Heidi Purdy, Director of Undergraduate Studies

  • Lyman Briggs College students, please return the completed form to E35 Holmes Hall or lbc@msu.edu  Top

Can I take classes at another college or university and transfer them to MSU?

If you have completed less than 56 credits at MSU, then you can complete classes at a 2-yr college to transfer to MSU. Once you have completed 56 credits at MSU (this includes transfer credits), then you can only transfer credits from a 4-yr university to MSU. To receive transfer credit at MSU, you must receive at least a 2.0 in the course. After completing the course, send the transcript to MSU Office of Admissions.

To check to see if courses at another college are equivalent to courses at MSU, go to Transfer MSU. Choose the course code at MSU and the college where you want to take the course. Equivalent course numbers at the other university will be listed. It is also possible that another college may have a similar course to a course at MSU, but it hasn’t yet been evaluated for credit.

If you check the other university’s website and you see a course with a similar name to the course you are interested in at MSU, you can request a copy of the syllabus from that university. You will then submit the syllabus to the department that would administer the MSU course to have it evaluated for credit.

To find the appropriate department, look up the MSU course that you are interested in taking for transfer credit on Schedule of Courses. The department or program contact information (phone number and webpage) will be in the upper right corner of the page.

To enroll at another Michigan institution, students fill out the Michigan Uniform Undergraduate Guest Application form, which is available hereTop

Major, Minor, and Graduation Requirements

How do I change my major?

Contact the department of the new major.

NOTE: To change your major to one outside of the College of Natural Science, you need to go to the Academic Advising Office for that college or meet with the new major academic advisor. Contact information for different colleges can be found here: MSU Colleges Undergraduate Advising Offices.

If you are in the College of Lyman Briggs, go to the Lyman Briggs Office at E-35 Holmes Hall to complete a major change form. If you plan to declare a major outside of Lyman Briggs, you need to visit the Briggs office first. Top

What is a passing grade in a course? What minimum GPA do I need to graduate?

A 1.0 is a passing grade and fulfills major requirements. Students are required to have an overall cumulative 2.0 GPA at MSU, and also a cumulative major 2.0 GPA for all courses required for their major. The major GPA doesn’t include introductory CEM, BS 161 (or LB 144/145 for Briggs students), MTH and PHY courses because those are required courses for the college. Top

Where do I access major requirement checklists and four year plans for majors in PLB or BMB?

For the Biochemistry program lists, please visit this page:
https://bmb.natsci.msu.edu/undergraduate/academics/

For the Plant Biology program lists, please visit this page:
https://plantbiology.natsci.msu.edu/undergraduate-program/

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How do I check on my progress toward completing degree requirements?

You can check your outstanding requirements on student.msu.edu at the Academic Progress area. Please be aware the pie chart is NOT the most accurate representation of your degree completion. The degree audit is the most accurate representation of your degree completion progress.  (NOTE: Here are instructions on viewing your degree requirements and progress: https://sis.msu.edu/_assets/documents/students/AA-DegreeAudit-Student.pdf

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How do I declare a minor?

Some minors have information about how to declare the minor online, so I suggest that you do a search for the minor on the MSU homepage. Type in the name of the minor (i.e. bioethics minor) in the search box (upper right corner of the page). If you get a search result for a website for the minor, check the website to see if there are instructions on how to declare it.

If you can’t find any information on declaring the minor online, then you’ll need to declare the minor through the college that administers the minor. Visit the Academic Programs – Undergraduate Minors and click on the minor that you are interested in. The college that administers the minor will be listed, along with the minor requirements. Next, you’ll want to do a search (go back to the search box on MSU’s homepage) for this college. From that college’s homepage, there is usually a “Contact Information” link at the bottom of the home page. Call the number listed an ask how to declare the minor. The College may refer you to meet with the advisor for the minor. Top

What minors can I take?

Many students at MSU choose a minor to complement their degree program, although minors are not required for graduation. There a large number of minors available to MSU students! Many students pursue minors in languages. The options below are some minors chosen by BMB and PLB majors or preprofessional students, often because they overlap with major requirements or complement the field of study. Top

 

Some minors or interest for BMB or BMB/Biotech majors:

Minor in Anthropology (ANP 441 can count toward adv biology/biotech requirements, good fit with interest in forensic science)

Minor in Beverage Science and Technology

Minor in Cognitive Science (NEU 301 and 302 can count toward advanced biology/biotech requirements)

Minor in Food Processing and Technology

Minor in Pharmacology and Toxicology

 

Some minors of interest for PLB and Environmental Bio/PLB majors:

Minor in Agronomy

Minor in Entomology

Minor in Forestry

Minor in Forestry Field Applications

Minor in Geographic Information Science

Minor in Horticulture

Minor in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems

Minor in Sustainable Natural Resource Recreation Management

 

Some minors of interest for either BMB or PLB majors:

Minor in Computational Mathematics, Science, and Engineering

Minor in Computer Science

Minor in Conservation, Recreation and Environmental Enforcement (includes CJ 110 and CJ 210, common electives with interest in forensic science)

Minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies

Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation(for students with interest in business)

Minor in Leadership in Integrated Learning (student-designed minor, strong focus on leadership)

Minor in Mathematics

Minor in Plant, Animal and Microbial Biotechnology

Minor in Technology Systems Management

Minor in Urban and Community Forestry

 

Some minors of interest for preprofessional students:

Minor in Bioethics

Minor in Environment and Health

Minor in Global Public Health and Epidemiology

Minor in Health Promotion

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What electives can I take?

For majors within the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (BMB) and Plant Biology (PLB) departments, there are usually about 20 general elective credits. These credits are any courses of your choice, beyond your university, college, and major requirements, that will bring your credit total to 120 credits. Some students take courses toward a minor or additional major to fulfill these credits. Other students choose credits of interest to them or that are needed to meet requirements for a professional program (i.e. medical, pharmacy, dental, etc. schools). This a list of health-related elective courses, which might give you some ideas for electives if you don’t know what you want to take. Top

Campus Resources

Where can I find resources if I am a Pre-Health Student (Pre-Med, Pre-Dental, Pre-Pharm, Pre-PA, etc.)?

For information relating to pre-health resources, please visit.

Pre-health advisors at MSU meet with any students that are pursuing health career professional programs. They can talk with you about specific requirements for professional school that aren’t part your major, extracurricular requirements to be a successful applicant, and the application process.  Top

Where can I find what scholarships are available?

Office of Admissions Merit-based Scholarship
https://admissions.msu.edu/cost-aid/merit-based-aid/default.aspx

College of Natural Science (NatSci) Scholarships
https://natsci.msu.edu/students/undergraduate/scholarships-and-financial-aid/

Student Affairs and Services affiliated Scholarships
http://studentaffairs.msu.edu/scholarships/

NatSci Undergraduate Research Awards
You can apply for CNS Undergraduate research scholarships until September 15th for fall semester and January 15th for spring semester. For the summer, applications are due April 1. Applicants will be notified approximately 4 weeks after the deadline of the award status. For these awards, you typically need to have been involved in a research for at least one semester: https://natsci.msu.edu/current-students/undergraduate/research/scholarships-and-grants/.

Lyman Briggs College Scholarships
https://lymanbriggs.msu.edu/current_students/resources/FundingAndScholarships.cfm

Lyman Briggs College Undergraduate Research Awards
http://lymanbriggs.msu.edu/current_students/opportunities/UndergraduateResearchFunding.cfm

Grants for individuals (from MSU library)
http://staff.lib.msu.edu/harris23/grants/3subject.htm

Department of Biochemistry Undergraduate Awards
These awards are announced early in the fall semester.  Watch your email for updates and/or visit this webpage: https://bmb.natsci.msu.edu/resources-facilities/awards-forms/.

Department of Plant Biology Norman Good scholarship
This award is announced during the spring semester. Watch your email for updates. These funds may be used for support for coursework at the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS), summer research, travel to scientific meetings, study abroad related to the major, or for internships. The scholarships usually range from $250 - $800.  Top

What tutoring resources are available at MSU?

Visit the Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative Academic Support page for a list of topical, college-based, and other academic support programs at MSU.

Free tutoring resources on campus:

  • The Math Learning Center (MLC) has free tutoring, problem sessions, and exam reviews in C-125 Wells Hall and free tutoring in the Neighborhood Engagement Centers:

  • The Chemistry Help Room offers tutoring in rooms 81 and 83 in the Chemistry Building. The hours will be posted outside the help room door.

  • The BioSci Help Room, located N202 North Kedzie, offers free tutoring for BS 161, 162, 171, and 172.

  • The Statistics Help Room is located in A102 Wells Hall.

  • TheWriting Center has free help with writing assignments. 

  • The Physics Help Room for PHY 183 is 1248 Biomedical Physical Sciences. The hours are posted outside the door.

  • Social Science Help Room offers tutoring for ISS, IAH, EC, HST, PLS, and SOC courses.

  • The English Language Lab for non-native English speakers.

Paid tutors:

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Research and Summer Opportunities

How do I find an undergraduate research position?

Please follow these guidelines to find an on-campus undergraduate research position. Top

What summer research opportunities and internships are available?

This list is a good starting point for finding summer research opportunities at MSU and other universities, internships in industry, and ecology and environmental opportunities, including field positions. There are also opportunities open to students underrepresented in the sciences. Top

What is the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) and where can I find more information?

The W.K. Kellogg Biological Station is Michigan State University’s largest off-campus education complex and one of North America’s premier inland field stations.

For more information, please visit:  http://www.kbs.msu.edu/.

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Graduation and Commencement

Why do I need to apply to graduate?

This application is what triggers the BMB department to do a quick review of your record and degree requirements, to ensure that you will have all required coursework completed by the end of the semester that you’ve indicated as your graduation semester, on the application.  If done before the first week of the semester you intend to graduate, it will also ensure you are listed in the commencement program.  Your degree cannot be conferred (granted to you) unless you apply to graduate. Top

How do I apply to graduate?

In order to receive your diploma, log in to student.msu.edu. After clicking on the Academic Progress tile, you will see a link to Apply for Graduation in the left-hand navigation under the Graduation heading. . To ensure that you will be listed in the commencement program, submit the application by the first week of the semester you expect to graduate. If you are graduating summer semester, apply by the first week of spring semester.

If you want to walk during the spring commencement ceremony, but you will be taking classes during the summer to fulfill your degree requirements, then you must indicate “summer” as the graduation semester on the application, and NOT spring. You would receive your diploma at the end of the summer and not at the end of the spring. There is no commencement ceremony for summer semester. More information on walking can be found below. Top

Can I walk (i.e. attend commencement) in spring even if I’m graduating in summer?

There are two commencement ceremonies during the year (fall and spring). Most individuals planning to graduate during the summer, opt to walk during the spring ceremony.

To walk means that you are literally going to a commencement ceremony and are being recognized for your intention to graduate either in the semester of the commencement ceremony or a prior/future semester. You would sit with your college/major and then walk across the platform as your name is read. The paper you receive as you walk across the platform is NOT your diploma, just a piece of paper as a placeholder for your diploma.

You will receive your diploma a few weeks after your final grades are posted. You cannot graduate and receive your diploma until all degree requirements are met and grades are posted. Top

Where do I get more information about commencement

For information relating to commencement such as ceremony schedules/policies, and getting a cap and gown, visit this website. You will find the “Baccalaureate Degrees” option under the “Graduate Information” tab in menu bar.  Scroll thru the page and you’ll find answers to many of the questions you may have. Top