This FAQ has been created for undergraduate students in the Departments Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (BMB) and Plant Biology (PLB). Please review the College of Natural Science Advising Syllabus and Objectives to prepare for your advising meeting.
Major, Minor, and Graduation Requirements
Research and Summer Opportunities
Graduation and Commencement
How do I request an override for a course?
Overrides are handled by the department or program that administers the course. If you look up the course on the Schedule of Courses, the department or program contact information (phone number and webpage) will be in the upper right corner 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).
If the webpage doesn't have an override form, please call the number listed on Schedule of Courses. Many departments require that you contact the professor first. If the professor isn’t listed on the Schedule of Courses, you can ask who is teaching the course when you call. You can find a professor’s contact information using the Search box in the upper right hand corner on the MSU homepage. Click on the "Q" in the box. On the Search page that opens, click on "PEOPLE."
How do I get into a full course?
You will need to set an “alert” for the course. Look up the course on the Schedule of Courses. Click on the black X next to the section that you want to add. This section of the course will now show up on your Schedule Builder screen under Planned Courses for the semester. Click on the Alert button that shows up next to the course.
This will open up another page, the Open Seat Notifications, where you can choose if you want an email and/or text message alert. You can choose alerts for that specific section of the course or all sections. If a space opens up in the class, you will be sent a notification. If you chose “all sections” and the notification is for a different section than is already on your Planned Courses on Schedule Builder, you will need to add that section to your Planned Courses. If you are already enrolled for the course in a future semester, you will need to drop the course from the future semester before enrolling.
You need to make sure that you keep your Alert active. After you have received 5 alert notifications, your alert will be cancelled, so if you haven’t been able to add the class, you’ll need to reset your alert. You can check if your alert is active by going to the Open Seat Notifications page. It’s on the Schedule of Courses, under the Schedule Tools tab. If the alert is not listed as “Active”, you’ll see to reset it. Top
How do I drop a course and when are the drop deadlines?
Most courses can be dropped with a refund during the first 3 weeks of the semester, and with no grade reported (but no refund) through the middle of the semester. To drop a course, go to the Schedule of Courses and then to Schedule Builder (under the Schedule Tools tab). Under your Enrolled Courses, Click on the DROP icon next to the course(s) you wish to drop. If you have any questions about using Schedule Builder, go to Instructions (under Other Information tab).
Specific add and drop deadlines for courses can be viewed by clicking on the course’s section number (the three-digit code, i.e. 001) in the Schedule of Courses or in your planned courses in Schedule Builder. This opens up the Textbooks and Supplemental Material page, which also lists textbooks for the course. Top
How late into the semester can I add courses?
Students can typically add classes during the first week of the semester. The add deadlines or courses can be viewed by clicking on the course’s section number (the three-digit code, i.e. 001) in the Schedule of Courses or in your planned courses in Schedule Builder.
Late adds (after the add period for the class has ended) are handled by the department or program that administers the course. If you look up the course on the Schedule of Courses, the department or program contact information will be in the upper right corner of the page. 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 Schedules of Courses, 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 homepage. Top
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, although many of them are graduate-level or medical school courses.
Go to the Schedule Builder, and put the current date in the “Starting On or After” box. Then click on “Special Sections” under Special Searches on the right-hand side of the page. Then select a subject in the drop-down menu.
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.
If you are specifically seeking a 1 or 2 credit class that starts late, you can also search by “Number of Credits” under Special Searches. To do so: fill in the “Starting On or After” date as instructed above, then click on “Number of Credits” under Special Searches. Then choose the number of credit hours you are seeking, and it will show all subject codes that have that number of credits that start on or after the date selected. Top
Where can I check to see if a course has prerequisites?
The course prerequisites are listed on the course description, which you can access if you look up the course on the Schedule of Courses. Click on the course number and the course description will open in another window.
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, look up the course on the Schedule of Courses: www.schedule.msu.edu. Click on the course number and the course description will open in another window. Listed there will be: Prerequisite courses are listed here, and restrictions will be listed next to "Not open to student with credit in" or "restrictions".
"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.
Can I repeat a course at MSU? What happens to my GPA if I repeat a course? Is there a repeat credit limit?
You can only repeat a course if you receive a course grade less than a 2.0. If you repeat a course, the original grade will still be listed on your transcript, but it will be removed from your GPA calculation. You can repeat a maximum of 20 credits at MSU.
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, Kendra, 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
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.
Major, Minor, and Graduation Requirements
How do I change my major?
If you are a freshman or sophomore (you have completed less than 56 credits), please request your major change through the Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative online form.
If you are a junior or senior (56 credits or above) and changing to another major within the College of Natural Science, please schedule an appointment with the academic advisor for 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 or 1.5 is a passing grade in any course 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:
For the Plant Biology program lists, please visit this page:
How do I use Degree Navigator to check on my progress toward completing degree requirements?
Please use Degree Navigator to track your progress towards completing your graduation requirements. To review your outstanding requirements, click on the name of your program on the right-hand side of the page after you login in. In the pulldown menu next to Degree Description, the Audit– Full Report with Course Status will show you which requirements are fulfilled. Some requirements may need updates from advisors, such as major specific electives, which may need to have course choices added manually. The Audit– Outstanding Requirements Report will show you the requirements that you still need to complete. For more information on how to use Degree Navigator, go to the Help tab once you log in.
It's also possible to look up the other majors or minors on Degree Navigator to see what courses in the program that you have already completed. From the Degree Navigator page, choose the search tab in the upper left and go to Degrees. Type in the name of the major or minor that you are interested in, i.e. Human Biology. There are three versions for each major [BS or BA, ADDU (which refers to an additional major), or 2nd BS or BA]. For changing majors, click on the BS or BA version. When the requirement list for the major pops up, under the Degree Description, choose Audit–Full Report. This will show you which of the requirements you have already completed. You can also choose Audit–Outstanding Report and this will show you what requirements you still have to complete. Top
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 Cognitive Science (NEU 301 and 302 can count toward advanced biology/biotech requirements)
Some minors of interest for PLB and Environmental Bio/PLB majors:
Some minors of interest for either BMB or PLB majors:
Minor in Conservation, Recreation and Environmental Enforcement (includes CJ 110 and CJ 210, common electives with interest in forensic science)
Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation(for students with interest in business)
Minor in Leadership in Integrated Learning (student-designed minor, strong focus on leadership)
Some minors of interest for preprofessional students:
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
Where can I find resources if I am a Pre-Professional Student (Pre-Med, Pre-Dental, Pre-Pharm, Pre-PA, etc.)?
For information relating to pre-professional resources, please visit: https://natsci.msu.edu/students/preprofessional/.
Pre-professional 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: https://natsci.msu.edu/current-students/preprofessional-resources/advising/.
You can declare your pre-professional track by contacting Carolyn Sekedat in the College of Natural Resources in 108 Natural Science Building, (517) 355-8419. Top
Where can I find what scholarships are available?
Office of Admissions Merit-based Scholarship
College of Natural Science (CNS) Scholarships
CNS 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
Lyman Briggs College Undergraduate Research Awards
Grants for individuals (from MSU library)
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/dept-resources/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.
Research and Summer Opportunities
How do I find an undergraduate research position?
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/.
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, you must submit the online graduation application found here. 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