Questions about Biology requirements

Are there advanced biology courses that HPA recommends to supplement AP credit?

"Extra" biology (EEB, MOL, NEU) coursework is always valued in the admissions process (and required by some schools, including the University of Texas medical schools. Some schools may require two lab-based biology courses if you have AP Biology, so if you’re only going to take two courses, we’d recommend MOL 214 plus a 300- or 400-level course with a lab component – Comparative Physiology (EEB 314) or Ecology: Species Interactions, Biodiversity, and Society (EEB 321) are two options. Alternately, if you’ve done a summer of biology lab research or worked in a Princeton lab, you may be able to make the argument that you've had sufficient lab experience within biology to satisfy their requirements. Check with individual schools of interest regarding their requirements. If you have lab experience, courses that touch on biomedical sciences or human biology may be especially valuable; for example, Genetics (MOL 342); Molecular Basis of Cancer (MOL 423); Psychopharmacology (MOL 458); Neuroimmunology (NEU 447). 

Do I have to take EEB 211 if I don't have AP credit but I plan to take more advanced bio courses with lab (like core lab)?

Without AP credit in Biology, we recommend that you take EEB 211.  Though some medical schools have moved to competency-based requirements or have a broader “one year of biology courses” prerequisite, many schools still require one year’s worth of “introductory” or “general” biology for applicants who entered college without AP credit. At most colleges, your year would be made up of “General Bio I” followed by “General Bio II.” At Princeton, that sequence is MOL 214 and EEB 211. If you’re sure that you won’t want to apply to schools that want the year of intro course work, you could choose to skip it, but just know that it might limit your options moving forward. We especially recommend checking the wording for your public state schools since those schools are your best bet for acceptance and are among the most affordable options for medical school.

You could double-check with schools of interest to see if they’d be satisfied with MOL 214 plus core lab, since that will give you a year of Biology with lab and you’ll be taking significant additional biology courses, but to keep all of your options open, the safest bet is to take EEB 211. As an aside, be sure to check your public state schools’ requirements to check their specifics when it comes to Biology requirements – some Texas, California, and other schools require additional Biology coursework.  

I was looking at med school websites and noticed that most of them require one full year of biology with lab, and some note that they don't accept AP credit. Do I need to take a lab based bio to supplement my AP credit?

In past years, we have had students accepted to medical schools with AP + MOL 214 + advanced MOL, regardless of lab. That said, we are glad that you are following our recommendation to check the websites of schools of particular interest, since prereqs have diversified in recent years.

If you come across a school and are unsure of their requirements, you can touch base with us. We will look at your preparation as a whole, and advise you based on your specific situation. We may ask you to be in touch with the school directly for clarification, or we can contact them on your behalf. That said, taking a Biology course with a lab (such as EEB 211, EEB 314, MOL or NEU core lab) would complement your preparation, and leave you less negotiating that you might have to do with schools later on. Doing a summer of Biology-based research may also help you make an argument to schools that you have sufficient knowledge and experience in a lab setting.  

Is it okay to take MOL and CHM in the same semester as a first-year or will two labs be too much to handle?

Whether or not you’re comfortable taking MOL 214 as a first-year will depend on the strength of your background in biology and on how successful you’ve been so far in your classes.  If you’re struggling in CHM 201 right now and you’re working as hard as you can—and seeking help—then it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to add MOL 214 to the mix.  However, if you’re doing fine in CHM as well as your other courses, and you’re up for the challenge, then go for it. 

It is wise to “double up” on science courses at some point during your college career, if at all possible. Health professions schools are looking for evidence that you can handle the rigor of the professional school curriculum. To indicate to Admissions that you’re ready for that much science coming at you all at once, it is a good idea to demonstrate your ability to handle two hard science classes at once.  Let us repeat, however, that this shouldn’t be done at the expense of strong performance. 

Can I take MOL 101 to raise my science GPA?

Please do not take courses that are designed for non-science students as a premed. This will look like blatant GPA manipulation and will not serve you well in the eyes of admissions committee members. Instead, choose health-related courses in and outside of the sciences that cover topics of interest that will expand your perspective of medicine and health care: the more you enjoy the courses, the more time you’re likely to spend and thus the better you’re likely to perform. 

Is it okay to PDF a biology course where I have a low grade right now? I'm taking five courses and it's hard to keep up.

Generally, the spirit behind the pdf option is “to encourage exploration and experimentation in curricular areas in which the student may have had little or no previous experience.” if you're a first-year or sophomore and your academic interests are shifting, the logic of pdf'ing this course may hold true for you. If you're a science concentrator or have significant experience in biology, then it would not. It may be better to shift your curriculum, PDF a non-science, or adjust your other commitments. 

I know that medical schools will look at my science grades when I apply to med school. Will NEU courses be counted as ‘science’ or as psychology?

Generally speaking, Neuroscience is listed among the subjects that AMCAS will count as “science” when you apply (AMCAS is the common application for MD programs).  AMCAS figures all courses whose content are primarily Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Math into the “science GPA.”  You can see a list of which departments fall within different AMCAS categories in the AMCAS Course Classification Guide online.

It has been our experience that Neuro courses labeled “PSY” are considered on a case-by-case basis, and may be categorized as “biological science” or, possibly, “behavioral and social science.”  If you feel the majority of the content of the course was biological in nature, then you should label them as such when completing your AMCAS.  Whether or not these are reclassified during the AMCAS verification process is hard to predict.