Advising FAQ

Revised and updated in Fall 2017

How and with whom do I make an advising appointment?

To make an advising appointment, go to to access GMU SSC Campus.

Biology students are not assigned one advisor but may choose to see the same person or change as they like.  Please, make sure you are choosing the appropriate advisor.  If you are on academic probation or suspension, have a financial hold or are considering a leave of absence you must make an appointment with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Deborah Polayes.

When should I make an advising appointment?

You should see an advisor to help plan your classes every semester.  Although you can view your degree evaluation using Patriot Web (see the FAQ How do I do a degree evaluation? below), only an advisor is familiar with how to balance and sequence your schedule.  Please DO NOT wait for registration to open to discuss your classes for the next semester.  Advising appointments fill up quickly and walk-ins are not taken at that time.  It is your responsibility to be proactive about your degree. 

What is my catalog year and why is it important?

Your catalog year is the semester and year you entered George Mason University.  It is important because major requirements can change from year to year.  You only have to follow the catalog from the year you started at GMU.  However, if an advisor feels another catalog year may be more useful for you they can change your major or minor catalog year.  Be careful taking advice from friends!  They may have a different catalog year. Students commonly get into academic difficulty using advice from peers! Always ask an advisor!!!

How do I do a degree evaluation?

A degree evaluation helps you determine what classes you still need to take, as well as keeps track of your cumulative credits, upper division credits and GPA.  To perform a degree evaluation using Patriot Web, follow these instructions:

To start:

  1. Select the student services tab
  2. Select student records
  3. Select degree evaluation menu
  4. For students in catalog years prior to 2012 follow the instructions under CAPP.
  5. For students in catalog years from Fall 2012 and onward follow the instructions under Degree Works


  1. Select the current term
  2. On the Current Information screen (with your degree information) scroll down to the bottom of the screen and in the middle choose Generate New Evaluation
  3. Select the circle to the left of your program
  4. Generate Request
  5. Select detail requirements

Degree Works:

  1. Enter your G#, starting with G00, in the top left box
  2. Degree evaluation should generate

What is the difference between IT 103 and IT 104?

Nothing. If you started at GMU prior to Fall 2015, your IT requirement shows as either CDS 130 (recommended) or IT 103. As of Fall 2015, IT 103 was renamed IT 104. Both IT 103 and IT 104 fulfill the IT requirement for the biology degrees.

What is a math placement test?

The Biology degree requires you to successfully complete Math 111 or Math 113.  In order to ensure you succeed in one of these classes you must first qualify for either class via the math placement test.  You can find more information regarding the test here: As of Fall 2015, a math placement exam is NOT needed if you take Math 111.

Does the Biology department accept CLEP tests?

No, the Biology department does not accept these tests.  Please contact other departments directly if you are interested in taking a CLEP test for another subject.

Does the Biology department accept AP/IB/Dual Enrollment credit?

Yes, please look here for score requirements for AP and IB scores:

I am obtaining a BA in Biology and have experience with a foreign language; can I test out of the beginning language level?

Yes, you can obtain information regarding language placement/exemption at:

What happens when I retake a course?

If you retake a course, GMU will only use your second grade toward your GPA.  However, both grades will show on your transcript and graduate schools’ admission departments may average these grades.  If you retake a class it must be retaken at GMU, not another institution, for the grade replacement to occur.

What is a Biology elective?

A Biology elective is any upper division course (300-level or above) in Biology (designated as BIOL) other than the core Biology courses OR Biology 301 (which counts as  a synthesis class, but not a Biology elective).  For a BS degree you need 22 credit hours of Biology electives, (two of these Biology elective courses must include laboratories). For the BA degree you need 10 credit hours of Biology electives (one of these Biology electives must include a laboratory).  To find these electives log in to Patriot Web. Under the Student Services tab, look under Registration, then Search for Classes and pick the appropriate term from the pull down menus.  Choose Advanced Search and select Biology.  All Biology courses offered that semester will display.  The BS degree allows 8 credits of the 22 electives to be lower division (100- or 200-level), this can include BIOL 103 and/or 104 or a course transferred from another school.  For the BA degree 4 credits may be lower division electives.  These credits only count as Biology electives, if taken prior to an upper division class.

Please note:   Biology 124/125 are human anatomy and physiology classes provided for students in the College of Health and Human Services.  These courses DO NOT apply toward a Biology degree.   Biology majors should take BIOL 430/431 (Advanced Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II) if they want credit for Biology electives.

How do I know if I qualify to take a Biology elective?

Many Biology courses have prerequisites.  In order to succeed in the Biology course you need to have taken these prerequisite courses.  To determine if you have the prerequisites go to: and make sure that the catalog you are viewing is for the current academic year. Previous academic year catalogs are preceded by the word ARCHIVED.

On the left select courses, and then filter the courses using BIOL.  This will list all Biology courses.  Select the course you are interested in.

What does ‘prerequisite enforced by registration system’ mean in the course catalog?

This means that if your course has a prerequisite and you haven’t taken the course or met the grade requirement on that course, it will not allow you to register.  In rare cases the professor of that class can provide an override.  Specifically for CHEM 211, 212, 313/315, 314/318, and PHYS 243/244 – if you do not meet the minimum GPA of a C you cannot proceed to the next course without a retake.

Can I take summer classes at another school?

Yes, however, there is a limit to how many credits you may transfer into the College of Science and you MUST obtain prior approval before taking coursework elsewhere. Once you are a matriculated student you may only transfer 9 credits into the College of Science.   If you choose to take a class elsewhere you must first have the course approved by using the study elsewhere form found here:

If you have already transferred credits from another school, you may NOT take classes elsewhere.  For example, this means you may not return to Northern Virginia Community College for coursework once you transfer to George Mason.

If I am transferring to the Biology Department from another school or program, how do I know what classes to take?

As a transfer student from a different school it is important to attend a transfer student orientation before you register for classes.  At Orientation, you will be advised on what courses to take, based on your previous classes and where you are transferring from.  Please make sure ALL your transcripts have been sent to George Mason University prior to your orientation.

If you are transferring to the Biology Department from a different program please schedule an appointment with a Biology advisor.

If you are prospective Biology student you may use the Transfer Credit Search Engine to determine how your classes may apply at George Mason University.  Please realize this does not include all schools or courses.  The search engine can be found here:

Please note:  As a transfer student, not all classes will seamlessly fit into your new degree. For most transfer students, their graduation is delayed anywhere from one semester to a year.

What do I need to know if I plan on transferring from NOVA?

NOVA offers guarantee admittance to George Mason, however, this DOES NOT guarantee a waiver of all general education credits required by the Biology degree.  Students must be proactive and work with NOVA advisors to ensure they fulfill all these requirements.  Additionally, you can use the Transfer Credit Search engine ( and filter for Virginia schools and All VCCS campuses to ensure your classes will fulfill general education requirements.  These requirements can be found here.

Some common mistakes are:

  1. Biology students must take one information technology class either IT 103 (as of Fall 2015 this class is now called IT 104) or CDS 130. NOVA’s CSC 110 DOES NOT fulfill this requirement   You must take CSC 155 or ITE 115.
  1. Biology students must take one math course (in addition to Bio 214, Biostatistics). MTH 272 DOES NOT fulfill this.  You must take either:  MTH 173, 180, 181, 273 or 275.
  1. Pre-health students: Graduate programs usually require a calculus course so it is advisable to take MTH 173, 273 or 275.  Additionally, they require upper division (300- or 400-level) organic chemistry, which is not offered at the community college level.  This means it should be taken at a four year school.

How do I declare a major in Biology?

You must make an appointment with a Biology advisor.  Please note: if you want to change your major from Biology to another subject, you must see an advisor from that other subject.

How do I declare minor in Biology?

You must make an appointment with a Biology advisor.  Please note:  in order to fulfill a Biology minor you must have at least 8 credits that are not used in any other portion of your Biology degree.

I am thinking of changing my major to Biology, how do I know if the classes I have taken will apply?

To see how your current classes will apply to a new major, you can perform a What-if Analysis. This will not permanently change your record.

To start:

  1. Select the Student Services tab
  2. Select Student Records
  3. Select Degree Evaluation Menu
  4. For students in catalog years prior to 2012 follow the instructions under CAPP.
  5. For students in catalog years from Fall 2012 and onward follow the instructions under Degree Works


  1. Select the current term
  2. On the Current Information screen (with your degree information) page down to the bottom of the screen and choose the third option – the What-If Analysis
  3. Enter your Catalog Year
  4. Select your Program of Interest
  5. Under drop down menu with *, re-enter Program of Interest
  6. On this screen, if you want to add a Concentration, hit the Add More button once
  7. On this screen, if you want to add a Minor, hit the Add More button twice
  8. Once steps 7-9 are completed, click Submit
  9. Check for accuracy
  10. Select detail requirements
  11. Your What-If Analysis should appear

Degree Works

  1. Enter your G#, starting with G00, in the top left box
  2. Once your information appears, select the What-If tab on the left side (to the left of the green bar)
  3. Adjust your: Catalog Year, College, Degree, Major, Minor or Concentration
  4. Add a second major, if desired
  5. To complete the analysis, select the grey box, Process What-If, in the middle left upper part of the screen

How do I double major in Biology and another subject?

A double major is when you are studying for a one type of degree and want to obtain another degree of the same type in a different subject; for example, a BS in  Biology and a BS in Psychology; or a BA in  Biology and a BA in Communication.  These degrees must be in the same catalog year and must have the same graduation year.  For this type of degree you must have 18 credits that are not used in the first major.  A dual major in which you earn a BA in one subject and a BS in another is also possible.  Please talk to an advisor for more information.

What is a concentration in Biology?

A concentration in Biology focuses your studies around a specific subject matter.  In a concentration, the additional Biology electives are chosen for you.  more information on Biology concentrations can be found in the University Catalog:

What is the Biology Accelerated Master’s program and how do I find out more about it?

This is a combined BS and MS program for students currently enrolled at GMU.  You can find more information here:

What is a Medical Laboratory Science degree?

Within the Biology department, a BS in Medical Laboratory Science is offered.  If you are interested in this degree please contact Dr. Anne Verhoeven via the online advising appointment calendar.

Please note:  The Medical Laboratory Science degree is NOT a degree to be used as a secondary option if acceptance into a health profession school is not achieved.

I am considering a concentration in education, are there any other steps I need to take?

Yes.  It is highly suggested you declare this concentration no later than the end of your sophomore year. You MUST also apply and be accepted to the School of Education to receive your licensure.  In order to apply, you need to meet with their advisor.  Please visit:

What classes should I be taking if I am a pre-health student?

If you are planning on going into a pre-health profession, please visit:

We highly suggest that you also sign up for the pre-health listserv at:

Additional information can be found at:

Please note:   Biology 124/125 are human anatomy and physiology classes provided for students in the College of Health and Human Services.  These courses DO NOT apply toward a  Biology degree.   Biology majors should take BIOL 430/431 (Advanced Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II) if they want credit for Biology electives.  Furthermore, BIOL 214 (Biostatistics for Biology Majors) is required of all Biology majors.  It simultaneously fulfills a requirement for a second MATH class.  STAT 250 does not fulfill any requirements for a Biology degree.

How do I apply for graduation?

First, make an appointment with your advisor to confirm that you have met all degree requirements.  Then follow the steps here: