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Frequently Asked Questions by MCB Students

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- Who is my Advisor?

Biology and MCB students are not assigned a specific advisor. You may choose to meet with any one or more of the advisors on staff.

We do encourage you, however, to find an advisor that you are comfortable speaking with, and try to meet with that person throughout your time at Illinois.

- How do I make an appointment?

Please call (217) 333-6774 during normal business hours, stop by room 200 Burrill, or use our Online Scheduler to schedule an appointment with the advisor of your choice. We're sorry but we do not make appointments via email. If you get the answering machine when you call, please speak slowly and clearly, leaving your name and a phone number where we can reach you. We will return your call as soon as we are able.

We typically do not accept same day appointments, so please stop in to room 200 Burrill Hall, or call us to set up a time to meet with your advisor in advance. During busy times, like the beginning of a semester and early registration, it is best to schedule your appointment at least 1 week in advance. If you are unable to keep your appointment for any reason, please call to cancel or re-schedule. Appointment times vary between 30 minutes and 60 minutes depending on the nature of your question.

- When and how often do I need to meet with an advisor?

We do not mandate advising, unless you are on academic probation or you are a member of a group that we think is at risk. However, we recommend meeting with your advisor at least once each semester, and certainly prior to registration to make sure your schedule is up to date and all MCB and LAS requirements are being met. You are encouraged to see an advisor as often as you like throughout the semester to get help with any of your academic or career questions and concerns.

- How do I decide between pursuing a degree in MCB or IB?

When you enter Illinois as a freshman in Biological Sciences, you will take two introductory biology courses during your first year on campus: MCB 150 and IB 150. These courses consist of lectures and discussion sections, and may be taken in any order. During the year, you will be exposed to the different emphasis of the two schools of biology, which will help you make a choice that is right for you. You are encouraged to talk with professors, IB or MCB advisors, and career counselors to learn more about yourself, your interests,your academic strengths, and about upper-level courses in your chosen major. For many students, the choice is clear, but others need to spend more time exploring their options. Your academic advisor will assist you with this decision.


- How do I add a course?

You can add a full semester course using the Enterprise Self-Service system through the 10th day of classes each semester (5th day during summer sessions), subject to eligibility, space availability, and the policy governing maximum course load.

Under rare circumstances, you may be able to add a course after the deadline. To do this you will need to obtain instructor approval and fill out the Late Course Add form. This form must be filled out by you, signed by the instructor; and signed by the department offering the course before processing in the LAS Student Affairs Office in room 2002 Lincoln Hall.

- How do I drop a course?

You can drop a semester course without penalty using the Enterprise Self-Service through the end of the 8th week of the semester (or the mid-point of the summer terms).

To drop a course after the deadline, you will need petition for a "Late Drop" using the form found here. This form must be submitted to the College of LAS Student Affairs office in room 2002 Lincoln Hall. Permssion to drop a course after the deadline is typically only granted under extenuating cirumstances (beyond student's control) and will result in a "W" on your transcript. Ordinarily the extenuating circumstatnces associated with the "Late Drop" request must be documented and verifiable in order for the withdraw to be approved.

- How do I take more than 18 credit hours? OR How do I take fewer than 12 credit hours?

MORE THAN 18 cr. hrs: Students may carry as many as 18 hours without special permission. Approval for programs of more than 18 hours (overload) can be obtained from the College of LAS. When approval is granted it becomes effective immediately. You can obtain a Course Overload form online from the College of LAS site.

FEWER THAN 12 cr. hrs: LAS approves course loads of less than 12 hours in special circumstances, such as seniors in their final semester who need fewer than 12 hours to graduate and students with a documented illness who are unable to carry a full load (medical documentation is required). Students may request an "underload" for other reasons, but the college generally does not approve more than one such request. Forms for an "underload" are obtained from the LAS office 2002 Lincoln Hall.

- Can you take a course at Parkland Community College while still taking classes at UIUC?

Yes you can take classes at Parkland while still attending UIUC. To receive in-district tuition, you must complete a Concurrent Enrollment Form. You must be enrolled as a full-time student here at the University of Illinois in order to receive in-district tuition. This means that for the summer term, you must be enrolled in at least 12 hours for the upcoming fall semester. If you are taking a course during the academic year, you must be a full-time student during the semester you will be completing the course at Parkland.

- Can I take MCB 246 if I have not taken MCB 244?

Per course instructor, Dr. Chester Brown: While it is preferred and recommended that students take the A&P courses in the correct sequential order, strong MCB students who have taken MCB 246 without first having MCB 244 have done fine.

If you take MCB 246 without having first taken MCB 244, there will be contextual information that you might not be familiar with. We take foundational material (covered in MCB 244) and apply it to certain topics addressed in MCB 246. The easiest fix for this issue requires that you do some additional outside review of some relevant, key, background material since they won't be covered in class. The amount of additional background review wouldn't be extensive and is manageable for most students.

- What kind of computer requirements (operating system and RAM) would be optimal for MCB majors?

You will not need anything beyond a standard operating system & memory. You can also choose either a Mac or PC. Both are supported here so it is whichever you prefer. For more questions about computer requirements, check out the Technology Services page.

- Can I take MCB 354 (Biochem) or any MCB core class such as 252/253 along with an advanced MCB course? Or do I have to wait to complete 354?

- Most of the Advanced MCB courses require one or more of the Core courses to be completed.  For instance, If you look at the prereqs for MCB 300 (Microbiology), you will see that MCB 250 and credit or concurrent enrollment in MCB 252 is required prior to registering for the course. Concurrent enrollment means that both courses could be taken at the same time.  
- Be sure to check the Class Schedule for detailed information on each course you are considering.  It may also be helpful to discuss the course prerequisites with your advisor and/or the course instructor. 
- Some courses will indicate credit in MCB 354 as a prereq, so you shouldn't take those courses until you have completely finished with the core (MCB 250, 251, 252, 253 and 354).
- Another issue to consider is workload. Even if you've met the prerequisites for a course, it may not be a good idea to take it if you already have a heavy workload. You should consult an advisor before making a final decision on your course load each semester.
- Should you have any further questions or clarifications on these guidelines feel free to contact the MCB Advising office to set up an appointment.

- What is the physics requirement for MCB?

To complete the requirement in Physics, MCB majors have two formal options: Physics 101-102, or Physics 211-214. Students cannot mix and match 100 and 200 level physics courses. Although Physics 101-102 is minimally acceptable, the MCB faculty strongly encourage students to pursue the more challenging calculus-based option, Physics 211-214. The entire field of molecular and cellular biology is becoming more physical and mathematical at a rapid pace, and Physics 101-102 is not appropriate preparation for a future career in ANY area of biomedical/biological research. In general, we urge students here to challenge themselves, and to make the most of the rich opportunities for learning at the University of Illinois. Having said that it is important to discuss these options with your academic advisor, so that you can appropriately weigh the risks and benefits of taking the 200 level physics series.


- How do I get involved in undergraduate research?

Students interested in research should visit Undergrad Research page for general information on how to get started. Check out our Faculty Research Interests page or Video Interviews to find a lab that is interesting to you. You should also attend one of our Undergraduate Research Information Sessions.

- How do I sign up for MCB 290 credit?

Once you find a lab to work in you will need to fill out a request form for MCB 290 credit. These forms are available online on our Undergrad Research page, in 127 Burrill Hall or in room 200 Burrill Hall. All paperwork must be processed in the MCB Core Curriculum Office in room 127 Burrill Hall by the 10th day of class. Credit hours are dependent on the how many hours you work in the lab (1 Credit hour = 5 hrs/week in lab during the Fall/Spring semesters; 1 Credit hour = 10 hrs/week during the Summer semester).

- What do I need to know to write a senior thesis?

Students who have completed at least two consecutive semesters of MCB 290, , for a minimum of 2 credit hours each semester, under the guidance of the same professor will qualify to enroll in MCB 492 Senior Thesis in their last semester before graduation. Please visit the MCB 492 Senior Thesis section of the Undergrad Research page for detailed information and submission dates.


- What is a DARS audit and how can I access it?

A DARS Audit is an unofficial audit of progress toward your degree that reflects courses you have already taken and courses you have in-progress. This report is extremely important, as it shows which requirements you still need to complete. To access your DARS audit, you can visit the Office of the Registrar’s website.

- What is considered a passing grade? and How does this affect my GPA?

A passing grade is a D-. However, your overall GPA and major GPA (found in DARS) must be above 2.0 in order for you to graduate or continue without being put on academic probation. There is currently an option to retake a class for grade replacement; however this policy should be used prudently. Please talk with an advisor about this option if you earned a C- or lower in a course that you plan to retake.

When a course is retaken and approved for grade replacement only the 2nd grade will be used to calculate the student's GPA. However it is important to note that both grades will continue to show on your transcript and graduate or professional schools may require that you use both grades when calculating and reporting your GPA on an application.

- How do I get credits taken at a community college or other university transferred to Illinois?

Once permission has been granted to take off-campus coursework and the coursework is complete, an official transcript must be requested and sent from the institution where the course was taken to the University of Illinois Registrar's Office. Official transcripts can be sent through US mail or electronically (PDF) to:

Office of the Registrar
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
901 West Illinois Street, Suite 140
Urbana, IL 61801


- How do I apply for graduation?

Notify the College of LAS of your intent to graduate by applying to graduate through the ENTERPRISE SELF-SERVICE SYSTEM by the 10th day of class during your final semester. If you do not register by the 10th day of class you WILL need to contact your ADMISSIONS/RECORDS OFFICER ( in order to be added to the graduation list.

Please note this does NOT register you for any ceremonies you wish to attend. See below for information on registrtation for ceremonies.

- I have applied for graduation. Who do I see next?

You will need to have your final schedule checked by your ADMISSIONS/RECORDS OFFICER (ARO) in the LAS Student Affairs office (2002 Lincoln Hall) to verify that you will have met all requirements for graduation with completion of your in progress courses. It is best to do this prior to the 10th day of class during your final semester. We also recommend meeting with an MCB advisor to make sure all major specific requirements, including GPA, have been fulfilled.

- Do I have to register for graduation ceremonies?

Yes, you must register in order to participate in commencement ceremonies.
  • To register for the campuswide ceremonies go to the following link:
  • To register for the MCB commencement ceremonies visit the following link:
  • Order Regalia by visiting:
  • - Is there a minimum GPA requirement I need to meet in order to graduate?

    - Students must earn a cumulative grade-point average of 2.00 (C) or better in all coursework taken on this campus applying to their LAS degree. Students who take off-campus courses must also earn a minimum "combined" GPA of 2.00 (C) or better when transfer grades are averaged with LAS grades. All Secondary Education majors must achieve a minimum 2.50 in these cumulative GPAs.
    - MCB majors are required to have a major GPA of at least a 2.0 or better.