FSU - Biological Science

Department of Biological Science

at Florida State University

Good Advice for Students Who Plan to Attend FSU

  • Prepare to Attend College
    A solid foundation in high school, with some careful reflection on life goals and career interests can make the transistion to college smoother...
  • Expand your Skills
    Classes and skills you should seek for success in academe and beyond...
  • A Proactive Stance to College
    Students are expected to be active participants in the educational process..

Prepare to Attend College

What can I do with a degree in Biology?

Baccalaureate level - Biological Laboratory Assistant/Technician, Biotechnologist, Biostatistician, Bio-Informatics Specialist, Crime Laboratory Analyst, Environmental Scientist, Medical Technologist, Technical Sales and/or Service Representative, Teacher-middle school and high school (with appropriate education preparation), Scientific Writer, Wildlife Biologist, Zoo Keeper.

With further study: Biological Scientist/Researcher, Environmental Attorney, Environmental Scientist, Environmental Resource Manager, Fisheries Biologist/Marine Biologist, Microbiologist, Geneticist, Genetic Counselor, Optometrist, Physician, Physician Assistant, Pharmacist, Veterinarian, Dentist, Professor - Community College, 4-year College, University.

A good site to visit to see how this works was set up by the University of Central Florida for the Society for Marine Mammalogy. It addresses questions and concerns for people who are interested in Marine Mammalogy.

The Career Center here at FSU, or elsewhere, can help you begin the career choice process!

Should I be taking special classes?

We are always going to suggest you should be on a college prep track by taking AP, IB, AICE or even Dual Enrollment courses while in high school. Be aware that Dual Enrollment comes in as a grade, if you fail or do not get that high of a grade it will factor into your GPA when you come here.

You should be trying to place as high as possible in math! You should also be trying to take college or advanced credit courses in history, social science, history and ethics.

Some, not all, popular and suggested courses are:

  • AP Calculus AB
  • AP Economics - Micro
  • AP English Language
  • AP English Literature
  • AP Environmental Science
  • AP Gov't and Politics: US
  • AP World History
  • AP Psychology
  • IB English A1
  • IB Environmental Science
  • IB History (any)
  • IB Mathematics or
  • IB Mathematics Methods
  • IB Psychology
  • IB Philosophy
  • IB Social Anthropology
  • IB Language
  • * Not recommended:
  • IB Mathematics Studies
  • AICE English - A or AS
  • AICE Literature - A or AS Level
  • AICE History American - A or AS
  • AICE Mathematics - A or AS
  • AICE Psychology - A or AS
  • AICE Sociology - A or AS
  • AICE Spanish - A Level

What classes will I be taking when I get to Florida State?

Your first semester schedule will be made with your advisor at Orientation, and then you will make individual appointments every semester following up until graduation.

In your first semester you should be in an English course, a Math course, at least 1 Science course and a liberal studies course. If you are accelerated in math, we would suggest taking Chemistry (CHM 1045/L) first or at the same time as Biology for Majors (BSC 2010/L).

Sample Schedule:

  • ENC 1101 or ENC 2135 - 3
  • Math Course - 3
  • BSC 2010/L or CHM 1045/L - 3/1
  • Liberal Studies not satisfied by AP credit - 3
  • Total: 13 credits

I don't really like science classes other than biology, how many of them do I really need to do in the Biology Degree?

In this major you will need some collateral courses:

  • Math sequence:
  • MAC 1005 (3) College Algebra
  • MAC 1140 (3) Pre-Calculus
  • MAC 1114 (2) Trigonometry
  • MAC 2311 (4) Calculus I
  • Choose one:
    • MAC 2312 (4) Calculus II
    • STA 2171 (4) Bio Statistics
    • COP 3014 (3) Comp. Programming I
  • Physics and Chemistry Sequence:
  • Pick one Combination:
    1. CHM 2210 + CHM 2211 + PHY A
      Chemistry Minor
    2. PHY A + PHY B + CHM 2210
      Interdisciplinary Science Minor

15 hours is a heavier load than I wanted...

Research has shown that those students who are above 13 credit hours perform better and have a higher G.P.A in their first semester. In your first semester you will have approximately 13 credit hours (4 classes and 1 lab).

Can I take summer classes?

Yes! You can take any approved classes that count toward your degree requirements while at home for the summer, or stay here to do them. Many students use the summer to lessen the fall and spring load but still stay on time.

Biology classes are limited to 18 hours of accepted transfer hours.

Remember - the State of Florida requires all university students to enroll for at least 9 summer hours at one of the 10 State University System institutions. Community college credit will not count toward the 9 hour requirement.

Expand your Skills

What do you mean by "skills"? More classes?

Directed Independent Study:
Working with a professor on their research project in a lab on campus. You can find the Biology faculty research opportunities here: Faculty Research. We encourage you to contact the professors directly to set up your DIS. Research in a lab could also be in another department such as College of Medicine, Psychology and Chemistry. Max of 6 credit hours toward the biology major.

Volunteering in a biological, medical or animal area typically outside of FSU. Max of 4 credit hours toward the biology major.

*All DIS and Internship paperwork to receive Biology credit towards the major MUST be completed the semester prior to starting.

**If you are unsure if your project/research/internship would count towards your biology major please contact the Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies in the Biology Department, located in the undergraduate advising office.

A majority of our students go onto graduate or medical programs after they graduate. To strengthen your resume and application we support students in being as active as possible in the community by volunteering and being involved in clubs, not necessarily in the biology field.

A list of organizations/clubs at FSU: FSU Organization/Clubs

For questions on how to expand your skills for medical school contact Pre-Med/Health Advising: 850-644-7678 or FSU Pre-Health Advising Website

How can I tell what skills I need to plan for?

That depends on the career path you are trying to set down.

Research or Graduate School:
Honors in the Major to conduct your own research, write and defend your thesis. You would enter the program at the end of your sophomore year and you would graduate with Honors after a successful defense. For more information: FSU Honors in the Major - Starting the Process

Pre-health Profession:
Shadowing a physician or getting a part-time job may be beneficial for you. Contact the Pre-Med/Health Advising: 850-644-7678 or FSU Pre-Health Advising Website to see what pre-health schools will be looking for.

Career in Biology:
If you are looking to just go straight into your career after your bachelor's degree we would suggest entering as many volunteer and internships as possible, especially in your senior year. Some students get full time job offers at the places they intern at if they show themselves.

Regardless of which path you're taking you should also be in talks with the FSU career center to go over resumes or statement of purposes! FSU Career Center

Can't you give me any specific skills for biological science?

Well, if you want to do research you want to be good with data - so look at skills in statistics, spreadsheets and databases. This may be something to think about when choosing a research topic for you honors in the major or DIS with a professor.

Communication skills are important so try presentation skills - from PowerPoint to speech and journalistic writing. Look at other departments for elective courses that might enhance your background. For example, if you are interested in the environment, you might want classes that deal with hazardous waste disposal, urban and regional planning, business law, and education.

Some students planning to go to health professions may end up minoring in Psychology or Sociology.

Some may be more interested in Conservation biology or environmental ethics and law, may consider minoring in Environment and Society.

A Proactive Stance to College

What do you mean by proactive?

Being proactive is taking responsibility of your college experience. You will sign yourself up for your own classes, make your own schedule and even decide if you want to wake up to go to class or not.

In high school they herd you from period to period, but in college you will have to have time management and stress relieving skills to help navigate the semesters with tests, homework, papers and lab reports!

What are some examples of the things I should be doing?

Come to class prepared. Yes - that reading assignment is supposed to be completed before class!

Have a list of questions ready. If they don't get answered in lecture, ask them!

Seek detailed feedback. This includes exams, papers, quizzes...figure out what you can and then bring your list of questions to an appointment.

Take advantage of study or help sessions, form a study group. A rule of thumb is that you "owe" two to three hours of preparation outside of class for every hour in class. That may be more for you when you take Organic hemistry and less in something else.

Plan. You know when your exams and papers are due. Time management is hidden skill you learn with your degree.

Contact the instructor/the university when you have conflicts - in advance if possible. Usually we can help you if you give us something to work with. You've shortened everyones options when you wait to seek help.

Learning isn't a given. You can't pick it out and buy it. Sometimes its fun and easy or its frustrating and painful. Sometimes it could have been better. ecognize when you can change it (seek help or study more) or when you just have grin and get through it.

Keep records of all your contacts - who said what, syllabi, class schedules, etc. Make sure your records are accurate and get them fixed right away if they aren't. Human error is a given, so be responsible for your stuff - from quiz grades to your transcript.

Know all of your deadlines! Exceptions are rare and non-existent for some things...or with nasty penalties.

Be positive - faculty and staff don't really bite. It's not all roses but they aren't out to get you either. Keep asking and someone can help.

This is a lot to assimilate - who can help me do all of this!?!

Instructors and Advisors can usually get you to where you need to be. A great deal of information is in the General Bulletin, each semester's Schedule of Classes, in the department and on the web. Also, other information for new students can be found at the site for the Office of New Student & Family Programs.

What else should I be doing?

Do some good research on career choices. For career guidance, you can research libraries, look at places like FSU's Career Center and do some value searching for yourself.

An academic advisor would be able to help you make decisions about coursework, but sometimes you'll need more than that for career counseling.