Student ResourcesFrequently Asked Questions by Current Students

"How do I... "

  • Apply for Graduation: form on WebAdvisor must be approved by academic advisor, then by the department chair.
  • Create a Four-Year Planexamine the Planning links under "Majors Minors Classes" of the Biology website
  • Declare a Major/Minor with the Biology Department: email your status and interests to the potential advisors listed here (you can contact J Kruse if you are uncertain). Once accepted by a professor, just fill out the form on WebAdvisor for your new Biology advisor's approval
  • Drop/Withdraw/Incomplete a Class after the Drop/Add Deadline: download the forms on WebAdvisor, then get them approved by your academic advisor
  • Create an Independent Study or Research for Credit - speak with potential research advisors (their interests are listed here, then check their Gustavus profiles) and your academic advisor. Be sure to tell any potential research advisor how many hours per week you can reliably commit to. Then you and your advisor will use the form(s) on WebAdvisor, and have your plan approved by the department chair. Here are successful examples for a January molecular independent study and a regular semester organismal independent study.
  • Dispute a Grade after the Semester is Finished: check your class syllabus and campus policy, prepare a polite and logical position with evidence, then speak with the course instructor. If still unresolved after a complete and polite conversation with the instructor, then you should contact the department chair.
  • Find a Good Biology Class / Find an Easy Biology Class - All of our classes are wondrous and amazing, none of them are easy (sorry). Example syllabi are available here. Non-science majors wishing to fulfill their natural science (NASP) requirement should take BIO100 Biology Explorations, not BIO101.
  • Find Research Opportunities with a Gustavus Professor - speak with faculty sharing your interests, and read about departmental opportunities Be sure to tell any potential research advisor how many hours per week you can reliably commit towards research.
  • Learn about Job Shadowing in Biology: carefully read the Career Exploration page first, then speak with Ngawang Gonsar.
  • Learn what Classes are Available: present (WebAdvisor: Search for Classes) and future (Course Offerings table and Course Catalog)
  • Graduate on Time if I "skipped" Chemistry: many of our students do not take Bio101 and Che107 in the same year, and they do graduate in four years (review the four-year plans here). Remember that one 200-level class (like Invertebrate Zoology, Paleontology, Vertebrate Zoology, and Conservation Biology) does count as an upper-level elective, and yet does not require completion of BIO201/BIO202. Thus the first two years can be spent fulfilling the BIO 101/102 and CHE107/141 sequences, but also spent fulfilling one BIO200 elective as well as taking care of math, language, and other requirements. If you are not spending a lot of time in athletics, music, and other pursuits, you may enhance your education by pursuing biology research during your second year.
  • Plan my Study Away for Biology: speak with CICE first, then speak with your academic advisor. Many programs have credits that can count towards the Biology major, but unfortunately the department does not keep a master list.
  • Request a Special Exemption for Class Scheduling: speak with your academic advisor to see if a petition is warranted. Some issues may require a full departmental vote of approval, so ask weeks in advance!
  • Transfer Credits in/out of Gustavus Biology:  you need the course description and complete syllabus for the non-Gustavus class, and for the most relevant Gustavus class. Bring (or e-mail) these to the person who normally teaches the subject at Gustavus. Prospective students now in high school but interested in bringing college science credits should read this.


Learning is more than just a classroom. Investigate opportunities for Study away, Research with Gustavus faculty, Career explorations, and more.