Welcome to Biology Advising

We are here to help you with your Biology degree and courses!


Please choose from the categories below for online resources, directions and links to help, and contact information – it’s pretty likely that your question will be answered! And if not, there is information on where to go next. 

Just remember! There are many resources to help you better understand your degree requirements:

such as:




  • mandatory group advising in your second term of the first year (there are also videos below if you forgot!)


  • academic advising

However, it is your responsibility to ensure that you track your progress such that you successfully complete your degree. 

Now, before we get to the more general questions below...do you have specific questions about problems enrolling in courses or maybe missing a test? What about what you need for your laboratory? How can you change your major? Do NATS courses count for credit?

Please take a look at some of our most frequently asked questions, your answer may be one click away!!!

We have also put together some infographics on some more frequently asked questions that may be useful in addition to the FAQs! Check them out:


If your questions weren't answered above, or you have more general questions, check out the links below: 


I don't know what courses to choose for my program...help! (or Video explanations of course choice for each program year)


A few important notes before specific advice!

1. The following are scenarios when you definitely should contact the Department and ask for assistance at least one week prior to your enrollment window:

        • you have a prerequisite course that is a repeated course,
        • you have a transfer credit,
        • you have a pass/fail grade,
        • you have a deferred grade, or PDG
        • if you are currently enrolled in a prerequisite course for a course you wish to take.

2. ****Keep in mind we strictly enforce all prerequisite courses in the department of biology. Please do not email us requesting courses for which you do not meet the prerequisites.****

3. ****Watch out for GL/BIOL courses when enrolling! They are NOT SC/BIOL and DO NOT count for BIOLOGY credits or requirements! Tricky!!!***

If you are in First Year:

Here are videos describing how to choose your courses for second year – Biology Program

Presentation: Choosing your courses for second year – Biology

Presentation: First Year Advising Part II

Here are videos describing how to choose your courses for second year – Biomedical Science Program

Presentation: Choosing your courses for second year - Biomedical Science

Presentation: First Year Advising Part II

Here are videos describing how to choose your courses for second year – Environmental Biology Program

If you are in Environmental Biology, please consult the academic calendar here: https://calendars.students.yorku.ca/2021-2022/programs/SC/environmental-biology  and contact biology@yorku.ca for advising if you have questions.

Presentation: Choosing your courses for second year – Environmental Biology

Presentation: First Year Advising Part II

Here are links describing how to choose your courses for second year – Biotechnology Program

If you are in Biotechnology, please consult the academic calendar here https://calendars.students.yorku.ca/2021-2022/programs/SC/biology  and contact biology@yorku.ca for advising if you have questions.

If you are in Second or Third Year:

Here are videos describing how to choose your courses for third year and beyond:

Choosing courses for third year – Biology

Presentation: Choosing Courses for Third Year Biology

Presentation: Choosing Third Year Courses Part II

Choosing courses for third year – Biomedical Science

Presentation: Choosing Courses for Third Year Biomedical Science

Presentation: Choosing Third Year Courses Part II 

What would my degree progress look like over 3 or 4 years? Especially in terms of classes that I take each year? (or Example course selections for degrees)


Below are a few sample programs to give you some idea of how to plan your degree. They do not replace the calendar or a degree progress report but are to show you examples of course selections over your enrollment years for various programs. Some of them show you what a reduced course load might look like, others show you different programs. 

Keep a few things in mind:

    • There are many course combinations that will fulfill degree requirements: you do not have to follow any of these specific sets of courses. We just wanted to give you some examples of common course selections.
    • For most of these programs, we have specified the Biology and other science courses you would take to fulfill degree requirements, but we have not specified the other courses. You can plan them as best suits you.
    • A science elective means any science course, a free elective means any course at any level. A free elective can be another Biology course, science course or non-science course!

Sample Program: Honours Major BSc Biology
Sample Program: Honours Specialized BSc Biology
Sample Program 1: Honours Major BSc Biology, Biomedical Stream
Sample Program 2: Honours Major BSc Biology, Biomedical Stream
Sample Program 3: Honours Major BSc Biology, Biomedical Stream


I am a transfer student or have transfer credits and have questions...(or Information for transfer students)

First of all, welcome! (or welcome back!)

If you have transferred from another university or college, you probably have been granted transfer credit for some of your courses. Normally you receive information about your transfer credit at the time of advising so first refer back to your original advising documentation. 

Now, a little explanation of your transfer credits! They count towards the courses as specified in your transfer credit letter.

For example, you may have completed an introductory biology course at another institution. Your transfer credit letter may state that this previous course is being credited as BIOL 1001. That means you will have satisfied the course requirement of BIOL 1001 for your degree and may take courses that require BIOL 1001 as a prerequisite.

Keep in mind, on your degree progress report, transfer credits may not have been entered into the system yet and may not show up. So even if your transfer credit letter states that a course requirement has been completed it may not be registered and your program progress will show "not satisfied" even though it is. Please be patient, each course must be entered manually!

Further, because of this, you may not be able to enroll in a course that requires a prerequisite that you have satisfied with a transfer credit! In this case, please write to biology@yorku.ca. State which course(s) you wish to enroll in and specify which transfer credit(s) you have. They will help you enroll in your desired course(s)!

Some points that Biology transfer students should be aware of:

  • If you have been given BIOL credits at the 1000 level, but NOT a course credit exclusion for BIOL 1000/1001, you will have to take BIOL 1000/1001.
  • If you have been given BIOL credits at the 2000 level, but without course credit exclusions, you will be required to complete the entire second year core. For example, If you have credit for BIOL 2XXX 3.0 it means you have 3 BIOL credits at the second year level that will count towards your major credit totals but is not equivalent to any York course.
  • Transfer credit for a course in statistics may not be used as part of the second year core, nor as a Biology credit, if course credit exclusion for BIOL 2060 3.0 has not been granted (for example you may receive MATH credit rather than BIOL).
  • We suggest you make an advising appointment at least a year before graduation to ensure that all degree requirements are met.
  • Courses at different institutions vary in terms of content, breadth and depth. You may have a course credit exclusion for a York course but still be missing some background, and/or may have completed a course elsewhere that overlaps with one or more York courses but not to a great enough extent to warrant a course credit exclusion.
  • If you feel a course was not properly assessed, you may request a re-assessment. Contact the transfer credit office (Registrar, Bennett Centre) for the form and procedure.

If you have outstanding questions please feel free to book an advising appointment. Be sure to bring copies of your transfer credit information and advising documents when you come.

Is there a resource for Biology students that explains each program, and other topics important to us? (or Undergraduate Handbook for Biology Students)


The Biology Undergraduate handbook contains information about degree requirements and your program at york, advice on how to tackle some common issues that you may encounter (for example if you require a deferred exam), explains laboratory requirements, and much much more!

Biology Undergraduate Handbook - updated June 2020

We are also working on putting together some resources so that you can easily compare requirements across our many programs. Stayed tuned!


NOTE: The handbook contains information from the Academic Calendar from 2020. If you entered your program prior to Fall 2012, please consult the Academic Calendar for the year that you entered as program requirements are different.


What are my career options after I graduate with my Biology Degree? What about professional schools, like medical school? (or Post-graduation information)


We have put together a brief list of possible careers with a BSc in Biology. Further, the University has a Career Center with a team of professionals to develop your career goals, and The Faculty of Science has put together various examples of possible careers. 

If you are interested in professional schools (Medical/Dental/etc), the University has several student societies that are sources of vast knowledge and advice. Further, Science Academic Services prepares a Pre-Professional Guideline and can offer specific advice! 

It is always advised that you confirm the requirements of any post-degree program you are interested in. As all schools may have different requirements, you are responsible for knowing what you require to get into your program of choice. Reach out to the program and determine all requirements!

Once you know what you need - we can help you work those courses into your degree plans. Contact biology@yorku.ca and request an advising appointment. Remember to come prepared with your list of required courses and degree plan!


I am interested in Research, where do I start? (or Research information for undergraduate students)


If you are interested in Research there are several exciting opportunities available for you in the department. For each, you will gain practical, hands-on experience in the lab of a Biology Faculty member. 

  1. A Research Practicum. This is a pass/fail course where you work within a research laboratory. You can gain valuable practical experience and might even get bitten by the research bug! See the Research Practicum tab on the Biology Course website for more information. 
  2. A Research Thesis (BIOL 4000 3.0/8.0). This is a credit course where you will complete original research within a Biology laboratory! You will conduct your own research project, write a thesis, and present and defend your findings. This is EXCELLENT preparation for Graduate school. See the Honours Thesis tab on the Biology Course website for more information.
  3. A Summer NSERC URSA. This is a paid, summer research opportunity within a Biology lab. These are highly competitive positions that not only give you experience in a research lab, but also experience presenting at a conference, and appear favorably on post-graduate applications. Please refer to the Faculty of Science NSERC and DURA webpage for more information. 

NOTE: For some programs within Biology a Research Thesis (BIOL 4000) is mandatory. For others it is optional (you can take it if you wish!). Please see the undergraduate handbook and frequently asked questions page for more information. 

Program Can I take BIOL 4000 3.0/8.0 (Honors Thesis)?
B.Sc. (Bachelor) No – You are not eligible
Specialized Honours (Biology) Yes - you must! (3.0/8.0 credits)
Specialized Honours (Biotechnology) Yes - you must! (3.0/8.0 credits)
Specialized Honours (Biomedical Science) Yes - you must! (3.0/8.0 credits)
Honours Major (Biology) Optional - you can take it if you want!
Honours Major (Biology) with a Minor Optional - you can take it if you want!
Honours Major (Biomedical Sciences) Optional - you can take it if you want!
Double Major Optional - you can take it if you want!
Biology Minor No - You are not eligible

Are there any jobs in the Department? What about Co-Op Programs? (or Paid and Co-op opportunities for undergraduate students)


Are you looking for a summer job? Many biology faculty members employ undergraduate students as assistants in their laboratories during the summer. Information regarding summer laboratory positions may be:

Students are also encouraged to speak with individual professors if they are interested in working with them during the summer! There may be opportunities available!

As for CO-OPs and Internships: please consult the Experiential Education Faculty of Science Web Page. There you can find more information on each of these programs. They are administered through the Faculty, so questions should be addressed to Science Academic Services


Are there any changes for Fall 2020 and Fall 2021 because of the pandemic?


Please visit the Department of Biology's COVID-19 update page for the most up-to-date information.


I've used all the above resources and I still have questions! Who can I ask for help?

If you have still have questions after using the above information and links, who you see depends on the nature of your question!

*For Questions and Advising on Non-Biology Courses please contact Science Academic Services

Science Academic Services (SAS)
352 Lumbers


SAS provides general advising to all science students. You should visit SAS for any general advising questions, including:

  • Degree audits (especially one year ahead of your expected graduation date!)
  • Understanding academic decisions (e.g., Academic Warning, Fail to Gain Standing)
  • Requirements for programs and program changes
  • General degree requirements (e.g., questions about non-science course requirements and general education credits)

SAS also has tons of information on professional programs such as pharmacy, dental and medical schools and can provide resources to plan your degree to achieve these goals!

Finally, SAS has information on both internships and CO-OPs found in the faculty. 

*Visit or contact the Undergraduate Office (102 Life Sciences Building; biology@yorku.ca) for questions about biology courses and programs, including:

  • Biology course enrollments
  • Letters of permission for Biology courses
  • Deferred standing for a final exam in Biology
  • Formal grade appraisal for a Biology course

*If you require extra assistance/information about your Biology courses and/or degree, you can book an appointment (see below) with one of our academic advisors. These appointments normally provide advice on specific questions; they do not repeat information provided in the mandatory group advising sessions, the calendar, or online (especially this page!). 

You are required to check your Degree Progress and have a list of specific courses or questions before the appointment. (please note: for Biology minor programs the Degree Progress Report is not currently available and is not required for an advisory meeting!)

For Biology Course Advising please contact:


Please note these bookings can only be made for students currently enrolled in a Biology Program (i.e. with a major or minor in Biology). If you are not in the Biology Department, please contact your current department for advising. Biochemistry students should normally see the Chemistry Undergraduate Program Director


Please contact student counselling, health and wellbeing if you require support. There are links for 24 h helplines, on-campus and after-hours support, as well as links for counseling.

For academic support and accommodations, please reach out to Student Accessibility Services