FAQs for BMB Majors

How do I change my major?

Changing into Biochem as a primary or secondary major:

  1. Meet with one of our Academic Advisors to discuss your intention, and look at the classes you will need to take as a BMB major.
  2. We will work with your advisor to process the change of major.
  3. Once the change shows up in SPIRE, we will assign you a new primary advisor (Valerie Miller).

Adding a secondary major outside of Biochem and keeping Biochem as your primary major:

  1. Meet with one of our Academic Advisors to discuss your intention.
  2. Meet with an advisor in your new department, and follow their protocol for adding a secondary major.

Changing out of Biochem as a primary major:

  1. Meet with one of our Academic Advisors to discuss your intention.
  2. Meet with an advisor in your new department, and follow their proper departmental procedure.
  3. If we have an academic folder for you, we’ll give it to you to bring to your new department. Once the change shows in SPIRE, we will remove your BMB advisor from your account.

How do I declare a minor?

Students must determine what the requirements are for minors outside of BMB. When you are in the last required class or have completed the last required class, obtain a Declaration of Minor form. Bring the form to the Chief Undergrad Advisor (or similar signatory) in the department of the minor. Once it is filled out and signed, bring it to the Registrar’s Office.

Can I change my schedule after the semester starts?

You can change your schedule on SPIRE during the Add/Drop period at the start of the semester. After Add/Drop you can withdraw from a course through the mid-semester date however a “W” will show on your transcript. To do this, fill out a Course Change Request Form, have the instructor sign it, and bring it to the Registrar’s Office by the mid-semester deadline. Be sure you will still have enough credits to maintain full time status.

Can I take a course required for the major or a Gen Ed class pass/fail?

No, only courses that do not satisfy any requirements can be taken pass/fail and you need to choose this option during Add/Drop.

I got an “Incomplete.” How do I change the grade?

All grades of incomplete (INC) are counted as F's until/unless resolved. If not resolved by the end of the following semester, they will automatically be converted to an F. Faculty wishing to extend this deadline must write to the Registrar's Office stipulating a specific date by which the incomplete will be completed. Students are not permitted to re-register for a course in order to clear an Incomplete.

To resolve the incomplete, the student should contact the faculty member, determine together a) what coursework including exam(s) needs to be completed, and b) how and within what timeframe the work will be completed. Once the work is completed, the faculty member submits a change of grade to the Registrar’s Office.

Why do I have an enrollment hold, and how do I remove it?

To help ensure a timely graduation, all of our majors are required to meet with an advisor before they register for classes. The enrollment hold can be lifted by doing one of the following:

  • Attend one of the BMB peer mentor group advising sessions for your year
  • Meet with a peer mentor during their office hours
  • Schedule an appointment with BMB academic advisor Valerie Miller

Holds will not be taken off immediately for those people attending group advising sessions or office hours, but will be lifted in time for your individual enrollment appointments. Students who are unable to attend one of the above may be able to have their hold cleared electronically by Valerie Miller after the last group advising sessions have ended.

How do I register for an Independent Study?

Students should follow this step-by-step guide to find an independent research lab, then submit the online Independent Study Contract for approval. Students need to be logged into Google with their UMass cridentials to access the form. After the contract is submitted, it will be sent to the Principal Investigator of the lab to be signed. A BMB advising staff member will enroll the student in the appropreate independent study course once the form has been signed and returned.

Students in the Commonwealth Honors College should not submit an Independent Study Contract. Instead, they must use the CHC PATHS system to resiter for an independent study.

How do I register for a Practicum/Assistantship?

Students should fill out the TA Request Form if they are interested in becoming a TA for a Biochem course. BMB instructors will use the results of this form to contact potential TAs. Students who are approached by a BMB faculty member and agree to TA for their course must submit the online Practicum/Assistantship Contract for approval. Students need to be logged into Google with their UMass cridentials to access the form. After the contract is submitted, it will be sent to the instructor of the course to be signed. A BMB advising staff member will enroll the student in the appropreate practicum course once the form has been signed and returned.

How many credits can I take per semester?

You need to take 12 credits per semester to be a full time student. Most students take 16. BMB majors are permitted to carry loads of 20 credits per semester. Students wanting a heavier credit load need to request permission by submitting a Credit Overload Petition form.

How many semesters do I have in which to graduate?

Students needing to enroll for longer than 10 semesters must meet with their advisor or the Chief Undergrad Advisor who will send the Dean an email to explain the student’s plan to graduate and ask to have the hold lifted by the Dean.

If I repeat a course, will the initial grade be replaced?

  • Courses with grades of C-, D, D+, F can be repeated at UMass for a grade substitution. Courses with grades above C- can be repeated at UMass but without a grade substitution.
  • Permission from the Academic Dean is needed to repeat a course more than twice.
  • The second grade earned (not necessarily the higher grade) in the course will substitute for a grade of C-, D, D+ or F and be used to calculate the GPA. Grade substitution is automatic only for one repeat per course. Grade substitution for the second or third repeat must be approved by the Academic Dean.
  • Grade substitution is possible for courses repeated on the UMass campus only.
  • Only the first 5 repeated courses will have the grade substituted.
  • Credits for each course are awarded only once. Repeating a 3 credit course will earn the student only 3 credits total, not 6 credits.

I need to register for a course but it’s closed. What can I do?

  • Registration is ongoing; from the start of the Registration period though Add/Drop, your fellow students are adding and dropping courses. You should continuously check the status of closed courses on SPIRE and act immediately to add the course if a seat opens up. Sometimes seats are reserved and released for late incoming students, while at other times seats become available when final grades are released because students who don’t meet a prerequisite requirement are removed.
  • Specific procedures for getting into closed courses vary from department to department and even course to course within a department. For BMB courses, let us know that you want to get into a closed course by emailing the instructor for that course.
  • If you have not gotten in by the start of the semester, attend the first class and speak to the professor at the end of the class. Ask to fill out a Course Override form to get into the course and, if that’s not possible, ask to have your name added to the course enrollment waiting list.
  • If a class is full and you are hoping to get overridden in, but need 12 credits to establish full time status, register for a “placeholder” course that does not conflict with the course you want and that you will remember to drop once you get into the course that is your first choice. Ideally, the placeholder course is a GenEd that fulfills your GenEd requirements and is a course that allows you to make progress on your university requirements (e.g. 120 credits total, specific GenEd designations, etc.).
  • If you are only able to enroll in a section (lecture, lab or discussion) that is at an inconvenient time of day, we recommend that you enroll in that section anyway and try to swap into another section later.

Why can’t I enroll myself in some of the 400-level Biochem courses?

Some of our 400-level courses are department-controlled, which prevents students from enrolling themselves without consulting our advising team. This way we can prioritize which students get enrolled and ensure that all of our majors graduate on time.

How do I register for classes that are department controlled?

We use a batch enrollment system to enroll students in department controlled courses before registration begins. Students who are eligible to take one or more of these courses will be contacted our advising team with details regarding the batch enrollment process.

I was contacted about batch enrollment and provided the advising team with all of the necessary information, but I wasn’t enrolled in the course(s) I wanted. Why is that?

We prioritize our majors based on graduation date and when they entered into the major. If a student didn’t get enrolled into a department controlled course, it is likely because there were other students on our list who had a higher priority. Students who weren’t enrolled in a department controlled course will have the opportunity to repeat the process next semester, when they will likely have a higher priority.

I want to take a class at one of the other 5-College campuses. How do I register?

Follow this step-by-step guide to register for 5-College classes.

How do I get letters of recommendation?

See our tips on requesting recommendation letters.