Important Spring 2020 Information for Biology Students

Remote-Learning Technical Challenges

The Office of Student Success can help students lacking equipment or internet connectivity required for remote learning.

University Learning Center Support During Remote Learning

The ULC is supporting students remotely, and is extending hours to support those in different time zones.

Pass/Fail Option

For Spring 2020 courses, the Biology department is accepting a grade of Pass, as well as any passing letter grade (D or better), to satisfy requirements of a Biology major or minor, and to serve as a prerequisite for a more advanced Biology course. Prehealth students and students enrolled in courses from other departments that are required for the Biology major should not choose Pass/Fail without considering the potential consequences. Details are given below in the March 31, 2020, communication from Professor Mark Siegal, Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Dear Biology students,
I hope you are well. I write to clarify the Biology department’s policy on the Pass/Fail option for courses this semester.
As you are likely aware, CAS has loosened its typical Pass/Fail policy by allowing two courses to be taken Pass/Fail this semester and by setting the deadline to elect the Pass/Fail option (or to withdraw from a course) to May 12 (Reading Day). However, courses taken Pass/Fail may only be applied to a major or minor with approval of the relevant department. For this reason, I wish to state and explain the Biology department’s policy.
The department will accept a course with a grade of Pass in Spring 2020 toward a Biology major or minor requirement, as well as to satisfy a prerequisite for a more advanced BIOL course.
We note, however, that some health-professional schools have signaled that they will only accept letter grades for Spring 2020 (unless a student’s school has mandated Pass/Fail rather than offering it as a choice). Any prehealth student who is contemplating taking a required course Pass/Fail should consult with Preprofessional Advising before doing so. This FAQ on the impact of this semester on prehealth students addresses this issue and will be continually updated.
To maintain equity for all Biology students, irrespective of prehealth status, and in recognition that this semester presents unusual challenges, the department will also accept a Spring 2020 course with any passing letter grade (D or better) to satisfy a major or minor requirement, and as a prerequisite for a more advanced BIOL course.
Note that other departments might have different policies, including those that offer courses required for the Biology major. For such courses to count toward the Biology major, the Biology department policy stated here applies. However, for such courses to satisfy a prerequisite for a more advanced course offered by another department, the policy of that other department applies.
Although we are allowing grades of Pass and D for this semester, my strong advice is to remain highly engaged in your courses and to try to master the material as well as you can. Especially in courses that serve as prerequisites for more advanced coursework, the foundational knowledge is critical for future success. For students in our main required courses (POB and MCB) we will be following up at the end of the semester with advice for getting ready for Fall 2020.
As our present situation reveals, biological knowledge is more important than ever. We do not take lightly the decision to allow grades for this semester that we would not normally allow. But our overriding concern is for your well-being and ultimate success. As I noted in a previous email, we understand that anxiety can be high and that the transition to remote learning is not easy and indeed presents severe challenges for some. Your professors, advisers and staff continue to work hard to keep learning going and to help in any way we can. The Student Health Center and the Wellness Exchange remain open. Take care of yourself and those around you.
WIth best wishes,
Mark L. Siegal Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies Center for Genomics and Systems Biology Department of Biology New York University 12 Waverly Place New York, NY 10003 212-998-7908

Note that modifications to the CAS and Biology Department policies on grading were specific to courses taken in Spring 2020. Normal grading policies apply from Summer 2020 on (courses to be applied to a major or minor must be taken for a letter grade, which must be C or better).

Fall 2020 Registration

Registration for Fall 2020 begins on April 20. To relieve some burden on you during this challenging time, a few days before this date CAS will automatically clear all students (except those on academic probation) to register. Nonetheless, the Biology department strongly encourages you to meet (via Zoom) with your faculty adviser to check in and to plan courses for next semester and to use our usual online registration form to facilitate communication with your adviser.