FAQs for BMB Majors
How do I change my major?
Changing into Biochem as a primary or secondary major:
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. We will process your change of major following your meeting.
Adding a secondary major outside of Biochem and keeping Biochem as your primary major:
Meet with one of our Academic Advisors to discuss your intention, and then 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:
Meet with one of our Academic Advisors to discuss your intention, and then meet with an advisor in your new department and follow their proper departmental procedure.
How do I declare a minor?
Students wishing to declare a BMB minor should email Virginia McLaurin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students wishing to declare a minor outside BMB should obtain a Declaration of Minor form and bring the form to the advising office in the department of the minor. Most departments won't add the minor until last required class is completed.
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. Note: This policy has been updated for semesters affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the updated pass/fail policy here.
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 group advising sessions for your year
- Meet with a peer advisor during their office hours
- Schedule an appointment with one of our BMB academic advisors
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 one of our BMB academic advisors 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. Note: Students need to submit this form before add/drop each semester in order to get credit for working in the lab. Students who miss the add/drop deadline can still volunteer in the lab without earning credit.
Students in the Commonwealth Honors College should not submit an Independent Study Contract. Instead, they must use the CHC PATHS system to register 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 (this form will be emailed to Biochem students every semester in mid-Nov and mid-April). After the form submissions have been evaluated by the department, potential candidiates will be contacted via email. Students who are selected for a TA position must submit the online Practicum/Assistantship Contract for approval.
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 a BMB 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 email@example.com.
- 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.
I have a question about batch enrollment...
I want to take a class at one of the other 5-College campuses. How do I register?
How do I get letters of recommendation?
See our tips on requesting recommendation letters.