Major Transfer Guide for Biology, Society, & Environment

Degree: Bachelor of Arts

The Department Website provides information about major and minor options and requirements, the major declaration process, departmental advising contact information, and more. If you have specific questions about the major, you can contact the departmental advising office.

Recommendations from the Major Department

Courses to prepare for the major

Students in the Biology, Society & Environment (BSE) major tend to do best when they limit themselves to two science and math courses per semester. To be on track to graduate with a major in BSE in four years, students need to start taking two of these courses per semester starting their sophomore year. This means that if you plan to start at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities (UMTC) in your junior year, you should try to have four of the math and science courses completed when you transfer. It is necessary to begin taking chemistry, math, and then general biology as soon as you decide you are interested in the BSE major. These subjects include sequences and prerequisites, which means it can take multiple semesters to complete the levels needed for BSE major requirements. 

The foundational courses recommended before transferring are:

  • CHEM 1061 and CHEM 1065 - Chemical Principles I, lecture and lab
  • MATH 1271 - Calculus I or Math 1142 Short Calculus
  • BIOL 1009 - General Biology
  • PHYS 1101W or PHYS 1221

You may need to take courses to prepare for Chemical Principles I or Calculus, such as: 

  • Introductory chemistry
  • College algebra and/or pre-calculus

Depending on your progress, chemistry and math placement tests are recommended before taking courses in CLA.

It is often useful to complete more than one course in a science or math sequence at the same college or university since teaching styles may be more similar. You may want to consider finishing your general chemistry sequence at the college from which you are transferring. (Note:  If you are planning on medical or dental school, you will need a second semester of physics. This does not count for the major, but if you began physics at your current school, you may want to take physics II there as well.)

There are few upper division social science courses that transfer as part of the BSE curriculum. We do recommend that students consider taking one of the Disciplinary Perspective Courses for the major. These will give you an orientation to social science thinking that will be necessary for your advanced social science courses. Consider an equivalent to one of the following:

  • GEOG 1301W - Our Globalizing World
  • PHIL 1003W - Introduction to Ethics
  • ANTH 1003W - Understanding Cultures
  • PHIL 1002W - Introduction to Philosophy
  • PHIL 1006W - Philosophy and Cultural Diversity
  • SOC 1001 - Introduction to Sociology

A grade of C- or better is required in all courses approved to satisfy major requirements.

See the catalog for all courses in the major.

Remember, when using Transferology to plan courses for the major, look for courses that transfer as direct equivalents to UMTC major courses. In Transferology, a direct equivalent shows as the UMTC course number. For example, COMM 1101 is a direct equivalent, while COMM 1T*** is not. 

Requirements to declare the major

In CLA, each department has a process to declare the major. This is a necessary step for the major to be added to the student record. New transfer students do not declare their majors until after they attend orientation. 

There are multiple steps to declare the Biology, Society & Environment major. First students read an online presentation about the major, and then they complete a major declaration form. To finish, students meet with the departmental or peer advisor.

Specific courses are not required before declaring the major. However, please consider the information in the tab above about courses to prepare.

We recommend that you meet with the BSE advising office during your first semester in CLA to discuss your interests and the declaration process. Meeting with the departmental advisor allows students to learn about opportunities within the major and department, as well as plan coursework effectively and efficiently.

Limits on the use of transfer credits towards the major

Lower division coursework – It is essential to begin science and math courses very early. The major includes many STEM courses, many courses have prerequisites, and it is advised that students take only two science or math courses per semester. This helps manage time for laboratory work, academic success, and other major or degree requirements. 

BSE 2001 - An Introduction to Biology, Society & Environment, is required for the major and can be taken in a student’s first semester in CLA or later. This course must be taken before senior year and is more useful the sooner students take it.

Major residency requirement – At least 18 upper division (3xxx-5xxx) credits in the major must be taken at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. This includes nine credits of 
Biosciences and nine credits of Science and Society.

As much as possible, students should plan on taking their upper division coursework at UMTC. There are few course replacements found at community colleges for upper division major courses. Other four-year colleges/universities may have more equivalent courses.

While direct equivalency for transfer courses is established by the department that offers the equivalent courses (see additional information below), some transferring courses may be acceptable for the BSE major even if they are not deemed equivalent to courses offered at UMTC. Students can petition those courses to the BSE major directly and should reach out to the departmental advisor to begin the process. Students will need a syllabus and to provide justification. Students should only petition once the course is already listed in their UMTC APAS (degree audit), which occurs after admission to CLA.

Transfer courses are evaluated by the department for use towards the major. Check Transferology to see if an evaluation already exists for the courses you would like to use toward the major. If you find a course that has not been evaluated you can submit the course for review. A copy of the course syllabus is required.

Additional information and recommendations

Although Biology, Society & Environment is a science-focused major, it is a BA degree major. This means the CLA second language requirement is part of the degree. Depending on your prior knowledge with languages, making progress with this requirement in advance of transferring can create more room in your class schedule for major courses later. Be sure to talk with a CLA transfer advisor with questions about completing the CLA second language requirement.

BSE is a major that gives students an in-depth education in the biological sciences as well as a strong foundation in social sciences. BSE recognizes that problems of health and the environment are not just about the biology of organisms or the natural functioning of ecosystems. Understanding the way that biological and natural systems intersect with human systems is essential for developing solutions to many of the pressing problems facing the world today. BSE as a major presents a science curriculum to build the understanding of biological and natural systems, and provides the social science curriculum to explore the way the biology intersects with political, cultural, social, and economic systems.

BSE is an excellent major for students hoping to pursue careers in health. In the major, students can complete all or close to all of the prerequisites for medical, dental, pharmacy, or physician assistant programs.

In addition to direct care health careers, BSE also can prepare students for health careers in public health, genetic counseling, laboratory work, and medical technology. Outside of health, BSE can provide students with the foundations they need for work in environmental policy, sustainability, science education, and science communication among other fields.

If you are interested in studying abroad and planning on going to a health related professional or graduate program, it can be challenging to make time. You will need to find a way to take additional courses either by completing them before you transfer or taking courses during the summer. 

BSE is a very flexible major that students can use to move towards many career goals. Please feel free to contact the BSE adviser at before you transfer to talk about your individual interests, goals, and how BSE might work for you.