Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are frequently asked questions concerning the fulfillment of the MB&B major. Should you have additional questions, please e-mail Elizabeth Vellali

Freshman should take the highest-level chemistry courses for which they are eligible. Depending on their previous preparation in chemistry, freshmen should complete:

1) CHEM 114 and 116L;

2) CHEM 118a, 119La, 220b and 222Lb; or

3) CHEM 124, 125 and the associated labs

The sooner students can complete at least one term of organic chemistry, the sooner they can take the biochemistry core course (MB&B 300a/301b) at the heart of the MB&B major. This course, in turn, is required for many upper-level MB&B electives.

Additional Courses:

  • The other course students in the classes of 2016 and later should try to complete (or place out of) as a freshman is BIOL 101, Biochemistry and Biophysics, which is also a prerequisite for MB&B 300a/301b.
  • Beyond this, the other introductory biology modules (BIOL 102-104) and calculus (MATH 112a or b and MATH 115a or b) are also good choices for freshmen.
  • Biology: Students who score 5 on the AP biology exam can take the placement exams for BIOL 101-104 and potentially place out of certain of these half-semester intro biology courses.
  • Math & Physics: Acceleration credit in Math and Physics is accepted for fulfillment of the introductory courses in their respective departments. 
  • Chemistry: Advanced Placement in Chemistry is arranged by the Chemistry Department and includes Advanced Placement test scores as well as a departmental placement exam given at the beginning of the freshman year. 

Note: Most medical schools have requirements in each of the basic sciences and mathematics. AP credit does not satisfy these since most schools require the applicant to take a course (either introductory or advanced) in each of these areas while enrolled in college. Please call the Career Service Office (Premedical Advisory Program 203-432-0818) for further information. 

The AP credit applies to both the lecture course and the laboratory. 

However, pre‑medical students are advised that the medical school regulations call for two chemistry, one biology, and one physics laboratory taken while in college. The MB&B 360 lab usually is counted as a chemistry laboratory. Therefore, it is recommended that the student take an advanced biology elective that has a laboratory associated with it.

Any faculty member in MB&B or in any of the other tracks of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) program may serve as a research advisor for MB&B undergraduate research projects. For faculty outside of MB&B, your MB&B academic advisor must approve the proposed project as being within the fields of biochemistry, biophysics, or molecular biology. Most faculty would be happy to consider taking an undergraduate to participate in an ongoing research project. Positions are most readily available for those students willing to commit more than a single semester to the research project, though this is not a requirement. See the BBS web site: http://www.medicine.yale.edu/bbs/ for a listing of all the MB&B and non-MB&B faculty and summaries of their research interests. 

Consider these steps when seeking to begin a research project:

  • Speak with your MB&B academic advisor about your research interests, and they should be able to tell you which faculty members are a good match for your interests and would likely be good research advisors. 
  • Contact several faculty by email and explain who you are and why you are interested in their research. Ask if they will meet with you to discuss the possibility of you working in their lab. 
  • You should obtain from the MB&B registrar or our site an enrollment form for the MB&B research courses, as well as documents providing information for both the students and research advisors on the specific requirements of these courses.
  • It is possible to obtain a waiver for MB&B 250La/360Lb if your research experience is substantially equivalent to what would be obtained in the lab course. A waiver form listing the specific requirements is available from the MB&B registrar's office or on our site under Course Registration
  • The research experience used to waive this requirement may include MB&B research courses (e.g. MB&B 470a or 471b), laboratory courses from other departments, and non-credit research at Yale or other research institutions. However, at least part of the research work used must be from a formal research or laboratory course that involved written reports of the research done. 
  • The waiver form lists the laboratory techniques covered in the MB&B 250La/360Lb courses. To obtain a waiver you must have experience with a substantial number of the techniques on the list, including some techniques for analysis of proteins and some for analysis of nucleic acids. The form requires the signature(s) of the faculty advisor(s) under whom you carried out your research. To obtain a waiver you must also meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies (not your academic advisor) to demonstrate your conceptual understanding of the methods and obtain his signature.
  • Courses in Math, Biology, Chemistry, or Physics at other universities may be substituted for the prerequisite courses in these subject required of MB&B majors at Yale, provided the courses taken are equivalent to the Yale courses for which they will be substituted. 
  • We are unlikely to allow courses at other universities to substitute for MB&B 300a, 301b, 302b, or the required MB&B electives. 
  • Official course credits should be transferred to Yale, but in rare cases students will be exempted from a course required for the MB&B major even if Yale College does not grant transfer credit for the course. In these cases, students may be asked to complete a higher level course at Yale College as a substitute. 
  • To obtain a waiver, visit the MB&B DUS office or the Course Registration section of this site. This form must be signed by the MB&B faculty advisor and the MB&B DUS. To allow the advisor and DUS to evaluate the courses taken, the student should provide a copy of the course syllabus and contact information for the course instructor.
  • B.A. and B.S. requirement: Participation in MB&B 490b, which includes written paper and oral presentation.
  • B.S./M.S. requirement: Thesis.
You need permission from your College Dean and have him/her call the DUS Registrar’s office to indicate his/her permission. However, remember that your grade will be reported incomplete and you cannot graduate until the report has been completed.
  • All MB&B majors are required to complete basic calculus (Math 112 and 115 or equivalents). 
  • Majors must also take one additional quantitative reasoning course, which can be an upper level math course, or a lower-level course in a discipline such as statistics or computer science. 
  • One additional semester of upper-level math can be counted towards the MB&B degree BS requirements as the "additional science elective."
  • The MB&B faculty strongly recommend that students interested in a research career take as much upper-level mathematics as possible, including studies of differential equations, linear algebra, and other applied math topics. This mathematical training will strongly enhance students' ability to perform well in the physical chemistry and biophysics courses that are required for the MB&B major, and will provide training that will be beneficial for the rest of their scientific careers. 
  • Many MB&B students take Math 120, which is a pure math course, and thus only indirectly relevant to the applied math used by scientists. However, Math 120 is a prerequisite for the applied Math courses offered at Yale that are of greatest benefit to MB&B students. The applied math courses we recommend include ENAS 151a, ENAS 194a or b, Physics 301a, Math 222 a or b, and Math 225b. 
  • In certain years MB&B offers a math course - MB&B 435a1 " Mathematical Methods in Biophysics & Biochemistry". This half-credit course is for students who have completed both MB&B 300a and Math 120, and is designed to expose MB&B students to just the applied math concepts most needed by biophysicists. 
  • ENAS 151a is designed for Engineering students, and covers some of the same topics as Math 120, but is oriented towards applied math and includes some additional applied math topics. Enrollment in ENAS 151a will be limited to a small number of MB&B students, at the discretion of the instructor.

As described in the Yale College Programs of Study, graduation with distinction in the major requires that students earn an A or A- in 3/4 of the credits taken for the major. This includes all courses required for the major (including Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology), not just courses from the MB&B department. 

Additional Notes & Requirements:

  • Grades of F are included as non-A grades. 
  • Courses for which AP credits are received are not included in the calculation.
  • No courses used towards MB&B degrees may be taken using the Credit/D/Fail option. 
  • Students must also receive an A or A- in the senior project course, MB&B 490b. 
  • In addition to the preceding rules established by Yale College, the MB&B department requires students receive A or A- in at least 2/3 of the MB&B core courses: MB&B 300a, 301b, and 302b.