Undergraduate Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Q: How do I declare CELL as my major?
A: Complete a Major Declaration Form (available MajorMinorForm_20220207_0.pdf (tulane.edu). The major code is “CELL”. Then see Keitris Bourgeois (kbourgeois@tulane.edu) in 2000 Stern to be assigned a faculty advisor. Turn the completed form in to the academic advising department after meeting with your assigned advisor and obtaining his or her signature.

Q: Can I double major in CELL and Neuroscience or CELL and Biological Chemistry?
A: Students can double major in CELL and Neuroscience. Students should refer to the Neuroscience Program for specific requirements as the double major in Neuroscience is more restrictive than the general university requirements. Due to the extensive degree of overlap between the Biological Chemistry major, students are not allowed to double major in CELL and Biological Chemistry.

Q: What if the class or lab section I need is closed?
A: First, wait-list for the course. Then send an e-mail to Keitris Bourgeois (kbourgeois@tulane.edu). List the course you are trying to get into, any sections which would fit your schedule, and your Splash ID number, e-mail address and phone number. Please be sure to list all possible sections that will fit your schedule. Generally, upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) are given preference in upper-level laboratories.

Q: When will my laboratory class begin?
A: Most laboratory classes begin the 2nd week of the semester. An announcement may be made in the lecture portion of the course as to when labs will start. Also, information is sometimes posted at the beginning of the semester on Canvas, on the syllabus on our website, and on the laboratory classroom doors. If you are unsure when your laboratory starts, check with the instructor.

Q: What if I have a question about a CELL course or the requirements for the CELL major?
A: See your CELL advisor (go to the CMB office in 2000 Stern Hall if you need to be assigned an advisor or email Keitris Bourgeois (kbourgeios@tulane.edu). Major and minor requirements, course descriptions, and courses allowed from other departments are posted on our website. Questions about degree requirements (humanities, foreign language, etc.) should be addressed to your academic advisor.

Q: How do I transfer cell biology credits from another University to Tulane?
A: Submit a copy of the course description from the other university, a copy of the syllabus, a transfer credit approval form from your Dean, and a CMB transfer credit request form. Omitting any of these will delay your request. Send this information to Keitris Bourgeios (kbourgeois@tulan.edu).  Submit the completed paperwork to the Academic Advising office.

Q: I would like to be employed as a work-study student or as a student employee. What do I do?
A: Job opportunities in CMB labs are very limited. It is best to check for available positions at the beginning of the fall semester. Enquire within the CMB office, 2000 Percival Stern Hall. 

Q: Are there any internship opportunities for CMB students?
A: The Office of Service Learning sometimes has such opportunities; visit their website.

Independent Study Information

Q: How do I register for an Independent Study, Special Projects, or Honors Thesis?
A: Complete an Independent Study Registration Form (Independent_Study_Form_0.pdf (tulane.edu). You and your faculty sponsor will decide on a title for your project (except for first semester Honors Thesis, which has the title, "Honors Thesis" by default); be sure to include the title on your form. Have your faculty sponsor sign the form (Chair and Dean signatures are not required). Leave the section number blank. Send the form to Keitris Bourgeois (kbourgeois@tulane.edu).

To register for Independent Study with a non-CMB laboratory or supervisor, the student follows the same process as they would with a CMB faculty member, either the student's major advisor or a faculty member whose research closely aligns with the topic. However, the student must obtain approval from both faculty sponsors, and both must sign the form.

Submit completed forms to the CMB office staff. Write your e-mail address and phone number on the form in case we have any questions about your project.

Q: Is there a deadline to submit your Independent Study Registration?
A: YES! The deadline will coincide with the Registrar’s calendar date for THE LAST DAY TO DROP WITHOUT RECORD.

Q: What is an independent study project?
A: An independent study project provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to participate in scientific research in a faculty laboratory. Such projects give students an opportunity to gain valuable “graduate level” experience; thus, undergraduates who plan to pursue graduate school are encouraged to participate in independent study.

The student will participate in laboratory research under direction of a faculty member. Students may perform their independent study in a laboratory outside of the CMB department or even at another institution; the student will still need a departmental sponsor to act as the instructor of record, and the grade for the project will be submitted by the CMB faculty sponsor in consultation with the host laboratory supervisor. The student may sign up for 1, 2, or 3 hours of independent study, depending on the time that can be devoted to the project. 1 credit can be earned for 3 - 4 hr/wk during the semester or 45-60 total hours over the summer. 2 credits can be earned for 6 - 8 hr/wk during the semester or 90-120 total hours over the summer. 3 credits can be earned for 9 - 12 hr/wk during the semester or 135-180 total hours over the summer. Independent study may be used once to fulfill a laboratory elective requirement for the major. Independent study can fulfill the capstone requirement for the major if the student learns how to read the scientific literature under supervision and presents the project before the end of the semester. The format can be a written paper, a poster defense, or an oral presentation, but it must include the rationale for the project, the materials and methods, the experimental results, and an interpretation of those data. Course may be repeated up to unlimited credit hours.

Q: What is not an independent study project?

  • Employment in a laboratory for which you receive compensation.
  • Routine repetitive analysis, to benefit or support other laboratory members.
  • Lab maintenance, such as washing glassware, preparing media, or running errands.

Q: How do I find a faculty member to sponsor me?
A: It is the student’s responsibility to find a faculty member who will sponsor you. You might begin by approaching one of your instructors, or your CELL major advisor. You can also review the list of faculty research (available in the departmental office and on our website), to see if you are interested in a particular area of research currently being performed.

Students should be aware that space in faculty laboratories is limited. It is therefore strongly suggested that the student approach the faculty member well before the start of the semester, or in the prior semester.

Q: Can I complete an independent study project at the Tulane Health Sciences Center, or at another institution?
A: Students who wish to perform an independent study project at another institution must have two faculty sponsors: One at the host institution, and one in the Cell and Molecular Biology department (preferably the student’s CELL advisor). The student must obtain prior approval from the CMB sponsor for the project. The CMB sponsor will communicate with the host institution sponsor to make sure that the work being performed meets our departmental requirements for independent study projects. Also, the grade for the project will be submitted by the CMB faculty sponsor, in consultation with the host institution sponsor.

At the beginning of the project, your host institution sponsor must submit, by letter or e-mail, a description of the project to your CMB sponsor. It is essential that your CMB sponsor and your host institution sponsor communicate with one another to evaluate your final work; otherwise, an incomplete grade may result.

Q: What is an honors thesis?
A: All Cell and Molecular Biology majors who wish to graduate with Departmental Honors must complete an Honors Thesis. An Honors Thesis is a year-long research project conducted during the student’s senior year. Students should select a thesis director and register for Honors Thesis at the beginning of the first semester of their senior year. By mid-semester, the student must submit a prospectus that has been approved and signed by the thesis director and a second reader. A first progress report, approved and signed by the thesis director and the second reader at the end of the first semester, indicates whether the thesis is to be continued or terminated. A second progress report is due in the middle of the second semester and a complete draft of the thesis is due a month before the projected date of graduation. Two weeks before graduation the thesis must be completed; the oral examination is held after all other requirements have been met.

Q: What is the capstone experience?
A: The Capstone Experience is a requirement for every Tulane senior related to the student’s major. The capstone experience allows a student to demonstrate the capacity to bring information, skills and ideas acquired from the major to bear on one significant project.

Q: What will satisfy the Cell and Molecular Biology capstone requirement?
A: The capstone requirement can be fulfilled by CELL 3400, Regenerative Biology; CELL 4250, Principles in Immunology; CELL 4260, Principles of Biomedical Writing; CELL 4440, Advanced Molecular Biology; CELL 4450 Genome Biology; CELL 4910/4920, Independent Studies, with departmental approval; or CELL 4990/5000, Honors Thesis.

Q: Must I be enrolled in the Tulane Honors Program in order to graduate with honors?
A: You do not have to be enrolled in the Honors program in order to receive Departmental Honors. For specific information about the requirements for graduating with Honors, please contact the Honors Program, 119 Norman Meyer Hall, 865-5517.

Q: Can I complete an honors thesis at the Tulane Medical Center, or at another institution?
A: Yes, however, students must adhere to the same guidelines as those given above for Independent Study projects. Q: How do I register for an honors thesis? A: Use the same registration procedures as above, for Independent Study. CELL 4990 is the first semester of Honors Thesis, and CELL 5000 is the second semester. The first semester title will be “Honors Thesis”. The second semester title will be determined by you and your faculty sponsor.

Especially for Freshmen

Q: I’m an incoming freshman who is interested in majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology. Where can I find out more about the major? And what courses should I register for this fall?
A: Detailed information about our curriculum, courses offered, syllabi, faculty, and more can be found on our website. Most freshmen majoring in CELL take two semesters of General Chemistry with laboratory in their first year (CHEM 1070/1075, 1080/1085). Freshmen should also take CELL 1010 during their freshman year, either in the fall or in the spring semester.

Q: I’m interested in entering medical school, dental school, or veterinary school. Where can I find information about pre-health course requirements? Also, what courses should I take during my first semester at Tulane?
A: The Pre-Health Advisor in the Academic Advising Center is an excellent resource for pre-health students. Their website contains information about required courses, suggested courses to take each year, detailed information about what medical schools look for, and more. In particular, the sections on Scheduling Premedical Courses and Registration Questions and Answers are very helpful. Remember that the timelines shown are suggestions; there is some flexibility in scheduling courses.

Q: I see that it is suggested that I take CELL 1010 and CELL 2115 to satisfy part of my pre-health requirements. May I take them at the same time?
A: No. CELL 2115, General Biology Laboratory, is designed for science majors and/or premedical students who already have completed the lecture course in General Biology (CELL 1010) and fulfilled one year of general chemistry (CHEM 1070/1075 and CHEM 1080/1085).

Q: Do I have to take CELL 2115 to satisfy my pre-health requirements?
A: Not necessarily. Please see #3, “what biology courses should I take”, in the “Registration Questions and Answers” portion of the Pre-health Advisor’s website. Students majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology may satisfy their pre-health requirements by taking upper-level biology courses with labs.

Q: Can I get any credit for AP or IB Biology?


AP Biology Exam score: 4

IB Biology S.L. Exam score: 7

IB Biology H.L. Exam score: 5

FB Biology Exam score: 14

Cambridge AS grade: A

Cambridge A-level grade: C

Cell and Molecular Biology credit granted: Three hours of credit for CELL 1500; does not count toward CELL major or minor.

 AP Biology Exam score: 5

IB Biology S.L. Exam score: N/A

IB Biology H.L. Exam score: 7

FB Biology Exam score: 17

Cambridge AS grade: N/A

Cambridge A-level grade: B           

Cell and Molecular Biology credit granted: Student’s choice: Three hours credit of CELL 1010 or four hours credit for CELL 1500/1505. CELL 1500 and 1505 count towards the Scientific Inquiry Core Requirement. Note that CELL 1500/1505 credit does not count toward CELL major or minor, but pre-med students are still strongly encouraged to accept the CELL 1500/1505 credit, as many professional schools require that all prerequisites, such as CELL 1010, be taken on a college campus.

Q: I am eligible to register for CELL 2115, but all of the sections are full. What should I do?
A: First, wait-list for the section you want. Then, send an e-mail to Keitris Bourgeois (kbourgeois@tulane.edu). Include your name, your student ID number, your phone number, and all sections of 2115 which will fit your schedule.

Q: If I choose to major in CELL, do I need to take EBIO 1010 and 1015 in order to satisfy premedical requirements?
A: No. According to the Pre-health Advisor, “introductory courses are not required to meet major requirements in Biological Chemistry or Cell and Molecular Biology. Students in these areas will take two upper-level biology courses with labs to meet their major requirements.” Please see the Pre-Health Advisor for additional information. However, CELL majors can use the EBIO 1010/1015 set to satisfy one lecture elective towards the CELL major.