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WHAT IS BIOCORE?
Integrated four-semester sequence of introductory to intermediate level lecture / lab courses and co-curricular opportunities including research, mentoring, outreach, and leadership.
Students design their own research projects focused on development of problem solving, critical thinking, lab skills, and scientific reasoning for scientific discovery and understanding.
Students learn a wide variety of concepts in biology, from cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, and physiology, to ecology and evolution. Students also learn quantitative-statistics concepts, and essential concepts associated with writing, communication, and group collaboration/ teamwork all integrated within Biocore courses.
Small class sizes with high instructor contact; collaborative supportive learning community.
HOW IS BIOCORE DIFFERENT FROM BIO/ZOO 151/152 OR ZOO 101/102/ BOT130?
Biocore is a sequence of intro to intermediate honors courses at 300-500 level that dive deeper and progress over 4 semesters. Biocore courses go to greater depth and focus on problem solving, critical thinking and scientific reasoning that you will further apply in upper level courses (and in your life and career!). Limited enrollment (~120 each fall) allows for high instructor/ student ratio and work in a small learning community of students. In addition, there are many co-curricular programs to support and extend your learning including Biocore peer mentored study groups, Biocore Outreach Ambassadors, directed study or undergraduate research in cellular biology to prairie ecology (in Biocore Prairie), and leadership opportunities in teaching and advising . Finally, Biocore opens a network of opportunities for research, leadership, scholarship, and mentoring through the Wisconsin Honors connection.
Note: Completion of Biocore (16-18 credits) fulfills BOTH introductory and intermediate to advanced level required coursework for most majors while Bio/Zoo 151/152 or Zoo 101/102/130 (10 credits) fulfills introductory only.
DO I HAVE TO TAKE ALL 4 SEMESTERS?
It depends. Some majors require only 3 of 4 semesters or 2 of 3 lab courses. Check out the sample 4-year plans for an array of majors (scroll down) to see how Biocore fits in! Refer to requirements for major and consult with your advisor.
CAN I TAKE BIOCORE IF I STUDY ABROAD?
Yes. Many students take the first two or three semesters (Biocore 381, 383, 485), go abroad for one or two semesters as juniors, and then complete Biocore as seniors. See sample 4-year plans to get an idea for how Biocore could fit into your UW course schedule and talk with peer advisors who have studied abroad in far away places!
IS BIOCORE HARD?
Students often ask “Is Biocore hard?” to get a sense whether they are prepared or if its worth it. As an honors program, Biocore is appropriately challenging, yet balanced with a supportive community of mentors, instructors, and peer learning community who are equally committed to your learning and success. Most students agree that the extra effort is worth it, saying that the skills you gain from Biocore are of huge benefit in later academic and career pursuits. See student experience video.
DO GRADUATE OR MED SCHOOLS RECOGNIZE BIOCORE?
Many schools know Biocore- especially those in the Midwest where many Biocore alums have gone on to study or now serve as faculty. In addition, students describe the nature of Biocore in applications and letters of recommendation. Consult with the school directly if you are concerned.
IS BIOCORE A PRE-MED SEQUENCE?
Biocore is an honors biology curriculum designed for students with diverse interests- including but not limited to environmental conservation, bioscience research, engineering, law, business, teaching, and allied health professions including medicine. Course work includes study at many levels of organization from molecules to biosphere- including but not limited to humans. Biocore welcomes premeds and has received high praise from the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and from former Biocore students in schools across the country who say that Biocore provided excellent preparation for the MCAT and their medical education more generally.
WILL MY GPA SUFFER IF I TAKE BIOCORE?
In short, no. A recent institutional analysis showed average graduation GPA for Biocore students of 3.55, compared to 3.30 for non-Biocore students (but Biocore eligible). All Biocore courses have set grading scales, not curves. This means that you are not in competition with anyone for a grade and that everyone can earn an A if everyone does excellent work. Our past experience has been that a large number of students do earn A and B grades and are not at a GPA disadvantage.
WILL TAKING BIOCORE LENGTHEN MY TIME TO DEGREE?
No. Students who begin Biocore in their sophomore year, typically complete their degrees in four years (or less). Check out the sample 4-year plans for an array of majors to see how Biocore fits in! Note that Biocore fills BOTH introductory and intermediate (foundation) required coursework for most majors.
CAN I TAKE BIOCORE AS A FRESHMAN?
Yes, in special cases, and if you have taken AP Bio, Chem and Calc. See preadmission ‘early start’ application and contact us to find out more.
WHAT IF I HAVE OR HAVE NOT TAKEN AP BIOLOGY IN HIGH SCHOOL?
We do not expect student to have had an accelerated biology course in high school, and it is not a prerequisite for doing well in Biocore courses. We cover the basics and then go into more in-depth topics as courses and students’ knowledge progress over the 4 semesters. The University allows you to count your AP credits toward graduation (as electives) in addition to your Biocore credits, so you will not loose out on using your AP credits if you have them. But do not worry if you have not taken AP Bio. Biocore is an introductory to intermediate biology sequence and the faculty realize that student’s experience and preparation differs.