Question on BIO Prereqs

Im 26, and hold a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from a very well regarded public school. My GPA is about a 3.2 - 3.3.

Thinking about med school. I plan on fulfilling the prereqs (for me, thats just BIO/ORGO, i’ve taken the others during undergrad) starting this January at George Mason, as its the closest and cheapest option above CC.

Question: GMU doesn’t have a post-bacc program, so I am currently enrolled as a non-degree student. This shouldn’t pose any problems, but it does result in me registering for classes very late, after many seats have filled up. I emailed the GMU advisor and asked him if it would be OK if i took BIO 104 before BIO 103, as more seats are available for BIO 104 in the spring (BIO 103 is primarily taken in the fall). His answer was vague, and not very helpful. He said something along the lines of “that may be possible, but i recommend you take BIO 213 ‘Cell Structure and Function’ as it will better prepare you for med school” ?!?

That thoroughly confused me. Isn’t the standard full year of intro bio REQUIRED by med school? No if’s/ands/or buts.

Can I take BIO 2 before BIO 1? From my understanding, Bio 1 covers animal kingdom, classification, and organ systems etc. Bio 2 focuses on life at the cellular level. If i take BIO 2, will I be at a disadvantage not having taken BIO 1?

My other option is to enroll in the Post-Bacc premed program at American University, but that costs 4x as much as Mason. I can’t imagine paying 17 - 18k for 4 classes, when i can get an equivalent education from a similarly ranked university for about 5k total as an in state resident.


Hopefully I’ll be able to clarify some of your confusion. I did my undergrad in GMU and I’m quite familiar with the courses they offer.

BIO 103/ 104 is a two semester series for designed for non-science majors, or those who have no or very limited background in sciences. I wouldn’t think you belong to this group. It’s such a basic biology that it wouldn’t prepare you for the MCAT and med school! The science majors and pre-med students should start with BIO 213. This class covers big chunk of what you’ll be required to know for the MCAT. From there the next logical step would be to take the Animal Biology (I think it’s BIO 303). Micro is a very good class too, but I don’t remember what prerequisites you need for this class. Other class that I would recommend is Genetics; the only problem is that you also need to take Plant Biology before it (I think it’s BIO 304), but I remember some people got a waiver for that requirement. I personally think you can do perfectly well in this class w/o plant biology.

When I was in GMU, I met a number of people who only did their prerequisites there. The school doesn’t have a structured post-bacc program, but I remember that there was a possibility of getting a certificate or something like that. I’m not sure what a value of it was/ is, but you can try to learn more about that. I would think though that to obtain one you would have to take whole series of classes including physics, organics and chemistry, and you probably don’t need these.

Finally, I know it sucks when you’re a non-degree student and you have to wait for so long to be able to register for classes and hope that something will be still available. You can always apply for admission as a degree student - then you’ll have a priority of registration, and never get a degree. I don’t think it’s going to show on your transcript. I know some people did it this way.

Anyway, if you have any specific questions about the school/ classes/ professors, you can PM me and hopefully I’ll be ablee to help you.

Good luck,


Thanks for the response. I’ll probably PM with some further questions.

Although you are a non-degree student, you need to familiarize yourself with the requirements for a biology major. Kasia’s experience is far more current than mine at GMU but she is stating what I found: BIO 213 (Cell Bio) is a pre-requisite for the BIO 203-204 sequence of animal and plant biology. BIO 213 is a KICK ASS course that taught me most of what I needed to know for the MCAT.

When I was there, you had to get permission to take BIO 213 - it was sort of an entree to the Department. I don’t know if that is still the case but you should not have trouble finding out how this is done. Good luck!