Registration Guide

General Course Requirements


Time Frame:

Students are required to declare an Area of affiliation by the end of the 2nd semester. Both the course requirements below and the Prelim Exam need to be completed by the end of the 2nd year.

Course Requirements (see also area-specific requirement pdfs below):

  • Departmental Requirements

    • BIOL 662Ethics (1 ch, Fall semester, 1st year)
    • BIOL 663Oral Presentations (1 ch, Spring semester, 1st year)
    • BIOL 69500PD-Tchg Asst Prof. Development (1 ch, Taken concurrent with the first TA assignment) 
  • Area Specific Requirements (1st or 2nd year)
    • Scientific Writing (at least 1 ch)
    • Quantitative Analysis in Biology (3 ch)
      • This is equivalent to statistics and experimental design in the Biological Sciences
    • Advanced Topics Seminar (1 ch)
    • Additional 9 credit hours of area-approved (or required) course
  • 3000 and 4000 level courses
    • Should a student choose to take 3000 or 4000 level courses, a maximum of 6 credit hours can be included on the POS.
    • Keep in mind the student must still satisfy the "Departmental" and "Area-Specific" requirements above. Generally 3000 and 4000 level course will not satisfy these requirements. 
  • All students in the Department of Biological Sciences are required to register for a minimum of 8 credit hours in both Fall and Spring semesters and 6 credit hours in the Summer. Credits can be a mix of research credits and course credits. 

Grade Requirements

    • Students are required to maintain a B or better for all courses
    • A maximum of 2 Cs are allowed. Courses with a C grade or lower need to be retaken within one year of the date the course was first taken. A student who receives a C in a course in the second year will need to get a B or better in that course within one year of receiving the C grade.
    • Students with 3 Cs or lower will not be allowed to retake the courses and will be considered as not meeting the minimum expectation of the program.
    • If a course is no longer offered a request for an alternate course is proposed to the GASC for approval.

When does registration open?

You can find when registration opens each semester, on the Registrar’s website. Once registration opens, check your time ticket window in myPurdue for when you can register.  

It is highly recommended that if you can't register early, that you register before the first week of classes end at the very latest, as you won’t need additional approvals.  If you did register early in the open registration period, always check your schedule again toward the start of the semester to make sure nothing changed.

Fees are billed a couple weeks before classes start and are due in full by the first day of classes, unless you’ve made arrangements for a payment plan with the Bursar’s office.

Once registered, you will not have access to the course material, until the first day of classes.  All courses are hosted on the Brightspace platform.



Because dates can change, here are the websites that have the most recent information on the following deadlines:

Registration Process

1. Remove any Holds

Make sure you have no holds on your account that will prevent registration.  You can check this in myPurdue.  You need to address the hold with the department that put the hold on your account, as that is the only department that can remove the hold. Please see that discusses holds and how to remove them.

2. Complete your IDP

You must complete your Individual Development Plan and submit it accordingly, otherwise you will not be able to register. 

3. Acquire your PIN Number

Ms. Patti Dimmitt will distribute your PIN before registration opens. If you have not received your pin the day before, please contact Ms. Dimmitt at

4. Find course numbers & CRNs

Look over the Graduate Course Database. Log in to myPurdue and click on "View the schedule of classes" to locate course numbers and CRN #s. Check if you need signature and/or approval for course overrides for courses outside of BIOL.  Make sure you register in an on-campus course; if it says "CMP=PWL," that means the course is available for students at the West Lafayette campus. If “Lecture” is listed as course type, that indicates that it is an on-campus lecture course.  

Video: How to Find University Catalog Course Descriptions

While some of the coursework is similar between the six designated research areas, each area has their own requirements and recommendations. Be sure you are following your specific research area so that the classes selected are relevant to your program of study. You can find area-specific courses in the following links. If you have area-specific questions about the pdf links below in regard to the coursework, please email the indicated Area Convener directly, copying Dr. Andrea Kasinski. We will work to continuously update these forms based on feedback received. 


5. Meet With Your Major Professor 

If you have already identified a laboratory that you plan to conduct your research in, set up a meeting with your major professor to determine your course schedule and then enter your registration through myPurdue, using the scheduling assistantYOU and your major professor are responsible for following your Plan of Study, area exam conditions (PhD), etc.

6. Use Scheduling Assistant to Register

Enter your course registration through myPurdue, using the scheduling assistant.

How-To Videos:

7. Change your Grade Mode

Some courses allow you to audit a course or change to pass/no pass.  Please see as to how to change the grade mode of a course.  Please keep in mind that auditing a course, will need instructor permission, and will cost the same as taking the course for a grade.  A course taken as ‘audit’ cannot be used to meet degree requirements, and it does not count toward registered credits for international student registration guidelines.  

If you elect to change the grade mode to pass/no pass, you’ll need to receive a ‘C-‘ or higher to receive a ‘P’, but the course cannot be used to meet degree requirements (only letter-graded courses can appear on your plan of study).  Also, when changing grade-mode, per Grad School policy, you can only retake a course in the same grade mode as originally taken (ex:  If you take a course as pass/no pass, you can only retake it as pass/no pass; you cannot retake it for a letter grade.)  We recommend you consider dropping a course if needed, instead of taking a course as pass/no pass, as you could then retake the course in a future semester for a grade.

8. Submit form to the Biol Grad Office

Fill in the correct form and submit it electronically to the Biology Graduate Office

Thesis Registration Form

Non-Thesis or Rotation Registration Form

9.  Drop a Course, if needed

Familiarize yourself with the registrar’s Add/Drop calendar each semester.  The 16-week calendar can be found here:  (If you are enrolled in a course with a shorter-term, please see the short course calendars on the registrar’s website for those deadlines.)  You can add/drop courses within myPurdue yourself up to the first week of classes, but after that, you’ll need to use the scheduling assistant to request as it routes through for various approvals needed.  (It is highly recommended that you complete your course registration before the semester begins, and make decisions to add/drop within the first week of classes.)  Also, pay attention to reimbursement deadlines. 

You cannot drop the only course registered, through the scheduling assistant.  You will need to request a withdraw from the university; see for instructions.

How-To Videos:

10. Funded Students (RA/TA/Purdue Fellowships)

If you are being funded by a quarter-time research, teaching, or graduate professional assistantship or a Purdue fellowship, you are required to register for at least 8 credit hours of coursework and/or research in spring/fall semesters (6 credit hours in the summer). This even applies in your last semester (unless registering for CAND 992 or CAND 993). Registration should be completed before the end of the first week of classes, or your funding could be in jeopardy.

11. Candidacy Registration

Are you planning on graduating this semester? Congratulations! Please see our Graduation page on how to register as a candidate for graduation.

12. Final Check

Double-check your class list in myPurdue, under "Concise Student Schedule", once your course registration and research registration has posted (coursework, research, candidacy).  It’s best to make sure there are no errors at the beginning of a semester, as things are still able to be adjusted.  As of Spring 2022, the registrar’s office is no longer considering appeals based on a student not realizing they weren’t registered correctly for the semester.

Course Selection Advice for New Graduate Students

Selecting your graduate courses involves your personal career goals, which one of the six Departmental Research Areas your PI is affiliated with, the requirements of your major professor, and the BIOL and Graduate School requirements. Research assistants will select their courses in close collaboration with their major professor based on research needs. 

Summary of BIOL Course Requirements

  • MS thesis: 21 course-related credit hours (usually 7 courses) with a grade of B or higher. A maximum of 6 course credit hours at the 40000 level may be included. All MS students are required to take a 1-credit ethics course (BIOL 66200) and a 1-credit presentation course (BIOL 66300). Students must register for BIOL 69800 MS research each semester.

  • MS non-thesis: 30 course-related credit hours with a grade of B or higher. A maximum of 6 course credit hours at the 40000 level may be included. All MS students are required to take a 1-credit ethics course (BIOL 66200) and a 1-credit presentation course (BIOL 66300). 
  • PhD thesis: 16 course-related credit hours with a grade of B or higher; however most PhD students take an average of 21+ credit hours. All PhD students are required to take a 1-credit ethics course (BIOL 66200), a 1-credit presentation course (BIOL 66300), a statistic course, and a 1-credit seminar course. Other coursework will be area-specific. Students must register for BIOL 69900 PhD research each semester.  

Regardless of the students graduate program or major, all students teaching courses in the Department of Biological Sciences are required to enroll in BIOL 69500PD, Tchg Asst Prof Development. This is a one-credit course devoted to supporting teaching assistants during their first semester of teaching.

Note for PhD students: graduate level courses at Purdue are numbered 50000 and 60000. Courses numbered 40000 or below are undergraduate level and will not be allowed on the Purdue BIOL plans of study.

The Plan of Study

You should begin developing your Plan of Study after you join a lab, typically after completion of the first-year of study. A draft of the POS is required by February of the second year, and the completed POS must be done and submitted by March of the second year. The Plan of Study is a formal document required by the Purdue Graduate School that identifies your advisory committee, degree objective and your courses. You can begin and change your POS electronically in the Plan of Study generator within myPurdue. Your initial plan can be changed, as long as the changes keep you in degree compliance.

Advice on Selecting Courses

Using the myPurdue Course Catalog, prepare a list of all courses of interest to you. Select the appropriate semesters to ‘look forward’ to the next semester, and ‘look backward’ to previous semesters to get a more complete picture of all courses offered for the whole year. Read the course descriptions carefully and take note of which semester(s) the course is offered. Organize this list into a semester-by-semester table, carefully noting the semesters (Spring, Summer, Fall) when courses are offered.


BIOL Graduate Office
915 W. State Street (Room 1-120)
West Lafayette, IN 47907
(765) 494-8142