CSB Undergraduate FAQ

Course Selection

We often find that the top 10% of the waitlist relative to the size of the cap has a good chance of getting into a course.  For example, if the course has a cap of 100, then the first 10 students on the waitlist will likely get into the course.  If you are further back and this is the only course you can take to complete your program, please contact the Undergraduate Office and we can work with you to try to find a solution.

In most instances, we do not allow students to take a prerequisite as a co-requisite.  The intent of a prerequisite is to allow one course to build on the information of the other.  However, if you feel your circumstances warrant an exemption, please contact the course instructor or course administrator to determine if you can do this.  The contact information for the administrators and instructors of each of our courses is available in the Courses section of our website.

If you are having problems getting into the practical or tutorial section of a course, please check the course description for more information about lab scheduling. If you can’t find information about this on the course description, please contact the course administrator for assistance.  Not all of our courses have a course administrator.  If this is the case for your course, please contact the course instructor.  They can work with you to try to find a way to accommodate your request.  The contact information for the administrators and instructors of each of our courses is available in the Courses section of our website.

We do a prerequisite check on all of our courses and we usually remove students without the prerequisite. However, in CSB, taking a course without the prerequisite is at the discretion of the course instructor or course administrator. They know best if your academic background is sufficient to give you a good chance of being successful in their course without the prerequisite. Please contact the course administrator or course instructor for assistance. The contact information for the administrators and instructors of each of our courses is available in the Courses section of our website.

If you are a high school student applying to U of T and you would like to enroll in BIO130H1, but you do not have the prerequisite, please contact the course administrator at bio130@utoronto.ca for more information.

If you are accepted into a course without the prerequisite, be aware that the course will be taught with the assumption that all students have the background found in the listed prerequisite.

Students in first year of the Life Science stream at U of T usually take first year biology (BIO120H1 & BIO130H1), first year chemistry (CHM135H1 & CHM136H1), first year math (MAT135H1 & MAT136H1) and some take first year physics (PHY131H1 & PHY132H1). High school students should be taking courses that will act as the prerequisites for these courses. Grade 12 University Preparation biology (SBI4U), chemistry (SCH4U), math (MHF4U + MCV4U) or the equivalent will give you the proper background to take the university courses. The physics courses require a co-requisite (taken at the same time) of first year university math. There is no high school prerequisite for first year physics.

If you do not feel you have the correct prerequisites for some of these university courses, contact the department that teaches the course for their advice. In CSB, we teach BIO130H1, so you would contact bio130@utoronto.ca.


Contact your College Registrar’s Office immediately.  If there is a good reason for having missed the exam, you will petition to write a deferred exam.

Contact either the course administrator or the course instructor as soon as possible for guidance on how this will be dealt with.  Accommodation for missed term work is determined on a course-by-course basis.  The contact information for the administrators and instructors of each of our courses is available in the Courses section of our website.


We have two limited programs.  The Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB) Specialist and the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB) Specialist.  Request these programs through ACORN.  There are two opportunities to do so, one in the winter (March to April) and the other is in the summer (July to August).

Students must have a minimum of 70% in BIO130H1, BIO230H1 or BIO255H1 to be eligible for the CMB program.  Being eligible does not guarantee you entry into the program. Please see the CMB Specialist page for more information.

Selection into the BCB program is based on a student’s average of BIO130H1 and best of CSC108 or CSC148H1 OR on the average of BIO230H1 + CSC263H1. Please see the BCB Specialist page on our website for more information.

Only students enrolled in the Cell and Molecular Biology major or specialist program can apply.  In order to apply, complete and submit the application form that is available on our website at https://csb.utoronto.ca/undergraduate-studies/undergraduate-programs/Applications are accepted for only one focus.  A 300-word statement of interest is required.  It is part of the form, not in addition to it.  Students must have earned a minimum of 80% in one of BIO130H1, BIO230H1, BIO255H1 or CSB349H1 to be eligible.  Being eligible does not guarantee you entry into the focus.

No. Seeing the same course listed under two requirements in the same program does not mean that you can use it in both places. It only means that it is an option for each requirement and you can use it for one requirement or the other.

The Biology programs are administered through the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.  They can address your question.  Please contact them at undergrad.eeb@utoronto.ca.

The 12-different credit rule comes into effect if you are enrolled in two majors or a major and two minors. Students enrolled in a specialist program do not have to be concerned with this rule.

The rule states that you must complete 12 different credits total between your programs. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that you do not complete two or more programs by applying the same courses to each one.

You are not limited to four courses of overlap. This is a common misconception. You can have as much overlap as you like as long as you eventually complete 12 credits that are different from each other among your programs.

Example: If you are enrolled in the Cell and Molecular Biology Major and the Human Biology Major, you are required to take BIO120H1, BIO130H1, 1st year chemistry (usually CHM135H1, CHM136H1), MAT135H1, BCH210H1, BIO220H1 and BIO230H1 in both. That is four credits of overlap. If you take HMB265H1 for both programs, this too will count as a half credit towards your 12 different credits giving 4.5 credits of overlap. This is acceptable.

If you have not taken 12 different courses among your programs, then you have to continue to successfully complete courses that are listed in any of your programs until you reach 12.

Transfer Credits

Degree Explorer does not automatically incorporate transfer credits into a program.  The administrative staff in the CSB Undergraduate Office do this manually.  Please contact us with the details at undergrad.csb@utoronto.ca and we will make the necessary changes.

If you have not yet received your transfer credits, we suggest you start by checking the courses you have taken on Transfer Explorer to see if any of them match U of T courses.  The Transfer Credit Office should be contacted for transfer credit requests.  If you feel you still need additional assistance, please contact our Associate Chair, Undergraduate, Prof. Dinesh Christendat, dinesh.christendat@utoronto.ca.

If you have received your transfer credits, looking at Degree Explorer will show you which of your transfer credits were counted directly into your program.  If you received transfer credits that are generic (e.g., BIO1**H9), please contact us at undergrad.csb@utoronto.ca.  We will review your transfer credits and inform you if they can count towards your CSB program.

Graduation Requirements

Students are admitted into a course through the Dean’s Promise only if a number of conditions are met.  The course has to be a required course in the student’s program.  It cannot be one of a list of options.  The student has to have attempted to enroll in the course at the earliest possible opportunity, completed the prerequisites for the course and be enrolled in their program for some time (accommodating a recent change in a program may not be possible).

If a student has met these conditions, we can arrange to have a student enrolled into a required course.  However, there are times when we cannot admit a student into a course through the Dean’s Promise.  This is often because the design of the course (e.g., a 400-level seminar course) does not allow for additional students over the cap.  In this instance, we work with the student to find an appropriate course from CSB or from another department as a substitution in their program to complete it.  If we cannot enroll a student into the required course, we will find a way to ensure graduation.

We suggest that you look at your program on Degree Explorer to see if all of the requirements show as complete or pending.  If you are still unsure, we are happy to review your program with you and answer any questions you may have.  As a department, we can only review the programs that we administer.  If you have questions about other programs, please contact the sponsoring department.  If you want to know if all of your degree requirements will be complete, please make an appointment with your college registrar’s office for assistance.


We offer research opportunities in 2nd, 3rd and 4th year through CSB299Y1, CSB397Y0, CSB399Y1, CSB497H1, CSB498Y1 and CSB499Y1.  All of these opportunities are available in the research labs of the CSB faculty except for CSB397Y0.

CSB397 is our Research Abroad course.  If you are accepted to take this course, you will do independent research in one of a number of international partner institutions such as the National University of Singapore (NUS), Konstanz University (Germany) or Tel Aviv University (Israel) to name a few.  You can learn more about the course here.

Along with these courses, there are awards and scholarships that provide students with an opportunity to do research in a professor’s lab and receive some funding for doing so.  These include the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRAs), the CSB Awards and the University of Toronto Excellence Awards (UTEAs).  Details of these are available on our website at https://csb.utoronto.ca/undergraduate-studies/scholarships/.

For other research opportunities, it is the responsibility of the student to contact the professors to see if there are opportunities available.  Please check our website at https://csb.utoronto.ca/undergraduate-studies/research-opportunities/ for advice on how to approach this.

A great way to be involved with CSB is through the CSB Students’ Union (CSBSU).  You can become a member of their executive and represent all of the CSB students by planning events, organizing academic seminars, etc.  Alternatively, you can attend their events, become a mentor or mentee in their mentorship program, buy a hoodie, and so on.  You can find information about this group on their website, http://csbsu.wordpress.com/.  However, the website is being updated.  Alternatively, students can find the CSBSU through the following links:

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/UofTCSBSU/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/csbsu_uoft/?hl=en

Students in the BCB program, can also take part in the BCB Students’ Union (BCBSU). You can contact them at bcbstudentunion@gmail.com or visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BCBSU.UofT

We do not have a formal process for matching students with positions in our research labs. It is the responsibility of the student to contact the professors to see if there are opportunities available. Please check our website at https://csb.utoronto.ca/undergraduate-studies/research-opportunities/ for advice on how to approach this.