Students Interested in Studying Abroad
In the Department of Molecular Biology we realize that it can be difficult for our students to study abroad, due to the many departmental requirements. Nevertheless, we encourage this activity and will make adjustments to the requirements if we feel we can do so without compromising the quality of the student's education in the field of Molecular Biology.
In general, studying abroad is very difficult during the spring of the Junior year because Molecular Biology majors are required to take Core Lab (MOL 350) and Cell and Developmental Biology (MOL 348), two courses for which it would be difficult to find substitutes elsewhere. Likewise, studying abroad during the Senior year is difficult because students are often working in laboratories on their theses. However, under certain circumstance it may be possible. If a student is doing an independent (i.e., non-laboratory) Senior Thesis they could study abroad while working on their thesis, provided that they keep in close contact with their advisor at Princeton via e-mail, etc.
Consequently, the fall semester of the Junior year is a more likely possibility. Normally our fall semester Juniors take Biochemistry (MOL 345), Genetics (MOL 342), and participate in a tutorial that focuses on how to profitably read scientific literature (Fall Junior Paper). We feel that studying abroad is feasible, if the student has completed either Biochemistry or Genetics prior to the Junior year. In this case we may allow the student to take the remaining required course (either Genetics or Biochemistry) abroad, provided that it is a rigorous course. The student is still required to take eight approved Molecular Biology "departmentals" at Princeton. The fall tutorial could be completed in one of several ways, which would need to be worked out in advance. One possibility is that the student engages in a scientific literature reading program while abroad under the guidance of a Molecular Biology faculty member (or teaching assistant normally associated with the Junior tutorial). Weekly communication (for example, by e-mail) would be required, as well as two written reports. A variant of this idea is participation in a "Journal Club" in one of the research laboratories at the University abroad, again with close monitoring by a member of our Department.
The students that are most likely to fall into this scenario are those that have taken Introductory Molecular Biology (MOL 214) in their Freshman Spring Semester, which would allow them to take Biochemistry or Genetics in the fall semester of the Sophomore year. Although we feel this is the most likely route to study abroad for our students, we encourage students to explore other possibilities with the departmental Director of Undergraduate Studies.