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Biology department creates 6-7 MEng with EECS, new GIR classes

At the April faculty meeting on Wednesday afternoon, members of the faculty voted unanimously to introduce two new expansions to MIT’s biology program.

The first motion created a new Master of Engineering (MEng) Degree in Computer Science and Molecular Biology (Course 6-7). Professor Freeman said that by allowing 6-7 students continue their studies at a graduate level, the new degree would open up both professional and academic opportunities for those pursuing a career in the burgeoning intersection of the two disciplines.

MIT currently offers MEng degrees in Biomedical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Logistics (from the Engineering Systems Division), and Manufacturing (from the Department of Mechanical Engineering). The MEng program in EECS is by far the most popular, with over half of the graduating class of EECS seniors every year entering the program and successfully completing it, according to the EECS website.

The second motion adds the new classes 7.015 and 7.016 as options for satisfying the biology GIR requirement in the Fall in addition to the current 7.012 course. 7.015 is meant to be the biology department’s version of 5.112 (Introductory Chemistry) and 8.012 (Physics I) — a more advanced introductory course for students with strong biology backgrounds in high school. 7.016 will focus on biochemistry alongside the basics of the biology curriculum. The other two flavors of Introductory Biology, 7.013 and 7.014, will still be offered only in the Spring.

All five Introductory Biology classes (7.012, 7.013, 7.014, 7.015, and 7.016) share a core biology curriculum that makes up about half of each course’s syllabus. The other half in each course is class-specific. MIT’s subject listing currently describes 7.012 as focusing more on genetic approaches to biology, 7.013 as focusing on neurobiology and development, and 7.014 as focusing on ecology and biogeochemical cycles.

Part of the reason 7.015 and 7.016 are being introduced is to alleviate the pressure on the popular 7.012 class, which had 835 students in the fall of 2012. For reference, at the end of Spring 2012, there were 322 students in 7.013 and 132 students in 7.014, according to the reported number of students eligible to respond to the online subject evaluations for each course.

Leon Lin contributed reporting.

—Stan Gill