ISC students in lab

ISC is designed for prospective molecular biology majors and chemistry majors with a strong interest in biological questions. It is the preferred prerequisite for the undergraduate certificate in Quantitative and Computational Biology (QCB). Aside from covering introductory topics in physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science, the focus on quantitative reasoning and data-oriented thinking makes the sequence particularly suited to students interested in laboratory and computational research in the life sciences. ISC fulfills the general education requirements in the QCR and SEL categories. 

Summer research and independent work

ISC students are well-prepared to enter faculty laboratories and participate in cutting-edge research by the end of the curriculum. In the summer after ISC, joining the research group of a faculty member at the Lewis–Sigler Institute, several of whom co-teach ISC, provides you with a fully funded opportunity to jumpstart your junior and senior independent work, which is a required component for all A.B. candidates at Princeton. 

Paths into majors

Upon completing the yearlong ISC sequence, students will be well-prepared to pursue majors in chemistry, molecular biology, ecology and evolutionary biology, or neuroscience. They will also be on track for health professions. 

  • For prospective A.B. Chemistry majors, ISC 231/232 are equivalent to CHM 201 and ISC 233/234 are equivalent to CHM 202. Completing the full sequence also fulfills the one-year physics prerequisite. 

  • For prospective A.B. Molecular Biology majors, ISC 231/232 are equivalent to CHM 201 and ISC 233/234 are equivalent to CHM 202. Completing the spring ISC 233/234 fulfills the MOL 214 requirement, the physics requirement, and one of the two required quantitative requirements.

  • For prospective A.B. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology majors, ISC 231/232 are equivalent to CHM 201 and ISC 233/234 are equivalent to CHM 202. Completing the spring ISC 233/234 fulfills the physics prerequisite and is equivalent to completing MOL 214. 

  • For prospective A.B. Neuroscience majors, completing the full sequence fulfills the biology elective and physics cognate requirements  and a quantitative thinking elective. 

  • For prospective pre-med students, ISC 231/232 are equivalent to CHM 201 and ISC 233/234 are equivalent to CHM 202 and MOL 214. Completing the full sequence also fulfills the requirement of two semesters of physics (PHY 231/PHY 233) with lab. Health Professions Advising will specifically address the breadth and rigor of ISC while recommending you for continued education in medical fields. 

What about physics?

If you felt intrigued by or excelled at any natural science subjects in high school, we invite you to consider ISC as a possible starting point of your college career. However, ISC is not ideally suited to students who lean strongly towards physics or astrophysics, or those who expect to take upper-level physics departmental courses. If you are interested in a physics or astrophysics major at Princeton, we still welcome you in ISC, but you should be aware that completing the ISC sequence alone does not guarantee entry into all physics courses at the 200 level and above. You may take ISC and PHY 103 or 105 concurrently in the fall, in which case we will work with you to connect the content taught in PHY and ISC. But you should not take PHY 101 or PHY 102 concurrently with ISC. 

Concurrent math courses

ISC students are encouraged to concurrently enroll in a math class for one or both semesters, such as MAT 103, 104, 201 or 202, depending on their placement level. 

Leaving ISC before completion

In both semesters, leaving ISC after the add/drop period is a decision that must involve ISC faculty and the student’s Assistant Dean for Studies. Students who opt to leave ISC before completion should always carefully remap their coursework to stay on track for their prospective major. The ISC team recommends that students who drop ISC during the add/drop period in the fall continue their studies with two of the following courses: PHY 101, PHY 103, CHM 201, MOL 214, COS 126. Those who leave after completing the fall or during the add/drop period in the spring are recommended to enroll in CHM 202, PHY 108, MOL 214 or COS 216.