Cambridge-MIT Exchange Program

Junior Year Study Abroad at the University of Cambridge for Academic Year 2015-16

Biology Department Guidelines

The junior year can be a wonderful time for a student to study abroad, and to experience a different culture and educational style. Today’s world has become a place where knowledge and careers are often multinational. Learning how to live and work in another culture is a valuable part of your education that will prepare you to work in other countries and be a competent “citizen of the world”. One great way to explore another culture is to participate in the Cambridge/MIT exchange (CME). In this program, you will spend your entire junior year at Cambridge University in England. This is an excellent opportunity to combine completing some of your biology requirements, while experiencing a different culture and educational style. See the Cambridge-MIT Exchange(CME) program's page for more general information, and the specific CME information for MIT students.

Please apply online for the Cambridge-MIT Exchange program through the MIT Horizons website. Instructions for applying online are available.


January 15, 2015 - Applications and reference letters due.

Is the CME for me?

You should be a sophomore, with a GPA of 4.0 or greater and have completed 7.01x, 7.02, 7.03, and 7.05. by the end of your sophomore year.

Can I get Biology course credit from the CME?

Yes you can! Students can fulfill Biology program requirements by taking courses in the Natural Science Tripos Part 1B. You will be able to complete and get credit for the equivalent of 7.06 and your three biology restricted electives depending on which courses you complete in Cambridge.

You must receive permission from the Biology Department in advance of your year at Cambridge in order to receive credit. Departmental approval of a proposal to spend a year at Cambridge will depend on your having already completed the necessary prerequisite courses and having a very strong academic record.

Sets of courses at Cambridge University are organized into a unit called a “tripos”. Students usually take at least two biology courses during their year abroad; a third course is often taken in another field that can fulfill HASS requirements (contact the HASS office). The following Natural Sciences 1B courses are approved for MIT Biology credit: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cell and Developmental Biology, Neurobiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, and Plant and Microbial Science. Information about the Biology-related courses in the Natural Sciences tripos can be found here (PDF).

For each course successfully completed, students receive 36 units of MIT credit that includes credit for two Biology courses. In order to receive credit for 7.06, you must take and complete one of two courses, either Biochemistry and Molecular Biology or Cell and Developmental Biology. For each course completed, you will receive credit for 7.391, 7.06, and one restricted elective OR credit for 7.391 and two restricted electives. For one course, you will receive 36 units of credit, for two courses you will receive 72 units, and for three courses, you will receive 108 units of credit. Students usually take two courses that include Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and/or Cell and Developmental Biology and receive credit for 7.06 and three restricted electives. Their third course is in another field that can fulfill the HASS requirement.

It is your responsibility to propose courses to be taken at Cambridge that would fulfill Biology requirements. This information should be included in your personal statement with your application.

What about receiving CI-M credit?

Course 7 degree students fulfill their CI-M requirement after completing project lab (7.13, 7.16, or 7.18) during their senior year upon returning from Cambridge. Project lab fulfills one of the two CI-M requirements for the course 7 degree (7.02 is the other required course that you would have taken prior to studying in Cambridge).

7A students have the option of taking 7.19 or another approved CI-M course for 7A majors when they return to MIT in their senior year.

What about HASS credit?

It should also be possible to arrange to take courses equivalent to two HASS courses with your third tripos. These credits need to be negotiated in advance with the HASS office.

Will I be able to do lab research at Cambridge University?

Yes. However, most students will need to take two triposes in order to receive Biology restricted elective credit. You cannot fulfill your project lab requirement at Cambridge University and should plan to take project lab (if you are a course 7 major) during your senior year when you return.

How do grades appear on my MIT transcript?

Grades for course credit obtained at Cambridge University will appear as "S" on the MIT transcript. For application to professional schools, you should make arrangements to have grades sent separately from Cambridge.

I'm Pre-med. Is it reasonable for me to take a year in Cambridge?

This can work out very well, and not only will be an enlightening experience for you, but may make you a very interesting candidate (of course, that’s not the reason to apply). However, you will need to plan exactly when you are going to do your required courses, and make sure they will fit in to your senior year. You will also want to decide who your referees for your Med. School application will be well before you leave for Cambridge. You will want to make a real connection to each, and then keep in touch with each referee while you are away. A short paragraph describing how things are going by email every two to three months is fine. That way, you will have everything in place when you return.

Department contact Info:

Dr. Janice Chang, jdchang [at], Educational Administrator

MIT-CME info:

MIT CME Undergraduate Exchange Office, Room E39-305(cme-mit-ue [at]

Primary CME Contact for MIT Students:

Dean Josh Nupp, Assistant Dean, Global Education Office, Room E39-305 (jnupp [at]

Additional Contacts:

Dean Malgorzata Hedderick, Associate Dean, Global Education Office, Room E39-305 (malrh [at]

Dr. Peter Long, Cambridge CME Coordinator (pigl2 [at]

University of Cambridge International Office (international [at]