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Biochemistry and Cell Biology

This major is designed to provide students with the fundamental courses required for entry into a school of medicine or into post graduate training in a wide variety of areas of biological and biomedical sciences: biochemistry, biophysics, genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, developmental biology, microbiology, virology, human biology (physiology, metabolism, genetic disorders), cancer biology, pharmacology, and others. The emphasis is on basic principles that help us understand those processes unique to living organisms at the molecular level.

The program includes two required upper-division biology laboratory courses to provide practical experience with modern techniques and useful technology for those seeking positions as lab technicians in clinical and basic research laboratories. The opportunity to select three elective courses allows students either to seek a still broader background in a variety of biology courses or to begin specialization in a chosen field of study.

The major requirements below apply to students who were admitted to UC San Diego in Fall 2016 or later.  If you were admitted to UC San Diego prior to Fall 2016, please refer to your degree audit, the UC San Diego General Catalog, or academic plan that aligns with your admit term for a listing of major requirements.  If you have further questions, please contact a Biology Advisor for clarification.

Lower-Division Requirements

  • BILD 1, 3, and 4

    Note: Effective Fall 2015, entering freshmen are required to complete Introductory Biology Lab (BILD 4). Transfer students will be held to the new requirement beginning Fall 2017. 

  • Chemistry 6A, 6B, 6C and 7L
  • Mathematics 10A, 10B, and 11 or 20A, 20B, and 11

    Note: Effective Fall 2016, entering freshmen are required to complete Calculus-Based Introductory Probability and Statistics (MATH 11).  Fall 2016 and 2017 entering transfer students may complete either MATH 10C, 20C, or 11 to satisfy the math sequence.  Transfer students will be required to complete MATH 11 beginning Fall 2018.

  • Physics 1A/1AL, 1B/1BL, and 1C/1CL or 2A, 2B, 2C and one lab (2BL, 2CL, 2DL)

Upper-Division Requirements

Note: Any given course can only satisfy one major requirement

  • Organic Chemistry I (CHEM 140A)
  • Organic Chemistry II (CHEM 140B)
  • Organic Chemistry Laboratory (CHEM 143A) or Physical Chemistry Lab (Chemistry 105A)
  • Structural Biochemistry (BIBC 100) or Physical Chemistry (Chemistry 126)
  • Metabolic Biochemistry (BIBC 102)
  • Genetics (BICD 100)
  • Cell Biology (BICD 110)
  • Molecular Biology (BIMM 100)
  • Capstone Course - complete one of the following courses:
    • Nutrition (BIBC 120)
    • Embryos, Genes and Development (BICD 130)
    • Immunology (BICD 140)
    • Molecular Basis of Human Disease (BIMM 110)
    • Virology (BIMM 114)
    • Circadian Rhythms (BIMM 116)
    • Pharmacology (BIMM 118)
    • Microbiology (BIMM 120)
    • Medical Microbiology (BIMM 124)
    • Microbial Physiology (BIMM 130)
    • Human Reproduction (BIPN 134)
    • Cellular Neurobiology (BIPN 140)
    • Systems Neurobiology (BIPN 142)
    • Cellular Basis of Learning and Memory (BIPN 148)
    • Diseases of the Nervous System (BIPN 150)
    • The Healthy and Diseased Brain (BIPN 152)
  • Upper-Division Biology Lab - complete one of the following courses:
    • Biochemical Techniques (BIBC 103)
    • Recombinant DNA Techniques (BIMM 101)
  • Upper-Division Biology Lab Elective - complete one of the following courses:
    • Biochemical Techniques (BIBC 103)
    • Eucaryotic Genetics Laboratory (BICD 101)
    • Plant Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology Laboratory (BICD 123)
    • Laboratory in Molecular Medicine (BICD 145)
    • Ecology Laboratory (BIEB 121)
    • Molecular Methods in Evolution & Ecology Lab (BIEB 123)
    • Marine Invertebrate Ecology Lab (BIEB 131)
    • Aquatic Ecology Lab (BIEB 135)
    • Computer Modeling in Evolution and Ecology (BIEB 143)
    • Animal Communication Lab (BIEB 167)
    • Recombinant DNA Techniques (BIMM 101)
    • Laboratory in Microbiology (BIMM 121)
    • Animal Physiology Laboratory (BIPN 105)
    • BISP 196/197/199 (at least 4 units)
  • Upper-Division Biology Electives - complete three upper-division biology courses (each course must be at least four units) offered by the UC San Diego Division of Biological Sciences.
    • One quarter of BISP 195 and/or one quarter of BISP 196, 197 or 199 may be applied to this requirement.  Students may only apply one BISP 196, 197 or 199 toward their major, as either a biology lab or a biology elective, but not both.Subsequent quarters of BISP 195, 196, 197 or 199 may be applied toward college and university requirements.
    • The following Scripps Institution of Oceanography courses may be taken and applied to this requirement: SIO 123, 125, 126, 127, 128, 132, 133, 134, 147, 181 and 189. Students are required to meet the Division of Biological Sciences residency requirement.

Additional Requirements

Minimum Grade Requirement

  • All courses required and used toward any biology major requirements must be passed with a grade of “C-“ or better.
  • The minimum grade requirement applies to all lower-division, upper-division, required courses taken in other departments, as well as courses transferred and used toward major requirements.
  • Exceptions will be made for those required courses that have a P/NP only grading option (e.g., BISP 199).
  • The minimum major GPA requirement is 2.0.

Please note: The degree audit may not automatically reject D grades for the major. If your degree audit appears blue and you have a D in a required course for the major, please contact a biology advisor.

Upper-Division Unit Requirement

To receive a Bachelor of Science from UC San Diego, all students must complete 48 or more units of upper-division course work within the major.

Please note: The degree audit may not display an accurate number of upper division biology electives required for the major in order to meet the 48 upper division unit requirement.

If your degree audit is blue and the 48 upper division unit requirement in the bottom of the first column is red, you will need to take additional upper division biology coursework in order to satisfy this requirement.  If you have questions, please contact a biology advisor.

Biology Residency Requirement

To receive a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from UC San Diego, all students must complete at least twenty units of upper-division coursework in the Division of Biological Sciences with a grade of C- or better. This coursework must directly apply to the student’s Biology major requirements, and must be taken while officially enrolled at UC San Diego. Courses completed outside of the UC San Diego Division of Biological Sciences will not be counted toward the residency requirement.