General Biology

The General Biology major is intended for students with broad interests who wish to acquire knowledge and skills in multiple disciplinary areas within the biological sciences. Students in this major take a core set of foundational courses at both lower and upper division levels that span the full spectrum of biology subdisciplines, and thereafter have the freedom to choose upper division electives based upon their interests. These may be focused in one or two areas of interest to the student, or may continue to explore multiple subdisciplines. The General Biology major will prepare students for careers and post-graduate studies in a wide variety of fields including health professions, biological research in academic, government and industry settings, teaching and other science communication-oriented fields, science-oriented businesses and science policy administration.


The major requirements below ONLY apply to students who were admitted to UC San Diego in Fall 2018.

Lower-Division Requirements

  • Biology: BILD 1, 2, 3, and 4
  • Chemistry: CHEM 6A, 6B, 6C and 7L
  • Organic Chemistry: CHEM 40A and 40B
  • Mathematics: MATH 10A, 10B, and 11 or 20A, 20B, and 11
  • Physics: PHYS 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

  • Genetics (BICD 100)
  • Molecular Biology (BIMM 100)
  • Human Physiology I (BIPN 100)
  • Biochemistry - complete one of the following courses:
    • Structural Biochemistry (BIBC 100)
    • Metabolic Biochemistry (BIBC 102)
    • Biochemical Structure and Function (CHEM 114A)
    • Biochemical Energetics and Metabolism (CHEM 114B)
  • Ecology, Behavior, Evolution - complete one of the following courses (BIEB 102 or BIEB 150 recommended):
    • Introductory Ecology: Organisms and Habitats (BIEB 102)
    • Ecology Laboratory (BIEB 121)
    • Molecular Methods in Evolution & Ecology Lab (BIEB 123)
    • Plant Ecology (BIEB 126)
    • Insect Diversity (BIEB 128)
    • Marine Conservation Biology (BIEB 130)
    • Marine Invertebrate Ecology Lab (BIEB 131)
    • Aquatic Ecology Lab (BIEB 135)
    • Biodiversity (BIEB 140)
    • Computer Modeling in Evolution and Ecology (BIEB 143)
    • Genome Diversity and Dynamics (BIEB 146)
    • Evolution (BIEB 150)
    • Evolution of Infectious Disease (BIEB 152)
    • Evolutionary Inquiry (BIEB 154)
    • Population Genetics (BIEB 156)
    • Animal Behavior & Communication (BIEB 166)
    • Animal Communication Lab (BIEB 167)
    • Ecosystems/Global Change (BIEB 174)
    • Conservation and the Human Predicament (BIEB 176)
  • Biology Labs - complete one of the following options:
    • Option 1 - complete one six unit lab from the following list:
      • Laboratory in Microbiology (BIMM 121)
      • Animal Physiology Lab (BIPN 105)
    • Option 2 - complete two four unit labs from the following list:
      • Biochemical Techniques (BIBC 103)
      • Chemistry of Biological Interactions (BIBC 151)
      • 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)
      • C omputer Modeling in Evolution and Ecology (BIEB 143)
      • Animal Communication Lab (BIEB 167)
      • Recombinant DNA Techniques (BIMM 101)
      • Bioinformatics Laboratory (BIMM 143)
      • BISP 196/197/199 (at least 4 units)
  • Biology Electives - complete at least twenty or twenty-two units of upper-division coursework offered by the UC San Diego Division of Biological Sciences.  Number of elective units are variable depending on the upper-division lab option selected (a total of 48 upper division units is required for completion of the major).
    • Upper-division Biology elective units may be completed with courses numbered 100-189 taken through UC San Diego’s Division of Biological Sciences.  Elective units may include one quarter of BISP 195, up to four BIxx 194s, and one quarter of either BISP 193 or BISP 196/197/199. Electives may also include 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 .
    • Only one BISP 196/197/199 can apply towards the major.  Subsequent quarters of BISP 196, 197 or 199 may be applied toward college and university requirements.

Additional Requirements

Minimum Grade Requirement

  • All courses required and used toward any biology major requirements must be taken for a letter grade and completed with a 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 to apply a course in which you have earned a D to a requirement 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 do not have at least 48 upper division units within your major requirements, 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.