Molecular and Cell Biology

The Molecular and Cell Biology major emphasizes instruction in the basic molecular principles that allow organisms to live, grow, and adapt to their environment. Students will learn to apply concepts from biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, and cell biology to a diverse array of questions ranging from how plants move towards light to the molecular basis of cancer. Students will also be exposed to interdisciplinary approaches to biology, such as bioinformatics, which combines genetics, molecular biology and computer science. The broad scope of the Molecular and Cell Biology major makes it ideal for students interested in a wide variety of careers including medicine, postgraduate training in basic or translational research, biotechnology, science writing and policy, public health, and science education.

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

Lower-Division Requirements

  • Biology: BILD 1, 3, and 4
  • Chemistry: CHEM 6A, 6B, 6C and 7L
  • Organic Chemistry: CHEM 40A, 40B, and 43A
  • 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

  • Structural Biochemistry (BIBC 100) or Biochemical Structure and Function (CHEM 114A)
  • Metabolic Biochemistry (BIBC 102) or Biochemical Energetics and Metabolism (CHEM 114B)
  • Biochemical Techniques (BIBC 103) or Recombinant DNA Techniques (BIMM 101)
  • Genetics (BICD 100)
  • Cell Biology (BICD 110)
  • Molecular Biology (BIMM 100)
  • Molecular and Cell Biology Core Courses - complete three courses from the following:
    • Nutrition (BIBC 120)
    • Stem Cells and Regeneration (BICD 112)
    • Embryos, Genes and Development (BICD 130)
    • Immunology (BICD 140)
    • Evolution of Infectious Diseases (BIEB 152)
    • Population Genetics (BIEB 156)
    • Molecular Basis of Human Disease (BIMM 110)
    • Regulation of Eukaryotic Gene Expression (BIMM 112)
    • Virology (BIMM 114)
    • Pharmacology (BIMM 118)
    • Microbiology (BIMM 120)
    • Microbial Genetics (BIMM 122)
    • Biology of Cancer (BIMM 134)
    • Electron Microscopy of Macromolecules (BIMM 162)
    • Cellular Neurobiology (BIPN 140)
    • Biology Meets Computing (CSE 180)
    • Physics of the Cell (PHYS 177)
  • Biology Lab - complete one of the following courses:
    • 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)
    • Computer Modeling in Evolution and Ecology (BIEB 143)
    • Animal Communication Lab (BIEB 167)
    • Recombinant DNA Techniques (BIMM 101)
    • Laboratory in Microbiology (BIMM 121)
    • Bioinformatics Laboratory (BIMM 143)
    • Animal Physiology Lab (BIPN 105)
    • BISP 196/197/199 (at least 4 units)
  • Biology Electives - complete at least  six or eight 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.