PhD Admits to UC San Diego Fall 2019 and Later

During the first year, all entering students pursue a rigorous academic program consisting of a sequence of graduate core courses and several elective courses.

Most students participate in our primary Cell, Molecular, Genetics track but students choose more specialized training tracks if they wish.

Tracks in Ecology, Behavior & Evolution; Microbiology; Quantitative Biology (qBio); Bioinformatics; Multi-Scale Biology, and Anthropogeny are available. Some of these training tracks require coursework into the second or third year of your program. See the sections below for more information on these tracks.

For a list of graduate courses that are expected to be offered during the current academic year, see Biological Sciences Graduate Course Offerings.

Primary Track

Required Courses

  • BGGN 200 – Graduate School Fundamentals (Fall)
  • BGGN 205 – Communicating Science to the Public (Spring)
  • BGGN 206A – Concepts of Reasoning and Experimentation (CORE) I (Fall)
  • BGGN 206B – Concepts of Reasoning and Experimentation (CORE) II (Winter)
  • BGGN 207 – Scientific Ethics (Spring Year 2)
  • BGGN 208 – Biological Sciences Boot Camp (Fall)
  • BGGN 213 – Foundations of Bioinformatics (Fall or Winter; students will be assigned)
  • BGGN 216 – Graduate Biostatistics (Spring)
  • BGGN 298 or BGGN 299 – Laboratory Projects or Thesis Research (Varies)
  • BGGN 500 – Introduction to College Biology Education (Enroll during first Instructional Assistant Assignment)
  • BGSE 205 – Graduate Research Seminar (Enroll Year 2 and beyond)

Elective Courses

  • Complete years 1 or 2; prefereably after identifying a thesis lab
  • Not all electives are offered each year
  • In addition to the approved electives, students may petition for alternate 4-unit graduate level courses to count toward the elective requirement.

Students must enroll in at least 2 four-unit elective courses from the following:

  • BGGN 212 – Introduction to Quantitative Evolutionary Biology
  • BGGN 214 – Introduction to Quantitative Biology
  • BGGN 218 – Principles of Drug Development and Pharmacology 
  • BGGN 220 – Graduate Molecular Biology 
  • BGGN 222 – Graduate Cell Biology
  • BGGN 223 – Graduate Genetics
  • BGGN 225 – Graduate Immunology
  • BGGN 227 – Graduate Topics in Plant Biology
  • BGGN 228 – Graduate Developmental Biology
  • BGGN 231 – Current Concepts in Stem Cell Biology
  • BGGN 232 – Innate Immunity
  • BGGN 237 – Quantitative Methods in Genetics
  • BGGN 238A – Integrative Microbiology I
  • BGGN 238B – Integrative Microbiology II
  • BGGN 248 – Molecular Mechanisms of Neural Development
  • BGGN 249A – Basic Neuroscience I
  • BGGN 249B – Basic Neuroscience II 
  • BGGN 249C – Basic Neuroscience III 
  • BGGN 262- 3D Electron Microscopy  of Macromolecules and Cells
  • BGGN 264 – Structural Biology of Viruses

EBE: Ecology, Behavior and Evolution Track

Students who select the EBE Biology Track will take two elective courses in their first year; BGGN 203 and BGGN 204 are recommended.

Electives are drawn from the advanced graduate courses and undergraduate elective courses. EBE students should consult their First-Year Advisor and Section Chair to determine the most appropriate courses to take the first year.

Required Courses

  • BGGN 200 – Graduate School Fundamentals  
  • BGGN 208 – Biological Sciences Boot Camp
  • BGGN 298 or BGGN 299 – Laboratory Projects or Thesis Research (Varies)
  • BGGN 500 – Introduction to College Biology Education (Enroll during first Instructional Assistant Assignment)
  • BGSE 205 – Graduate Research Seminar (Enroll Year 2 and beyond)

Elective Courses 

  • BGGN 203 – Topics in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution 
  • BGGN 204 – Topics in Community and Population Ecology 
  • Other graduate level or undergraduate level courses as recommended by faculty advisor

Specific Requirements for the EBE Academic Program

Microbiology Track

Students who choose to focus on Microbiology related research will follow the following sequence of courses:

Required Courses

  • BGGN 200 – Graduate School Fundamentals  
  • BGGN 205 – Communicating Science to the Public
  • BGGN 206A – Concepts of Reasoning and Experimentation (CORE) I
  • BGGN 206B – Concepts of Reasoning and Experimentation (CORE) II
  • BGGN 207 – Scientific Ethics
  • BGGN 208 – Biological Sciences Boot Camp  
  • BGGN 213 – Foundations of Bioinformatics
  • BGGN 216 – Graduate Biostatistics
  • BGGN 238A – Integrative Microbiology I
  • BGGN 238B – Integrative Microbiology II
  • BGGN 298 or BGGN 299 – Laboratory Projects or Thesis Research (Varies)
  • BGGN 500 – Introduction to College Biology Education (Enroll during first Instructional Assistant Assignment)
  • BGSE 205 – Graduate Research Seminar (Enroll year 2 and beyond)

Students are welcome to take any of the offered electives if they choose, but none are required:

Elective Courses (Completed Years 1 or 2)

  • BGGN 212 – Introduction to Quantitative Evolutionary Biology
  • BGGN 214 – Introduction to Quantitative Biology
  • BGGN 218 – Principles of Drug Development and Pharmacology 
  • BGGN 220 – Graduate Molecular Biology
  • BGGN 222 – Graduate Cell Biology
  • BGGN 223 – Graduate Genetics
  • BGGN 225 – Graduate Immunology
  • BGGN 227 – Graduate Topics in Plant Biology
  • BGGN 228 – Graduate Developmental Biology
  • BGGN 231 – Current Concepts in Stem Cell Biology
  • BGGN 237 – Quantitative Methods in Genetics
  • BGGN 248 – Molecular Mechanisms of Neural Development
  • BGGN 249A – Basic Neuroscience I
  • BGGN 249B – Basic Neuroscience II 
  • BGGN 249C – Basic Neuroscience III
  • BGGN 262- 3D Electron Microscopy  of Macromolecules and Cells
  • BGGN 264 – Structural Biology of Viruses

Quantitative Biology Specialization (qBio)

Quantitative Biology is a new Specialization at UC San Diego. Students are admitted through their home program (Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry/Biochemistry, Physics, or BioEngineering) then request admission to the qBio Specialization. Quantitative Biology refers to the use of quantitative approaches, both experimental and theoretical, to discover the organizational principles of living systems. The goal is to establish a quantitative, predictive understanding of the physiological behaviors of biological organisms in terms of the molecular parts. 

More information on the Quantitative Biology Specialization

The expected course sequence is:

Year 1 – Required Courses

      Biology

  • BGGN 200 – Graduate School Fundamentals  
  • BGGN 205 – Communicating Science to the Public
  • BGGN 206A – Concepts of Reasoning and Experimentation (CORE) I
  • BGGN 206B – Concepts of Reasoning and Experimentation (CORE) II
  • BGGN 208 – Biological Sciences Boot Camp  
  • BGGN 213 – Foundations of Bioinformatics
  • BGGN 216 – Graduate Biostatistics
  • BGGN 298 – Laboratory Projects in Biology

      qBio

  • PHYS 254 – qBio seminar (F, W, S)
  • PHYS 259A – Reading in Methods for Quantitative Biology (F)
  • BGGN 259 – Reading in Quantitative Physiology (W, S)
  • BGGN 214 – Introduction to Quantitative Biology (Can be taken Year 1 or 2)
  • PHYS 270A – Experimental Techniques for Quantitative Biology (S)

Year 2 – Biology Required Courses    

  • BGGN 207 – Scientific Ethics (S)
  • BGGN 299 – Thesis Research in Biology (Every quarter)
  • BGGN 500 – Introduction to College Biology Education (Enroll during first Instructional Assistant Assignment)
  • BGSE 205 – Graduate Research Seminar (Every quarter)

Year 2 – qBio Elective Courses (two required electives from below or upon approval)

  • BGGN 212 – Introduction to Quantitative Evolutionary Biology
  • BENG 235 – Molecular Imaging and Quantitation in Living Cells
  • BNFO 284 – Nonlinear Dynamics in Quantitative Biology (alternate years)
  • PHYS 239 – Spatiotemporal dynamics in Biological Systems
  • PHYS 273 – Information Theory and Pattern Formation in Biological Systems
  • PHYS 275 – Fundamentals of Biological Physics
  • PHYS 276 – Quantitative Molecular Biology
  • PHYS 277 – Physical Biology of the Cell
  • MAE 263 – Mechanics Inside the Cell

Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

Students who select the Bioinformatics Specialization must satisfy the requirements for both the Division of Biological Sciences and the Bioinformatics & Systems Biology Graduate Programs.

Interested Biological Sciences Ph.D. students must first complete the program’s Standard or EBE track, then complete the Bioinformatics course requirements.

Bioinformatics & Systems Biology Program Requirements

Multi-Scale Biology Track

Students who select the interdisciplinary Specialization in Multi-Scale Biology track must satisfy the requirements for both the Division of Biological Sciences and the UCSD Interfaces Graduate Training Programs.

Interested Biological Sciences Ph.D. students must first complete the program’s Standard, EBE or Microbiology Tracks, then complete the Multi-Scale Biology course requirements.

UCSD Interfaces Multi-Scale Biology Program Requirements

Specialization in Anthropogeny

A transdisciplinary graduate specialization in Anthropogeny is available for Ph.D. students in the Biological Sciences and other disciplines. Information on requirements for this specialization is available through the Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA). The specialization provides students an opportunity to specialize in research and education on the origins of humans. Top areas include:

  • Human and Primate Genetics and Evolution
  • Paleoanthropology and Hominid Origins
  • Mammalian and Primate Neurosciences
  • Primate Biology and Medicine
  • Language and Cognition
  • Nature-Nurture Interactions in Explaining Language and Cognition
  • Human and Primate Society and Culture
  • Comparative Developmental Biology of Primates
  • General Theories for Explaining Humans

Interested Biological Sciences Ph.D. students must first complete the program’s Standard, EBE or Microbiology Tracks, then complete the Specialization in Anthropogeny’s course requirements. 

Information on the UCSD Specialization in Anthropogeny