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Selective Major

All Biological Sciences majors are selective to restrain continued growth in the number of students pursuing these majors. This allows the School of Biological Sciences to continue to offer the highest quality academic program to our students, and avoid delays in time to degree due to lack of capacity in our laboratory and lecture courses.

Students planning to declare a biology major should be aware of specific screening criteria to be considered for admission into a biology major. Admission criteria can vary each year and will apply to all students regardless of admit year.


Beginning with the future Summer 2025 application cycle, non-biology major students will be able to apply to a biology major once per year (between Summer and Fall). Note that space will be limited and acceptance to a biology major is not guaranteed. For more information about the admission process and criteria please see the UC San Diego Selective Majors Page.

Important note for Transfer Students: Students must be admitted to a biology major at time of admission to UC San Diego, and continuously remain a declared Biology major, in order to pursue a major within the School of Biological Sciences. Transfer students admitted to UC San Diego in a non-Biology major are not eligible to declare a biology major as a primary or secondary (double) major after matriculation to UC San Diego.

Criteria for Admission

The criteria for admission are outlined in the drawers below.

Current Biology Majors

The selective status does not affect current Biology majors. Biology majors may switch among available biology majors based on the term of admission to UC San Diego. Change of major requests can be submitted via the Major and Minor tool on TritonLink. Please note, it may take a few business days for your request to be approved and for your record to be updated.

Non-Biology Majors

Non-biology majors who entered UC San Diego as freshmen may be eligible to apply for admission into a biology major. Please note that available biology majors will vary based on the term of admission to UC San Diego.

Consideration of non-biology majors for admission into a biology major is based on the Selective Major Admission requirements until the numerical limit is reached. To be considered for admission into a biology major, students must satisfy all criteria listed below.

Selective Major Admission Courses

  • BILD 1 and 3
  • CHEM 6A, 6B, 6C, and 7L
  • MATH 10A or 20A and MATH 10B or 20B

Additional Criteria and Information

  1. Complete all Selective Major Admission coursework, including transfer courses, with a “C-“ or higher, or with AP/IB/A-Level UC San Diego equivalent course credit.
  2. Earn a minimum 2.5 GPA in the Selective Major Admission courses. Only Selective Major Admission courses taken at a UC with a letter grade will be factored into the screening GPA.
  3. Apply, using the online application below, within the first 6 quarters at UC San Diego, during an active application cycle. Do not use Tritonlink to request a change of major.
  4. Submit your application once the application opens. Day and time of application submission will be considered when making admission offers.
  5. Current quarter grades will be taken into consideration for the applicable application cycle (e.g. fall grades will be considered for the fall application).
  6. Applications will be reviewed after term grades are finalized (Thursday after Finals Week). Once all applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified.
  7. Students are expected to be aware of relevant timelines and deadlines, and to check their email account regularly. If offered admission, failure to take action by the specified date and time will result in a declined offer.
Satisfying Selective Major Admission requirements does not guarantee admission.

Selective Major Admission Application and Filing Deadlines

Double Majors

Current Biology Majors

Biology majors planning to add a non-biology major as a second major can send their completed Double Major Petition form to for review and signature. More detailed instructions regarding form submission can be found on the biology advising site.

Non-Biology Majors

Non-biology students who entered UC San Diego as freshmen planning to double major with a biology and a non-biology major must first apply through the Selective Major Application process. If the student is admitted into a biology major, they then must add the secondary non-biology major through the Double Major Petition process.

Note if your non-biology major is selective, before accepting an offer for admission into Biology, speak to your current major department regarding implications of dropping your major as a result of attempting to declare two selective majors.

Please refer to the Non-Biology Majors drawer above for a complete listing of Selective Major Admission criteria, application, and deadlines.

150+ Units Completed

If you have 150 or more units completed, in addition to the selective major application, you will need to submit a quarter-by-quarter plan in order to be considered for admission. You should submit your selective major application before submitting your quarter-by-quarter plan.

Students should reference the total units under "Crdts Pssd" on their academic history to determine if the quarter-by-quarter plan is needed. Current work-in-progress (WIP) units are not considered for purposes of the plan.

For those who need to submit a quarter-by-quarter plan, it will be evaluated by both the selective major department and your college to ensure satisfactory time to degree. After submitting your application, download and complete the quarter-by-quarter plan and submit it to no later than the selective major application deadline for the quarter you are requesting admission. If your quarter-by-quarter plan is not received by the stated deadline, your selective major application will be considered incomplete and will be automatically denied.

Incoming/Newly Admitted Freshmen

After arriving to UCSD, and enrolled in courses, students who enter UCSD as freshmen may attempt to apply for admission via the selective major application process during an open application cycle.  Students who apply prior to matriculation to UCSD will not be considered for admission.

Admission Statistics

In 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22, and 2022-23 the School received an average of 100 applications per quarterly cycle and was able to offer admission to all applicants who met Selective Major admission criteria. While students can use this information to estimate chances of being admitted, meeting all eligibility criteria does not guarantee admission. Admission outcomes (e.g. the number of applicants, available seats, etc.) can change each quarterly application cycle.

Criteria to be considered for admission into a biology major for future academic years is subject to change.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have further questions about Selective Major, please carefully review the selective major frequently asked questions.