Undergraduate Degree Programs and Curriculum

The Department of Biology Offers the Following Undergraduate Programs:

B.S. in Biology

Emphases Offered:

Cellular and Molecular Biology, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Marine Biology, and Zoology.

B.S. in Biology for Single Subject Teaching Credential

Single Subject Teaching Credential in Biology/Life Sciences:

Coursework to demonstrate subject matter competency for the Single-Subject Teaching Credential in Biology/Life Sciences.
(For those who wish to be high school Biology teachers.)

B.A. in Biology

B.S. in Microbiology

Emphasis Offered:

Clinical Laboratory Science and Public Health Microbiology.

B.A. in Microbiology

Minor in Biology

Emphases Offered:

Emphasis in Cellular and Molecular Biology, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Marine Biology, and Plant Biology.

Information on coursework requirements for these programs may be found here:

  1. The Checklists posted below. In most cases, the checklists provide the most useful and current version of coursework requirements for the various degrees and emphases. Students should consult the appropriate checklist each year.

  2. Your personalized Degree Audit Report (DAR), which can be found within the SDSU WebPortal. For students that have declared their premajor or major, this document provides an accurate, up-to-date summary of progress towards the major, and it highlights the outstanding requirements in red.

  3. The SDSU General Catalog, under Biology. Students are required to follow the degree guidelines for the catalog year in which they entered the Biology premajor, even if those guidelines subsequently change.

Degree Checklists

  • Minor in Biology (General degree, no emphasis)
  • Minor in Biology (Emphasis in Cellular and Molecular Biology)
  • Minor in Biology (Emphasis in Ecology)
  • Minor in Biology (Emphasis in Evolutionary Biology)
  • Minor in Biology (Emphasis in Marine Biology)
  • Minor in Biology (Emphasis in Plant Biology)
  • PDF document for all minors. Link will open a PDF document.


Biology and Microbiology are impacted majors. This does not mean that we limit the number of students that can graduate with these majors. Instead, it means that incoming freshman and transfer students are initially classified as "Premajors." Premajors should be working through introductory coursework, while "Majors" can concentrate on their upper division classes for the major. To move from the premajor to the major requires:

  1. Completion of the core set of 10 introductory "preparation for major" courses. See the appropriate checklist for details. All courses must be taken for a grade, and the GPA for these "preparation for major courses" must be at least 2.80.
  2. No grade lower than a C is permitted in any preparation for major course.
  3. Cumulative GPA in all courses of at least 2.80.
  4. Meet with the biology advisor if you are not mantaining at least a 2.80 in the preparation for major, and a 2.80 overall GPA.


Changing Majors, or Adding a Major or Minor

Adding the Biology minor
  1. Download the Biology Minor checklist above. Note that the minor requires either Biology 100+100L, or 203+203L. If you choose the 100+100L option, your coursework choices will be very limited. If you choose the Biology 203+203L option, you must also take Chemistry 200.
  2. Upper division coursework (Biology 300-599) cannot be shared between two majors, or between a major and a minor. For example, you cannot use Biology 336 for your Biology minor if your major requires it.
  3. Meet with Ms. Tappen in LS 102 to review coursework requirements and complete a "Declaration or Change of Undergraduate Major and Minor" form.

Add a minor or 2nd premajor (already a Biology or Microbiology premajor/major)
  1. If you wish to add a minor, or a 2nd premajor, it must be from a department other than Biology.
  2. Upper division coursework (Biology 300-599) cannot be shared between two majors, or between a major and a minor. For example, you cannot use Chemistry 432 as both a Biology major elective, and a Chemistry major elective.
  3. Meet with the academic advisor from the department that sponsors the minor or 2nd major, and get a "Declaration or Change of Undergraduate Major and Minor" form signed. Drop the form off in the Registrar's Office.
  4. If you cannot locate or contact the academic advisor from that department, try the department Chair. Or visit the Office of Advising and Evaluations in Student Services West. Get a "Declaration or Change of Undergraduate Major and Minor" form signed, and drop it off in the Registrar's Office.

Add a Biology or Microbiology premajor, or a 2nd premajor (currently undeclared, or have a major in a different department)
  1. Biology and Microbiology are impacted majors. Admission to pre-Biology or pre-Microbiology from other departments is at the discretion of the Department of Biology's Vice Chair. Specific requirements must be met in order to change to any pre-Biology or pre-Microbiology major. These requirements are:
    1. You must complete Chem 200, 201 and Biology 203, 203L. (AP credit for Chem 200, 201 is sufficient.)
    2. You can take additional Biology or Microbiology preparation for major courses beyond those 4 before applying, but it is not required. See the degree checklists above for a complete listing of preparation for major requirements, and the major requirements.
    3. You must have a combined 2.8 GPA or better for all preparation for major courses that you have taken.
    4. All preparation for major courses must be taken for a grade (except for AP credit). You must have a minimum grade of C or better for every Biology / Microbiology preparation for major that you have taken. Note that an excessive number of C grades will bring your preparation for major GPA below 2.8, and you will not be able to change majors or add a 2nd major.
  2. If you have not yet taken any Chemistry courses, note that every Biology and Microbiology major requires a minimum of 5 semesters as you progress through the chemistry and biochemistry coursework series. Each course is a prerequisite for the next, and you cannot take any of these courses simultaneously. Depending on your science background and which degree you choose, as many as 7-8 semesters may be required even if you have finished your GE courses.
  3. Read through the impaction requirements above, which apply to your transition from premajor status to major status.
  4. Meet with Ms. Tappen in LS 102 to review coursework requirements and complete a "Declaration or Change of Undergraduate Major and Minor" form.


Top 5 Tips for Success

  1. Take a reasonable course load.
  2. The single biggest difficulty that university students have is learning to balance their academic responsibilities and their financial responsibilities (i.e., work). If you are working 20+ hours per week, you should probably keep your academic load to no more than 12 units. Suppose you are carrying 12 units (with no labs) and working 20 hours a week. Work and class time would add up to 32 hours a week before you can begin to account for the other necessities, like eating, sleeping, studying, driving between home, school, and work, having a little fun, etc. Also remember that a 1 unit laboratory class will take 2 1/2 hours every week. We do not recommend that any students take more than 2 lab units per semester (whether these 2 are for the same class, or different classes).

  3. Pay attention to the prerequisites.
  4. Prerequisites are placed on a class for a reason. If a course lists chemistry as a prerequisite to a course, then the faculty will expect that you understand chemistry at the prescribed level when you walk into that course. The professor will teach the class based on this expected understanding. The professor has the right to drop students who do not have the prerequisites. It is unwise to take a course without the necessary prerequisites, and then end up with a D or F. If you are having trouble filling your schedule, come see us in the bioadvising office.

  5. Strike a balance between science and non-science courses.
  6. Do not start taking all your GE courses during the freshman year. There are many difficult upper division courses, as well as time-intensive lab courses throughout the major. We advise you to spread out your GE courses across your entire time at SDSU, including your final year. This will help create a reasonable workload each semester. Except for seniors who are in their final semester, try not to carry more than three science courses/semester.

  7. Get started on the Chemistry course sequence immediately.
  8. The Biology major requires three semesters of introductory chemistry, followed by two semesters of Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology. Each of these courses is a prerequisite for the next, and the final two are prerequisites for numerous upper division courses.

  9. Meet with the Biology advisor if you are having academic or personal problems.
  10. Every semester we counsel students who are in serious academic trouble, and some have been disqualified from the university. Most commonly, these students are in trouble because they have not paid attention to prerequisites, or have tried to carry an unreasonable academic load. Come see us as soon as you start having trouble in your courses. We can help you get on the right track before it is too late.