Panamanian Orchid Bee. Courtesy of Suarez Lab. Credit: Raul Suarez
Credit: Raul Suarez

 Biology Majors

Physiology, the study of organismal function, represents the convergence of various disciplines, approaches, and perspectives in modern biology. Physiologists seek an understanding of functional mechanisms and their regulation, the adaptive significance of these mechanisms, the ecological factors that influence organismal function, and the evolutionary processes that have shaped them. In pursuing this understanding, concepts and approaches from a wide variety of scientific fields, covering levels of biological organization ranging from individual molecules, organelles, cells, tissues, organs to whole organisms are used. The tools and techniques of physics, chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, and various other areas in biology are brought to bear on physiological investigations that might range from the effects of light on visual systems at the level of cell membranes, breathing in ants, metabolism during running in lizards, to the hormonal control of reproduction in fishes.

The Major

All students interested in any area of the biological sciences, including Physiology, enter UCSB as pre-biological sciences majors. Pre-biology majors share a common core curriculum, typically completed during the freshman and sophomore years, consisting of introductory biology with laboratory , general chemistry with laboratory, mathematics, physics with laboratory, and for many of the majors, including the Physiology major, organic chemistry with laboratory. After completion of key preparatory coursework, students may petition to declare the full major. The B. S. in Physiology requires completion of 48 upper-division quarter units including three courses in endocrinology and regulatory biology, two terms of biochemistry, one course in the areas of genetics, cell biology, and neurobiology. In addition to these major requirements, students choose electives in consultation with faculty advisors.

Careers in Physiology

The undergraduate major in Physiology is excellent preparation for graduate study and professional programs in a variety of areas in the biological, biomedical, and health sciences, as well as veterinary and human medicine. Research, industrial supervisory, and academic careers require advanced training beyond the bachelors degree. Those who seek immediate career entry after finishing a B. S. degree in Physiology can seek employment with:

  • State or federal agencies
  • Private industries
  • Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology companies
  • University and hospital research laboratories
  • Teaching institutions at the community college level

High School Preparation

Recommended as part of or in addition to the UC admission requirements:

  • One year of biology
  • One year of chemistry
  • Mathematics through trigonometry
  • One year of physics

Transfer Preparation

To make normal progress in the major, complete the following courses prior to transferring to UCSB:

  • One year sequence of general chemistry with laboratory
  • One year sequence of general biology with laboratory
  • Two terms of calculus and one term of statistics
  • Three terms of organic chemistry with laboratory
  • One year sequence of physics with laboratory

Please see the UCSB General Catalog or your high school or community college counselor for more information on course preparation.

Additional Information

For further information please consult one of the biology undergraduate academic advisors.

 General Questions

+1 805-893-5191

 Academic Advisors


How many upper division biology courses should I take per quarter?

We recommend taking two upper division biology courses per quarter (assuming 8.0 units per quarter) and, if possible, fulfilling area specific requirements first starting one's Junior/3rd year. This will give you the required 48.0 units required for most of our majors. For more detailed recommendations for the MCDB majors please go to: Resource Documents: Recommended Schedule - MCDB majors.

 Resource Files