All of the majors in biology build upon a common foundation of preparatory course work, typically completed during the freshman and sophomore years. Students interested in graduating with a major in any area of the biological sciences enter UCSB as a pre-biology major and take a subset of this key preparatory coursework in introductory biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Once the pre-major requirements have been completed students may petition to declare one of the full majors. Note: Grades earned must meet the grade prerequisites for the full major.
For full instructions for declaring a major go to: Current Students.
All Biology courses, with the exception of GE courses, build upon prerequisite or preparatory course work, and these prerequisites are strictly enforced by the departments. Students who have not successfully completed the prerequisites for a course will not be allowed to register. In addition, certain upper-division courses also have a grade requirement for their prerequisites, as discussed below. Specific course prerequisite information can be found on GOLD, in the UCSB Catalog, and on the annual departmental Proposed Course Lists.
Grade Requirements for Prerequisite Courses
All upper-division MCDB courses and some upper-division EEMB courses require a "C" or better in their prerequisite courses. Students who pass a prerequisite course but with a grade lower than C must repeat the course and earn at least a C in order to advance to the next course.
It is important to note that only these specific upper-division courses have this prerequisite grade requirement. Other courses a student may take as a pre-biology major do not have this grade requirement, and would not need to be repeated as long as they received the minimum passing grade and are able to maintain a major GPA of 2.0. A detailed discussion the regulations for repeating courses can be found on the Letters & Science academic advising website.
For further information please consult one of the biology undergraduate 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.
- When is the earliest a first year non-biology major can declare pre-biology?
At the beginning of Spring quarter as we require completion of chemistry 1A and 1B with grades of C or better.
- When is the latest a non-biology major can declare a major within biology?
Students will not be admitted to the Pre-biology major after their seventh quarter (or equivalent), and students will only be admitted to the pre-major in their seventh quarter if they have completed introductory biology and most of the required Pre-biology major courses.