Nov 26, 2022  
University Catalog 2022-2023 
University Catalog 2022-2023

Biology, B.S.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Index of Academic Degrees, Certificates and Programs


The Bachelor of Science degree in Biology offers undergraduate students a degree program with depth of training in the biological sciences and supporting fields, emphasizing core concepts and cutting-edge techniques. This program prepares students for entrance into careers in biological sciences or for graduate work. 

A total of 120 units is required for the Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. In addition to University and General Education requirements (39 units), the BS degree requires completion of 58 units of core requirements and 23 units within an option. Consult with an advisor for the specific number of units required in all areas of the degree including GE and free electives. 

Students earning a B.S. degree in Biology must choose one of five option areas as follows. (click on the option title to lookup the curriculum)

  • The General Option (23 units) - The General Option in Biology is intended to expose students to all of the major areas of study in biology, covering topics that range in scale from biomolecules to ecosystems.  This option is the most flexible option in terms of courses required, and students will be trained for a broad range of professional paths. The choice of electives allows students to tailor their degree towards future employment in agricultural, biotechnology, or health-related professions or graduate/professional studies in the life sciences.
  • The Ecology, Evolution, and the Environment (EEE) Option (23 units) - Students in the Ecology, Evolution, and the Environment (EEE) Option of the B.S. degree study our planet’s biodiversity, including how organisms interact and adapt to each other and to their physical environment. Students can specialize in studies of plants or animals, within marine, freshwater, or terrestrial ecosystems, while gaining skills in field studies, molecular techniques, and statistical analysis through choice of electives and research experiences. Graduates from the EEE option are prepared to work in environmental fields, including conservation and sustainability, with governmental or non-governmental agencies, or in the private sector. Further, students are prepared for advanced graduate or professional study.
  • The Microbiology Option (23 units) - The Microbiology Option is designed to provide a broad foundation in areas of general microbiology including microbial physiology and genetics as well as explorations of applications of the discipline in the areas of medical, applied and environmental microbiology. Students will learn the fundamental workings of microorganisms and understand the impact of microorganisms on the human experience and the environment. Undergraduate research or internship experience is strongly recommended for Microbiology Option students and up to three credits can be applied to the electives for the option. The Microbiology Option prepares students for graduate schools or health career professional schools, medical laboratory science, or research and technical professions in academia, governmental agencies, or the biotechnology industry. 
  • The Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental (MCD) Biology Option (23 units) - The Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental (MCD) Biology Option directs students towards a comprehensive understanding of cell structure and function and how these cellular characteristics support organismal development and life. Students will gain a deep understanding of principles from several fields in the biological sciences including cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, and developmental biology. Students will additionally gain hands-on experience with modern research and diagnostic techniques. The MCD Biology Option graduates will possess critical knowledge and skills, which will make them competitive candidates for graduate programs in the life sciences or employment in opportunities including agricultural, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, food, and health related professions (e.g. medicine, pharmacy, dentistry).
  • The Physiology Option (23 units) - The Physiology Option is designed to provide a rigorous foundation in plant and human physiology. Students will learn how to integrate a deep understanding of how living systems work.  Undergraduate research or internship experience is strongly recommended for option students, and three credits can be applied to the electives for the option. The Physiology option provides a strong starting point for entry into careers in the health professions (e.g. medicine, pharmacy, dentistry), or into graduate-level  academic and research programs (e.g. physiology, biology, neuroscience).
Departmental Honors Program in Biology

The Department of Biological Sciences offers an honors program in biology for upper division students who have completed 70 semester units, including 30 units in the major, with a minimum B (3.0) grade point average both overall and in the major. Students shall have completed at least 18 units of the major in residence at Cal State L.A.

The honors program introduces highly motivated students to an intensive research experience in biology. Honor students are mentored by a faculty adviser and two other faculty committee members.  Enrollment in BIOL 3960 , Honors Thesis in Biology, for 2 units and enrollment in BIOL 4990 , Undergraduate Directed Study, for 1 unit, prior to or concurrently with BIOL 3960 , is required. Students can apply these units to their degree program. A prospectus, a written thesis, and a final oral examination about the thesis, administered by the committee, are required parts of the program. Diplomas and transcripts of honors program graduates are designated: “Graduated with Departmental Honors in Biology.




Requirements for the Major (81 units)

Course denotations:

  Minimum grade of C or higher required for credit toward the degree.
  BIOL AP score of 4 or 5 fulfills BIOL 1100 requirement (look up AP Exams).
3    Fulfills GE requirement for the major (look up the course description for details).
4   Writing intensive course. 
5   or one year of organic chemistry with at least one term of lab from an accredited 2-year or 4-year institution. 

  Only up to a total of 3 units taken from these courses can be counted for the degree requirement.
7   Students must request CR/NC grading at the time of enrollment.
  Take either one course.
  Must take both courses for credit.
10  Approval of adviser required.

Requirements for the Core (58 units)

Look up the course denotations here.

General Option (23 units)

Look up course denotations here.

Electives for the General Option (13 units)

[2] Upper Division Courses (9 or 11 units)

Select courses from the list below to complete the remaining units and satisfy the elective requirement. Look up course denotations here.

Ecology, Evolution, and the Environment (EEE) Option (23 units)

Required Courses for the EEE Option (4 units)

Upper Division Electives for the EEE Option (19 units)

Select at least one course from each group below for a total of 19 units. Look up course denotations here.

[5] Additional Electives (0 or 8 units)

Complete the remaining units to satisfy the elective unit requirement of this option from this list. Look up course denotations here.

Microbiology Option (23 units)

Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology (MCD) Option (23 units)

Electives for the MCD Option (15 units)

Look up the course denotations here.

[2] Upper Division Electives for the MCD Option (3 or 9 units)

Complete at least 3 units of upper-division electives from the list below.

[3] Additional Electives (0 or 6 units)

Complete the remaining 6 units from the Upper Division MCD elective list above or the additional elective list below to satisfy the elective unit requirement.

Physiology Option (23 units)

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Index of Academic Degrees, Certificates and Programs