Tips for Bio Students: Highlights of Specific Majors
Welcome to the College of Biological Sciences, where we have no shortage of pre-health students and students interested in going into biological research fields! You have chosen to be a part of an enriching academic community, but now you have a big decision to make: What’s your major?
Picking a major is one of the most important outlets for setting your path for your time at UC Davis. Luckily for you, the College of Biological Sciences has 9 majors that span a whole array of academic and professional biology focuses. In addition, for the first couple of years, all of the majors in our College have the same pre-requisite courses, meaning you can dip your toe in the waters of all of the different possibilities before you commit to your upper-division course work.
All CBS students have to take the basic science series: BIS 2ABC, CHE 2ABC, PHY 7/9 ABC, CHE 8AB / CHE 118ABC (CHE 118 ABC or CHE 128/192 for BMB majors), MAT 17ABC/21AB, etc. All of that information is available on our website: basc.ucdavis.edu/majors
So once you get through those lower division/pre-req classes, how do you decide where to go from there? Ask around, talk to peer and academic advisors, and take a look at the catalog.ucdavis.edu for examples of upper division electives! But if you’re still stuck, let me give you some highlights for the different majors to hopefully help your decision!
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: If Physics and Chemistry are your jam, then this major may be the one for you. In addition to taking the same lower division physics and chemistry classes as everyone else, you get to take Physical Chemistry and Molecular Biology. COOL, and it is a great avenue if you are interested in molecular or chemical research in the health or environmental sciences!
Biological Sciences: Get a taste of it all! Through the Biological Sciences major, you will have requirements to complete upper division coursework in a variety of different areas like a class in Plant Biology, Neurobiology/Behavior, a lab or two, a class in Microbio, Ecology, and Evolution!
Cell Biology: Focus on Molecular Bio courses in your upper-division classes and have the chance to take restricted electives in a combination of different emphases like Physical Chemistry, NPB, Plant Biology, Immunology (PMI), and more!
Microbiology: Keep the focus on Microbiology for your upper division classes and labs, but you will also have requirements to take a course in each of the following areas: Molecular Microbio, Virology, and Immunology. The restricted electives for this major are super open in that you’ll have 45 units to choose classes from upper division Micro or any other related fields after consulting with an advisor!
Genetics and Genomics: If you’re interested in the way genes interact to make us who we are, this is the major for you! Get an in depth look at the molecular development of chromosomes and their influence by taking related Microbiology courses, Evolution, and upper division Biology courses that have a focus on genetics.
Marine and Coastal Science: Get connected with Oceanography, Environmental Science, Evolution, Toxicology, and more at the core of your upper division requirements. Additionally, you have the opportunity to participate in one of the four emphases: Coastal Environmental Processes, Marine Ecology and Organismal Biology, Marine Environmental Chemistry, or Oceans & the Earth System.
Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity: Get into the core of how Biology works and where it came from. See how everything you learn about is connected in the environment, and also learn about the Biodiversity and conservation from the biological perspective! Take classes in Biodiversity and Advanced Evolution and Ecology, and even get the chance to intern or research with the Bodega Bay Marine Laboratory! Talk about hands-on field experience!
Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior: NPB is one of the most popular majors in the College of Biological Sciences, and I will tell you why! NPB offers three different tracks for restricted electives that tunnel the student’s main interests. Once you take the track series 110ABC, specialize in either Neurobiology, Physiology, or Organism-Environmental Interactions. Every track has plenty of class options to choose from so that every student can really get a deep understanding of their main interest area.
Plant Biology: If plants are your vibe, and BIS 2C is just not enough, this is the major for you! Get into a close relationship with all things photosynthesis. Take classes in Ecology, Evolution and Diversity, Plant Genetics, and Plant Physiology, Development, and Molecular Biology. Additionally, there are lots of ways to get involved in research and clubs on campus so, calling all you Plant People!
So as you can see, all of the different majors in the College of Biological Sciences are special and in depth in their own ways, but one thing is the most important to remember when selecting your major: Selecting a major does not restrict opportunity! Every major has built-in room to explore; so take a breath, take the pre-requisites, talk to someone in BASC, and let the majors guide your exploration!
BASC Peer Advisor
Third Year, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major