As of Fall 2015, the College of Biological Sciences released a new Biological Sciences (BIS) major that has caused some confusion among students. I want to clarify the differences between these two majors, specifically the B.S. degrees, and provide some suggestions to students who are deciding which requirements to follow. The main confusion among students is the fact that some students have to do the new BIS major requirements, while others have the choice of choosing between the two. Remember, you have catalog rights, which means if you started attending UC Davis any time Fall 2015 or later, you need to follow the new BIS major requirements. On the other hand, if you started attending UC Davis before fall 2015, your catalog rights allow you to decide between the two different majors, which can be a bit overwhelming. Below, I will discuss those differences and hopefully help you decide which major requirements to follow. Also, once you decide on which requirements to complete, I suggest sticking to those requirements as you cannot combine the two majors and make your own!
Pre-Fall 2015- “OLD” BIS Major
First, let’s go over the original BIS major. For students who started Fall 2015 or later, ignore this segment and jump to the new BIS major requirements! Like any major in the College of Biological Sciences, students must complete the 5 major prerequisites series with the addition of STA 100: BIS 2ABC, CHE 2ABC, MAT 17ABC, CHE 118 ABC/CHE 8AB, and PHY 7ABC. This major accepts either BIS 101, 105, & 104 or BIS 101, 102, 103, & 104. The biggest difference between the two majors is the final portion of the requirements. BIS pre-Fall 2015 includes field requirements and an emphasis. To complete the field requirements, students take a class in each of the following areas: Evolution, Ecology, Microbiology, Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, and Plant Biology. Students then choose an area of emphasis, which could include Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity, Plant Biology, Marine Biology, Microbiology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, or Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior. Each emphasis has its own unique set of requirements, but typically requires students to complete 13-17 units. The final requirement for this major is that the depth subject matter, which includes STA 100, needs to total to 49 units. This was a quick and easy summary of the degree check list, but feel free to stop by the Biology Academic Success Center or visit basc.ucdavis.edu if you have further questions.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Is the emphasis shown on my transcript or diploma?
- Unfortunately, no. The emphasis is not shown on either a student’s transcript or diploma.
- Do I need to complete the Field Requirement that matches the area of my emphasis? For example, if I emphasize in NPB, do I still need to do the NPB Field Requirement?
- This is a common assumption; YES, a student must complete all field requirements and their emphasis.
Fall 2015-“NEW” BIS Major
Here is a link to the Major degree check list, so you can follow along or look at the picture provided!
As mentioned before, the biggest difference between the degree patterns is the depth subject matter because this major still includes all of the prerequisites as the old BIS major, as well as STA 100, BIS 101, 102 & 103 (or 105), and BIS 104. The new BIS major removes the field requirements and the emphases, but the same idea remains. Instead of listing multiple classes in each area, the new major removes some of the classes in each topic giving a more concrete list of classes to take. The new major also removes the areas of emphasis and terms the new requirement as “restricted electives.” A student must complete 11 units from the approved list found on the BASC website or in the University’s General Catalog. Among these requirements, a student must complete a minimum of 6 hours of lab. Lab work can be completed by taking a class with a six hours lab per week (ex: EXB 106/106L) or taking 2 classes with 3 hours of lab per week (ex: NPB 101L & MIC 103L). Also, this major allows a student to have up to 3 units of approved research electives to be used toward restricted electives. This new major reduces the redundancy and clutter by narrowing the choices for field requirements, but also increases the options for electives allowing students to create their own unique schedule.
For students who are deciding which major requirements to follow, here are some additional considerations:
- How far along are you on the old major vs. the new requirements? Would it be a smooth transition?
- Can the classes you have already completed for the old major be used to satisfy requirements for the new major?
- Are there classes you really want to take that won’t satisfy major requirements for one major but do for the other?
Overall, both majors were made with the idea of providing students with a broad biology education, while at the same time allowing students to choose classes based on their interests. Most of the information shared today can be found on the BASC website! Please stop by the Biology Academic Success Center for further questions!
5th year, Biological Sciences Major, minor in Communication
BASC Peer Advisor