Cell & Developmental Biology

What is Cell and Development Biology?

Modern cell and developmental biology brings together a diverse group of disciplines and technologies linked by the common goals of understanding the nature and behavior of cells and how these cells work together to assemble an organism. This is a relatively new discipline that has emerged from studies in physiology and biochemistry. Some of the research directions include the role that one particular molecule plays within cells, the way in which molecules assemble into structures such as chromosomes or nuclei, and how groups of cells interact to form systems of greater complexity, such as occurs with the progression of a fertilized egg through developmental stages to become an adult organism. The range of instruments and methods employed by cell and developmental biologists is equally diverse and includes recombinant DNA technology, biochemistry, cell culture, genetics, and light and electron microscopy.

The major exposes students to sophisticated techniques and equipment that emphasize the experimental nature of cell and developmental biology. The major emphasizes “hands-on” experience, and laboratory and field work to augment the classroom experience. Independent research is encouraged and undergraduates are invited to participate in ongoing research seminars. UCSB’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities office (URCA) sponsors a variety of fellowships and awards that fund undergraduate research projects.

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Cell and Development Biology?

Cell and Development Biology majors are often curious about current issues including biotechnology, immunology, genetics, and biomedical research. They demand a genuine interest in the "hard sciences", including a solid foundation in biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics. They enjoy developing their abilities to think analytically, apply information, and solve problems. Many Cell and Development Biology majors enjoy conducting research and have a strong foundation in biology, chemistry, physics, and math.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the Undergraduate Department Advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

Developmental Biology
Ethics of Biomedical Technology
Molecular and Cellular Immunobiology
Basic Pharmacology

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.


General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?

The cell and developmental biology major reflects a growing need for scientists who are able to bridge sub-disciplines, bringing to bear modern biochemical and molecular biology techniques on classic problems in cell and developmental biology. As such, successful completion of UCSB's B.S. degree in Cell and Developmental Biology at UCSB provides students with many career options.

Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be. The following list provides only a handful of possibilities. Cell and Development Biology majors may pursue career options in hundreds of fields. Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study, options include:

Biomedical Scientist
Biotechnology Researcher
Clinical Microbiologist
Environmental Impact Analyst
Forensics Investigator
Genetic Engineering Researcher
Health Professions Provider (Dentist,
Genetic Counselor, Nurse, Pharmacist,
Physician, Public Health Administrator)
Lab Technician
Pharmaceutical Industry Researcher
Pharmaceutical Salesperson
Professor or Teacher
Technical Writer or Illustrator
To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
O*Net Online
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Come visit the Career Resource Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.

See what other UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn


Graduate and Professional Schools

This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

Click “Graduate School” for information on how to choose a grad school, how to pay for grad school, how to survive and flourish in grad school.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Come to the Career Resources Room to view the CHOICES lab version of graduate schools.

Experience Search Strategies

New Scientist Jobs
All types of biology jobs categorized by field, location, government/private, etc.

Lists biotech jobs, biology teaching jobs and bioscience jobs

UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers by Majors and Diversity.

Cell Career Network
This website lists postings of jobs relating to cell and developmental biology.

Biotech Employment
Database of jobs in the biotech industry

Job board for those interested in healthcare, pharma, and science

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.

Professional Associations

The American Institute of Biological Sciences
The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association dedicated to advancing biological research and education for the welfare of society.

Cellular & Molecular Biology Online
Lists common professional organizations for cell and molecular biologists. Most society web sites provide information about associated publications, meetings, membership and careers.

Society for Developmental Biology
The Society for Developmental Biology is dedicated to the advancement of research and education in developmental biology as well as providing resources and information about careers in the field.

American Institute of Biological Sciences
The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association dedicated to advancing biological research and education for the welfare of society

UCSB Resources