Biological Sciences

What is a Major in Biological Sciences?

The majors leading to a B.A. or B.S. in Biological Sciences are the most general of those offered by EEMB and MCDB. Students in either major take courses fulfilling requirements in several broad areas ranging from ecology to molecular biology, but can choose from a variety of courses in each area. In addition, the Biological Sciences majors allow a greater number of electives than the more specialized majors offered by the two departments. Students who wish to have the most flexibility in their choice of biology courses often choose a Biological Sciences B.A. or B.S. major.

The Biological Sciences B.S. degree is more oriented toward science and math courses, with fewer General Education requirements. The Biological Sciences B.A. degree allows students to pursue a typical liberal arts education while still receiving excellent training in biology.

All students interested in any area of the biological sciences enter UCSB as pre-biological sciences majors. Pre-biology majors share a common core curriculum, typically completed during the freshman and sophomore years, consisting of introductory biology with laboratory, general chemistry with laboratory, mathematics, physics with laboratory, and for many of the majors, organic chemistry with laboratory. After completion of a subset of this key preparatory coursework, students may petition to declare the full major. The Biological Sciences B. S. degree requires completion of 48 upper-division quarter units in biology and offers a strong, well-rounded background in the field. The Bachelor of Arts degree in Biological Sciences requires 36 upper division units in biology and allows students greater flexibility in taking courses both within and outside their major. Students are encouraged to work closely with faculty members who share their interests, and to seek assistance in program planning from the well-informed and helpful undergraduate advisors.

Major, General, and Career Information


Biological Sciences



From the UCSB Biological Sciences Website:

Careers in Biological Sciences

Modern biology is too comprehensive and complex a field for one person to master all sub-disciplines at the advanced level. Thus, most professional biologists specialize in a particular area. A considerable number of biology students pursue graduate study in an area of interest, finding that they can gain admission to any major university on the basis of their Biological Sciences major from UCSB.

Some students elect employment immediately upon graduation. These students secure positions with state or federal agencies, or begin careers in research or supervision within private industries such as pharmaceutical companies and environmental consulting firms.

The Biological Sciences majors and many of the specialized majors are excellent preparation for careers in the health sciences (dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, and medical technology). TheHealth Professions Office in the College of Letters & Sciences advises and supports students from the beginning of their studies in biology to their entrance into health science graduate programs and professional schools.

Students interested in teaching biological sciences or conducting research at a college or university should plan to complete the PhD degree. Teaching at the junior high or high school (secondary) level requires the California single subject teaching credential. Students considering this last option should discuss their plans with the credential advisor in UCSB's Graduate School of Education early in their academic careers.


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Resources and Professional Associations

Biology Department Listserv

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.

Ecological Society of America
The Ecological Society of America (ESA) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of scientists founded in 1915 that promote ecological science, provide resources and enhance communication between ecological community and policy-makers.

UCMP Societies & Organizations
Professional Societies and organizations in natural history, conservation, microbiology, botany, zoology, etc.

Scholarly Societies Project
The penultimate site for professional biology associations, national and international.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization
BIO is the world's largest biotechnology organization, providing advocacy, business development and communications services for more than 1,100 members worldwide. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

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.