Cell & Developmental Biology

What is a Major in 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.


Major, General, and Career Information

From the UCSB Major Page:
The Major
Cell biology and developmental biology are sub-disciplines within the larger, more general area of biology. These sub-disciplines demand a genuine interest in the "hard sciences", including a solid foundation in biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics.

The major exposes students to sophisticated techniques and equipment that emphasize the experimental nature of cell and developmental biology through "hands-on" experience and laboratory work to augment the classroom experience. Independent research is encouraged and undergraduates are invited to participate in ongoing research seminars. UCSB's Special Programs Office sponsors a variety of fellowships and awards that fund undergraduate research projects.

Students planning to major in cell and developmental biology enter as a biological sciences premajor and take a common core curriculum consisting of introductory biology, general chemistry, physics, organic chemistry and calculus. Students should complete this preparatory coursework in their freshman and sophomore years. Following successful completion of seven of these courses, students may advance from premajor to full major status. Upper-division coursework includes genetics, cell biology, developmental biology (with choices from among animal, plant and neuronal development), biochemistry and additional electives. Students should review the full requirement sheet for the major they intend to declare and plan their schedules accordingly.
Careers in Cell and Developmental Biology
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.

The major is excellent preparation for graduate training (Master's and Ph.D. degree programs) in a wide range of molecular, cellular and developmental biology disciplines. The course requirements for the major satisfy most graduate program requirements and students are well-prepared in both coursework, understanding and practical experience.

The laboratory work combined with the practical approach in the classroom are advantages to students interested in research careers, for example in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors of the marketplace. The BS degree in cell and developmental biology is excellent preparation for a career combining science and law such as forensics.

The cell and developmental biology major also is excellent preparation for medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary school. These professional programs demand a basic understanding in molecular, cellular and developmental biology. Students interested in the health sciences and related professions can take advantage of the University's excellent health science advisory system located in Cheadle Hall. They can seek advice and support from the beginning of their studies in biology to their entrance into health sciences graduate programs and professional schools.

Students interested in teaching biological sciences and/or conducting research at the university level should plan to complete the Ph.D. degree. Students interested in teaching at the community college level should pursue graduate work at least through the Master's degree. Secondary school teaching 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.


Get Experience

Resources and Professional Associations

UCSB Biology Listserv

UCSB Library - Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

UCSB Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

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