Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology B.S.

Information and Policies

Introduction

The molecular, cell, and developmental (MCD) biology major is designed to prepare students for rigorous graduate programs in biomedical research, medical and other healthcare professional programs, for careers in the biotechnology industry. This major is more structured than the general biology major and requires that students pay careful attention to the prerequisites required for upper-division biology courses. With proper advance planning, a student with virtually any degree can prepare a competitive application for medical school or healthcare professional school. Check our Health Careers webpage for more information on how you can academically prepare for a career in healthcare. Additional information is available at the UC Santa Cruz Career Center.

Academic Advising for the Program

Students should take full advantage of academic advising and should keep in frequent contact with the advisers to stay informed about late announcements of courses, changes in scheduling, and opportunities for special study. Transfer students should also consult the Transfer Information and Policy Section. For additional advice and information:

MCD Advising
142 Jack Baskin Engineering
mcdadvising@ucsc.edu 

Getting Started in the Major

Prerequisites

Due to the demanding nature of the majors, students must begin their science coursework as early as possible. CHEM 1A, CHEM 1B and CHEM 1C, and BIOL 20A, BIOE 20B, and BIOL 20L must be taken during the first and second years in order for students to qualify for admission to MCD biology-sponsored majors, including the biology B.S., human biology B.S., molecular, cell and developmental biology B.S. and neuroscience B.S. majors. Students are strongly encouraged to take STAT 5 or STAT 7/STAT 7L and begin, if not complete, other requirements including calculus. For an overview of prerequisites and getting started in the major, please visit our MCD Biology B.S. website.

An online mathematics placement examination is required to enroll in a math course. Biological science majors are expected to take this examination and are encouraged to work in the learning modules until they place into calculus. For more information see the mathematics placement website.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the MCD major will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of how biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology are used to elucidate both the function of cells and their organization into tissues;
  • Recognize that biology has a basis in chemistry, physics, and mathematics;
  • Describe how scientific method is used to explain natural phenomena;
  • Use effective oral and written language skills to communicate scientific data and ideas;
  • Understand safe laboratory practices and perform basic molecular biology techniques;
  • Generate hypotheses, evaluate data, and design experiments to investigate a scientific problem; and
  • Present advanced knowledge in the specialized fields of molecular and cell biology.

Major Qualification Policy and Declaration Process

Major Qualification

The Department of Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology has a qualification policy that applies to the biology B.S., molecular, cell and developmental biology B.S., and neuroscience B.S. majors.

To qualify for any of these majors, students must pass (with a grade of C or better) the following courses or their equivalents:

CHEM1AGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM1BGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM1CGeneral Chemistry

5

BIOL20ACell and Molecular Biology

5

BIOE20BDevelopment and Physiology

5

BIOL20LExperimental Biology Laboratory

2

All qualification courses must be completed by the campus major declaration deadline.

Students with two or more grades of NP, C-, D+, D, D-, or F in the policy courses are not qualified to declare.

When assessing qualification:

  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade, see Letter Grade Policy.
  • Students with AP credit for BIOL 20A, BIOE 20B, and/or CHEM 1A, need only pass the remaining qualification policy courses.
  • Students with grades of I or IP in any of the policy courses will not be eligible to declare until a grade has been assigned.
  • Every student who satisfies the major qualification requirements and who petitions to declare the major by the campus major declaration deadline (i.e., before enrolling in their 3rd year or the equivalent) will be admitted to the major. Students enrolled in their final qualification policy course at the major declaration deadline may submit the petition, but will not be declared until satisfactory grades have been posted. Students who satisfy the major admission requirements, but who petition to declare the major after the campus major declaration deadline will be considered on a case-by-case basis for admission to the major; admission is not guaranteed.

Appeal Process

Students who are informed that they are not eligible to declare the major may appeal this decision by submitting a letter to the Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology faculty adviser within 15 days from the date the notification was mailed. Within 15 days of receipt of the appeal, the department will notify the student and their college of the decision. See our appeal process for more information.

How to Declare a Major

You may declare a major as early as you would like, if you have decided which major to pursue and have satisfied prerequisites or qualification requirements (if any) for the major.  Students who enter UCSC as frosh are required to be formally declared in a major before enrolling in their third year (or equivalent). Upper-division transfer students must complete the major qualification courses before entering UCSC.

Each major/minor advising office has a process for declaring.  To initiate the process to declare, please complete the online declaration petition located on the Department of MCD Biology website. For assistance, please contact MCD biology advising at mcdadvising@ucsc.edu.

Transfer Information and Policy

Transfer Admission Screening Policy

MCD Biology encourages applications from transfer students in the biological sciences. In fall 2012 the department established a Major Qualification Policy that limits access to the program to those students who have successfully completed a subset of foundational coursework. Transfer students are held to similar criteria when being assessed for admission to UC Santa Cruz as an MCD-sponsored major. See qualifying for the major as a transfer applicant for more information.

To be considered for admission as a proposed major in molecular, cell, and developmental biology B.S., transfer students must complete courses equivalent to CHEM 1A, CHEM 1B, CHEM 1C, BIOL 20A, and BIOE 20B with a grade of C or better in each course.  

In addition to the required coursework for admission, students should complete courses equivalent to the lower-division calculus (MATH 11A or 19A and MATH 11B or 19B;  statistics (STAT 5 or STAT 7 and STAT 7L and organic chemistry (CHEM 8A, CHEM 8B and CHEM 8L) requirements. Students who transfer without having completed these recommended courses may have difficulty enrolling in courses and may require more than two years to complete their MCD-sponsored degree. Students are also encouraged to complete all general education requirements prior to transfer. Please see our preparing to transfer as an MCD major for more complete information.

Getting Started at UCSC as a Transfer Student

Transfer students who have met the major qualification requirements are encouraged to declare the major immediately upon arrival. Students who are proposed in a different major and have advanced standing when they come to UC Santa Cruz require permission from the department to change into the major.  Admission to the major is not guaranteed.

Transfer students should complete the required courses in genetics (BIOL 105), biochemistry (BIOL 100) and molecular biology (BIOL 101 and BIOL 101L) by the end of their first year at UCSC since they are prerequisites for the majority of other required courses.

Letter Grade Policy

All courses that are taken to satisfy any major requirement must be taken for a letter grade.

Course Substitution Policy

At least half of the upper-division courses (numbered BIOL 100–BIOL 190) required for the major must be taken through the biological sciences program at UC Santa Cruz, not as transfer credits from another department or institution. If a student plans to transfer to UC Santa Cruz from another institution, the student is advised to contact a MCD Biology Department adviser at UC Santa Cruz before enrolling in upper-division courses at the student’s institution or any institution other than UCSC. This advising will help students understand the limitation of transferring upper-division courses from other institutions to UCSC. For more information on transferring courses to UC Santa Cruz, please consult the undergraduate website.

Once matriculated, a student must receive permission from the department to satisfy the BIOL 20A, 100, 105, 101 or 110 requirements with courses taken at other institutions. Students who wish to receive credit toward the major for these or other courses taken either at UC Santa Cruz or at another institution should contact a department adviser.

Double Majors and Major/Minor Combinations Policy

Students interested in pursuing multiple majors within the biological sciences may NOT declare the following combination of majors:

  • Biology (B.A., B.S., or minor) AND any other biological sciences major
  • Any combination of the following: Human Biology; Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology; Neuroscience; or Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Should a student choose to double major, they must qualify for and complete the disciplinary communication and comprehensive requirements for each of the majors.

Study Abroad

The UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) offers qualified students unique opportunities to broaden their educational horizons. The MCDB Department encourages interested students to participate. Many programs are in English-speaking countries or use English for advanced courses. Many programs offer small classes, extensive laboratories, and/or field research experience.

Students interested in study abroad need to get an early start on their basic science requirements, including chemistry, mathematics, and introductory biology and must declare their major prior to applying to go abroad. Visit the EAP office as soon as possible to begin planning; you must seek advice about your EAP plan for major courses at UC Santa Cruz from a department adviser and/or faculty adviser and receive their approval for your plans.

Honors

Honors in the majors are awarded to graduating students whose academic performance demonstrates excellence at a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or above. Highest honors are awarded to those students whose performance demonstrates the highest level of excellence and results in a GPA of 3.8 or above.

Medical and Professional School Admission

Medical and professional school admissions requirements vary; students should verify that their coursework will satisfy the admissions requirements of the programs to which they plan to apply.

Requirements and Planners

Course Requirements

Lower-Division Courses

All of the following courses:
BIOL20ACell and Molecular Biology

5

BIOE20BDevelopment and Physiology

5

BIOL20LExperimental Biology Laboratory

2

BIOE20CEcology and Evolution

5

CHEM1AGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM1BGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM1CGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM1NGeneral Chemistry Laboratory

2

CHEM8AOrganic Chemistry

5

CHEM8LOrganic Chemistry Laboratory

2

CHEM8BOrganic Chemistry

5

BIOL 20L is waived for junior transfer students

Plus one of the following options:
Either these courses

MATH11ACalculus with Applications

5

MATH11BCalculus with Applications

5

or these courses

MATH19ACalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

MATH19BCalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

Plus one of the following options:
Either this course

STAT5Statistics

5

or these courses

STAT7Statistical Methods for the Biological, Environmental, and Health Sciences

5

STAT7LStatistical Methods for the Biological, Environmental, and Health Sciences Laboratory

2

Plus one of the following options:
Either these courses

PHYS6AIntroductory Physics I

5

PHYS6LIntroductory Physics Laboratory

1

PHYS6BIntroductory Physics II

5

or these courses

PHYS6AIntroductory Physics I

5

PHYS6LIntroductory Physics Laboratory

1

PHYS6CIntroductory Physics III

5

or these courses

PHYS7AElementary Physics I

5

PHYS7BElementary Physics II

5

PHYS6LIntroductory Physics Laboratory

1

Note: PHYS 7A/PHYS 7B and PHYS 6L may not satisfy the physics prerequisite for admission to all medical schools; be sure to check the requirements at all schools where you wish to apply.

Upper-Division Courses

Choose one of the following options:
Either these courses

BIOL100Biochemistry

5

BIOL101Molecular Biology

5

or these courses

BIOC100ABiochemistry and Molecular Biology

5

BIOC100BBiochemistry and Molecular Biology

5

BIOC100CBiochemistry and Molecular Biology

5

Students who complete the BIOC 100A/BIOC 100B/BIOC 100C sequence can use BIOC 100C to satisfy an upper-division elective.

Plus one of the following courses:
BIOL101LMolecular Biology Laboratory

2

BIOL102LToxic RNA Laboratory I

5

Plus all of the following courses:
BIOL105Genetics

5

BIOL110Cell Biology

5

Electives

At least three elective courses from the following list (only one of which may be a 3-credit course: BIOL 112, 116 or 117):

 

BIOL111AImmunology I

5

BIOL111BImmunology II

5

BIOL112Virology

3

BIOL114Cancer Cell Biology

5

BIOL115Eukaryotic Molecular Biology

5

BIOL116Advanced Topics in Cell Biology

3

BIOL117Global Health and Neglected Diseases

3

BIOL120Developmental Biology

5

BIOL125Introduction to Neuroscience

5

BIOL126Advanced Molecular Neuroscience

5

BIOL127Mechanisms of Neurodegenerative Disease

5

BIOL128Developmental Neurobiology

5

BIOL130Human Physiology

5

BIOL140The RNA World

5

BIOC100CBiochemistry and Molecular Biology

5

BIOE109Evolution

5

BIOE135Plant Physiology

5

BIOE135LPlant Physiology Laboratory

2

BME110Computational Biology Tools

5

BME130Genomes

5

BME160Research Programming in the Life Sciences

6

BME178Stem Cell Biology

5

METX119Microbiology

5

PHYS180Biophysics

5

One of the following laboratory courses:
BIOL100LBiochemistry Laboratory

5

BIOL103LToxic RNA Laboratory III

5

BIOL105LEukaryotic Genetics Laboratory

5

BIOL109LYeast Molecular Genetics Laboratory

5

BIOL115LEukaryotic Molecular Biology Laboratory

5

BIOL120LDevelopment Laboratory

5

BIOL121LEnvironmental Phage Biology Laboratory

5

BIOL186LUndergraduate Research in MCD Biology

5

METX119LMicrobiology Laboratory

5

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major's upper-division disciplinary communication (DC) requirement. The DC requirement in molecular, cell, and developmental biology is satisfied by completing one of the following courses:

BIOL100LBiochemistry Laboratory

5

BIOL103LToxic RNA Laboratory III

5

BIOL105LEukaryotic Genetics Laboratory

5

BIOL109LYeast Molecular Genetics Laboratory

5

BIOL115LEukaryotic Molecular Biology Laboratory

5

BIOL120LDevelopment Laboratory

5

BIOL121LEnvironmental Phage Biology Laboratory

5

BIOL186LUndergraduate Research in MCD Biology

5

METX119LMicrobiology Laboratory

5

Comprehensive Requirement

All majors have a comprehensive requirement. For the MCD Biology B.S., this requirement can be satisfied by receiving a passing grade in an independent research laboratory:

Choose one of the following courses:

BIOL100LBiochemistry Laboratory

5

BIOL103LToxic RNA Laboratory III

5

BIOL105LEukaryotic Genetics Laboratory

5

BIOL109LYeast Molecular Genetics Laboratory

5

BIOL115LEukaryotic Molecular Biology Laboratory

5

BIOL120LDevelopment Laboratory

5

BIOL121LEnvironmental Phage Biology Laboratory

5

BIOL186LUndergraduate Research in MCD Biology

5

METX119LMicrobiology Laboratory

5

Planners

Sample Frosh Four-Year Planner

MCD Biology B.S. Frosh sample planners.

 

Fall Winter Spring
1st (frosh)

CHEM 1A

CHEM 1B

CHEM 1C & CHEM 1N

MATH 11A MATH 11B
BIOL 20A
     
2nd (soph)

BIOE 20B

BIOL 100
BIOL 101
BIOL 20L
CHEM 8B
BIOL 101L
CHEM 8A & CHEM 8L
  BIOL 105
3rd (jr) BIOL 110
Upper-division elective

Upper-division elective

STAT 5 OR STAT 7 & STAT 7L
PHYS 6A & PHYS 6L
PHYS 6B OR PHYS 6C
 
 
4th (sr) Upper-division elective
Lab  
BIOE 20C
   
     

The following general education requirements will be fulfilled by the major requirements listed in the above planner: MR, SI, and SR. In addition to the general education requirements satisfied by the above courses, a student will also need to complete courses satisfying the CC, ER, IM, TA, PE, and PR general education requirements.

Sample Transfer Two-Year Planner

MCD Biology B.S. Transfer student sample planners.

  Fall Winter Spring
3rd (jr) BIOL 100
BIOL 105

BIOL 101

 

PHYS 6A & PHYS 6L PHYS 6B or PHYS 6C BIOL 101L
     
4th (sr) BIOL 110
Upper-division elective
Upper-division elective
Upper-division elective
Lab
 
     

This planner assumes that a student has completed all UC Transfer Pathway courses