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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology B.S.

Information and Policies

Introduction

Research at the macromolecular, molecular, and atomic levels is revolutionizing our understanding of the fundamental processes of life. Students interested in joining this search are best prepared by undertaking coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and computer science. The undergraduate major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) is offered by faculty who are actively engaged in research on biological systems.

Students who declare the BMB major earn a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree. The BMB major constitutes an integrated curriculum of basic instruction in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics, followed by the opportunity to pursue advanced study in specialized areas of interest. In modern, well-equipped laboratories, distinguished faculty are engaged in frontline research at UCSC. The Chemistry and Biochemistry Department and the Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology Department each host a very active seminar series in which internationally-recognized scientists present their current research findings. Advanced BMB undergraduates are encouraged to attend.

The BMB program features close faculty-student interaction, stimulating learning environments, and opportunities for independent research and study. Students majoring in BMB are encouraged to become involved in research under the guidance of a faculty sponsor. Many students participating in this aspect of the program have made important contributions to the scientific literature.

The BMB major has a broad scope and is interdisciplinary in nature. All prospective majors should see the BMB academic adviseo

Note: A student cannot double major/minor in BMB and any other major/minor offered by the departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and MCD Biology. 

No minor is offered.

Academic Advising for the Program

The advisors in Chemistry and Biochemistry provide counsel to undergraduate majors. Students are encouraged to seek out advising and assistance in planning their academic careers to ensure completion of their major in a timely manner. For assistance, please contact Chemistry Advising at chemistryadvising@ucsc.edu or visit our department website. Transfer students should also consult the Transfer Information and Policy Section below.

Program Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes summarize the most important knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes that students are expected to develop over the course of their studies. 

Students graduating with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology should be able to:

  • demonstrate mastery of a broad set of chemical and biological knowledge concerning the fundamentals in the basic areas of the discipline (organic, inorganic, analytical, physical, biochemistry, and molecular biology);

  • solve area-specific problems by identifying the essential parts of a problem, formulating a strategy for solving the problem, applying appropriate techniques to arrive at a solution, testing the correctness of the solution, and interpreting their results;

  • use modern library search tools (such as SciFinder, PubMed, or Web of Science) to locate and retrieve scientific information about topics relating to chemistry and biology;

  • know and follow the proper procedures and regulations for safe handling and use of chemicals, biohazardous materials, and common laboratory instruments;

  • understand the objective of their chemical and biological experiments, properly carry out the experiments, and appropriately record and analyze the results;

  • use computers in data acquisition and processing, and use available software as a tool in data analysis;

  • use standard laboratory equipment, modern instrumentation, and classical techniques to carry out experiments;

  • communicate the concepts and results of their laboratory experiments through effective writing and/or oral communication using the discipline standards for reporting and citation; and

  • collaborate effectively as part of a team to solve problems, debate different points of view, and interact productively with a diverse group of team members.

Getting Started in the Major

Prospective majors should have a solid foundation in high school mathematics; familiarity with algebra, logarithms, trigonometry, and analytic geometry is particularly required. 

Both the CHEM 1A/CHEM 1B/CHEM 1C series (with associated labs CHEM 1M and CHEM 1N) and the Advanced CHEM 4A/CHEM 4B series (with associated labs CHEM 1M and CHEM 1N) fully satisfy the General Chemistry prerequisites of any major declaration or required/elective class of PBSci programs

CHEM 4 is an advanced series intended for students who enter UC Santa Cruz with excellent preparation in high school chemistry. Students in this series will learn fundamental concepts in chemistry at a deeper level than traditional general chemistry, with emphasis on quantum theory, molecular structure, and chemical driving forces. Students with an exceptionally strong background in high school chemistry (such as taking AP or IB Chemistry) are strongly encouraged to begin with CHEM 4A (Advanced General Chemistry: Molecular Structure and Reactivity) instead of CHEM 1A/CHEM 1B

All students who want to enroll in the advanced series must complete an online learning module and assessment administered by the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, regardless of high school AP scores. For more information, please contact Chemistry Advising at chemistryadvising@ucsc.edu or visit our department website.

Transfer Information and Policy

Transfer Admission Screening Policy

The following courses or their equivalents are required prior to transfer, by the end of the spring term for students planning to enter in the fall.

CHEM 4AAdvanced General Chemistry: Molecular Structure and Reactivity

5

CHEM 4BAdvanced General Chemistry: Molecular Structure and Reactivity

5

CHEM 8AOrganic Chemistry

5

CHEM 8BOrganic Chemistry

5

BIOL 20ACell and Molecular Biology

5

Plus one of the following options:
MATH 11ACalculus with Applications

5

MATH 19ACalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

Students must complete the above courses or their equivalents, with a grade of C or better, and have a cumulative GPA in these courses of 2.5 or greater.

Students must have passed or be currently enrolled in the CHEM 8B equivalent at the time of transfer application.

Recommended Major Preparation for Junior Transfer Students

Students entering at the junior level who wish to graduate in two years after coming to UC Santa Cruz should also complete the equivalents of the following preparatory courses prior to transfer:

BIOE 20BDevelopment and Physiology

5

CHEM 8LOrganic Chemistry Laboratory

2

CHEM 8MOrganic Chemistry Laboratory

2

As well as one of the following:
MATH 11BCalculus with Applications

5

MATH 19BCalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

While not required, MATH 22 should also be taken by students who plan to take CHEM 163A/CHEM 163B instead of BIOC 163A/BIOC 163B in their final year. MATH 22 is only taught in winter (and possibly summer) at UC Santa Cruz.

The biochemistry and molecular biology major also requires one year of calculus-based physics with labs and one term of statistics before graduation from UCSC. Students can complete these courses at community college if their schedule allows.  Completing the physics courses and labs at community college allows for greater flexibility/choice for enrolling in upper-division courses at UCSC but the courses can be completed after transfer without negatively affecting competitiveness for admission to UC Santa Cruz.

Students who complete only the minimal introductory coursework prior to transfer are more likely to take longer to complete their degree. More information on transfer pathways for chemistry at the University of California may be found on the Admissions website.

Students planning to transfer to UC Santa Cruz as a biochemistry and molecular biology major from a California community college should reference assist.org to determine which courses are equivalent to these required courses.

Getting Started in the Major: Transfer Students

Transfer students are highly encouraged to meet with an academic advisor in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department prior to or during their first quarter at UC Santa Cruz. For assistance with advising, please contact Chemistry Advising at chemistryadvising@ucsc.edu

Students entering at the junior level must complete the BMB qualification courses prior to transfer and declare their major by their second term at UCSC.  Any student who fails to meet these requirements may file an appeal for admission to the major, but admission is not guaranteed.

Major Qualification Policy and Declaration Process

Major Qualification

Students must complete each of the following qualification courses, or their equivalents, by their campus-established declaration deadline with a grade of C (2.0) or better and with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.50 or greater in these required courses:

Either these courses

CHEM 1AGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1BGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1CGeneral Chemistry

5

or these courses

CHEM 4AAdvanced General Chemistry: Molecular Structure and Reactivity

5

CHEM 4BAdvanced General Chemistry: Molecular Structure and Reactivity

5

Plus these courses
CHEM 8AOrganic Chemistry

5

CHEM 8BOrganic Chemistry

5

BIOL 20ACell and Molecular Biology

5

Plus one of the following options:
MATH 11ACalculus with Applications

5

MATH 19ACalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

Transfer students must have a full year of general chemistry. 

Students must have taken CHEM 8B or be enrolled prior to the end of year two.           

When calculating GPA to determine qualification:

  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade. See Letter Grade Policy.
    For courses required to qualify for the major that have been satisfied with Advanced Placement credit based on an AP examination score (See Admissions AP Chart), students may substitute a grade of A for each course when calculating their GPA.

  • Students with two or more grades of NP, C-, D+, D, D-, or F in courses required to qualify for the major are not eligible to declare.

Transfer students should also consult the Transfer Information and Policy Section.

How to Declare a Major

Students may declare a major as early as they would like if they have decided which major to pursue and have satisfied prerequisites or qualification requirements (if any) for the major.

Per UC Santa Cruz major declaration policy, students who enter UCSC as frosh are required to be formally declared in a major by the campus deadline in their 6th quarter and before enrolling in their third year (or equivalent). Upper-division transfer students are required to be declared in a major by the deadline in their second term at UCSC.

Students should log into MyUCSC and submit the Petition for Major/Minor as soon as they have met major qualification requirements and/or reach their declaration deadline quarter, whichever comes first.  Once logged into MyUCSC navigate to the Student Homepage and select the Undergraduate Student eForms tile > Petition for Major/Minor.

Each major/minor advising office has a process for declaring. For assistance, please contact chemistry advising at chemistryadvising@ucsc.edu.

Students petitioning when the campus declaration deadline is imminent (i.e., in their sixth quarter, for students admitted as frosh), will either be approved, denied, or provided with conditions (e.g., completion of final qualification courses with certain grades), but will not be declared until all requirements have been met and satisfactory grades have been posted.

Appeal Process

Students may appeal to the major either prior to or after submitting a petition to declare and being denied (in the latter case, appeals must be submitted within 15 days from the date the denial notification was sent).

To appeal to declare a BMB major, submit a letter to the chemistry/BMB advisor at chemistryadvising@ucsc.edu.

All appeals must contain the following information at the top of the appeal letter:

  • Full name

  • Student ID number

  • Major you wish to declare

In the body of your appeal letter, explain the extenuating circumstances that influenced your academic performance. Identify solutions/resources you are using or intend to use to improve your academic performance in the future. Include anything else you feel is relative to explaining your circumstance. 

Note: The information you share in your appeal or with your advisors will be kept confidential and shared only with campus officials as required to serve you in an advising capacity or process your appeal. However, in limited circumstances, including those related to potential harm to yourself or others, sexual assault, and abuse, we may be required by law to report incidents you disclose to other need-to-know offices on campus such as the Title IX Office and/or University of California Police Department. If you are in need of support for any issues, please see the list of confidential and/or support resources.

Within 15 days of receipt of the appeal, the department will notify the student and their affiliated college of the decision. For more information about the appeal process, see the Appeal Process under How to Qualify and Declare for the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major on the Chemistry and Biochemistry website.

Letter Grade Policy

Students must take all courses for a letter grade and earn a grade of C or better in each course.

Course Substitution Policy

At least half of the upper-division courses (numbered 100–199) required for any biochemistry and molecular biology major must be taken through the chemistry or biology programs at UC Santa Cruz, not as transfer credits from another department or institution. Students are advised to contact the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department undergraduate advisor before enrolling in upper-division courses at other institutions.

Double Majors and Major/Minor Combinations Policy

A student cannot double major/minor in BMB and any other major/minor offered by the departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and MCD Biology.

Honors

Department Honors in the majors are awarded to graduating students whose academic performance demonstrates excellence at a GPA of 3.5 or above in required major coursework. Department 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 in required major coursework.

Program Planning Notes

Students who do not begin the lower-division requirements during their first year, and who do not complete the organic chemistry requirements by the end of their second year, will have difficulty completing the program within four years. The BMB undergraduate academic advisor works closely with students interested in pursuing the major to ensure that they begin the program immediately and follow the appropriate steps toward completion.

It is strongly recommended that students avail themselves of the opportunities to obtain firsthand research experience through either independent study, a course-based undergraduate research experience, senior thesis research, or by working in a faculty research lab.

Materials Fee

Biochemistry and molecular biology students should be aware of the materials fee required for some laboratory courses. The fee is billed to the student’s account for specific laboratory materials purchased through the university. Students may incur additional expenses purchasing individual supplies.

Requirements and Planners

Course Requirements

Lower-Division Courses

General Chemistry
Either these courses

CHEM 1AGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1BGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1CGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1MGeneral Chemistry Laboratory

2

CHEM 1NGeneral Chemistry Laboratory

2

or these courses

CHEM 4AAdvanced General Chemistry: Molecular Structure and Reactivity

5

CHEM 1MGeneral Chemistry Laboratory

2

CHEM 4BAdvanced General Chemistry: Molecular Structure and Reactivity

5

CHEM 1NGeneral Chemistry Laboratory

2

Calculus
Either these courses

MATH 11ACalculus with Applications

5

MATH 11BCalculus with Applications

5

or these courses

MATH 19ACalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

MATH 19BCalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

Statistics
Either this course

STAT 5Statistics

5

or these courses

STAT 7Statistical Methods for the Biological, Environmental, and Health Sciences

5

STAT 7LStatistical Methods for the Biological, Environmental, and Health Sciences Laboratory

2

Intro Biology
BIOL 20ACell and Molecular Biology

5

BIOE 20BDevelopment and Physiology

5

AND

One of these courses

BIOL 20LExperimental Biology Laboratory

2

BIOL 102JToxic RNA Lab I

5

BIOL 107JSynthetic Gene Regulation Lab I

5

Organic Chemistry
CHEM 8AOrganic Chemistry

5

CHEM 8LOrganic Chemistry Laboratory

2

CHEM 8BOrganic Chemistry

5

CHEM 8MOrganic Chemistry Laboratory

2

Physics
Either these courses

PHYS 5AIntroduction to Physics I

5

PHYS 5LIntroduction to Physics I Laboratory

1

PHYS 5BIntroduction to Physics II

5

PHYS 5MIntroduction to Physics II Laboratory

1

PHYS 5CIntroduction to Physics III

5

PHYS 5NIntroduction to Physics Laboratory III

1

or these courses

PHYS 6AIntroductory Physics I

5

PHYS 6LIntroductory Physics I Laboratory

1

PHYS 6BIntroductory Physics II

5

PHYS 6MIntroductory Physics II Laboratory

1

PHYS 6CIntroductory Physics III

5

PHYS 6NIntroductory Physics III Laboratory

1

A student may combine the PHYS 5 series with the PHYS 6 series to complete this portion of the major requirement(s). For example, a student can take and complete PHYS 5A and PHYS 5L and then take and complete PHYS 6B and PHYS 6M and PHYS 6C and PHYS 6N. Please note:  students may begin in the 5 series then move into the 6 series, but not from the 6 series into the 5 series.

Upper-Division Courses

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
BIOC 100ABiochemistry and Molecular Biology

5

BIOC 100BBiochemistry and Molecular Biology

5

BIOC 100CBiochemistry and Molecular Biology

5

and one of these courses:
BIOL 101LMolecular Biology Laboratory

2

BIOL 102LToxic RNA Lab II

5

BIOL 107LSynthetic Gene Regulation Lab II

5

CHEM 160KBiochemistry Research Laboratory

5

Genetics
BIOL 105Genetics

5

Cell Biology
BIOL 110Cell Biology

5

Eukaryotic Molecular Biology
BIOL 115Eukaryotic Molecular Biology

5

Physical Chemistry
BIOC 163AQuantum Mechanics, Spectroscopy and Molecular Structure for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

5

BIOC 163BBiochemical Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

5

Students may substitute CHEM 163A and CHEM 163B for this requirement, but please be aware of the MATH 22 prerequisite for CHEM 163A and CHEM 163B.

Senior Exit Lab

One of the following laboratory courses (also satisfies the Disciplinary Communication (DC) and Comprehensive Requirement):

BIOC 110LAdvanced Biochemistry Laboratory

5

BIOL 100LBiochemistry Laboratory

5

BIOL 103LToxic RNA Lab III

5

BIOL 105LEukaryotic Genetics Laboratory

5

BIOL 106LEukaryotic Genetic Engineering

5

BIOL 108LSynthetic Gene Regulation Lab III

5

BIOL 109LYeast Molecular Genetics Laboratory

5

BIOL 115LEukaryotic Molecular Biology Laboratory

5

BIOL 121LEnvironmental Phage Biology Laboratory

5

BIOL 186LUndergraduate Research in MCD Biology

5

CHEM 160LBiochemistry Research Laboratory

5

METX 119LMicrobiology 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 Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is satisfied by completing one of the Senior Exit Labs listed in the previous section.   

The DC requirement must be satisfied at UC Santa Cruz and may not be transferred from another institution.

Comprehensive Requirement

Students must satisfy the comprehensive requirement by receiving a passing letter grade in any of the Senior Exit Labs listed in the previous section. In addition, students are encouraged to get research experience by working in a faculty research lab.

Planners

The tables below are for informational purposes and do not reflect all university, general education, and credit requirements. See Undergraduate Graduation Requirements for more information.

In addition to the specific courses shown in these planners, a student must complete courses satisfying the TA, IM, PE, PR, CC, ER and C campus general education requirements.

This is the ideal academic plan for those pursuing the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology B.S. major. Please see an academic advisor in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department to create your specific official academic plan.

Sample Four-Year Planner

  Fall Winter Spring
 1st (frosh) MATH 11A
or MATH 19A 

MATH 11B
or MATH 19B  

BIOL 20A

CHEM 1B & CHEM 1M or  

CHEM 1A  or

CHEM 4A and CHEM 1M 

CHEM 1A or

CHEM 1B & CHEM 1M or   

CHEM 4B & CHEM 1N

CHEM 1C & CHEM 1N
(not required if CHEM 4 series completed)

     
2nd (soph) BIOE 20B PHYS 6A & PHYS 6L PHYS 6B and PHYS 6M
CHEM 8A & CHEM 8L CHEM 8B & CHEM 8M BIOL 20L*
     
3rd (junior) BIOC 100A BIOC 100B BIOC 100C
PHYS 6C & PHYS 6N BIOL 105 BIOL 101L**
  *MATH 22 (optional)  
 4th (senior) BIOL 110

BIOC 163A***

BIOC 163***

STAT 5 or

STAT 7 and STAT 7L

BIOL 115 Senior Exit Lab

*Either BIOL 102J or BIOL 107J may be substituted for BIOL 20L.  Both BIOL 102J and 107J are taught in Fall and require an application for enrollment.

**Either BIOL 102L, BIOL 107L, or CHEM160K may be substituted for BIOL 101L. These courses are only taught in Winter and require the completion of BIOL 102J, BIOL 107J, and CHEM160J respectively, and application for enrollment.

***CHEM 163A and CHEM 163B may be substituted for BIOC 163A and BIOC 163B.

Please note: the CHEM series is taught fall and winter, respectively, while the BIOC series is taught winter and spring, respectively. MATH 22 (taught only in winter and summer), is a prerequisite for CHEM 163A and CHEM 163B but is not a prerequisite for BIOC 163A and CHEM 163B.

Courses are subject to being offered in different terms. Please check departmental websites for updates on course offerings.

Three of the required general education requirements will be fulfilled by the major requirements listed in the above planner (MF, SI & SR). In addition to the specific courses shown in these planners, students will also need to complete courses satisfying the following general education requirements: Cross-Cultural Analysis, Ethnicity & Race, Interpreting Arts & Media, Textual Analysis, Perspectives, and Practice. College advisors assist students with questions relating to General Education requirements.

Sample Transfer Two-Year Planner

This is the ideal planner for students who have transferred in with both the required and highly recommended UC Transfer Pathway courses. Note: Failure to complete both the required and highly recommended courses prior to transfer may require additional time to degree. Please refer to the following sample academic planner that details student plans with only the minimum transfer requirements completed. Please see an academic advisor in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department to create your specific official academic plan.

Sample Transfer Two-Year Planner

  Fall Winter Spring
1st (junior) BIOC 100A BIOC 100B BIOC 100C
PHYS 6A & PHYS 6L   BIOL105 BIOL 101L

 

PHYS 6B & PHYS 6M   PHYS 6C and PHYS 6N  
 2nd (senior) BIOL 110

BIOC 163A

BIOC 163B

STAT 5

or STAT 7 & STAT 7L
BIOL 115 Senior Exit Lab
     

UC Transfer Pathway courses:

Courses are subject to being offered in different terms. Please check departmental websites for updates on course offerings.