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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 Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology 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.

Given the wide scope and interdisciplinary nature of this program, a considerable degree of flexibility has been incorporated into the major. All prospective majors should see the BMB academic adviser in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department Office as early as possible. Junior transfer students or others with questions should consult the program website. A double major of BMB with the biological sciences majors or chemistry is not permitted. No minor is offered.

Academic Advising for the Program

The Chemistry and Biochemistry adviser provides counsel to undergraduate majors. Students are encouraged to seek out advising and assistance in planning their academic career 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.

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. Students taking chemistry at UC Santa Cruz begin with CHEM 1A or CHEM 1B, both of which require a strong background in high school chemistry.

Prerequisites

In order to determine what preparation may be needed to succeed in the general chemistry sequence , CHEM 1A, CHEM 1B, and CHEM 1C students are encouraged to take the  Chemistry Self-Assessment Examination.

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. The program learning outcomes clearly communicate the faculty’s expectations to students, provide a framework for faculty evaluation of the curriculum based on empirical data, and help improve and measure the impact of implemented changes.

Students graduating with a B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology should be able to:

  • demonstrate mastery of a broad set of chemical knowledge concerning the fundamentals in the basic areas of the discipline (organic, inorganic, analytical, physical, and biochemistry);
  • 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 a topic, chemical, chemical technique, or an issue relating to chemistry;
  • know and follow the proper procedures and regulations for safe handling and use of chemicals;
  • understand the objective of their chemical 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.

Major Qualification Policy and Declaration Process

Major Qualification

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

CHEM 1BGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1CGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 8AOrganic Chemistry

5

CHEM 8BOrganic Chemistry

5

BIOL 20ACell and Molecular Biology

5

Note that since CHEM 1A is prerequisite for CHEM 1C, students must also complete CHEM 1A with a grade of C or better. Transfer students must have a full year of general chemistry. 

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

Plus one of the following options:
Either this course

MATH 11ACalculus with Applications

5

or this course

MATH 19ACalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

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.

Appeal Process

Students who are informed that they are not eligible to declare the major may appeal by submitting a letter to the chemistry adviser within 15 days from the date the notification was sent. 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 on our website.

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 UC Santa Cruz as frosh are required to be formally declared in a major 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.

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 Chemistry website. For assistance, please contact chemistry advising at chemistryadvising@ucsc.edu.

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.

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 1BGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1CGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 8AOrganic Chemistry

5

CHEM 8BOrganic Chemistry

5

BIOL 20ACell and Molecular Biology

5

Plus one of the following options:
Either this course

MATH 11ACalculus with Applications

5

or this course

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 CHEM 8B or be currently enrolled in it prior to transfer matriculation. This requirement will be applied to students entering UCSC in fall 2022 and thereafter.

Prospective students are encouraged to prioritize required and recommended major preparation, and may additionally complete courses that articulate to UC Santa Cruz general education requirements as time allows.

For more information on qualifying for the major as a transfer applicant, see the Transfer Students webpage.

Students Entering at the Junior Level

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

MATH 22Introduction to Calculus of Several Variables

5

As well as one of the following:
Either this course

MATH 11BCalculus with Applications

5

or this course

MATH 19BCalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

The biochemistry major also requires one year of calculus-based physics with lab and one term of statistics before graduation from UCSC. Students can complete these courses at community college if their schedule allows, but the courses can also be completed after transfer without negatively affecting competitiveness for admission to UCSC.

Students who complete only the minimal introductory coursework prior to transfer may 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 UCSC 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 at UCSC as a Transfer Student

Transfer students are highly encouraged to meet with the chemistry academic adviser in their first quarter. For assistance with advising, please contact Chemistry Advising at chemistryadvising@ucsc.edu. More information specific to transfer students may also be found at our department website.

Students who have satisfied the screening requirements can declare their major any time after coming to UC Santa Cruz but are required to be declared in a major by the applicable deadline; in their second term at UCSC for students entering at the junior level. 

Transfer students who are proposed in a different major (other than chemistry) 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.

Letter Grade Policy

For all students entering UCSC in fall 2001 and later, all courses used to satisfy any of the major requirements must be taken for a letter grade.

Additionally, letter grades of C or higher must be attained in all major courses to meet requirements for graduation.

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 UCSC, not as transfer credits from another department or institution. Students are advised to contact the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department undergraduate adviser before enrolling in numerous upper-division courses at other institutions. For more information on transferring courses to UCSC, please consult the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department website.

Double Majors and Major/Minor Combinations Policy

A double major of BMB with the biological sciences majors or chemistry is not permitted. No minor is offered.

Honors

Honors in the majors are awarded to graduating students whose academic performance demonstrates excellence at a 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.

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 academic adviser 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 or senior thesis research.

A number of graduate courses in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology are offered by both the molecular, cell, and developmental biology (MCDB), and chemistry and biochemistry departments. Advanced undergraduates possessing the necessary prerequisites may take one or more of these courses with the consent of the instructor.

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. Fees generally range from $18 to $75 per course. Students may incur additional expenses purchasing individual supplies.

Requirements and Planners

Course Requirements

Lower-Division Courses

General Chemistry
CHEM 1AGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1BGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1MGeneral Chemistry Laboratory

2

CHEM 1CGeneral Chemistry

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

BIOL 20LExperimental Biology Laboratory

2

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

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

Either this course

BIOL 101LMolecular Biology Laboratory

2

or this course

BIOL 102LToxic RNA Lab II

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 but please be aware of the MATH 22 pre-requisite 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 109LYeast Molecular Genetics Laboratory

5

BIOL 115LEukaryotic Molecular Biology Laboratory

5

BIOL 121LEnvironmental Phage Biology Laboratory

5

BIOL 186LUndergraduate Research in MCD Biology

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 complete a senior thesis or a senior essay (see Chemistry and Biochemistry for more information).

Planners

This is the ideal academic plan for those pursuing the biochemistry and molecular biology B.S. major. If needed, this plan can be arranged differently.

Sample Four-Year Planner

  Fall Winter Spring
 1st (frosh) MATH 11A
or MATH 19A  
MATH 11B
or MATH 19B  
BIOL 20A
CHEM 1A CHEM 1B & CHEM 1M CHEM 1C & CHEM 1N
     
2nd (soph) BIOE 20B *MATH 22 (optional) BIOL 105
CHEM 8A & CHEM 8L CHEM 8B & CHEM 8M STAT 5
or STAT 7 & STAT 7L
  BIOL 20L  
3rd (junior) BIOC 100A BIOC 100B BIOC 100C
BIOL 101L PHYS 6A & PHYS 6L PHYS 6B & PHYS 6M
     
 4th (senior) BIOC 163A
or *CHEM 163A
BIOC 163B
or CHEM 163B
Senior exit lab
PHYS 6C & PHYS 6N BIOL 115 BIOL 110
     

*UC Transfer Pathway courses

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, a student will also need to complete courses satisfying the following general education requirements: Cross- Cultural Analysis, Ethnicity & Race, Interpreting Arts & Media, Textual Analysis & Interpretation, Perspectives, and Practice. 

Sample Transfer Two-Year Planner

For students who have transferred in with the recommended *UC Transfer Pathway courses. Note: Failure to do so may require additional time to degree. Please refer to the following academic planners that detail student plans with only the minimum transfer requirements completed.

Sample Transfer Two-Year Planner

  Fall Winter Spring
1st (junior) BIOC 100A BIOC 100B BIOC 100C
BIOL 101L     PHYS 6A & PHYS 6L PHYS 6B & PHYS 6M
STAT 5
or STAT 7 & STAT 7L
  BIOL 105
 2nd (senior) BIOC 163A
or *CHEM 163A
BIOC 163B
or CHEM 163B
Senior exit lab
PHYS 6C & PHYS 6N BIOL 115 BIOL 110
     

*UC Transfer Pathway courses

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