2019-2020 Undergraduate Degree Requirements, College of Biological Sciences

These Catalog Requirements start with the 2019-2020 academic year. For information on prior years, go to 2018-2019 Catalog Requirements 
All students in the College of Biological Sciences must satisfy the following college requirements in addition to satisfying the University Requirements and the General Education Requirements (on pages 107 and 109) of the UC Davis General Catalogue.

Unit Requirements

Total Units. Complete no less than 180 units allowing for the unit credit limitations listed below. No student may exceed 225 units in their academic career without approval of the Dean. Units earned in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams are not counted toward this 225-unit limit. Upon reaching 200 units, a student must submit a quarter-by-quarter graduation plan to the Biology Academic Success Center or a hold will be placed on their registration.

Upper Division Units. Complete 64 upper division units.

Unit Credit Limitations

  • Passed/Not Passed Units. All courses used to satisfy major requirements must be taken on a letter-graded basis, unless courses are only offered on a Passed/Not Passed basis.
    The Academic Senate limits the total number of courses graded P, including units earned in courses graded “P/NP only,” to one third of the units completed on the UC Davis campus.
  • Physical Education. Maximum of 6 units of Physical Education 1, 6 and similar physical activity courses including transfer work.
  • Transfer work. Maximum of 105 units of credit earned at two-year institutions (community college).
  • Graduate Courses. Units from courses in the 200 series (with the exception of course 299) may apply toward the minimum 64-unit upper division requirement and/or as a substitution for undergraduate courses in the major under the following conditions:
  • Students must obtain written permission from the course instructor and the master advisor for their major.
  • The master advisor will confirm that students have a minimum 3.400 GPA in the major at the time that they register for the course.
  • Professional and teaching courses. Maximum of 9 units in courses numbered 300-399 and 400-499. These units may not be applied toward the 64-unit upper division requirement.
  • Upper division standing. Must complete 84 units before enrolling in 192, 194H and 199 to receive degree and upper division credit.
  • Special Study. No more than 5 units per quarter of Special Study courses (99, 194H, 199).
  • Nonstandard Courses. Maximum of 20 units of nonstandard courses including transfer work.*
    Nonstandard courses are defined here as tutoring, internship, research, research conference, honors research and similar course activities. Some examples of these courses are, but are not limited to, courses numbered 90C, 91, 92, 92C, 97T, 97TC, 99, 189, 190C, 191, 192, 192C, 193, 194H, 197T, 197TC, 199, etc. Courses numbered 98 or 198 are not included in this 20-unit limitation.
    There are additional unit credit limitations on tutoring and internship units.
    • Tutoring. Maximum of 3 tutoring units including but not limited to 97T, 197T, 97TC and 197TC.
    • Internship. A maximum of 6 internship units including but not limited to 92, 192, 92C, 192C.

* Specific exceptions to these limits may be granted by the Committee on Undergraduate Petitions based on the uniqueness of the experiences and their concordance with the petitioner's educational objectives.

Credit for Open Campus (Concurrent) Courses

Students may apply credit for courses taken in the Open Campus (Concurrent) Program through UC Davis Extension towards the 180-unit undergraduate degree requirement. The grade points earned when enrolled in Open Campus courses will count toward the calculation of a student's UC GPA upon his/her admission or readmission to regular student status at UC Davis. However, the units earned do not satisfy the university residence requirement. Students registered at UC Davis may not enroll in Open Campus courses.

Residence Requirement

Meet university residence requirement. No additional college residence requirements.

Scholarship Requirement

Students must attain at least a 2.000 GPA for all courses required in their major. Students must also attain a 2.000 GPA in all Depth Subject Matter courses required in their major. Students who fail to maintain a 2.000 GPA in courses required for their major over two consecutive quarters may be required to withdraw from the major.

  • Repeating Courses. Students may repeat courses once in which they received a grade of D+ or less. To repeat a course more than once, students must petition the Dean for approval prior to enrolling in the course.
  • Passed/Not Passed Grading Option. All courses used to satisfy major requirements must be taken on a letter-graded basis, unless courses are only offered on a Passed/Not Passed basis.

English Composition Requirement

English Composition may be satisfied in one of two ways:

  1. Completing 8 units, to include 4 upper division units, in English composition courses with at least a C- or Passed grade from the following list: Comparative Literature 1, 2, 3, 4, English 3, Native American Studies 5, University Writing Program 1, 18, 19, 101, 102 series, or 104 series.


  1. Passing the English Composition Examination, administered by the University Writing Program, upon completion of 70 units of degree credit. This examination does not yield credit. Students interested in entering the health science field should check with the Health Professions Advising office or the Biology Academic Success Center before choosing this option.

English Composition Examination. The no-fee, no-unit examination is typically offered on a Saturday in October, January, and April. For specific dates, see http://writing.ucdavis.edu/compexam/

If students choose to take this challenge exam, they are strongly advised to do so in their junior year. Register for the English Composition Examination at http://writing.ucdavis.edu/compexam/ from the Monday before the exam date until Friday at noon or until no spaces remain. The AWPE/Upper-Division Composition Examination form, available at the UC Davis Bookstore, is required. It is recommended that students with disabilities contact the Student Disability Center 530-752-3184 and the University Writing Program 530-752-6283 at least two weeks prior to the exam date to arrange accommodations. No examinations are given during the summer.

Additional Bachelor of Arts Requirements

Bachelor of Arts degrees are available in Biological Sciences; Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity; Microbiology; and Plant Biology. These degrees offer students an opportunity to broaden their education while pursuing a rigorous life science major.

Candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degrees must complete two additional requirements.

  1. Foreign Language. The requirement can be met in one of three ways:
  • Complete with passing grades 15 quarter units of college level course work, or the equivalent thereof, in a single language.
  • Attain a minimal score prescribed by the Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum and Educational Policy, in the College Entrance Examination Board Achievement Test in Foreign Language, which may be taken at any time during the student's high school career, or any other achievement test approved by the Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum and Educational Policy.
  • Placement beyond the 15-unit level on a placement/proficiency examination offered by one of the foreign language departments of the University.
  1. Breadth Requirements. Satisfaction of the campus General Education requirement (or IGETC for transfer students) in effect Fall 2011 will satisfy the Breadth requirement. Students that matriculated prior to Fall 2011 have the option of completing the Breadth Requirement specified in the College of Biological Sciences regulations prior to this revision. Completion of a minor in the humanities, social sciences or fine arts can offer structure and coherence to the courses selected for the satisfaction of the requirement.

Declaration of Major/Undeclared—Life Sciences

Students must declare a major by 90 units. A hold will be placed on a student's registration if he/she is still undeclared after completing 90 UC Davis units.

All changes of major and college must be completed before the beginning of the student's quarter of graduation.

Students who are enrolled in a major administered by the College of Biological Sciences and students who are Undeclared-Life Sciences see a staff advisor in the Biology Academic Success Center for their major, university, general education, and college academic advising. Master faculty advisers are also available in the department that houses their major, as listed in the catalog, or at the Biology Academic Success Center.

Degree Check

Students are encouraged to meet with their academic advisor at least once a year to ensure timely graduation. Students are required to consult a Biology Academic Success Center academic advisor at three points in their academic careers:

  • In their first two quarters on the Davis campus.
  • Before accumulating 90 units.
  • Before accumulating 135 units.
  • In addition, if you are taking courses which, if passed, will cause your unit total to exceed 200 units and you intend to register for the next quarter, you must file a plan with your advisor that leads to graduation within 225 units. If the plan anticipates registering after you have accumulated 225 units, the plan must be submitted to the Dean for approval.
If you do not meet any of these advising requirements, a hold may be placed on your registration.

Degree Requirement Changes or Catalog Rights

On occasion, the faculty makes changes in the requirements that students must satisfy to obtain the baccalaureate degree. So that you will not be penalized by changes that may work to your disadvantage and so that you will benefit by changes that assist you in completing your degree requirements, it is college policy that you may choose to fulfill the university and college requirements (see General Education Requirement for an exception) as stated in any UC Davis General Catalog in effect at the time you were registered at UC Davis. If you have transferred to UC Davis from a community college, state college, or another university, you may follow the requirements as stated in any UC Davis General Catalog in effect either during the three years immediately preceding your transfer to UC Davis or at the time you first registered at that institution, whichever is most recent. Once you have chosen the year of the General Catalog under which you wish to be governed, you must satisfy all of the university and college requirements specified in that catalog.

With respect to the completion of your major requirements, most of the majors in the College of Biological Sciences require completion of the major degree requirements in effect at the time you officially declared your major. However, because departments differ in how they handle these matters, check with your BASC academic advisor if you have any questions about your major requirements.