Majors and Minors
The major is a specific area of study chosen by each student that represents their main focus and interest in academia. CBS majors span a wide breadth of disciplines within the life sciences, and prepare student for careers in health and medicine, teaching and research, environmental and organismal study, as well as for continuing studies in graduate programs.
- Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
- Develop expertise in the chemistry of living organisms and study the structures and functions of molecules essential to life. The biochemistry and molecular biology major (Bachelor of Science) introduces students to the chemistry of living organisms and the experimental techniques that are used to probe the structures and functions of biologically important molecules. Students who enjoy both chemistry and biology and who are comfortable with quantitative approaches to problem solving will find this major a rewarding field of study.
- Biological Sciences
- Gain a broad overview of biology and learn how to describe the molecular and structural unity of many types of life, and explain how diversity of life is generated. The biological sciences major allows for a broad overview of biology and provides an opportunity to focus on a particular aspect of biology of interest to you. The core program includes courses in mathematics, general and organic chemistry, physics, biochemistry, and biology that emphasize breadth as well as depth.
- Cell Biology
- Explore how biomolecules interact with one another to organize themselves into cells, and how cellular organization and function contribute to the development, maintenance and reproduction of adult organisms. The cell biology major provides a comprehensive understanding of the cell, the basic structural and functional unit of all living organisms. The major will emphasize the principles that govern how biomolecules interact with one another to organize themselves into higher order structures that comprise cells and how cellular organization and function contribute to the development, maintenance, and reproduction of adult organisms.
- Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity
- Explore how plants, animals and microbes adapt to the environment and to each other and learn to predict whether populations of interacting organisms will persist over time or become extinct. You will learn about the diversity of life on Earth, including diversity in genes, physiology, shapes, sizes and behaviors. You will learn about how this diversity emerged, as plants, animals, and microbes become adapted to the environment and understand fundamental concepts that unify the biological sciences and form the foundation for efforts in the conservation and protection of the earth’s biodiversity.
- Genetics and Genomics
- Answer fundamental questions about how organisms inherit unique characteristics and transmit them to their offspring. The genetics and genomics major is designed to provide a broad background in the biological, mathematical, and physical sciences basic to the study of heredity and evolution. The major is sufficiently flexible to accommodate students interested in the subject either as a basic discipline in the biological sciences or in terms of its applied aspects such as biotechnology, medicine, and agriculture.
- Human Biology
- Understand our species, from molecules, genes, and cells to tissues, organ systems and organism/environment interactions. The Human Biology major provides students with a broad biological understanding of our species, from molecules, genes, and cells to tissues, organ systems and organism/environment interactions. It provides fundamental knowledge needed for a broad range of careers, including those in the areas of healthcare, biotechnology, public health, public policy, and education, and for advanced study in health-related disciplines, including medicine, dentistry, nursing, physical therapy, and pharmacy.
- Marine and Coastal Science - Marine Ecology and Organismal Biology
- Discover the foundational disciplines within marine science, including biology, chemistry, geology and physics and explore issues facing marine and coastal environments. The major in Marine and Coastal Science focuses on the interdisciplinary nature of marine sciences by exposing students to core, breadth, and focus area courses in the discipline, in addition to a strong foundation of science preparatory material. The major builds upon existing strengths at UC Davis in marine and coastal sciences as well as field-based courses offered at Bodega Marine Laboratory to provide students a unique, interdisciplinary, “hands on” education.
- Molecular and Medical Microbiology
- Microbiology is the branch of biology that deals with bacteria, yeasts and other fungi, algae, protozoa, and viruses. These microorganisms are ubiquitous in nature and play a crucial role in areas such as agriculture, biotechnology, ecology, medicine, and veterinary science. The field of microbiology contributes to areas of fundamental inquiry such as biochemistry, cell biology, evolution, genetics, molecular biology, pathogenesis, and physiology. This major is appropriate for students contemplating a career in medicine, various allied health professions including medical technology, or teaching.
- Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior
- All animals perform certain basic functions - they grow, reproduce, move, respond to stimuli and maintain homeostasis. The physiological mechanisms upon which these functions depend are precisely regulated and highly integrated through the actions of the nervous and endocrine systems to determine behavior and the interaction between organisms and their physical and social environments. Learn about the nervous system and tissues that make up learning, memory, sensation, perception, emotion and movement as well as how these responses contribute to an organism’s survival.
- Plant Biology
- Explore plants from the molecular and whole organismal perspectives, and their ecological relationship to other species within the environment. Plant biology is the study of plants as organisms. It includes disciplines of cellular and molecular plant biology and the traditional areas of botany, such as anatomy, morphology, systematics, physiology, mycology, phycology, ecology, and evolution, along with the newer disciplines of cellular and molecular plant biology. The plant biology major consists of core courses in applied plant biology, plant anatomy, plant physiology, and plant ecology, as well as biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics. Independent research opportunities in plant biology are available.
- Systems and Synthetic Biology
- Systems Biology aims to understand how complex organismal properties and structures arise from simple components and interactions, and to identify design principles common to many types of biological regulation. Synthetic Biology focuses on the modification (or, ultimately, de novo construction) of organisms to engineer pathways and processes. Learn how these two related and interdisciplinary fields allow integrative, computational and quantitative approaches to solving biological problems and engineering new biological outcomes.
- Undeclared Life Sciences
The Undeclared Life Sciences program allows incoming freshman students to explore their academic interests prior to major selection. The Undeclared Life Sciences program aims to encourage students to learn more about themselves while exploring the plethora of majors at UC Davis as well as help to define and focus their academic, personal and career goals.
A minor consists of 18—24 units of upper division coursework specified by the department offering the minor. Minors are an excellent way to develop skills and explore interests outside the chosen major. Because of the lower unit requirements to obtain a minor, many students pursue more than one.
- Biological Sciences
- This minor provides an opportunity for students in programs outside of the College of Biological Sciences to complement their studies with a concentration in biology. Students will experience the breadth of biology by taking courses in five core areas: molecular biology/ biochemistry, animal biology, plant biology, microbiology and ecology/evolution. Students majoring in Biological Sciences cannot pursue the Biological Sciences minor.
- Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity
- Learn about the diversity of life on Earth, including diversity in genes, physiology, shapes, sizes, and behaviors. You will learn about how this diversity emerged, as plants, animals, and microbes became adapted to the environment and to each other. And you will learn to predict whether populations of interacting organisms will persist over time. Students majoring in Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity cannot pursue the Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity minor.
- Exercise Biology
- Learn how physical activity levels impact human form and function, from physiological, biomechanical and behavioral perspectives. The courses are designed to foster intellectual curiosity, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, in the context of understanding organismal animal (including human) biology. Students majoring in Human Biology or Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior cannot pursue the Exercise Biology minor.
- Human Physiology
- This minor exposes students to general and specialized courses related to human biology including courses such as exercise and aging in health and disease and exercise metabolism. Students who obtain a human physiology minor will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the physiological processes that allow animals to function in their environment. This minor provides a foundation for further training in health-related professions. Student majoring in Human Biology or Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior cannot pursue the Human Physiology minor.
- This minor allows non-NPB majors to learn about the importance of the nervous system. The large breadth of neuroscience courses available includes molecular and cellular neurobiology, developmental neurobiology, neurobiology of addictive drugs and cell signaling in health and disease. Students who obtain a neuroscience minor will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the neurobiological processes in animals and humans. Students majoring in Human Biology or Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior cannot pursue the Neuroscience minor.
- Plant Biology
- This minor explores plants and their dynamic means of interacting with the environment. The Plant Biology minor has an 18-unit minimum requirement. Three areas of specialization are offered – (i) Anatomy and Morphology, Physiology and Development, (ii) Evolution and Ecology, and (iii) Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics – with a small, strategic course selection per area. Students majoring in Plant Biology cannot pursue the Plant Biology minor.
- Quantitative Biology and Bioinformatics
- This interdisciplinary minor introduces students to the quantitative and computational approaches that are redefining all disciplines of the biological sciences, from molecular and cell biology to genetics and physiology, ecology and evolutionary biology. Students will learn research tools that apply mathematical and computational methods, increase their insight into the strengths and limitations of quantitative approaches, and develop the interdisciplinary perspective that is now the foundation of modern biological research and training. This minor is open to all UC Davis undergraduates regardless of major.