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Recent Changes to the Biology Major

Effective for catalog year 2009/2010

  • General education courses in biology (Biol 3000, Biol 3020, Biol 4350 or Boty 4000) cannot be taken for degree completion. See F1 above for details.
  • 4 units of LD biology can count toward the degree (prior to this, 8 units).
  • Students who have not completed the ZOOL 1050/BOTY 1050 series must take the BIOL 1050/1150 series, but can receive 4 units of elective credit for the course they completed.
  • Required for the Biology Major- Evolution (BIOL 4400).
  • A maximum of 4 units of electives may be satisfied by independent study (4980), internship (4940) or teaching assistantship (4930).

Effective for catalog year 2011/2012

  • Concentration required: this must be chosen no later than the semester in which the student will have completed both BIOL 3310 and BIOL 3350.
  • BA students cannot have a concentration (new or old catalog).

Effective for catalog year 2013/2014

  • A maximum of 2 units may be satisfied by BIOL 4900 series courses or CR-graded coursework from courses graded exclusively CR/NC.
  • Electives units for all of concentrations reduced by 2: BioEd, 13 units; Ecol, 9 units; GenBio, 11 units; MMBio, 9 units; OrgBio, 8 units
  • Only students who have successfully completed either BOTY 1050 or ZOOL 1050 will be allowed to enroll in Fall 2009 to complete the sequence.
  • Because students have little if any chance to redeem a poor grade in BOTY/ZOOL 1050, the curriculum committee encourages faculty teaching these courses to be as lenient as they deem possible in setting the deadline for CR/NC grading.
  • After Fall 2009, students (here or at another institution) who pass either ZOOL 1050 or BOTY 1050 (but not both) may receive elective units and must enroll in the BIOL 1050/1150 sequence.
  • A two-semester majors Intro ZOOL/BOTY sequence (here or at another institution) is equivalent to BIOL 1050/1150.


  • All students must be advised before each registration period: once in the Fall for Winter and Spring terms and once in the Spring for Summer and Fall Terms. After the advising session, the Biology Department Office Staff clears the advising hold in the University computer, and the student may then register via any time after the designated registration date and time. Freshmen have priority, then Seniors, Juniors and Sophomores in terms of registration times.
  • Students are assigned an academic advisor, and it is the responsibility of the student to make an appointment during the advising period with the assigned advisor. This is usually the four weeks prior to priority registration. Students who miss an advising appointment must contact the advisor for an appointment at the convenience of the advisor.
  • Students initiate the advising process by signing up online under the Advising link on the Biology Department webpage. Students are also directed to the online advising form. Each student should fill in, print and bring the advising worksheet to the advising appointment. While students cannot save the changes they make online to their advising forms, faculty can update the worksheet from transcript information and save the changes as the student progresses through the major.
  • Office staff will pull student files and place them in the appropriate faculty boxes the afternoon prior to advising appointments. Included in that file should be an evaluation form from Admissions and Records (A&R), transcripts, an advising check list for the major and general education, and a sheet on which to write in the list of courses suggested for the coming term or terms. The A&R form will indicate degree being pursued, and any Concentration or minor. That form also indicates what if any General Education courses, W.P. course and placement tests (ELM, EPT) the student still needs to take. The form will also list courses in the major that the student has completed from other colleges. They usually do not list courses in other sciences or math (unless G.E.). Thus for each new student, it is necessary to examine the transcripts to see what chemistry, physics, math and biology courses the student has completed. A&R will miss some biology courses that we can count as electives (for example, human physiology, anatomy, bacteriology) if the course prefix varies from our own.

GE Advising

New students must pass the ELM and EPT (Math and English placement tests) before they can register for college level Math or English courses (unless they come here with completed Math or English composition courses or have been exempted by other test scores). If they do not pass a placement test, they must sign up for the appropriate remedial course at the earliest opportunity (the course to be taken depends upon their score on the tests; see Table below).

EPT Score Placement at Stanislaus State
0-147 ENGL 1000
148 and above ENGL 1001/1002


ELM Score Placement at Stanislaus State
0-32 MATH 0103 or Pre-Algebra
34-48 MATH 0110 or Intermediate math for Math/Science
50-80 Math 0106 or Intermediate Algebra for Non-Math/Science

General Education categories are outlined in the University Catalog (print and online). Courses approved for each area have been listed. One purpose of required advising is to prevent students take extra G.E. courses in areas already satisfied. By updating the department checklist or the evaluation sheet provided by A&R, each advisor can track the progress of G.E. and help students avoid duplication of G.E. courses. Our online advising worksheet provides a pull-down menu of course options for each of the G.E. areas.

The University prefers to have students complete area A (Communication Skills) and the Math portion of area B (Natural Sciences and Math) as soon as possible. Most biology majors will automatically complete area B (Natural Science and Mathematics) by completing prerequisites to the Major (exception might be B.A. students who do not have a specific math requirement but must complete a college level math class from list of approved courses).

Area C (Humanities) is met by a course out of area 1 and a course out of area 2 and either a course out of area 3 (Foreign Language) or a second course out of either area 1 or 2. Area D (Social, Economic, and Political Institutions and Human Behavior) is straightforward, except for area 1b for transfers from out of State. Each student must be certified in the U.S. Constitution and California State and Local Government. PSCI 1201 meets both of these requirements. A student transferring from out of State may have met the U.S. Constitution requirement but not the State requirement. They can either complete PSCI 1201 or pass a challenge exam offered by the Political Science department. Area E (Individual Resources for Modern Living) is straightforward.

Students are also required to complete 9 units of upper division G.E< courses, one course from each of three areas area F. They must have completed 60 units of coursework (or will exceed that number in the semester they enroll for an UD G.E. course) before enrolling in an upper division G.E. course. This area is straightforward except that students must complete a course outside of their major (i.e. for biology majors, BIOL 3000, BIOL 3020, BOTY 4000 or NSCI 3000 will not meet this requirement for area F1). (note 1 to advisors)

Area G (Multicultural Requirement) can be met either by a lower division course or an upper division course. A few of the approved courses can double count for this requirement and for another area of G.E. Students should be encouraged to try to find one that double counts.

Finally, all students are required to complete an upper division Writing Proficiency (WP) course. Students must take and pass the WPST, administered each term, before they can enroll in a WP course. If they take an approved course from their major, that they can use as electives in the major, then this is not an additional 3 units. The approved course for biology majors is Biol 4010 (Research and Technical Writing in Biology).

Prerequisites to the Major

All majors are required to complete an introductory year of biology with a lab component (BIOL 1050 and BIOL 1150). The prerequisite for these two courses is an A or B in high school biology, otherwise they are expected to take BIOL 1010 or equivalent. A two-semester majors Introductory ZOOL/BOTY sequence with labs (here or at another institution) is equivalent to BIOL 1050/1150. AP biology provides no units towards the prerequisites or major; an exception is an AP biology score of 8, which counts as 4 elective units in the major (students are still required to take BIOL 1050/1150).

Students having completed only BOTY 1050 or only ZOOL 1050 (or equivalent one term course) will be able to apply that course towards elective units; however, a two-semester series of introductory biology must be completed (note 2 to advisors).

All students must complete a year of Inorganic Chemistry and a semester of Organic Chemistry with lab, the latter is upper division here, but we accept a lower division course from elsewhere if it is 4 units, includes a lab, and was a course for science majors (Note: Chemistry will not accept LD Organic Chemistry as part of a chemistry minor). Students opting to complete the second semester of Organic Chemistry, with lab, are eligible for a minor in chemistry if they have passed all of these courses with at least a C grade (note 3 to advisors).

Majors pursuing a B.S. degree have a specific math requirement of either Statistics (MATH 1600 or 1610) or Calculus (MATH 1410 or 1910) with a minimum of 3 units. For most professional programs, Calculus is required; in general, biologists need knowledge of statistical methods. B.S. students are required to complete a year sequence of introductory physics (either calculus-based or not). Since physics is not a prerequisite for any other course, we usually recommend postponing the physics courses until after the completion of introductory biology and the three chemistry courses.

Core of Major

Cellular/Molecular Biology, Genetics & Evolution

Both BIOL 3310 (Cellular/Molecular Biology) and BIOL 3350 (Introduction to Genetics) have a year of biology and a year of general chemistry as prerequisites. The second genetics requirement is 2 units, but many of the options for this requirement are 3 unit courses. Any extra units here will count as electives in the major.  The majors Evolution course (BIOL 4400) is required for all students entering the program beginning with the Fall 2009 catalog.

Genetics and Biotechnology

All students are required to complete at least two upper division units for each concentration.

Structure and Function

All students are required to complete 4 units of upper division coursework in structure and function with a lab, an additional 4 units are required in the organismal concentration.


All students are required to complete 4 units of an upper division ecology course, except students in the ecology concentration requiring 8 units.

Diversity and Systemics

All students are required to complete 4-12 units of upper division diversity and systemics coursework, total units depending on their chosen concentration..


All students are required to complete 3-10 units of upper division complementary coursework, total units depending on their chosen concentration.

Electives in the Major

All B.A. students must complete 6 units of biology electives (a maximum of 4 units could be non-G.E. lower division courses such as human anatomy, human physiology, or certain applied courses in biology such as Plant Science, Animal Science from a community college). B.S. students must complete 8-12 units of electives, depending on their concentration, in biology (again, a maximum of 4 non-G.E. units could be lower division). For both the B.S. and B.A., a maximum of 2 total units from independent study, internship, teaching assistantship, colloquium (BIOL 4960 may be repeated but only one unit will apply toward the major), or a combination of these may apply toward the major. LD or UD G.E. courses may not count as electives toward the major.


Within either the B.A. or B.S. in Biological Sciences, students can elect to do one or more concentrations. Students must choose a concentration by the time they have completed BIOL 3310 and 3350, usually by the end of their sophomore year.  Students can complete multiple concentrations. Courses in concentrations also count as part of the core requirements or electives within the Biological Sciences major, and can be double-counted for the major and for the concentration. Therefore, usually, a student does not need to take extra units in order to complete a concentration. Courses required in more than one concentration that are also core or elective courses in the major, cannot be triple-counted; i.e., if a student is working towards more than one concentration, He/She probably will need to complete units beyond the minimum required for the major.

In order to graduate with a B.A. degree in Biology, students must complete a minimum of 25 upper division units in the major while B.S. graduates must have a minimum of 29 units in the major.

Faculty Advisors

Most faculty members in the Department of Biological Sciences are particularly interested in one or more concentrations or career goals, and students interested in particular areas usually seek faculty advisors with similar interests. Every student seeking a degree in Biological Sciences must have an advisor and must be advised during the advising period every fall semester for the following winter and spring terms, and every spring semester for the following summer and fall terms. Students can select any faculty member in Biological Sciences as the advisor, and can change advisors when interests change or for other reasons by submitting a change in advisor form that must be signed by their new advisor. This form is available in the main office and on the department web site.

Below is a list of concentrations and career goals, and faculty members who typically advise in these areas.

Concentration/Career Faculty Member
General Biology Any faculty member in the department
Ecology  Matthew Cover, Marina Gerson, Michael Fleming, Patrick Kelly, Ann Kohlhaas, Ken Schoenly
Molecular and Microbial Biology Choong-Min Kang, My Lo Thao, Janey Youngblom, Jim Youngblom
Organismal Biology Ritin Bhudari, Matthew Cover, Marina Gerson, Mark Grobner, Terry Jones, Patrick Kelly, Brian Sardella, Ken Schoenly.
Biology Education
(Liberal Studies, Biology
Concentration, Jr. or High School)
Micahel Fleming*, Marina Gerson, Mark Grobner, Ken Schoenly, Jim Youngblom
Health Professions All faculty, but especially Mark Grobner*


*Dr. Michael Fleming is the department's education specialist and should be sought out by students wishing to become teachers, especially at the Junior and Senior High School levels.

**Dr. Mark A. Grobner is the Chair of the Prehealth Professions Committee. The function of this committee is to help students with assembling application files for medical, dental, optometry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, and other health professions. The committee sends the completed file to all schools to which the student applies. It is in the student's best interest to go through this committee.


Notes to Faculty Advisors

  1. LD or UD G.E. courses may not count as electives toward the major.
  2. If students transfer in with a partially completed three-course sequence in introductory biology, we give them elective credit for the first course (if it is required to enroll in the other two courses). The student must complete our introductory sequence.
  3. While we do not have a strict department policy, we highly recommended that students not begin their chemistry until after passing their ELM test or completing their remedial math classes.
  4. When A & R completes a graduation evaluation for students they look only for the total number of upper division units completed, not at specific areas of the core and not at the 4 units of electives that can be lower division. The number of units they specify remaining in the major at the upper division level usually is lower than the actual number remaining.

Note: We do not have a minimal grade required in our prerequisite courses or in the major itself, except they must receive a passing grade. The University does require that they have an overall GPA of 2.0 (all courses) and a 2.0 in the major (defined as all upper division courses in biology).