Bachelor of Science in Biology: Concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology
Coursework in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics prepares students for advanced studies in cell and molecular biology. The program is also recommended for pre-medical students because it allows students to take the majority of courses required for admission to medical school in the process of completing this major. (For more information, see Pre-health Professions.)
General Information and Requirements
- Candidates entering the bachelor’s programs in biology should have completed three years of high school mathematics and one year of high school chemistry to allow completion of the curriculum in a timely fashion (see Undergraduate Admission Requirements).
- All major coursework must be completed with letter grades (CR/NC is not acceptable).
- A minimum grade point average of 2.0 in all coursework is required to receive a degree in these programs.
- To remain enrolled in a biology course, students must be prepared to provide copies of transcripts demonstrating completion of prerequisite courses with a grade of C- or better.
- At least 12 units in biology must be completed at SF State.
- Early in the first semester, and at regular intervals thereafter, students must consult with a biology advisor to plan a program of study. For the most current advising information, go to biology.sfsu.edu.
Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)
Students must earn a C or better in a GWAR course to satisfy the requirement.
Cell & Molecular Biology majors should take BIOL 351GW.
See also the Department of Biology home page for GWAR in Biology: biology.sfsu.edu/content/gwar or contact a departmental advisor for further information.
The department does not permit multiple concentrations within the biology degree program. All of the curricula require preliminary work in physics and chemistry because many important biological concepts are based squarely upon principles in the physical sciences. Also, each curriculum includes upper-division work in the biological sciences so that students will receive reasonable breadth and depth in their degree program. Because of the sequential arrangement of courses students are urged to consult the descriptions for the prerequisites of all their courses.
Although course electives are listed for most of the majors, new electives are always being added to various programs. Therefore, we highly recommend that students seek advisement prior to enrolling in elective courses in their major.
Program Learning Outcomes
Understanding the process of science: students can design an experiment with the appropriate control groups to test a hypothesis.
Quantitative reasoning: students can interpret a graph or dataset to determine if the results of an experiment support or reject a hypothesis.
Relationship between science and society: students can weigh the costs and benefits to society of the use of recent scientific and technological developments.
Evolution: students can explain the role that variation between individuals plays in the processes of natural selection and evolution.
Relationship between structure and function: students can explain how a change in the structural characteristics of a molecule, tissue, or organism will affect its function.
Information flow and storage: students can describe the mechanisms of information flow in classical and molecular genetics and predict the outcomes of crosses.
Pathways and transformation of matter and energy: students can explain how a carbon molecule flows through a biological process or system.
Systems (i.e., Living systems are interconnected and interacting): students can predict the consequences of how a change in one aspect of a biological or complex system will affect other aspects of the system.
Biology (B.S.): Concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology — minimum 60 units
General Education Requirements Met in the Major
The requirements below are deemed “met in the major” upon completion of the courses listed (even though the courses and their prerequisites are not approved for GE). This is true whether or not the student completes the major.
- Area B2 (Life Science) is satisfied upon completion of BIOL 240.
- Upper-Division General Education, Physical, and Life Sciences (UD–B) is satisfied upon completion of BIOL 355.
Lower-Division Requirements (32-35 units)
|BIOL 230||Introductory Biology I||5|
|BIOL 231||Advising for Success as a Biology Major||1|
|BIOL 240||Introductory Biology II||5|
|CHEM 115||General Chemistry I: Essential Concepts of Chemistry 1||5|
& CHEM 216
|General Chemistry II: Quantitative Applications of Chemistry Concepts|
and General Chemistry II Laboratory: Quantitative Applications of Chemistry Concepts
|Select one organic chemistry sequence: 1||3-6|
|General Organic Chemistry 1|
|Organic Chemistry I|
and Organic Chemistry II 1
|MATH 226||Calculus I 1||4|
& PHYS 112
|General Physics I|
and General Physics I Laboratory
Upper-Division Requirements (19 units)
|BIOL 350||Cell Biology||3|
|BIOL 351GW||Experiments in Cell and Molecular Biology - GWAR||4|
|BIOL 357||Molecular Genetics||3|
Upper-Division Electives (9 units)
One elective must be a lab course.
|BIOL 328||Human Anatomy 2||4|
|BIOL 332||Health Disparities in Cancer||3|
|BIOL 344GW||Research Skills - GWAR||3|
|BIOL 356||Honors Genetics||2|
|BIOL 358||Forensic Genetics: Math Matters||4|
|BIOL 380||Evolutionary Developmental Biology||3|
|BIOL 382||Developmental Biology||3|
|BIOL 391||Microscopy and Photomicrography 2||2|
|BIOL 401||General Microbiology||3|
|BIOL 411||Environmental Microbiology||3|
|BIOL 420||General Virology||3|
|BIOL 425||Emerging Diseases||3|
|BIOL 430||Medical Microbiology||3|
|BIOL 431||Medical Microbiology Laboratory 2||2|
|BIOL 436||Immunology Laboratory 2||2|
|BIOL 442||Microbial Physiology||3|
|BIOL 443||Microbial Physiology Laboratory 2||2|
|BIOL 446||Microbial Genomics||4|
|BIOL 453||General Parasitology||3|
|BIOL 454||Parasitology Laboratory 2||1|
|BIOL 482||Ecology 2||4|
|BIOL 490||Ecology of Infectious Diseases||4|
|BIOL 525||Plant Physiology||3|
|BIOL 526||Plant Molecular Physiology Laboratory 2||2|
|BIOL 612||Human Physiology||3|
|BIOL 621||Reproductive Physiology||3|
|BIOL 622||Hormones and Behavior||3|
|BIOL 644||LEADerS Service Learning Course: Learners Engaged in Advocating for Diversity in Science||4|
|or BIOL 654||Peer Assistants for Learning Science (PALS)|
|BIOL 615||Molecular Pathophysiology||3|
|BIOL 630||Animal Physiology||3|
|BIOL 638||Bioinformatics and Genome Annotation||4|
|BIOL 640||Cellular Neurosciences||3|
|BIOL 642||Neural Systems Physiology||3|
|BIOL 699||Independent Study in Biology||1-3|
Students who plan to pursue a Ph.D. should complete at least two semesters of calculus and one semester of physical chemistry.
Fulfills upper-division laboratory class requirement.
General Education Requirements
|Requirement||Course Level||Units||Area Designation|
|Written English Communication I||LD||3||A2|
|Arts or Humanities||LD||3||C1 or C2|
|Social Sciences: US History||LD||3||D2|
|Social Sciences: US & CA Government||LD||3||D3|
|Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD)||LD||3||E|
|Physical and/or Life Science||UD||3||UD-B|
|Arts and/or Humanities||UD||3||UD-C|
|SF State Studies|
|Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), a major or minor, or an elective.|
|American Ethnic and Racial Minorities||LD or UD||3||AERM|
|Environmental Sustainability||LD or UD||3||ES|
|Global Perspectives||LD or UD||3||GP|
|Social Justice||LD or UD||3||SJ|
Note: LD = Lower-Division; UD = Upper-Division.
First-Time Student Roadmap (4 Year)
Find the correct roadmap (A, B, C, or D):
- Select the row that matches your English Course choice for A2.*
- Select the column that matches your QR Category (found at your student center under Math Alert).
- Click the Roadmap that lines up with your row and column.
For example, if you are taking ENG 104 as your first English course and your student center math alert says you are QR Category III, you should choose Roadmap D.
|Pathway||QR Cat I/II||QR Cat III/IV|
|ENG 114||Roadmap A||Roadmap C|
|ENG 104/ENG 105||Roadmap B||Roadmap D|
Transfer Student Roadmap (2 Year)
For students with an AS-T in Biology. This roadmap opens in a new tab.
This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Biology
California legislation SB 1440 (2009) mandated the creation of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) to be awarded by the California Community Colleges. Two types of ADTs are awarded: Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T).
Note: no specific degree is required for admission as an upper-division student. However, the ADT includes specific guarantees related to admission and graduation and is designed to clarify the transfer process and strengthen lower-division preparation for the major.
An ADT totals 60 units and in most cases includes completion of all lower-division General Education requirements and at least 18 units in a specific major. (The Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science AS-T degrees defer 3 units in lower-division GE area C and 3 units in lower-division GE area D until after transfer.) Students pursuing an ADT are guaranteed admission to the CSU if minimum eligibility requirements are met, though not necessarily to the CSU campus of primary choice.
Upon verification that the ADT has been awarded prior to matriculation at SF State, students are guaranteed B.A. or B.S. completion in 60 units if pursuing a “similar” major after transfer. Determinations about “similar” majors at SF State are made by faculty in the discipline.
Degree completion in 60 units cannot be guaranteed when a student simultaneously pursues an additional major, a minor, certificate, or credential.
A sample advising roadmap for students who have earned an ADT and continue in a "similar" major at SF State is available on the Roadmaps tab on the degree requirements page for the major. The roadmap displays:
- How many lower-division units required for the major have been completed upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
- Which lower-division requirements are considered complete upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
- How to complete the remaining 60 units for the degree in four semesters.
Students who have earned an ADT should seek advising in the major department during the first semester of attendance.
General Advising Information for Transfer Students
- Before transfer, complete as many lower-division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
- The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
- a course in U.S. History
- a course in U.S. & California Government
For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), please visit http://www.assist.org. Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine:
- Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower-division major requirements for this major;
- Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government requirements.
Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 semester units/90 quarter units required for admission.
Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper-division transfer (for example, if a course was not passed on the first attempt or was taken to earn a better grade).
Before leaving the last California Community College of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower-division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.
Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding the award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.
Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower-division General Education in Areas C and D until after transfer to focus on preparation courses for the major. This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.
Transferring From Institutions Other Than CCCs or CSUs
Review SF State's lower-division General Education requirements. Note that, as described below, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3, and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower-division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.
Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. To review more information about the A3 requirement, please visit bulletin.sfsu.edu/undergraduate-education/general-education/lower-division/#AAEL.
Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.
All Students Must Meet the Transfer Eligibility Requirements Outlined Below for Admission.
For more information, visit the Undergraduate Admissions section.
- Complete 60 or more transferable semester units or 90 or more quarter units.
- Earn a college grade point average of 2.0 or better in all transferable courses. Non-local area residents may be held to a higher GPA standard.
- Be in good standing at the last college or university attended.
- Complete 30-semester units (45-quarter units) of General Education, including four basic skills courses:
- One course in oral communication (same as CSU GE Area A1)
- One course in written composition (same as CSU GE Area A2)
- One course in critical thinking (same as CSU GE Area A3)
- One course in mathematics or quantitative reasoning (same as CSU GE Area B4)
- The four basic skills courses and a minimum of 60 transferable semester units (90-quarter units) must be completed by the spring semester prior to fall admission, or by the fall semester prior to spring admission. Earn a C- or better grade in each basic skills course.