Bachelor of Science in Biology: Concentration in Physiology

The Physiology program is designed to provide a firm foundation in physiology. Students interested in vertebrate, invertebrate, and plant physiology will find this concentration appropriate. The program is one commonly taken by students preparing for careers in the health professions. Please note, though, that it may be necessary to take courses in addition to those required for the concentration to satisfy the prerequisites for admission to graduate schools or health profession programs. It is strongly recommended that you speak with an advisor for assistance in creating an academic roadmap that satisfies the admission requirements for the specific health profession programs you intend to apply to.

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.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Understanding the process of science: Students can design an experiment with the appropriate control groups to test a hypothesis.

  2. Quantitative reasoning: Students can interpret a graph or dataset to determine if the results of an experiment support or reject a hypothesis.

  3. Relationship between science and society: Students can weigh the costs and benefits to society of the use of recent scientific and technological developments

  4. Evolution: Students can explain the role that variation between individuals plays in the processes of natural selection and evolution.

  5. 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.

  6. Information flow and storage: Students can describe the mechanisms of information flow in classical and molecular genetics and predict the outcomes of crosses.

  7. Pathways and transformation of matter and energy: Students can explain how a carbon molecule flows through a biological process or system.

  8. 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.

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)

Students must earn a C or better in a GWAR course to satisfy the requirement.

Biology majors have the flexibility for which GWAR course they can take to meet their requirement, as long as the prerequisites for the course have been completed.

Physiology majors may choose between BIOL 613GW or BIOL 631GW.

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.

Biology (B.S.): Concentration in Physiology — 59 units minimum

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.

The GWAR in the B.S. Biology: Concentration in Physiology can be satisfied with the physiology lab courses BIOL 613GW or BIOL 631GW. Note: Either BIOL 612 or BIOL 630 may be used as prerequisites or corequisites for either BIOL 613GW or BIOL 631GW.

Lower-Division Requirements (34-37 units)

BIOL 230Introductory Biology I5
BIOL 231Advising for Success as a Biology Major1
BIOL 240Introductory Biology II5
CHEM 115General Chemistry I: Essential Concepts of Chemistry5
CHEM 215General Chemistry II: Quantitative Applications of Chemistry Concepts3
Select one organic chemistry sequence:3-6
General Organic Chemistry 1
Organic Chemistry I
and Organic Chemistry II
MATH 226Calculus I4
Select one physics sequence:
General Physics I
and General Physics I Laboratory
and General Physics II
and General Physics II Laboratory
General Physics with Calculus I
and General Physics with Calculus I Laboratory
and General Physics with Calculus II
and General Physics with Calculus II Laboratory

Upper-Division Requirements (15-16 units)

CHEM 349General Biochemistry3
or CHEM 340 Biochemistry I
BIOL 337Evolution3
BIOL 355Genetics3
BIOL 612Human Physiology3
or BIOL 630 Animal Physiology
BIOL 613GWHuman Physiology Laboratory - GWAR3-4
or BIOL 631GW Animal Physiology Laboratory - GWAR

Upper Division Electives

Select 10 units from the classes below; at least 6 units must be chosen from among the Group A courses.

Group A courses
BIOL 328Human Anatomy4
BIOL 350Cell Biology3
BIOL 616Cardiorespiratory Physiology3
BIOL 617Environmental Physiology3
BIOL 618Biology of Aging3
BIOL 620Endocrinology3
BIOL 621Reproductive Physiology3
BIOL 622Hormones and Behavior3
BIOL 623Pharmacology3
BIOL 640Cellular Neurosciences3
BIOL 642Neural Systems Physiology3
Group B courses
BIOL 435Immunology3
BIOL 453General Parasitology3
BIOL 454Parasitology Laboratory1
BIOL 525Plant Physiology3
BIOL 526Plant Molecular Physiology Laboratory2
BIOL 615Molecular Pathophysiology3
BIOL 644LEADerS Service Learning Course: Learners Engaged in Advocating for Diversity in Science4
or BIOL 652 Science Education Partners in Biology
or BIOL 654 Peer Assistants for Learning Science (PALS)
BIOL 699Independent Study in Biology1-3

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication I LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Humanities LD 3 C2
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
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
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
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):

  1. Select the row that matches your English Course choice for A2.*
  2. Select the column that matches your QR Category (found at your student center under Math Alert).
  3. 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

*Composition for Multilingual Students: If taking ENG 209 as your first English course, choose the ENG 114 row. If taking ENG 204 for your first English course, choose the ENG 104/ENG 105 row.

Transfer Student Roadmap

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

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower-division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. 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:
    1. One course in oral communication (same as CSU GE Area A1)
    2. One course in written composition (same as CSU GE Area A2)
    3. One course in critical thinking (same as CSU GE Area A3)
    4. 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.