Bachelor of Science in Biology: Concentration in Physiology

This is an archived copy of the 2016-2017 bulletin. To access the most recent version of the bulletin, please visit Any changes will appear on our errata page.


All Biology concentrations are currently impacted which means there are more applications than capacity. Transfer student applications for admission to this major are accepted by the University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions only during the application filing period of October 1 to November 30 (for admission the following fall). No late applications or applications for spring will be considered. Both new transfer and on-campus students wishing to change majors, are required to submit an additional departmental application. See departmental website for supplemental program application and deadlines.

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 course work must be completed with letter grades (CR/NC is not acceptable).
  • A minimum grade point average of 2.0 in all course work is required to receive a degree in these programs.
  • In order 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:

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)

(Note: Prior to fall 2012, GWAR would have been satisfied by passing ENG 414 (or ENG 410 or ENG 411 for CMS students) or a GWAR designated course from another discipline.)

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

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

In general,

See also the Department of Biology home page for GWAR in Biology: 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.

Concentration in Physiology

This 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 especially suited for preparation for advanced study at the postgraduate level or to prepare for careers in the health professions. In addition to major curricula in physiology, service courses are provided for nursing, clinical science, exercise physiology, kinesiology, and physical therapy majors.

Biology (B.S.): Concentration in Physiology — 67 - 72 units

General Education Met in the Major

General Education requirements met in the Biology major (all concentrations) or Undeclared with Interest in Biology:
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 B1 (Physical Science) is satisfied upon completion of CHEM 130 or CHEM 233.
  • Areas B2 (Life Science) and B3 (Laboratory Science) are 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, physiology concentration, can be satisfied with the physiology lab courses BIOL 613GW or BIOL 631GW.

Lower Division Requirements (38 - 39 units)

BIOL 230Introductory Biology I5
BIOL 240Introductory Biology II5
CHEM 115General Chemistry I: Essential Concepts of Chemistry5
CHEM 130General Organic Chemistry 13
CHEM 215
CHEM 216
General Chemistry II: Quantitative Applications of Chemistry Concepts
and General Chemistry II Laboratory: Quantitative Applications of Chemistry Concepts
MATH 226Calculus I4
Select 3-4 units from the following:3-4
Elementary Statistics
Calculus II
PHYS 111
PHYS 112
PHYS 121
PHYS 122
General Physics I
and General Physics I Laboratory
and General Physics II
and General Physics II Laboratory
or PHYS 220
PHYS 222
PHYS 230
PHYS 232
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 (29 - 33 units)

CHEM 340Biochemistry I3
or CHEM 349 General Biochemistry
BIOL 350Cell Biology3
BIOL 355Genetics3
Physiology Core Courses
Select 9 units from the following (One lecture must be BIOL 612 or BIOL 630):9
Plant Physiology
Human Physiology
Cardiorespiratory Physiology
Environmental Physiology
Biology of Aging
Reproductive Physiology
Hormones and Behavior
Animal Physiology
Cellular Neurosciences
Neural Systems Physiology
Physiology Lab
Select one course (2-4 units) from the following:2-4
Plant Physiology Laboratory
Human Physiology Laboratory - GWAR
Animal Physiology Laboratory - GWAR


Select 10 - 11 units in consultation with an advisor from the following:

Criteria for elective units: one elective must contain a laboratory component; one elective must be chosen from each of the emphases listed below; and additional electives may be selected from the list of physiology core courses and/or either of the emphases listed below.

Cellular and Molecular Emphasis

BIOL 351GWExperiments in Cell and Molecular Biology - GWAR4
BIOL 357Molecular Genetics3
BIOL 382Developmental Biology3
BIOL 435Immunology3
BIOL 615Molecular Pathophysiology3
BIOL 652Science Education Partners in Biology4
BIOL 699Independent Study in Biology1-3
BIOL 623Pharmacology (undergraduate students only)3
BIOL 723Pharmacology (graduate students only)3
BIOL 865Advances in Physiology and Behavioral Biology2
CHEM 343Biochemistry I Laboratory3

Ecological, Anatomical, and Evolutionary Emphasis

BIOL 328Human Anatomy4
BIOL 337Evolution3
BIOL 482Ecology4
BIOL 504Biology of the Fungi4
BIOL 505Comparative Anatomy of Vascular Plants4
BIOL 529GWPlant Ecology - GWAR4
BIOL 555Marine Invertebrate Zoology4
BIOL 585Marine Ecology3
BIOL 586Marine Ecology Laboratory2
BIOL 600Animal Behavior3
BIOL 614Vertebrate Histology4
BIOL 652Science Education Partners in Biology4
BIOL 699Independent Study in Biology1-3
BIOL 865Advances in Physiology and Behavioral Biology2

Note: A minimum of 40 upper division units must be completed for the degree (including upper division units required for the major, general education, electives, etc.). A student can complete this major yet not attain the necessary number of upper division units required for graduation. In this case additional upper division courses will be needed to reach the required total.

Note: Courses may be used only once within the major. No more than one BIOL 699 may be used as an elective.


Students interested in pursuing graduate study in physiology should take the one-year organic chemistry sequence (CHEM 233/CHEM 335) and the one-year biochemistry sequence (CHEM 340/CHEM 341) in place of CHEM 130 and CHEM 349.

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
Written English Communication II LD 3 A4
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
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Humanities: Literature LD 3 C3
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Social Sciences: US & CA Governement LD 3 D3
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD or UD 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), in a major or minor, or may be an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities (AERM) LD or UD 3
Environmental Sustainability (ES) LD or UD 3
Global Perspectives (GP) LD or UD 3
Social Justice (SJ) LD or UD 3

Note: LD = lower division; UD = upper division.

B.S. in Biology: Concentration in Physiology Roadmap

This link opens the 2015 - 2016 roadmap 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 sixty units and includes completion of all lower division GE and at least eighteen units in a specific major. 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 is continuing in this major at SF State is available on the Roadmaps tab and displays

  • How many lower division units required for the major have been completed upon entry based on award of a specific ADT;
  • Which lower division requirements are considered complete upon entry based on 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
    • a 2nd-semester course in written English composition

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), go to 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

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 units/90 quarters 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 course was not passed on 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 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 in order 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. As described above, 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 (GE 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. Review more information about the A3 requirement here.

Identify and complete a 2nd-semester written English composition course before transfer. This is usually the next course after the typical “freshman comp” course, with a focus on writing, reading and critical analytical skills for academic purposes, and developing skills in composing, revising, and the use of rhetorical strategies.

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 outlines 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 2.00 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, with intermediate algebra as a prerequisite (same as CSU GE area B4)
  • The four basic skills courses and 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.