Biological Sciences College of Biological Sciences

Degree Requirements

Unit Requirements

Total Units

Complete no less than 180 units allowing for the unit credit limitations listed below. No student may exceed 225 units in their academic career without approval of the Dean. Units earned in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams are not counted toward this 225-unit limit. Upon reaching 200 units, a student must submit an Academic Graduation Plan and an Excess Unit Petition on OASIS.

Upper Division Units

Complete 64 upper division units.

Unit Credit Limitations

  • Passed/Not Passed Units. All courses used to satisfy major requirements must be taken on a letter-graded basis, unless courses are only offered on a Passed/Not Passed basis.  If a student adds or changes a major course offered for a letter grade to Passed/Not Passed, the college will return it to a letter grade.  In addition, the Academic Senate limits the total number of courses graded P, including units earned in courses graded "P/NP only," to one third of the units completed on the UC Davis campus.
  • Physical Education. Maximum of 6 units of Physical Education 001 & 006 (PHE), and similar physical activity courses including transfer work.
  • Transfer Work. Maximum of 105 units of credit earned at two-year institutions (community college).
  • Graduate Courses. Units from courses in the 200 series (with the exception of course 299) may apply toward the minimum 64-unit upper division requirement and/or as a substitution for undergraduate courses in the major under the following conditions:
    • Students must obtain written permission from the course instructor and the faculty advisor for their major.
    • The faculty advisor will confirm that students have a minimum 3.400 GPA in the major at the time that they register for the course.
  • Professional and teaching courses. Maximum of 9 units in courses numbered 300-399 and 400-499. These units may not be applied toward the 64-unit upper division requirement.
  • Upper division standing. Must complete 90 units before enrolling in 192, 194H and 199 to receive degree and upper division credit.
  • Special Study. No more than 5 units per quarter of Special Study courses (099, 194H, 199).
  • Nonstandard Courses. A maximum of 20 units of nonstandard courses including transfer work can be counted towards the degree.1
    Nonstandard courses are defined here as tutoring, internship, research, research conference, honors research and similar course activities. Some examples of these courses are, but are not limited to, courses numbered 090C, 091, 092, 092C, 097T, 097TC, 099, 189, 190C, 191, 192, 192C, 193, 194H, 197T, 197TC, 199, etc. Courses numbered 098 or 198 are not included in this 20-unit limitation.

Within these 20 units, there are additional unit credit limitations on tutoring and internship units:

  • Tutoring. Maximum of 3 tutoring units including but not limited to 097T, 197T, 097TC and 197TC.
  • Internship. A maximum of 6 internship units including but not limited to 092, 192, 92C, 192C.

1  Specific exceptions to these limits may be granted by the Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum and Educational Policy (CUCEP) based on the uniqueness of the experiences and their concordance with the petitioner's educational objectives.

Credit for Open Campus (Concurrent) Courses

Students may apply credit for courses taken in the Open Campus (Concurrent) Program through UC Davis Extension towards the 180-unit undergraduate degree requirement. The grade points earned when enrolled in Open Campus courses will count toward the calculation of a student's UC GPA upon his/her admission or readmission to regular student status at UC Davis. However, the units earned do not satisfy the university residence requirement. Students registered at UC Davis may not enroll in Open Campus courses.


Meet university residence requirement. No additional college residence requirements.


Students must attain at least a 2.000 GPA for all courses required in their major by graduation. Students must also attain a 2.000 GPA in all Depth Subject Matter courses required in their major.

  • Repeating Courses. Students may repeat courses once in which they received a grade of D+ or less. To repeat a course more than once, students must submit Multiple Repeat Petition in OASIS for review prior to enrolling in the course.

English Composition

English Composition requirement may be satisfied in one of two ways:

  1. Completing 8 units, to include 4 upper division units, in English composition courses with at least a C- or Passed grade from the following list:
    • Comparative Literature 001, 002, 003, 004
    • English 003
    • Native American Studies 005
    • University Writing Program 001, 001V, 001Y, 048, 049, 101, 101V, 101Y, 104AV, 104AY, 104FV, 104FY, 102 series, or 104 series

  2. Passing the English Composition Examination, administered by the University Writing Program, upon completion of 70 units of degree credit. This examination does not yield credit. Students interested in entering the health science field should check with the Health Professions Advising office or the Biology Academic Success Center before choosing this option.

English Composition Examination

The no-fee, no-unit examination is typically offered on a Saturday in October, January, and April. For specific dates, see Upper Division Composition Exam (UDCE).

If students choose to take this challenge exam, they are strongly advised to do so in their junior year. Register for the English Composition Examination at Upper Division Composition Exam (UDCE) from the Monday before the exam date until Friday at noon or until no spaces remain. The AWPE/Upper Division Composition Examination form, available at the UC Davis Bookstore, is required. It is recommended that students with disabilities contact the Student Disability Center 530-752-3184 and the University Writing Program 530-752-6283 at least two weeks prior to the exam date to arrange accommodations. No examinations are given during the summer.

Additional Bachelor of Arts Requirements

Bachelor of Arts degrees are available in Biological Sciences; Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity; Microbiology; and Plant Biology. These degrees offer students an opportunity to broaden their education while pursuing a rigorous life science major. Candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degrees must complete two additional requirements.

Foreign Language

The requirement can be met in one of three ways:

  • Complete with passing grades 15 quarter units of college level course work, or the equivalent thereof, in a single language.
  • Attain a minimal score prescribed by the Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum and Educational Policy (CUCEP), in the College Entrance Examination Board Achievement Test in Foreign Language, which may be taken at any time during the student's high school career, or any other achievement test approved by the Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum and Educational Policy.
  • Placement beyond the 15-unit level on a placement/proficiency examination offered by one of the foreign language departments of the University.

Breadth Requirements

Satisfaction of the campus General Education requirement (or IGETC for transfer students) in effect Fall 2011 will satisfy the Breadth requirement.

Declaration of Major/Undeclared—Life Sciences

Students must declare a major by 90 units. A hold will be placed on a student's registration if they are still undeclared after completing 90 UC Davis units.

All changes of major and college must be completed before the beginning of the student's quarter of graduation.

Students who are enrolled in a major administered by the College of Biological Sciences and students who are Undeclared-Life Sciences see an academic advisor in the Biology Academic Success Center for their major, university, general education, and college academic advising. Faculty advisors are also available in the department that houses their major, as listed in the catalog, or at the Biology Academic Success Center.

Degree Check

Students are encouraged to meet with their academic advisor at least once a year to ensure timely graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to consult a Biology Academic Success Center academic advisor at the following points in their academic careers:

  • First-Year Mandatory Advising for transfer students during their first two quarters on the Davis campus (required).
  • Before accumulating 90 units.
  • Before accumulating 135 units.
  • In addition, if you are taking courses which, if passed, will cause your unit total to exceed 200 units and you intend to register for the next quarter, you must file a plan with your advisor that leads to graduation within 225 units. If the plan anticipates registering after you have accumulated 225 units, the plan must be submitted to the Dean for approval.

Degree Requirement Changes; Catalog Rights

Students may choose to fulfill the university, college, and major requirements as stated in any UC Davis General Catalog in effect at any time they were enrolled at UC Davis. Transfer students may choose a UC Davis catalog in effect either during the three years immediately preceding their transfer to Davis or at the time they first enrolled at that prior institution, whichever is most recent. Students will use the catalog year chosen to satisfy university and college requirements. However, major requirements used are those in effect at the time the student officially declares their major.

Related: Declaring a Major | Change of Major | Multiple Majors | Cross-College Majors | Individual Major | Minors