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Biological Science Degree

About the Major

The Biological Sciences address many of the most important and fundamental questions about our world:

  • What is life?
  • How does our brain produce our ideas and emotions?
  • What are the limits to human life and physical capabilities?
  • How do we feed the world's growing population?
  • Could medical science ensure that our children won't have to worry about disease?

Biological Sciences graphic Moreover, there has never been a more exciting and important time to study biology. From the mapping of the genome to understanding the molecular basis of human disease to predicting the effects of global climate change on ecosystems to understanding fundamental processes that produce and sustain life on Earth, the Biological Sciences are at the forefront of finding answers to some of society's most vexing problems.

Students in the BIO major at UC Merced can select among specialized “emphasis” tracks, instead of individual majors. In this way, all biology students graduating from UC Merced will have a common foundation necessary for biologists in the 21st century, as well as specialized skills and knowledge to aid in their pursuit of careers in biology-related fields or graduate / professional school training. There are five emphasis tracks in the biological sciences: Molecular and Cell Biology, Human Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Developmental Biology, and Microbiology and Immunology.

The Program

This program teaches biology as a multidisciplinary science, reflecting the increasing role of chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science and advanced technologies in the life sciences.

Students majoring in Biological Sciences can choose between five emphasis tracks providing background in different areas of biology:

  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Human Biology
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Microbiology and Immunology

These emphasis tracks consist of a sequence of five or six upper division courses that are taken in the second, third, and fourth years of the program.


The undergraduate major in biological sciences is an excellent first step towards exciting careers in biology and the health sciences. Biological Sciences will provide you with the skills and knowledge to pursue graduate and professional studies in preparation for careers in basic and applied biological research, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, nursing, pharmacy and other health-related fields. You will also be prepared for positions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, health care and conservation management, as well as careers like law, journalism, policy and business, which increasingly involve the biological sciences. In addition, the breadth and rigor of this program will prepare you well to teach science at the elementary or high school level.

Biological Sciences Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates from the Biological Sciences program will have demonstrated:

  1. An understanding of the tenets of modern biology and an understanding of how cellular functions are integrated from the molecular level to the cellular level, through to the level of organism, populations and functioning ecosystems.
  2. An ability to develop and critique hypotheses and to design experiments, models, and/or calculations to address these hypotheses.
  3. The ability to use appropriate instrumentation and computational tools to collect, analyze and interpret data.
  4. The ability to read, evaluate, interpret, and apply numerical and general scientific information.
  5. A familiarity with and application of safety in good laboratory and field practice

Current information regarding the requirements  for the Biological Sciences major can be found at the Office of the Registrar Catalog website.

Biological Sciences courses can be found at the Office of the Registrar Catalog Course website.