General Biology B.A.

Major Requirements (SF State Bulletin: Degree Requirements)

Roadmap (SF State Bulletin: Roadmap)

GE Requirements (SF State Bulletin: General Education)

Major Department Website

Your major advisor answered a few questions to assist you with your first semester courses — see below.

General Information

What are some of the highlights and features to know about this major?

Students have the opportunity to complete research projects in faculty laboratories by taking BIOL 699 Independent Study (

Pre-health students may choose this major to meet the requirements for application to a health profession program.  It would be a good idea to meet with a major advisor to develop a suitable course plan for the target graduate program (for example: take Organic Chem I and II with labs, CHEM 233/234 and CHEM 335/336, instead of CHEM 130).

Students heading for Ph.D. programs may want to take the full-year of Organic Chemistry AND take Physical Chemistry (CHEM 300 or CHEM 351).

The General Biology degree should be taken by students intending to obtain a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Sciences (Concentration in Biological Science). Students who are considering teaching life sciences should see a credential advisor in the Department of Biology before planning the major. Students are required to complete additional courses that specifically prepare them to teach in the California secondary school system (including BIOL 337 Evolution, CHEM 216 Chem II; courses covering geology, astronomy, oceanography, and meteorology).

Does this major have GE courses that are met in major?

[These courses are deemed “met in the major” upon completion of the courses listed (even though the courses are not approved for GE). This is true whether or not the student completes the major.]


B1 (Physical Science): CHEM 130 OR CHEM 233

B2 (Life Science): BIOL 240

B3 (Laboratory Science): BIOL 240

UD-B: BIOL 355

When should I first meet with my major department? Students should review the degree description (whether first-year or transfer), develop a working course plan for the major, and meet with the major advisor during the first semester to discuss the course plan and customize it to meet post graduate/career goals.  Transfer students should meet with the major advisor to have all transfer units officially approved for use in the major.
How will I be assigned to a major advisor and how do I contact them?

Students are not assigned major advisors.

Students who are Undeclared with Interest in Biology BA students should meet with a General Biology Major Advisor.  They should check the major advisors list which is updated on the “Meeting with your Biology Advisor” web page:

Faculty advisors have different office hours styles:  Some have open office hours, first come, first served, while others have students make appointments.  It is best to email the advisor ahead of time.

Where can I find information about major advising?

“Meeting with your Biology Advisor” web page:

Does this major require any pre-work from me before I attend orientation or register for classes?

There are no pre-authorizations [or work] currently.  However, transfer students should have all their transfer units that will be used for major requirements approved by meeting with a major advisor and submitting the form to the Biology Department for approval.  The approved form can be used to show instructors that prerequisite courses have been completed AND the form will eventually be turned into the Department with the student’s graduation application.

Obtaining approval for transfer courses for your major (Equivalency Form)

What should I do if my major core and/or prequisite courses are full? The student should consider alternate majors courses/electives or courses that will prepare for their future post-graduate plans.  The student should check during the next online registration period for seat availability AND should consider attending the first meeting of the course (student should know schedule so that it’s clear which lab sections will work with current class schedule) to ask the instructor for permission to enroll in the class.
Is there anything else I need to know about starting in this major?

Please make sure that the students do not focus on completing their GE/University graduation requirements before initiating major coursework.

Students interested in the Clinical Laboratory Sciences should meet with a Microbiology major advisor to discuss the Clinical Science Track within the Microbiology major.

Students should meet with an advisor to confirm they have a suitable course plan, but there is a resource to help determine the sequence for Chemistry courses to take for each major/career goal:

Biology has an Undergraduate Advising Webpage with these topics:

General Information

  • Meeting with your Biology Advisor (current Major Advisors List)
  • Finding Departmental or University forms
  • Changing your major
  • Selecting classes to meet your Biology Major requirements (Need 1 more upper division major unit to graduate??)
  • Selecting the appropriate Chemistry classes to meet your Biology Major requirements (UPDATED information on CHEM 115 placement exam)
  • Meeting the Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) in the Department of Biology
  • Finding out about awards or scholarships
  • Strategies for success in your Biology major (Student Resources:  Where can I study, print, copy, or use a computer??)

New Biology Majors: Freshmen and Transfer Students

  • Selecting the correct Biology concentration
  • Obtaining approval for the elective courses for your Major (Substitution Form)
  • Obtaining major credit for your high school AP exam in Biology (or other subjects)
  • Obtaining major credit for your high school International Baccalaureate units in Biology

New Biology Majors: Transfer Students

  • Obtaining approval for transfer courses for your Major (Equivalency Form)

Continuing Biology Majors

  • Improving your academic performance (tutoring resources, improving study skills)
  • Investigating career options  (interested in Teaching K-12?)
  • Finding out about pre-health professions advising
  • Finding out about working on field or laboratory research with SF State Biology faculty (BIOL 699)
  • Using CHEM 233/333 Organic Chemistry I instead of CHEM 130 General Organic Chemistry
  • Appealing the University Course Repeat Policy
  • Obtaining advisor approval of an Academic Standing Petition (Mandatory Advising, Probation)
  • Procedures for students with a Probation Lock (PLOCK) Hold
  • Obtaining advisor approval of a Financial Aid Graduation plan (Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form)
  • Obtaining advisor approval of a Degree Completion plan (High-Unit Student)
  • Obtaining approval to cross enroll at other UC or CSU campuses or community colleges
  • Obtaining approval for your graduation application

Transfer Student Info

What upper division courses should I take in my first semester as a transfer student for this major?

CHEM 349

BIOL 355 Genetics (Requires BIOL 230, 240, and CHEM 130 or CHEM 233)

BIOL 350 Cell Biology

BIOL 401 General Microbiology

BIOL 337 Evolution

BIOL 482 Ecology

BIOL 612 Human Physiology

Are there any prerequisites to these upper division courses for the major?

BIOL 230 and BIOL 240

CHEM 130 or CHEM 233

BIOL 612 requires: BIOL 230, BIOL 240, CHEM 130 and PHYS 121.

Are there any registration blocks or holds in the system for this major, and if so, what do I do/who do I contact to clear them?

Students wishing to enroll in BIOL 230 Intro Biology I:

  • To enroll, must be a major or Undeclared with an Interest in one of the following: Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Psychology, Kinesiology (Exercise and Movement Science), or Environmental Studies (Natural Resource Management).

Students wishing to enroll in Chem 115 General Chem I:

  • Prerequisite CHEM 100 with a grade of C or better (letter grade only) or satisfactory score on chemistry placement exam. ELM with a score of 50 or better or approved exemption or MATH 70 with a grade of C or better or ESM 70 with a grade of CR.

Students wishing to enroll in CHEM 215 or CHEM 130:

  • Enrollment requirement:  CHEM 115 with a grade C or better, or AP CHEM with 4 or better.

Students wishing to enroll in Chem 233:

  • CHEM 115 or AP Chemistry with a 4 or better and CHEM 215, each with a grade of C or better, are required to enroll in this course. Priority enrollment for Chemistry and Biochemistry majors.

If prerequisite courses are not on the SF State Transfer Credit Report, student may not be able to register for the Chemistry courses. 


Some classes have an “upper division status” block.  Example: A student who is a Sophomore in Spring but will be a Junior in Fall...will not be able to register for BIOL 355 Genetics, because in Spring (May), the student will still be a Sophomore.  The student may be able to register in during the Final Priority Registration period in January/August (because the student will now be a Junior).

Some classes require the student to be a specific major in order to register.  For example, BIOL 402 General Microbiology lab on the Class Schedule course description states:

Must be a Biology (Microbiology) major (BS or MS) to enroll in this course.

Does this major have an approved Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) roadmap?


[Click here for ADT Roadmap]

Freshmen Student Info

Are there any courses I should take first as a Freshman to get started in this major and/or are there any lower division GE course requirements that I can take that will also count toward this major?

BIOL 230* Intro Biology I

CHEM 115* (or CHEM 100 in preparation for CHEM 115)

MATH 124 or a course in the calculus pathway (see below)

PHYS 111*/112

ENG 114 or ENG 214 in preparation for GWAR

Mathematics Pathway 2 students that are eligible for MATH 226* should take it in their first semester. Pathway 2 students not eligible for MATH 226 should take MATH 199*. Pathway 3 and 4 students should take MATH 197 in their first semester and MATH 198 in their second semester.

If possible, full time students should register for two of the above Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics courses in their first semester (ideally BIOL 230 plus one other CHEM/MATH/PHYSICS course).

*1-unit Supplemental Instruction courses (SCI) are offered for these classes as additional support. These courses can be found in the SFSU Class Schedule ( by searching for the SCI prefix.

Are there entry or prerequisite requirements for these Freshmen courses?

CHEM 115 has a placement exam but student can prepare for it with the information provided by the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at:

Can any of my AP or IB tests count toward requirements in this major?

AP exam (score 4 or 5)            Course

Biology                                      BIOL 230, 5 units

Calculus AB or BC                    MATH 226, 4 units

Chemistry                                 CHEM 115, 5 units

Computer Science A.               CSC 210, 3 units

Physics 1                                   PHYS 111/112, 4 units

Physics 2                                   PHYS 220/222, 4 units

Physics AP-C Mechanics.       PHYS 111/112 or 220/222, 4 units

IB                                               Course

Biology HL                              BIOL 230, 5 units


College of Science & Engineering Student Success Center

Services provided for: undergraduate students with College of Science and Engineering majors and minors

Services offered: academic planning, general education advising, graduation check (GE and graduation requirements), study abroad, connecting with communities, discovering campus resources

Phone: (415) 338-2816
Location: SCI 214