General Biology B.A. and all Biology B.S. Concentrations

Major Requirements (SF State Bulletin: Degree Requirements)

Roadmap (SF State Bulletin: Roadmap) (Please click on your major, then click on the roadmap tab and select your English/Math Pathways)

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?

We offer a BA in General Biology that is appropriate for students who aspire to be teachers or who want a broad Biology degree. This could include students who are considering jobs in the health industry. Students who want a more focused degree or who are hoping to do research or continue in graduate school might want to think about one of the concentrations offered in our BS degree program.

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? You should meet with an advisor in your first semester to talk about career goals, teh best courses to take to achieve those goals, and discuss a personalized roadmap.
How will I be assigned to a major advisor and how do I contact them?

Students are not assigned a major advisor. Instead, you should contact an advisor in your major from the ones listed on the advisor contact webpage. This list provides the names, contact information and office hours for each advisor, as well as the area they advise in. 

Where can I find information about major advising? The best place to find information about major advising is on the Biology Department's advising webpage. This page provides answers to many frequently asked questions and also has information on how to to contact advisor. You should also see an advisor in your major. This link provides a list of advisors, their areas of expertise, and their contact information. You can go to the Biology office in Hensill Hall 532 if they have advising questions. Staff in the office can help direct you to people and offices who can best answer your questions. 
Does your department have a major planning sheet for me as a guide? Yes, we have a major planning sheet.
Does this major require any pre-work from me before I attend orientation or register for classes?
Yes, please visit the following link for details:
The text (but not the links from the URL are appended below):
Undergraduate Biology Major Advising
All students should review the information on this web page and arrive at meetings with their advisor with forms and relevant supporting documents in hand. 
Each Biology student should meet regularly (at least once per year) with her/his Major Advisor to review her/his academic progress. Students who are Undeclared with an Interest in Biology should also meet with their target Major Advisor to plan their intended Biology major, during the Fall and Spring semesters.  For example, a student interested in the B.S. in Zoology degree, should meet with a Zoology Major Advisor.  For each semester, the Department of Biology Office (HH534) has a list of Major Advisors, indicating their contact information and office hours for that specific semester.
The student should consult the Biology Advising Checklist to make sure she/he brings all appropriate paperwork and forms. At a minimum, all students should bring to their meeting:
  • Current unofficial SF State transcripts (available online via the SF State Gateway Portal Student Center)
  • A Degree Progress Report (available via the SFSU Gateway Portal Student Center)
  • A Transfer Credit Report (available via the SFSU Gateway Portal Student Center)
  • Transcripts from all TRANSFER CAMPUSES (if you are using the transfer courses to meet major requirements)
  • If applicable, a copy of his/her Advanced Standing Evaluation (ASE, request at One Stop Center - for students with transfer credit prior to FALL 2014)
  • If applicable, a Degree Audit Report (if a transfer student) (available via MySFSU, NOT updated past Summer 2014)
What should I do if my major core and/or prequisite courses are full?
1. Email the instructor and ask how to go about trying to add the course.
2. Go to the first day of class and get instructions about how to add.
3. See an advisor in your major to discuss alternative courses to take if you cannot get into the ones you want or need.
4. You can also take any remaining GE requirement courses.
Is there anything else I need to know about starting in this major?
We are delighted that you are thinking about pursuing your undergraduate studies in our department. While California is fortunate to sustain tremendous biological diversity, the department of biology prides itself on being home to students, faculty and staff from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. We welcome people from all cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, races, ethnicities, nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, ability levels, neurotypes, sizes, religions, ages, family structures, and political opinions. We welcome all aspiring biologists who want to contribute to their communities and to the world. We strongly believe in the potential for people from many different backgrounds to come together and learn from each other. 
Though some of you may be feeling very confident as you enter into this new chapter of your life, others may be apprehensive and uncertain about what to expect. One of the first things you will learn about the department is that the faculty and staff care deeply about our students. We are there to support your academic and personal growth. To help you get started, we have come up with four secrets for success that we would like to share with you: 
1) SEE a Biology advisor as soon as possible. Biology advisors are ready, willing, and able to help you launch your academic career at SF State. You can find a list of advisors on our undergraduate advising page ( 
2) In the event that you are unable to enroll in a class using the online system, EMAIL the instructor to express your desire to take the class and follow all of their recommendations. We work very hard to offer enough seats in classes for all of our students. Don’t give up!! Sometimes, there are still seats available. If you are not able to make email contact with the instructor, it is a good idea to go to the first day of class to get further information about enrollment. 
3) TAKE classes required for your major every semester that you are here at SF State. Recommended road maps to graduation include a mixture of science and general education classes each semester. To get more information about the different concentrations offered in Biology (along with road maps to graduation), please go to the following link: 
4) CULTIVATE your relationships with your colleagues. Perhaps the greatest resource that you will find in the Biology department is your cohort of classmates. They will be your scientific peers and colleagues for the next two years and beyond. Like you, these students hail from diverse backgrounds and bring a variety of talents to the table. In addition to meeting new colleagues in classes, activities sponsored by the Association of Biology Students provide a great venue to meet colleagues.

Transfer Student Info

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

We recommend taking either Cell Biology (BIOL 350) or Genetics (BIOL 355) in the first semester. We also recommend, depending on your major concentration, starting to take any required upper division Chemistry classes. Lastly, it is a good idea to complete any remaining lower division coursework.

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

Cell Biology (BIOL 350) requires the equivalents to BIOL 230, BIOL 240 and CHEM 115 while Genetics (BIOL 355) requires the equivalents to BIOL 230, BIOL 240, and one semester of organic chemistry. 

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?

There are no registration blocks or holds for this major starting in Fall 2021.

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

Yes, all of our majors and concentrations have approved roadmaps.


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?
We generally recommend starting off with BIOL 230 followed by BIOL 240 (Introductory Biology I and II).  We also recommend adding in some combination of courses in Math, Chemistry and Physics, such as:
For Biology B.A. students only: MATH 124 (Elementary Statistics) or MATH 226 (Calc I). Consult with major advisor regarding MATH 124 or MATH 226.
For all Biology B.S. concentrations: MATH 226 (Calc I)
CHEM 115 (Gen Chem I) (for students on Math Pathway 1 or 2)
PHYS 111/112 (Gen Physics I)
Are there entry or prerequisite requirements for these Freshmen courses?
MATH 124 Elementary Statistics (Units: 3)
Prerequisites: Category I or II placement for QR/Math, or satisfactory completion of ELM requirement, or MATH 70 or ESM 70 with a grade of C or better. Students with Category III or IV placement for QR/Math or students who have not passed MATH 70 or ESM 70 with a C or better or satisfied the ELM must concurrently enroll in MATH 123.
MATH 226 Calculus I (Units: 4)
Prerequisites: MATH 198 or MATH 199 or equivalent with a grade of C or better; or Math 226 or equivalent with a grade of C- or lower completed within the past year. Category I or II placement for QR/Math with a grade of B or better in high school pre-calculus in past year. Category III placement for QR/Math with a grade of B or better in high school pre-calculus in the past year and a score of 15 out of 30 on the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP) calculus readiness test. Students who completed these prerequisites more than a year ago must score 15 out of 30 on the MDTP or a satisfactory score on the Department's calculus readiness test. Category IV placement for QR/Math must take MATH 197 and MATH 198.
CHEM 115 General Chemistry I: Essential Concepts of Chemistry (Units: 5)
Prerequisites: Category I or II placement for QR/Math, or ELM score of 50 or higher or exemption, or MATH 70 or ESM 70 with a grade of C or better. Category III or IV for QR/Math placement or students who have not completed MATH 70 with a grade of C or better must have completed MATH 197 with a grade of C or better, or have satisfied the B4 requirement. CHEM 100 with a grade of C or better (letter grade only) or satisfactory score on chemistry placement exam.
PHYS 111 General Physics I (Units: 3)
Prerequisites: MATH 199 or equivalent; score of 50 or above on entry level mathematics (ELM) examination, which must be taken prior to enrollment; acceptable score on the physics readiness test, which must be taken before the start of the semester; concurrent enrollment in PHYS 112.
Can any of my AP or IB tests count toward requirements in this major?
AP exam (score 4 or 5)
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 AP-C Mechanics Phys 111 or 220, 3 units (need to take lab)





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