Molecular and Cell Biology

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The undergraduate major in Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) focuses on the study of molecular structures and processes of cellular life and their roles in the function, reproduction, and development of living organisms. This covers a broad range of specialized disciplines, such as biochemistry, microbiology, biophysics, molecular biology, genetics, cell physiology, cell anatomy, immunology, and neurobiology. The types of living organisms from which the departmental faculty draws its working materials are as diverse as its disciplinary concentrations, ranging from viruses and microbes through plants, roundworms, annelids, arthropods, and mollusks, to fish, amphibia, and mammals. 

There are six emphases (concentrations) in MCB:

All of the emphases except Neurobiology have multiple tracks to choose from. Some tracks only differ slightly and some give a whole different perspective on the emphasis. For help deciding your emphasis please see a staff or peer advisor in MCB!

*There is a new major Neuroscience which will replace MCB-Neurobiology. We will still accept declarations into MCB-Neurobiology until the end of Spring 2025 and all students who are declared MCB-Neurobiology will be allowed to complete the emphasis.

Declaring the Major

Students can receive pre-major advising at any time from staff or peer advisors. MCB will accept any interested student who meets the minimum course and GPA requirements and is realistically able to complete the major requirements during the student's time at UC Berkeley. Any student intending to major in MCB must finish declaring or complete MCB conditions to declare by the end of their 6th semester, or during the semester before their graduating term (if this semester is before their 6th semester). 

In order to declare the MCB major, students must have completed or be enrolled in: 

  • BIOLOGY 1A/BIOLOGY 1AL (with a C or better on the first Bio 1A midterm) OR a score of 4 or 5 in AP Biology 
  • CHEM 3B (past the early drop deadline)
  • Have at least a 2.0 overall GPA, a 2.0 GPA in all courses taken for the major, a 2.0 GPA in any upper division courses taken for the major

Intended MCB students are not required to have completed the math, physics, or Bio 1B requirements at the time of declaration (though these requirements must be met in order to graduate).

To start the major declaration process, students must complete the MCB major declaration form online. During major declaration, students must choose an MCB emphasis.

Once the declaration form has been processed, students will receive an email with instructions to schedule an appointment to meet with a staff advisor. Advising appointments take place either online on Zoom or in person at the Undergraduate Advising Office in 3060 Valley Life Sciences Building.  See full instructions on the MCB Declaration page.

Visit Department Website

Major Requirements

General Guidelines

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill requirements specific to their major program and declared emphasis.

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for letter-graded credit.

  2. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs. Double majors and simultaneous degrees are limited to a two-course overlap.

  3. Students must maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of at least a 2.0 GPA overall, a 2.0 GPA in the required major coursework (lower and upper division), and a 2.0 GPA in the upper division coursework for the major.

For information regarding residency requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Lower Division Requirements for All Emphases

Please note the alternative chemistry sequence for BBS Track 2.

MATH 10A
MATH 10B
Methods of Mathematics: Calculus, Statistics, and Combinatorics
and Methods of Mathematics: Calculus, Statistics, and Combinatorics 1
8
or MATH 1A
MATH 1B
Calculus
and Calculus
CHEM 1A
1AL
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory 2
5
CHEM 3A
3AL
Chemical Structure and Reactivity
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory 3
5
CHEM 3B
3BL
Chemical Structure and Reactivity
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory 3
5
BIOLOGY 1A
1AL
General Biology Lecture
and General Biology Laboratory
5
BIOLOGY 1BGeneral Biology Lecture and Laboratory4
PHYSICS 8A
PHYSICS 8B
Introductory Physics
and Introductory Physics 4
8
BBS Track 2 Alternative Chem sequence:
Students in the Biochemistry, Biophysics & Structural Biology emphasis track 2 must take the following chemistry sequence:
CHEM 1A
1AL
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory
5
CHEM 1BGeneral Chemistry4
CHEM 12A
CHEM 12B
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry
10
1

For alternative Math sequences please contact an MCB advisor at mcbuao@berkeley.edu

2

CHEM 4A may be taken in place of CHEM 1A and CHEM 1AL.

3

CHEM 12A and CHEM 12B may be taken place of CHEM 3A/CHEM 3AL and CHEM 3B/CHEM 3BL.

4

PHYSICS 7A and PHYSICS 7B can be taken in place of PHYSICS 8A and PHYSICS 8B.

Upper-Division Requirements by Emphasis

MCB has six emphases (concentrations):

All of these emphases except neurobiology have more than one track that students can choose from.

Biochemistry, Biophysics & Structural Biology

Track 1
MCELLBI C100A/CHEM C130Biophysical Chemistry: Physical Principles and the Molecules of Life4
MCELLBI 100BBiochemistry: Pathways, Mechanisms, and Regulation4
MCELLBI 110Molecular Biology: Macromolecular Synthesis and Cellular Function4
MCELLBI 140General Genetics4
or MCELLBI C148 Microbial Genomics and Genetics
MCELLBI/CHEM C110LGeneral Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Laboratory4
One BBS Elective (see below)4
TRACK 2
MCELLBI C100A/CHEM C130Biophysical Chemistry: Physical Principles and the Molecules of Life4
CHEM 130BBiophysical Chemistry3
CHEM 135Chemical Biology3
MCELLBI C130Cell Biology: from Discovery to Disease4
or MCELLBI 140 General Genetics
MCELLBI C110LGeneral Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Laboratory4
One BBS Elective (see below)

Cell Biology, Development & Physiology

Track 1
MCELLBI 102Survey of the Principles of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology4
MCELLBI 104Genetics, Genomics, and Cell Biology4
MCELLBI C130Cell Biology: from Discovery to Disease4
MCELLBI 133LPhysiology and Cell Biology Laboratory4
Two CDP Electives from List A (see below)6-8
Track 2
MCELLBI 102Survey of the Principles of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology4
MCELLBI 104Genetics, Genomics, and Cell Biology4
MCELLBI 136Physiology4
MCELLBI 133LPhysiology and Cell Biology Laboratory4
Two CDP Electives from List B (see below)6-8

Genetics, Genomics, Evolution & Development

TRACK 1
MCELLBI C100A/CHEM C130Biophysical Chemistry: Physical Principles and the Molecules of Life4
MCELLBI 110Molecular Biology: Macromolecular Synthesis and Cellular Function4
MCELLBI 140General Genetics4
MCELLBI 140LGenetics Laboratory4
One GGD Elective, from List A or List B (see below)3-4
One GGD Elective from List B (see below)3-4
Track 2
MCELLBI 102Survey of the Principles of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology4
MCELLBI 104Genetics, Genomics, and Cell Biology4
or MCELLBI 140 General Genetics
MCELLBI 141Developmental Biology4
MCELLBI 140LGenetics Laboratory4
One GGED Elective from List A or List B (see below)3-4
One GGED Elective from List B (see below)3-4

Immunology & Molecular Medicine

TRACK 1
MCELLBI C100A/CHEM C130Biophysical Chemistry: Physical Principles and the Molecules of Life4
MCELLBI 110Molecular Biology: Macromolecular Synthesis and Cellular Function4
MCELLBI 104Genetics, Genomics, and Cell Biology4
or MCELLBI 140 General Genetics
MCELLBI 150Molecular Immunology4
MCELLBI 150LImmunology Laboratory4
One IMM Elective from List C (see below)3-4
Track 2
MCELLBI 102Survey of the Principles of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology4
MCELLBI 104Genetics, Genomics, and Cell Biology4
or MCELLBI 140 General Genetics
MCELLBI 150Molecular Immunology4
MCELLBI 150LImmunology Laboratory4
One IMM Elective from List A (see below)3-4
One IMM Elective A or B (see below)3-4
Track 3
MCELLBI 102Survey of the Principles of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology4
MCELLBI 104Genetics, Genomics, and Cell Biology4
or MCELLBI 140 General Genetics
MCELLBI 150Molecular Immunology4
MCELLBI 153Molecular Medicine4
MCELLBI 150LImmunology Laboratory4
or MCELLBI 153L Course Not Available
One IMM Elective from the Approved Elective list below

Molecular Therapeutics

TRACK 1
MCELLBI C100ABiophysical Chemistry: Physical Principles and the Molecules of Life4
MCELLBI 140General Genetics4
MCELLBI 120Therapeutics Discovery and Development4
MCELLBI 120LTherapeutics Discovery Laboratory4
or MCELLBI C110L General Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Laboratory
One MTX Elective A (see below)
One MTX Elective B (see below)
Track 2
MCELLBI 102Survey of the Principles of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology4
MCELLBI 104Genetics, Genomics, and Cell Biology4
MCELLBI 120Therapeutics Discovery and Development4
MCELLBI 120LTherapeutics Discovery Laboratory4
or MCELLBI C110L General Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Laboratory
One MTX Elective A (see below)
One MTX Elective B (see below)

Neurobiology

MCELLBI 102Survey of the Principles of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology4
MCELLBI 104Genetics, Genomics, and Cell Biology4
NEU 100ACellular and Molecular Neurobiology (formerly MCELLBI 160)4
NEU 100BCircuit, Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience (formerly MCELLBI 161)4
NEU 171LNeurobiology Laboratory (formerly MCELLBI 160L or MCELLBI 163L)4
or NEU 173L Neuroanatomy Laboratory

Upper Division Electives by Emphasis (Concentration)

The electives for each emphasis (concentration) are listed below:

Biochemistry, Biophysics & Structural Biology ELECTIVES (both tracks, minimum of one course)
CHEM 113Advanced Mechanistic Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 115Organic Chemistry--Advanced Laboratory Methods4
CHEM 130BBiophysical Chemistry3
ESPM C148/NUSCTX C114Pesticide Chemistry and Toxicology3
MATH 110Abstract Linear Algebra4
MATH 127Mathematical and Computational Methods in Molecular Biology4
MCELLBI 100BBiochemistry: Pathways, Mechanisms, and Regulation (Track 2 Only)4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C103Bacterial Pathogenesis3
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C112General Microbiology4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C114Introduction to Comparative Virology4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C116Microbial Diversity3
MCELLBI C117Advanced Plant Biochemistry4
MCELLBI C130Cell Biology: from Discovery to Disease4
MCELLBI 132Biology of Human Cancer4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C134Genome Organization and Nuclear Dynamics3
MCELLBI 135ATopics in Cell and Developmental Biology: Molecular Endocrinology3
MCELLBI 136Physiology4
MCELLBI 137LPhysical Biology of the Cell4
MCELLBI 141Developmental Biology4
MCELLBI 143Evolution of Genomes, Cells, and Development3
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C148Microbial Genomics and Genetics4
MCELLBI 149The Human Genome3
MCELLBI 150Molecular Immunology4
MCELLBI 153Molecular Medicine4
MCELLBI 166Biophysical Neurobiology3
MCELLBI C175Life Sciences, Business, and Entrepreneurship Capstone Course (restricted to LSBE students only)4
NEU 100ACellular and Molecular Neurobiology4
NEU 100BCircuit, Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience4
NEU 165Neurobiology of Disease3
PHYSICS 112Introduction to Statistical and Thermal Physics4
PHYSICS 177Principles of Molecular Biophysics3
PLANTBI 135Physiology and Biochemistry of Plants3
PLANTBI 150Plant Cell Biology3
PLANTBI 160Plant Molecular Genetics3
PB HLTH 141Introduction to Biostatistics5
PB HLTH 142Introduction to Probability and Statistics in Biology and Public Health4
STAT C131AStatistical Methods for Data Science4
Cell Biology, Development & Physiology ELECTIVES
CDP ELECTIVE LIST A (Track 1, minimum of one course) 
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C103Bacterial Pathogenesis3
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C112General Microbiology4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C114Introduction to Comparative Virology4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C116Microbial Diversity3
MCELLBI C117Advanced Plant Biochemistry4
MCELLBI 132Biology of Human Cancer4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C134Genome Organization and Nuclear Dynamics3
MCELLBI 135ATopics in Cell and Developmental Biology: Molecular Endocrinology3
MCELLBI 136Physiology4
MCELLBI 137LPhysical Biology of the Cell4
MCELLBI 141Developmental Biology4
MCELLBI 143Evolution of Genomes, Cells, and Development3
MCELLBI C144Evolution4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C148Microbial Genomics and Genetics4
MCELLBI 149The Human Genome3
MCELLBI 150Molecular Immunology4
MCELLBI 153Molecular Medicine4
MCELLBI 166Biophysical Neurobiology3
MCELLBI C175Life Sciences, Business, and Entrepreneurship Capstone Course (restricted to LSBE students only)4
NEU 100ACellular and Molecular Neurobiology4
NEU 100BCircuit, Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience4
NEU 165Neurobiology of Disease3
CDP Elective List B (Track 2, minimum of one course)
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C103Bacterial Pathogenesis3
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C112General Microbiology4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C114Introduction to Comparative Virology4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C116Microbial Diversity3
MCELLBI C117Advanced Plant Biochemistry4
MCELLBI C130Cell Biology: from Discovery to Disease4
MCELLBI 132Biology of Human Cancer4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C134Genome Organization and Nuclear Dynamics3
MCELLBI 135ATopics in Cell and Developmental Biology: Molecular Endocrinology3
MCELLBI 137LPhysical Biology of the Cell4
MCELLBI 141Developmental Biology4
MCELLBI 143Evolution of Genomes, Cells, and Development3
MCELLBI C144Evolution4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C148Microbial Genomics and Genetics4
MCELLBI 149The Human Genome3
MCELLBI 150Molecular Immunology4
MCELLBI 153Molecular Medicine4
MCELLBI 166Biophysical Neurobiology3
MCELLBI C175Life Sciences, Business, and Entrepreneurship Capstone Course (restricted to LSBE students only)4
NEU 100ACellular and Molecular Neurobiology4
NEU 100BCircuit, Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience4
NEU 165Neurobiology of Disease3
INTEGBI 103LFInvertebrate Zoology with Laboratory5
INTEGBI 104LFNatural History of the Vertebrates with Laboratory5
INTEGBI 117
117LF
Medical Ethnobotany
and Medical Ethnobotany Laboratory (Both courses must be taken to count as an elective.)
4
INTEGBI 123ALExercise and Environmental Physiology with Laboratory5
INTEGBI 131General Human Anatomy3
INTEGBI 137Human Endocrinology4
INTEGBI 140Biology of Human Reproduction4
INTEGBI C143A/PSYCH C113Biological Clocks: Physiology and Behavior3
INTEGBI 148Comparative Animal Physiology3
NUSCTX 103Nutrient Function and Metabolism4
NUSCTX 108AIntroduction and Application of Food Science3
NUSCTX 110Toxicology4
NUSCTX 160Metabolic Bases of Human Health and Diseases4
NUSCTX 161AMedical Nutrition Therapy4
PLANTBI 135Physiology and Biochemistry of Plants3
PLANTBI 150Plant Cell Biology3
PLANTBI 160Plant Molecular Genetics3
PSYCH 110Introduction to Biological Psychology3
PSYCH C113Biological Clocks: Physiology and Behavior3
PSYCH C116/INTEGBI C143BHormones and Behavior3
PB HLTH 141Introduction to Biostatistics5
PB HLTH 150BHuman Health and the Environment in a Changing World3
PB HLTH 162APublic Health Microbiology4
PB HLTH 142Introduction to Probability and Statistics in Biology and Public Health4
STAT C131AStatistical Methods for Data Science4
GENETICS, GENOMICS, EVOLUTION & DEVELOPMENT ELECTIVES (both tracks, minimum of two courses: one from List A and one from List B or both from List B)
GGED Elective List A
CHEM 113Advanced Mechanistic Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 115Organic Chemistry--Advanced Laboratory Methods4
CHEM 130BBiophysical Chemistry3
ESPM C148/NUSCTX C114Pesticide Chemistry and Toxicology3
ESPM 162Bioethics and Society4
MATH 110Abstract Linear Algebra 14
MCELLBI 100BBiochemistry: Pathways, Mechanisms, and Regulation4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C103Bacterial Pathogenesis3
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C112General Microbiology4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C114Introduction to Comparative Virology4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C116Microbial Diversity3
MCELLBI C117Advanced Plant Biochemistry4
MCELLBI C130Cell Biology: from Discovery to Disease4
MCELLBI 135ATopics in Cell and Developmental Biology: Molecular Endocrinology3
MCELLBI 136Physiology4
MCELLBI C144Evolution4
MCELLBI 150Molecular Immunology4
MCELLBI 153Molecular Medicine4
MCELLBI 166Biophysical Neurobiology3
MCELLBI C175Life Sciences, Business, and Entrepreneurship Capstone Course (restricted to LSBE students only)4
NEU 100ACellular and Molecular Neurobiology4
NEU 100BCircuit, Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience4
NEU 165Neurobiology of Disease3
NUSCTX C114/ESPM C148Pesticide Chemistry and Toxicology3
PHYSICS 112Introduction to Statistical and Thermal Physics 14
PLANTBI 135Physiology and Biochemistry of Plants3
PLANTBI 150Plant Cell Biology3
GGED ELECTIVE LIST B
BIO ENG 131Introduction to Computational Molecular and Cell Biology 14
BIO ENG 143Computational Methods in Biology4
BIO ENG 144Introduction to Protein Informatics 14
CMPBIO 156Human Genome, Environment and Public Health4
ESPM 108BEnvironmental Change Genetics3
INTEGBI 161Population and Evolutionary Genetics4
INTEGBI 162Ecological Genetics4
INTEGBI 163Course Not Available
MATH 127Mathematical and Computational Methods in Molecular Biology 14
MCELLBI 132Biology of Human Cancer4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C134Genome Organization and Nuclear Dynamics3
MCELLBI 137LPhysical Biology of the Cell4
MCELLBI 141Developmental Biology (for track 1 students only)4
MCELLBI 143Evolution of Genomes, Cells, and Development3
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C148Microbial Genomics and Genetics4
MCELLBI 149The Human Genome3
PLANTBI/MCELLBI C134Genome Organization and Nuclear Dynamics3
PLANTBI 160Plant Molecular Genetics3
PB HLTH 141Introduction to Biostatistics5
PB HLTH 142Introduction to Probability and Statistics in Biology and Public Health4
PB HLTH 256Human Genome, Environment and Public Health4
STAT C131AStatistical Methods for Data Science4
STAT 134Concepts of Probability 14
IMMUNOLOGY & MOLECULAR MEDICINE ELECTIVES
IMM Elective List A (Track 2, minimum of two courses: one from List A and one from List B or both from List A) 
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C103Bacterial Pathogenesis3
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C112General Microbiology4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C114Introduction to Comparative Virology4
IMM ELECTIVE LIST B 
MCELLBI C130Cell Biology: from Discovery to Disease4
MCELLBI 132Biology of Human Cancer4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C134Genome Organization and Nuclear Dynamics3
MCELLBI 135ATopics in Cell and Developmental Biology: Molecular Endocrinology3
MCELLBI 136Physiology4
MCELLBI 141Developmental Biology4
MCELLBI 143Evolution of Genomes, Cells, and Development3
MCELLBI 149The Human Genome3
MCELLBI 153Molecular Medicine4
MCELLBI C175Life Sciences, Business, and Entrepreneurship Capstone Course (restricted to LSBE students only)4
MCELLBI 250Advanced Immunology4
NEU 100ACellular and Molecular Neurobiology4
NEU 100BCircuit, Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience4
IMM ELECTIVE LIST C (Track 1, minimum of one course)
BIO ENG 131Introduction to Computational Molecular and Cell Biology4
MCELLBI 100BBiochemistry: Pathways, Mechanisms, and Regulation4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C103Bacterial Pathogenesis3
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C112General Microbiology4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C114Introduction to Comparative Virology4
MCELLBI C130Cell Biology: from Discovery to Disease4
MCELLBI 132Biology of Human Cancer4
MCELLBI/PLANTBI C134Genome Organization and Nuclear Dynamics3
MCELLBI 135ATopics in Cell and Developmental Biology: Molecular Endocrinology3
MCELLBI 141Developmental Biology4
MCELLBI 149The Human Genome3
MCELLBI 153Molecular Medicine4
MCELLBI C175Life Sciences, Business, and Entrepreneurship Capstone Course (restricted to LSBE students only)4
MCELLBI 250Advanced Immunology4
IMM elective list d (TRACK 3, minimum one course)
Molecular and Cell Biology
MCELLBI C103Bacterial Pathogenesis3
MCELLBI C112General Microbiology4
MCELLBI C114Introduction to Comparative Virology4
MCELLBI C130Cell Biology: from Discovery to Disease4
MCELLBI 132Biology of Human Cancer4
MCELLBI C134Genome Organization and Nuclear Dynamics3
MCELLBI 135ATopics in Cell and Developmental Biology: Molecular Endocrinology3
MCELLBI 136Physiology4
MCELLBI 141Developmental Biology4
MCELLBI 149The Human Genome3
MCELLBI C175Life Sciences, Business, and Entrepreneurship Capstone Course4
MCELLBI 250Advanced Immunology4
NEU 100ACellular and Molecular Neurobiology4
NEU 100BCircuit, Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience4
NEU 165Neurobiology of Disease3
Plant and Microbial Biology
PLANTBI C103Bacterial Pathogenesis3
PLANTBI C112General Microbiology4
PLANTBI C114Introduction to Comparative Virology4
Bioengineering
BIO ENG 131Introduction to Computational Molecular and Cell Biology4
Molecular Therapeutics electives
mtX elective List A: Process, ethics, and economics of drug discovery
MCELLBI 100BBiochemistry: Pathways, Mechanisms, and Regulation4
MCELLBI 110Molecular Biology: Macromolecular Synthesis and Cellular Function4
MCELLBI 153Molecular Medicine4
MCELLBI C175Life Sciences, Business, and Entrepreneurship Capstone Course4
BIO ENG 100Ethics in Science and Engineering3
BIO ENG 143Computational Methods in Biology4
CHM ENG 182Nanoscience and Engineering Biotechnology3
CHEM 121Introduction to Computational Chemistry3
NUSCTX 121Computational Toxicology3
PB HLTH 142Introduction to Probability and Statistics in Biology and Public Health4
STAT C131AStatistical Methods for Data Science4
mtX elective LIST B: Mechanisms of disease
MCELLBI C103Bacterial Pathogenesis3
MCELLBI C114Introduction to Comparative Virology4
MCELLBI 132Biology of Human Cancer4
MCELLBI 135ATopics in Cell and Developmental Biology: Molecular Endocrinology3
MCELLBI 136Physiology4
MCELLBI 149The Human Genome3
NEU 165Neurobiology of Disease3
NUSCTX 110Toxicology4
NEUROBIOLOGY ELECTIVES (MINIMUM ONE COURSE)
BIO ENG 121BioMEMS and Medical Devices4
COG SCI/PSYCH C127Cognitive Neuroscience3
INTEGBI 139The Neurobiology of Stress4
INTEGBI C143A/PSYCH C113Biological Clocks: Physiology and Behavior3
INTEGBI C143B/PSYCH C116Course Not Available
INTEGBI C144/ESPM C126Animal Behavior4
MATH 110Abstract Linear Algebra4
MATH 127Mathematical and Computational Methods in Molecular Biology4
MATH 128ANumerical Analysis4
MATH 128BNumerical Analysis4
MCELLBI C130Cell Biology: from Discovery to Disease4
MCELLBI 132Biology of Human Cancer4
MCELLBI 135ATopics in Cell and Developmental Biology: Molecular Endocrinology3
MCELLBI 136Physiology4
MCELLBI 137LPhysical Biology of the Cell4
MCELLBI 141Developmental Biology4
MCELLBI 150Molecular Immunology4
MCELLBI 153Molecular Medicine4
MCELLBI 166Biophysical Neurobiology3
MCELLBI C175Life Sciences, Business, and Entrepreneurship Capstone Course (restricted to LSBE students only)4
NEU 171LNeurobiology Laboratory4
NEU 173LNeuroanatomy Laboratory4
NEU 165Neurobiology of Disease3
PHYSICS 112Introduction to Statistical and Thermal Physics4
PSYCH 117Human Neuropsychology3
PB HLTH 141Introduction to Biostatistics5
PB HLTH 142Introduction to Probability and Statistics in Biology and Public Health4
STAT C131AStatistical Methods for Data Science4

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For a detailed lists of L&S requirements, please see Overview tab to the right in this guide or visit the L&S Degree Requirements webpage. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley and must be taken for a letter grade. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and American Institutions requirements are based on the principle that all U.S. residents who have graduated from an American university should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this campus requirement course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses are plentiful and offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.

College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer/data science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course taken for a letter grade.

Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work taken for a letter grade.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College of Letters and Science requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses in sequential order by the end of their fourth semester for a letter grade.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

Breadth Requirements

The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.

Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units

  • Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units

  • Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
Residence Requirements

For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes at Cal for four years, or two years for transfer students. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you graduate early, go abroad for a semester or year, or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an L&S College adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.

Senior Residence Requirement

After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your B.A. degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.

You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.

Upper Division Residence Requirement

You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.

Plan of Study

Sample four-year plans are available on the Molecular & Cell Biology department website for each emphasis (concentration):

Student Learning Goals

Mission

The Department of Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) is a large department that is subdivided into five divisions: Biochemistry, Biophysics & Structural Biology (BBS); Cell Biology, Development & Physiology (CDP); Genetics, Genomics, Evolution, and Development (GGED); Immunology & Molecular Medicine (IMM); Molecular Therapeutics (MTX) and Neurobiology (NEU). All MCB students complete the same lower-division coursework to gain critical training in biology, mathematics, chemistry, and physics (except for BBS track 2 Biological Chemistry, please see the MCB website for details). Most lower-division coursework is completed before the major declaration. Upon declaring the major, MCB students choose an emphasis and track, which determines the upper-division core courses they will take and elective choices from which they will choose. Students can choose among several areas of specialization; emphases are broadly defined along divisional lines and allow students to focus on a more defined topic within MCB. MCB students who elect to participate in independent research may choose from sponsoring research laboratories within any MCB division, or in laboratories outside the department (other Berkeley departments, LBNL, CHORI, UCSF, biotechnology companies). The MCB major provides excellent preparation for many careers and post-baccalaureate training programs, including graduate programs and health-related professional programs (e.g., medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy), science writing, law school, biotechnology, teaching, and academic research.

Learning Goals for the Major

  1. Describe basic biological concepts and principles.
  2. Appreciate the different levels of biological organization, from molecules to ecosystems.
  3. Understand that biology has a chemical, physical, and mathematical basis.
  4. Explain the importance of the scientific method to understanding natural phenomena.
  5. Effectively communicate scientific data and ideas, both orally and in writing.
  6. Critically evaluate data, develop a hypothesis, and design experiments to address an interesting and novel problem.
  7. Demonstrate advanced knowledge in a specialized field of molecular and cell biology.

Major Map

Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:

  • Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study

  • Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success

  • Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression

  • Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world

  • Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley

Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.

View the Molecular and Cell Biology Major Map PDF.

Advising

MCB offers three types of undergraduate advising: staff advisers, faculty advisors, and peer advisors.

Staff Advisers

Staff academic advisors (aka Major Advisors) are trained to support students and assist them in successfully completing their MCB major. They are excellent resources for questions concerning administration and academics, or finding out about other available services. Students should see a staff adviser for the following:

  • Ask questions about major requirements.
  • Ask for advice about schedule planning.
  • Declare the MCB major.
  • Consult about research opportunities, graduate and professional schools, career opportunities, scholarships, and internships.
  • Get information about research and enroll in research units.
  • Request general assistance, advice, or information.
  • Find out about upcoming events and programs.

Staff advisers are available for pre-scheduled appointments and short-notice appointments for specific services. If students would like to schedule an appointment, they can review their scheduling options on our Advising Services page for more information.

The general email address is mcbuao@berkeley.edu which is checked daily, Monday through Friday.

Faculty Advisers

Faculty advisors are MCB professors assigned to advise students about the MCB department, its courses, its research, and other academic issues. Students typically first meet with a faculty advisor when they declare an MCB major. Students should see their faculty advisers for the following:

  • Receive guidance toward achieving academic and career goals.
  • Ask questions about the content of MCB courses.
  • Ask questions about biological research and about the field of biology in general.
  • Ask for recommendations on which graduate schools to attend.
  • Review and approve the major declaration plans after speaking with a UAO staff adviser.

For a list of advisors and their office hours, please see the department's website.  Faculty adviser office hours are effective from the first day of instruction until the final day of instruction for the fall and spring semesters. Faculty advisers are not available for office hours during winter or summer break. 

Peer Adviser Walk-in Services (PAWS)

Peer advisers are junior and senior MCB majors who volunteer their time to complement the UAO advising services by sharing their knowledge of and experience with lower-division requirements and upper-division classes, experience with student groups on campus, preparation for life beyond the BA, and use of various campus resources. To see the schedule and more information about who the peer advisers are and which courses they have taken, click here.

Academic Opportunities

Undergraduate Research

Under the guidance of a faculty member and/or research mentor, undergraduates in the MCB major may have the opportunity to work in a laboratory to gain valuable experience in scientific research. Interested students must take the initiative to make such arrangements. Over 70 % of MCB students work in a lab to gain valuable experience in scientific research. To get started, students should talk with classmates, peer advisers, a staff undergraduate adviser, graduate student instructors (GSIs), and faculty about their interest in learning more about laboratory research. For more information on research, see How to Find a Lab Position.

Benefits of research:

  • Science is a way to figure things out, so doing research will aid students in other aspects of their life. Students will ask and answer open-ended questions and link seemingly disconnected pieces of information to find results that were not predicted.
  • Explore things at the cutting edge and that no one has explored before.
  • Learn tenacity, problem-solving, and to be critical about the details because things have to be reproducible. 
  • Solve mysteries and experience the excitement of discovery.

Students may receive academic credit for their work by enrolling in an independent study course: MCELLBI 99/MCELLBI 199/MCELLBI 191 or MCELLBI H196A/MCELLBI H196B. Enrollment applications are due in the Undergraduate Advising Office by the third Friday of each semester. For application instructions, see our website

Honors Program

The MCB honors program offers exceptional senior students recognition for outstanding academic achievement and excellence in research. To graduate with honors in the major, students must satisfy the following:

  1. Complete at least two credited semesters of research including four to eight units of MCELLBI H196A and/or MCELLBI H196B (Honors Research).
  2. Have a cumulative Berkeley grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.5 in all work completed at UC Berkeley.
  3. Have at least a 3.5 GPA in the MCB major requirements or 3.5 GPA in MCB upper-division courses.
  4. Present their research in an approved forum, such as an MCB symposium, the Undergraduate Poster Session, or other scientific meeting.
  5. Write an honors thesis approved by an MCB faculty sponsor.

Additional information on the honors program is available in the Undergraduate Affairs Office and on the MCB website.

Other Research Opportunities

For additional resources for information regarding research opportunities, please see the links below:

Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP)

Scholarship Connection

Summer Research Opportunities

MCB Research Resilience Program

Funding for Student Research

There are a variety of ways to support your research. The department recommends attending a workshop at the Office of Undergraduate Research or looking for funding opportunities on their website or the Scholarship Connection website.

Related Courses

Contact Information

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

3060 Valley Life Sciences Bldg

Phone: 510-642-2651

mcbchair@berkeley.edu

Visit Department Website

Undergraduate Advising

Undergraduate Affairs Office

3060 Valley Life Sciences Building

Phone: 510-643-8895

mcbuao@berkeley.edu

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