Molecular Environmental Biology

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Science (BS)

The Molecular Environmental Biology (MEB) major is designed to expose students to the organization and function of biological organisms. Molecular approaches are expected to play an increasing role in environmental problem-solving in the near future, and their success will depend upon a sound understanding of biological principles from molecular through ecological levels. The program trains students in the organization and function of biological organisms and their integration into the environment.

Declaring the Major

Advice on admission for freshmen and transfer students can be found on the Rausser College Admissions Guide page or the Rausser College Prospective Student website. Freshman students may apply directly to the major, or they may select the Rausser College of Natural Resource's undeclared option and declare the major by the end of their fourth semester. Transfer students apply directly to the major through the UC application.

Information for current Berkeley students who would like to declare the major after admission, including information on change of major or change of college, please see chapter 6 of the Rausser College of Natural Resources Undergraduate Student Handbook. Students can meet with peer advisors or academic advisors for full guidance. 

  • There is a 3.0 GPA requirement to transfer into the Rausser College of Natural Resources from other colleges on campus.
  • Required pre-requisite courses to declare the Molecular Environmental Biology major are: Reading & Composition Part A and Part B, Chemistry 1A/1AL and 3A/3AL, one semester of Biology (1A/1AL or 1B), Math 1A or 16A or 10A, and a second quantitative course in either Math (1B, 16B, 10B) or Statistics (STAT 2, C8, 20, 131A, PB HLTH 141, 142, W142).
    • It is recommended that students complete the ESPM lower-division core courses prior to declaring.
  • Undeclared students in Rausser College must declare a major by the end of their fourth semester. Failure to declare a major by junior standing will result in a registration block on further enrollment.
  • Current UC Berkeley students who entered as freshmen are expected to be able to graduate in a total of 8 semesters (summers excluded). Exceptions are rarely granted. Students should be progressing in major requirements each semester.
  • All major requirements must be taken for a letter grade and passed with a C- or better (including breadth). Please see the College Requirements page for any exceptions to this policy.
  • Both halves of the Reading and Composition requirement must be completed by the end of the fourth semester. 

Honors Program

Students with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.6 or higher may enroll in the Rausser College of Natural Resources Honors Program (ESPM H196) once they have reached upper-division standing. To fulfill the program requirements, students design, conduct, and report on an individual research project working with a faculty sponsor. For further information on registering for the Honors Symposium and on Honors requirements, please see the Rausser College of Natural Resources website.

Minor Program

There is no minor program in Molecular Environmental Biology.

Other Majors and Minors Offered by the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

Conservation and Resource Studies (Major and Minor)
Environmental Sciences (Major only)
Food Systems (Minor only)
Ecosystem Management and Forestry (Major and Minor)
Geospatial​ Information Science and Technology (Minor only)
Society and Environment (Major only)

Visit Department Website

Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program. Please see the MEB Major Snapshot for an overview. 

All students must complete Reading & Composition Parts A & B by the end of sophomore year.

The Rausser College of Natural Resources Undergraduate Handbook serves as a guide to the academic policies and information that students need in order to be successful while completing their coursework at Berkeley

Structure of the MEB Major

The lower-division coursework provides a strong foundation in biological principles, and the upper-division areas introduce students to the organization and function of biological organisms at the molecular, cellular, organismal, and ecological levels. The major also offers specialization through six Areas of Concentration: (1) animal health and behavior, (2) biodiversity, (3) ecology, (4) environmental and human health, (5) global change biology, and (6) insect biology/arthropod science

**The curriculum has been revised effective Fall 2016.  Students admitted prior to Fall 16 and following the previous curriculum should refer to the 15-16 Guide.

Lower Division Requirements

Breadth Requirement 

Two courses. Select courses from "Breadth Requirements" Categories.

□ One course (3-4 units) in Arts & Literature, Historical Studies, or Philosophy & Values

□ One course (3-4 units) in Social & Behavioral Sciences or International Studies

Core Requirements

ESPM Core (Environmental Science, Social Science), Quantitative Core (Calculus, Statistics), and Science Core (Chemistry, Biology, Physics)

ESPM Environmental Science Core (1 course)
Select one of the following:
The Biosphere [3]
Environmental Biology [3]
Environmental Issues [4]
Introduction to Environmental Sciences [3]
Climate Change and the Future of California [4]
ESPM Social Science Core (1 course)
Select one of the following:
FROM FARM TO TABLE: FOOD SYSTEMS IN A CHANGING WORLD [4]
Americans and the Global Forest [4]
Fire: Past, Present and Future Interactions with the People and Ecosystems of California [4]
Introduction to Culture and Natural Resource Management [4]
History of Native American Land, Colonialism, and Heritage Preservation [3]
Environmental Policy, Administration, and Law [4]
Quantitative Core (2 courses)
Select one of the following:
Analytic Geometry and Calculus [3]
Calculus [4]
Methods of Mathematics: Calculus, Statistics, and Combinatorics [4]
AND select one of the following:
Analytic Geometry and Calculus [3]
Calculus [4]
Methods of Mathematics: Calculus, Statistics, and Combinatorics [4]
Introduction to Statistics [4]
Foundations of Data Science [4]
Introduction to Probability and Statistics [4]
Statistical Methods for Data Science [4]
Introduction to Biostatistics [5]
Introduction to Probability and Statistics in Biology and Public Health [4]
Introduction to Probability and Statistics in Biology and Public Health [4]
Science Core
Complete ALL of the following:
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory
Chemical Structure and Reactivity
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory
Chemical Structure and Reactivity
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory
General Biology Lecture
and General Biology Laboratory
General Biology Lecture and Laboratory [4]
Introductory Physics [4] 1
1

For pre-health students, PHYSICS 8B is required in addition to PHYSICS 8A.

Upper-division Requirements

Select two courses from Area A and two courses from Area B. Complete at least 12 units in one Area of Concentration. Complete two upper-division laboratory courses. Area A, Area B, and Area of Concentration courses may not overlap. Overlap is allowed between the lab requirement and Area requirements. 

Area A: Genetics, Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology

Select two courses from the following list.

CHEM 135Chemical Biology3
ESPM 108BEnvironmental Change Genetics (lab included)3
ESPM 154Landscape Genetics4
INTEGBI 134LPractical Genomics4
INTEGBI 141Human Genetics3
INTEGBI 161Population and Evolutionary Genetics4
INTEGBI 162Ecological Genetics4
INTEGBI 164Human Genetics and Genomics (lab included)4
MCELLBI C100A/CHEM C130Biophysical Chemistry: Physical Principles and the Molecules of Life4
MCELLBI 102Survey of the Principles of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology4
MCELLBI 104Genetics, Genomics, and Cell Biology4
MCELLBI 110Molecular Biology: Macromolecular Synthesis and Cellular Function4
MCELLBI/NUSCTX C130Cell Biology: from Discovery to Disease4
MCELLBI 133LPhysiology and Cell Biology Laboratory (lab included)4
MCELLBI 137LPhysical Biology of the Cell (lab included)4
MCELLBI 140General Genetics4
MCELLBI 141Developmental Biology4
MCELLBI 170LMolecular and Cell Biology Laboratory4
PLANTBI C103Bacterial Pathogenesis3
PLANTBI/INTEGBI C109Evolution and Ecology of Development3
PLANTBI/MCELLBI C112General Microbiology4
PLANTBI C134Genome Organization and Nuclear Dynamics3
PLANTBI 135Physiology and Biochemistry of Plants3
PLANTBI C136Advanced Plant Biochemistry4
PLANTBI C148Microbial Genomics and Genetics4
PLANTBI 150Plant Cell Biology3
PLANTBI 160Plant Molecular Genetics3
PB HLTH 162APublic Health Microbiology4

Area B: Organismal Biology, Physiology, and Ecology

Select two courses from the following list.

ENE,RES 101Ecology and Society3
ESPM/INTEGBI C105Natural History Museums and Biodiversity Science (lab included)3
ESPM 106American Wildlife: Management and Policy in the 21st Century3
ESPM C107Biology and Geomorphology of Tropical Islands15
ESPM 108ATrees: Taxonomy, Growth, and Structures (lab included)3
ESPM 109AIsland and Coral Reef Resilience and Ecosystem Services3
ESPM 111Ecosystem Ecology4
ESPM 112Microbial Ecology3
ESPM 113Insect Ecology3
ESPM 114Wildlife Ecology3
ESPM C115C/INTEGBI C171Fish Ecology (lab included)3
ESPM 116BGrassland and Woodland Ecology (lab included)4
ESPM C125/GEOG C148/INTEGBI C166Biogeography (lab included)4
ESPM 131Soil Microbiology and Biogeochemistry4
ESPM 132Spider Biology (lab included)4
ESPM 137Landscape Ecology (lab included)3
ESPM C138/MCELLBI C114/PLANTBI C114Introduction to Comparative Virology4
ESPM 140General Entomology (lab included)4
ESPM 142Insect Behavior3
ESPM 144Insect Physiology3
ESPM/INTEGBI C153Ecology3
ESPM 186Grassland and Woodland Management and Conservation4
INTEGBI 102LFIntroduction to California Plant Life with Laboratory4
INTEGBI 103LFInvertebrate Zoology with Laboratory5
INTEGBI 104LFNatural History of the Vertebrates with Laboratory5
INTEGBI 132Human Physiology4
INTEGBI 140Biology of Human Reproduction4
INTEGBI 148Comparative Animal Physiology3
INTEGBI 150Evolutionary Environmental Physiology3
INTEGBI 151Plant Physiological Ecology4
INTEGBI 157LFEcosystems of California (lab included)4
INTEGBI C160Evolution4
INTEGBI 168LPlants: Diversity and Evolution (lab included)4
INTEGBI 181LPaleobotany - The 500-Million Year History of a Greening Planet (lab included)4
INTEGBI 184LMorphology of the Vertebrate Skeleton with Laboratory4
MCELLBI 136Physiology4
NUSCTX 103Nutrient Function and Metabolism4
PLANTBI/INTEGBI C110LBiology of Fungi with Laboratory4
PLANTBI 113California Mushrooms (lab included)3
PLANTBI/MCELLBI C116Microbial Diversity3
PLANTBI 120Biology of Algae2
PLANTBI 165Plant-Microbe Interactions3

Lab Requirement

Students are required to take two upper-division laboratory courses in the biological or environmental sciences. Lab courses should include at least three hours of laboratory or field work per week and they may be chosen from one of the following departments: ESPM, PLANTBI, NUSCTX, INTEGBI, MCELLBI (see full list of currently approved lab courses).

One upper-division laboratory may be completed with Summer Forestry Field Camp, the Fall Moorea Field Study course (ESPM C107/ IB 158LF), or the Spring Moorea Field Study Program (ESPM 109A-E). 

Independent study research may be used to satisfy one of the two lab requirements: 3-4 units of  199 courses in ESPM, PLANTBI, NUSCTX, INTEGBI, MCELLBI; or an H196 from ESPM, PLANTBI, or NUSCTX; or UGIS 192C courses. Consult with the major advisor for details. 

Area of Concentration Requirement

Select at least 12 units from one of the concentrations below. Up to four independent study units may be applied to the concentration (199 courses in ESPM, PLANTBI, NUSCTX, INTEGBI, MCELLBI; H196 from ESPM, PLANTBI, or NUSCTX; or UGIS 192C).

Animal Health & Behavior

ESPM C103/INTEGBI C156Principles of Conservation Biology4
ESPM 106American Wildlife: Management and Policy in the 21st Century3
ESPM C107Biology and Geomorphology of Tropical Islands15
ESPM 109BPolynesian Culture and Society3
ESPM 114Wildlife Ecology3
ESPM C126/INTEGBI C144Animal Behavior4
ESPM 139AGenetics of Amphibian Declines CURE3
ESPM 142Insect Behavior4,3
ESPM C156/INTEGBI C145Animal Communication3
ESPM 157Data Science in Global Change Ecology (lab included)4
ESPM 186Grassland and Woodland Management and Conservation4
INTEGBI 104LFNatural History of the Vertebrates with Laboratory5
INTEGBI 114Infectious Disease Dynamics4
INTEGBI 118Organismal Microbiomes and Host-Pathogen Interactions4
INTEGBI 120Introduction to Quantitative Methods In Biology (lab included)4
INTEGBI C143A/PSYCH C113Biological Clocks: Physiology and Behavior3
INTEGBI 148Comparative Animal Physiology3
INTEGBI 173LFMammalogy with Laboratory5
INTEGBI 174LFOrnithology with Laboratory4
INTEGBI 175LFHerpetology with Laboratory4
INTEGBI 177LFIchthyology: An Introduction to the Scientific Process Through Research on Fishes (lab included)4
INTEGBI 184LMorphology of the Vertebrate Skeleton with Laboratory4

Biodiversity

ENE,RES 101Ecology and Society3
ESPM C103/INTEGBI C156Principles of Conservation Biology4
ESPM/INTEGBI C105Natural History Museums and Biodiversity Science (lab included)3
ESPM C107Biology and Geomorphology of Tropical Islands15
ESPM 106American Wildlife: Management and Policy in the 21st Century3
ESPM 108ATrees: Taxonomy, Growth, and Structures (lab included)3
ESPM 112Microbial Ecology3
ESPM 113Insect Ecology3
ESPM 114Wildlife Ecology3
ESPM C115C/INTEGBI C176LFish Ecology (lab included)3
ESPM C125/GEOG C148/INTEGBI C166Biogeography (lab included)4
ESPM C126/INTEGBI C144Animal Behavior4
ESPM 131Soil Microbiology and Biogeochemistry4
ESPM 132Spider Biology (lab included)4
ESPM 139AGenetics of Amphibian Declines CURE3
ESPM 140General Entomology (lab included)4
ESPM 142Insect Behavior3
ESPM 147Field Entomology (“Ants,” “Beetles,” and “Spiders” (1 unit each) SP. All three courses must be completed to equal one “lab course”)1
ESPM C156/INTEGBI C145Animal Communication3
ESPM 157Data Science in Global Change Ecology (lab included)4
ESPM 174AApplied Time Series Analysis for Ecology and Environmental Sciences3
ESPM/PLANTBI C192Molecular Approaches to Environmental Problem Solving2
INTEGBI 102LFIntroduction to California Plant Life with Laboratory4
INTEGBI 104LFNatural History of the Vertebrates with Laboratory5
INTEGBI 108Marine Biology4
INTEGBI C160Evolution4
INTEGBI 168LPlants: Diversity and Evolution (lab included)4
INTEGBI 173LFMammalogy with Laboratory5
INTEGBI 174LFOrnithology with Laboratory4
INTEGBI 175LFHerpetology with Laboratory4
INTEGBI 177LFIchthyology: An Introduction to the Scientific Process Through Research on Fishes (lab included)4
INTEGBI 184LMorphology of the Vertebrate Skeleton with Laboratory4
PLANTBI/INTEGBI C110LBiology of Fungi with Laboratory4
PLANTBI/MCELLBI C116Microbial Diversity3
PLANTBI 120Biology of Algae2
PLANTBI 120LLaboratory for Biology of Algae2

 Ecology

ENE,RES 101Ecology and Society3
ESPM C103/INTEGBI C156Principles of Conservation Biology4
ESPM 105ASierra Nevada Ecology (Summer Forestry Camp)4
ESPM C107Biology and Geomorphology of Tropical Islands15
ESPM 111Ecosystem Ecology4
ESPM 112Microbial Ecology3
ESPM 112LMicrobial Metagenomic Data Analysis Lab1
ESPM 113Insect Ecology3
ESPM 114Wildlife Ecology3
ESPM C115A/INTEGBI C171Freshwater Ecology3
ESPM C115C/INTEGBI C176LFish Ecology (lab included)3
ESPM 116BGrassland and Woodland Ecology (lab included)4
ESPM 117Urban Garden Ecosystems (lab included)4
ESPM 118Agricultural Ecology4
ESPM C125/GEOG C148/INTEGBI C166Biogeography (lab included)4
ESPM C130/CIV ENG C103N/GEOG C136Terrestrial Hydrology4
ESPM 131Soil Microbiology and Biogeochemistry3
ESPM 134Fire, Insects, and Diseases in Forest Ecosystems3
ESPM 137Landscape Ecology (lab included)3
ESPM 139AGenetics of Amphibian Declines CURE3
ESPM 147Field Entomology (“Ants,” “Beetles,” and “Spiders” (1 unit each) SP. All three courses must be completed to equal one “lab course”)1
ESPM 152Global Change Biology3
ESPM/INTEGBI C153Ecology3
ESPM 157Data Science in Global Change Ecology (lab included)4
ESPM 173Introduction to Ecological Data Analysis (lab included)3
ESPM 174AApplied Time Series Analysis for Ecology and Environmental Sciences3
ESPM 181AFire Ecology (lab included)3
INTEGBI 102LFIntroduction to California Plant Life with Laboratory4
INTEGBI 108Marine Biology4
INTEGBI 114Infectious Disease Dynamics4
INTEGBI 120Introduction to Quantitative Methods In Biology4
INTEGBI 151Plant Physiological Ecology4
INTEGBI 151LPlant Physiological Ecology Laboratory2
INTEGBI C160Evolution4

 Environment & Human Health

ANTHRO 135Paleoethnobotany: Archaeological Methods and Laboratory Techniques (lab included)4
ESPM C107Biology and Geomorphology of Tropical Islands15
ESPM C126/INTEGBI C144Animal Behavior4
ESPM C138/MCELLBI C114/PLANTBI C114Introduction to Comparative Virology4
ESPM 152Global Change Biology3
ESPM 157Data Science in Global Change Ecology (lab included)4
ESPM 162AHealth, Medicine, Society and Environment4
ESPM C167/PB HLTH C160Environmental Health and Development4
ESPM 189AUrban Ecology and Evolution4
INTEGBI 114Infectious Disease Dynamics4
INTEGBI 116LMedical Parasitology (lab included)4
INTEGBI 117Medical Ethnobotany2
INTEGBI 117LFMedical Ethnobotany Laboratory2
INTEGBI 118Organismal Microbiomes and Host-Pathogen Interactions4
INTEGBI 120Introduction to Quantitative Methods In Biology (lab included)4
INTEGBI 131General Human Anatomy3
INTEGBI 131LGeneral Human Anatomy Laboratory3
INTEGBI 137Human Endocrinology4
INTEGBI 139The Neurobiology of Stress4
INTEGBI 140Biology of Human Reproduction4
INTEGBI C160Evolution4
MCELLBI C103Bacterial Pathogenesis3
MCELLBI 135ATopics in Cell and Developmental Biology: Molecular Endocrinology3
MCELLBI 150Molecular Immunology4
MCELLBI 160Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology4
NUSCTX 103Nutrient Function and Metabolism4
NUSCTX 108AIntroduction and Application of Food Science3
NUSCTX 160Metabolic Bases of Human Health and Diseases4
NUSCTX 166Nutrition in the Community3
PLANTBI/MCELLBI C103Bacterial Pathogenesis3
PB HLTH 101A Sustainable World: Challenges and Opportunities3
PB HLTH 112Global Health: A Multidisciplinary Examination4
PB HLTH 116Seminar on Social, Political, and Ethical Issues in Health and Medicine (P/NP okay for major)3
PB HLTH 132Artificial Intelligence for Health and Healthcare3
PB HLTH 150BHuman Health and the Environment in a Changing World3
PB HLTH 167Applied GIS for Public Health3
PSYCH 110Introduction to Biological Psychology3

Global Change Biology

CIV ENG 107Climate Change Mitigation3
ENE,RES 101Ecology and Society3
ENE,RES 102Quantitative Aspects of Global Environmental Problems4
ENE,RES/ENVECON/IAS C176Climate Change Economics4
ENVECON/ECON C102Natural Resource Economics4
EPS 102History and Evolution of Planet Earth4
EPS 115Stratigraphy and Earth History4
EPS C181/GEOG C139Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics3
ESPM C107Biology and Geomorphology of Tropical Islands15
ESPM 108BEnvironmental Change Genetics (lab included)3
ESPM/LD ARCH C110AEcological Analysis4
ESPM C125/GEOG C148/INTEGBI C166Biogeography (lab included)4
ESPM 137Landscape Ecology (lab included)3
ESPM 152Global Change Biology3
ESPM 154Landscape Genetics4
ESPM 157Data Science in Global Change Ecology (lab included)4
ESPM C167/PB HLTH C160Environmental Health and Development4
ESPM C170/EPS C183Carbon Cycle Dynamics3
ESPM 174AApplied Time Series Analysis for Ecology and Environmental Sciences3
ESPM 189AUrban Ecology and Evolution4
GEOG 140APhysical Landscapes: Process and Form4
GEOG 142Global Climate Variability and Change4
GEOG 143Global Change Biogeochemistry3
GEOG 149BClimate Impacts and Risk Analysis3
GEOG/LD ARCH C188Geographic Information Science4
INTEGBI 159The Living Planet: Impact of the Biosphere on the Earth System3
PLANTBI 122Bioenergy2

Insect Biology/Arthropod Science

ESPM 140: General Entomology (4 units) is required for this concentration

ESPM 140General Entomology (Required for this concentration. Lab included.)4
ESPM/INTEGBI C105Natural History Museums and Biodiversity Science (lab included)3
ESPM C107Biology and Geomorphology of Tropical Islands15
ESPM 132Spider Biology (lab included)4
ESPM 134Fire, Insects, and Diseases in Forest Ecosystems3
ESPM 142Insect Behavior3
ESPM 144Insect Physiology3
ESPM 147Field Entomology (“Ants,” “Beetles,” and “Spiders” (1 unit each) SP. All three courses must be completed to equal one “lab course”)1
ESPM 174AApplied Time Series Analysis for Ecology and Environmental Sciences3

College Requirements

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing and critical thinking all majors in the College require two semesters of lower division work in composition. Students must complete a first-level reading and composition course by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.

Foreign LanguageEEP Majors only

The Foreign Language requirement is only required by Environmental Economics and Policy (EEP) majors. It 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.

Quantitative ReasoningEEP Majors only

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is only required by Environmental Economics and Policy (EEP) majors. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.

Undergraduate Breadth

Undergraduate breadth provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program and many students complete their breadth courses in their first two years. Breadth courses are built into the Rausser College major requirements and each major requires a different number of breath courses and categories. The EEP major is the only college major that requires the entire 7 course breadth. Refer to the major snapshots on each Rausser College major page for additional information. 

High School Exam Credit

Rausser College students may apply high school exam credit (Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, A-Level Exam) towards many College and Major Requirements. See AP Exam Equivalency Chart and Higher Level IB Exam Equivalency Chart in the Rausser College Student Handbook for more information.

Unit Requirements

Students must complete at least 120 semester units of courses subject to certain guidelines:

  • At least 36 units must be upper division courses, including a minimum of 15 units of upper division courses in the Rausser College. 
  • A maximum of 16 units of Special Studies coursework (courses numbered 97, 98, 99, 197, 198, or 199) is allowed towards the 120 units; a maximum of four is allowed in a given semester.
  • A maximum of 4 units of Physical Education from any school attended will count towards the 120 units.
  • Students may receive unit credit for courses graded P (including P/NP units taken through EAP) up to a limit of one-third of the total units taken and passed on the Berkeley campus at the time of graduation.  Courses taken for P/NP in the Spring 2020 semester will not count toward this limit.

Semester Unit Minimum

All Rausser College students must enroll in at least 12 units each fall and spring semester.

Semester Unit Maximum

To request permission to take more than 20.5 units in a semester, please see the major adviser.

Semester Limit

Students admitted as freshmen must graduate within 8 fall/spring semesters at UC Berkeley. Students admitted as transfer students must graduate within 4 fall/spring semesters at UC Berkeley. Students who go on EAP and UCDC can petition for additional semesters. Other UC-affiliated programs, such as the Gump Station in Moorea, may also be considered.  Summer session, UC Extension and non-UC study abroad programs do not count towards this semester limit. Students approved for double majors or  simultaneous degrees in two colleges may be granted an additional semester. Rausser College does not limit the number of total units a student can accrue.

Senior Residence Requirement

Once you achieve and exceed 90 units (senior status), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence at the Rausser College of Natural Resources over at least 2 semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units taken while the student is a member of Rausser. At least one of the two terms must be a fall or spring semester. Senior residence terms do not need to be completed consecutively. All courses offered on campus for the fall, spring, and summer terms by Berkeley departments and programs and all Berkeley online ('W') courses count. Inter-campus Visitor, Education Abroad Program, UC Berkeley Washington Program, and UC Berkeley Extension units do not count toward this requirement.  Students may use Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence Requirement, provided that 6 units of coursework are completed.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in a fall, spring or summer UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program may meet a modified Senior Residence Requirement by completing 24 of their final 60 semester units in residence (excluding UCEAP). At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after senior status is reached. International travel study programs sponsored by Summer Sessions and education abroad programs offered outside of the UC system do not qualify for modified senior residence.

Most students automatically satisfy the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless students go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through University Extension during their senior year. In these cases, students should make an appointment to see an adviser to determine how they can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Grade Requirements

  • A 2.0 UC GPA is required for graduation.
  • A 2.0 average in all upper division courses required of the major program is required for graduation.
  • A grade of at least C- is required in all courses for the major.  Major and minor coursework taken in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021 may be completed with P/NP grading option.  See more details below.

Changes in Policies and Procedures during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Fall 2020, Spring 2021, SUMMER 2021

After much consultation across the colleges of UC Berkeley, and via our college Executive Committee, the following decisions have been made about the selection of the P/NP grade option (CPN) by undergraduate students during the Fall 2020 & Spring 2021 semesters for the Rausser College of Natural Resources.

  • College Course Requirements: Reading and Composition, Quantitative Reasoning, and Foreign Language requirements normally satisfied with letter grades may be met with a passed (P) grade during the Fall 2020 semester.  This does not include the system-wide Entry Level Writing requirement. College Writing R1A must be taken for a letter grade and completed with a C or better to fulfill the Entry Level Writing requirement.

  • Requirements to Graduate: No changes in policy.

    • Rausser College students must have at least a 2.0 cumulative UC GPA to declare a Rausser College major.

    • Non-Rausser College students must have at least a 3.0 cumulative UC GPA to change to or add a Rausser College major.

    • Students must have at least a 2.0 cumulative UC GPA to graduate, both overall and in the upper-division courses required for the major.

  • Academic Probation: The terms for Academic Probation (AP) have been modified.

    • Rausser CNR students currently in good standing who earn all “P” grades will remain in good standing.  

    • Students currently in good standing who earn NP grades, Incompletes, or failing letter grades for more than 50% of units will be placed on academic probation and will be required to meet with their college advisor and complete an Academic Success Plan for the subsequent semester.

    • Students on AP must take all coursework for letter grades.  Students on AP may be removed from probationary status with sufficient letter graded course work to raise their cumulative GPA above 2.0. 

    • Students on Academic Probation who do not attain sufficient letter-graded coursework to be removed from AP (ie. enough grade points to raise cumulative GPA above 2.0 cumulative GPA) will remain on AP for the subsequent semesterand must complete an Academic Success Plan with their college advisor.

    • Students on Academic Probation who earn NP grades, Incompletes, or failing letter grades for more than 50% of units will be Subject to Dismissal and will be required to meet with their college advisor and complete an Academic Success Plan for the subsequent semester.

  • Term Probation: Students in this category are placed on academic probation if their GPA falls below 1.5 in any fall or spring semester ("Term"). To get back into good standing, you must earn a UC Berkeley term GPA of 2.0 the following regular semester (fall/spring) and maintain an overall GPA of 2.0. If you fail to meet these conditions, you will be subject to dismissal from the University.  For Fall 2020 & Spring 2021, the terms for Term Probation have been modified.

    • Rausser CNR students currently in good standing who earn all “P” grades will remain in good standing and will not be placed on Term Probation.

  • Transferring Credit: If you are taking coursework through another institution in Fall 2020 & Spring 2021, P grades earned will be accepted for all degree requirements.  Note: This does not include the systemwide Entry Level Writing requirement. College Writing R1A must be taken for a letter grade and completed with a C or better to fulfill the Entry Level Writing requirement.

For additional information, please see Changes to Policies and Procedures for Fall 2020, Spring 2021, & Summer 2021.

Spring 2020

In light of the substantial disruptions to instruction caused by the novel coronavirus emergency, the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate made changes to grading options for the Spring 2020 semester.  Rausser College adjusted college requirements as follows:

  • College Course Requirements: All passing course work taken in Spring 2020 may be used for college requirements regardless of the grading option selected.

  • Requirements to Graduate: To graduate, Rausser College students usually must have at least a 2.0 cumulative UC GPA to graduate, both overall and in the upper-division courses required for their major.  For Spring 2020, students with at least a 1.9 cumulative GPA overall and in the upper-division courses required for their major to graduate will be considered as having met the requirement.

  •  Academic Probation: Recognizing the challenges to teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rausser College of Natural Resources will not be penalizing any students’ academic progress for Spring 2020.  

    • Students in good academic standing who earn all “P” grades will remain in good standing.

    • Students, who are in good standing, who earn NP grades, Incompletes, or failing grades for more than 50% of units will be required to meet with their college advisor and complete an Academic Success Plan for Fall 2020 by September 11, 2020, but will not be placed on Academic Probation.

    • Students on Academic Probation may be removed from probationary status with sufficient letter graded course work to raise their cumulative GPA above 2.0. 

    • Students on Academic Probation who do not attain sufficient letter-graded coursework to be removed from AP (ie. enough grade points to raise cumulative GPA above 2.0 cumulative GPA) will remain on AP for Fall 2020 and must complete an Academic Success Plan with their college advisor by September 11, 2020.

  • Term Probation: Recognizing the challenges to teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rausser College of Natural Resources will not be penalizing any students’ academic progress for Spring 2020. 

    • Students in good academic standing who earn all “P” grades will remain in good standing.

    • Students on Term Probation, but not AP, may be removed from probationary status with passing grades in at least 50% of units for Spring 2020.

    • Students on Term Probation at the start of Spring 2020 who earn NP, Incomplete, or failing grades for more than 50% of units must complete an Academic Success Plan with their college advisor by September 11, 2020 and will remain on Term Probation.

  • Transferring Credit: If you are taking coursework through another institution in Spring 2020 (i.e. through Concurrent Enrollment or instead of being enrolled in Spring 2020 at UC Berkeley) and that institution has moved to a P/NP-default or P/NP-only grading model, P grades earned will be accepted for all degree requirements.

For additional information, please see Changes to Policies and Procedures for Spring 2020.

 

Plan of Study

These are sample program plans for completing the major in Molecular Environmental Biology. These plans assume that the student has completed the Entry Level Writing and American History and Institutions requirements prior to admission, and demonstrate completion of the major utilizing Fall and Spring semesters only. Most of the lower division major requirements and many of the upper division requirements are also offered during the summer terms. Students are strongly advised to work with peer and academic advisors to create a customized program plan specific to their situation. Your program plan will differ depending on previous credit received, your course schedule, and available offerings.

Students in Rausser College are required to take a minimum of 12 units each semester unless they are on an approved reduced course load. Students may need to take more than 12 units each semester, or may instead take course work in the summer, in order to reach the minimum 120 total semester units required for graduation depending on the number of units a student may have transferred in through exam credit or course work taken at other institutions. Please see the College Requirements tab on this page for additional details regarding unit requirements for graduation.

Sample plans below include:

Sample 4-Year Plan

Example of a 4-year plan beginning with CHEM 1A/1AL in Freshman year Fall semester.

Freshman
FallUnitsSpringUnits
CHEM 1A
1AL
5CHEM 3A
3AL
5
MATH 16A, 1A, or 10A3-4MATH or STAT13-4
R&C/ ESPM core/ Breadth3-4R&C/ ESPM core/ Breadth3-4
Freshman Seminar/ Berkeley Connect1-2R&C/ ESPM core/ Breadth3-4
 12-15 14-17
Sophomore
FallUnitsSpringUnits
CHEM 3B
3BL
5BIOLOGY 1A
1AL
5
BIOLOGY 1B4PHYSICS 8A24
R&C/ ESPM core/ Breadth3-4R&C/ ESPM core/ Breadth3-4
Elective3-4Elective3
 15-17 15-16
Junior
FallUnitsSpringUnits
Area A or Area B3-4Area A or Area B3-4
Area of Concentration3-4Area of Concentration3-4
Elective3-4Elective3-4
Elective3-4Elective3-4
(include upper division lab) (include upper division lab) 
 12-16 12-16
Senior
FallUnitsSpringUnits
Area A or Area B3-4Area A or Area B3-4
Area of Concentration3-4Area of Concentration (if needed)3-4
Elective3-4Elective3-4
Elective3-4 
 12-16 9-12
Total Units: 101-125
1

For the second quantitative course, students may either continue the calculus series (MATH 16B, 1B, or 10B) or instead take a course in statistics (STAT 2, C8, 20, 161A, PBHLTH 141, 142, or W142).

2

PHYSICS 8A may be taken in a later semester.

Sample 4-Year Plan (CHEM 32)

Example of a 4-year plan beginning with CHEM 32 (Chemistry Prep) in Freshman year Fall semester, and then continuing with CHEM 1A/1AL in Freshman year Spring semester.

Freshman
FallUnitsSpringUnits
CHEM 322CHEM 1A
1AL
5
MATH 16A, 1A, or 10A3-4MATH or STAT13-4
R&C/ ESPM core/ Breadth3-4R&C/ ESPM core/ Breadth3-4
R&C/ ESPM core/ Breadth3-4Elective3-4
Freshman Seminar/ Berkeley Connect1 
 12-15 14-17
Sophomore
FallUnitsSpringUnits
CHEM 3A
3AL
5CHEM 3B
3BL
5
BIOLOGY 1B4PHYSICS 8A24
R&C/ ESPM core/ Breadth3-4R&C/ ESPM core/ Breadth3-4
Elective3-4Elective3
 15-17 15-16
Junior
FallUnitsSpringUnits
BIOLOGY 1A
1AL
5Area A or Area B3-4
Area B3-4Area of Concentration3-4
Area of Concentration3-4Elective3-4
Elective1-3Elective3-4
 (include upper division lab) 
 12-16 12-16
Senior
FallUnitsSpringUnits
Area A or Area B3-4Area A or Area B3-4
Area of Concentration3-4Area of Concentration (if needed)3-4
Elective3-4Elective3-4
Elective3-4 
(include upper division lab)  
 12-16 9-12
Total Units: 101-125
1

For the second quantitative course, students may either continue the calculus series (MATH 16B, 1B, or 10B) or instead take a course in statistics (STAT 2, C8, 20, 161A, PBHLTH 141, 142, or W142).

2

PHYSICS 8A may be taken in a later semester.

Sample 2-Year Plan for Transfer Students

It is recommended that transfer students complete all lower division coursework before enrolling at Berkeley. See the MEB Transfer Admissions Guidelines for more information.

Junior
FallUnitsSpringUnits
Area A or Area B3-4Area A or Area B3-4
Area of Concentration3-4Area of Concentration3-4
Elective/ ESPM SS Core or American Cultures (if needed)4Elective/ Physics 8A (if needed)4
Transition Course/ Berkeley Connect1-2Elective3-4
 11-14 13-16
Senior
FallUnitsSpringUnits
Area A or Area B3-4Area A or Area B3-4
Area of Concentration3-4Area of Concentration (if needed)3-4
Elective3-4Elective3-4
Elective3-4(include upper division lab) 
(include upper division lab)  
 12-16 9-12
Total Units: 45-58

Student Learning Goals

Mission

Molecular Environmental Biology (MEB) focuses on biological organisms and the hierarchy of life, from molecules and genes through cells, organisms, communities, and ecosystems. The breadth of this biological science program provides an important perspective for students who have a passion for biology and are interested in the application of biological principles to understand how organisms function in their environment. Also a pre-medical or pre-health science major, the discipline offers an array of six areas of concentration within biology: animal health and behavior, biodiversity, ecology, environmental and human health, global change biology, and insect biology/arthropod science.

Learning Goals for the Major

  1. Holistic multidisciplinary thinking - understanding the “big picture"

    1. Interdisciplinarity & Cross-disciplinarity: The ability to understand and work across different disciplines (cross-disciplinarity) and to integrate the knowledge and methods from them (interdisciplinarity)

    2. Multiple processes: Recognition that biology and the environment involve multiple processes, as do solutions to modern problems

    3. Interconnectedness: Understanding that biology and the environment are interconnected at many spatial, temporal, and hierarchical levels

    4. Global and international approaches: Appreciating that the environment is necessarily global in nature and solutions to problems require international approaches

  2. Training in the hierarchy of biology

    1. Fundamentals of Science: Training in the cores areas of physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics

    2. Quantitative skills: Necessary tools for addressing biological problems

    3. Biochemistry: An understanding of the fundamentals of biological chemistry, including the properties of intermediary metabolites, the structure and function of biological macromolecules, and the logical basis of genetics and gene expression

    4. Molecular biology/Genetics: The molecular biology of bacterial, archaeal, and eukaryotic cells and their viruses, mechanisms of DNA replication, transcription, translation, nuclear and organellar genome structure and function, regulation of gene expression, heritability, measures of selection, etc.

    5. Cell and developmental biology: Cell structure and function, cellular metabolic processes, embryonic and post-embryonic development and growth

    6. Organismal physiology: Understanding of physiological function, whether microbial, animal, or plant, or comparison between different systems

    7. Organismal diversity: Emphasis on the nature of diversity whether plant, animal, fungus, protist, bacteria, or virus, the history of the lineages and life itself, global threats, how diversity is distributed, and the ecological and evolutionary processes that generate and maintain diversity.

    8. Ecology: The nature of interactions, biotic or abiotic, that dictate organismal distributions in space and time, energy flows, or population dynamics

    9. Laboratory experiences: Laboratory experiences allow students to gain hands-on experience in scientific approaches and methods

  3. Analysis and application for students who choose the Animal Health & Behavior area of concentration

    1. Interaction of health and environment: Understanding how the environment, whether internal or external, affects organism health and behavior

    2. Expertise in health: Examination of the health of organisms from either physiological or environmental perspectives

    3. Epizootics: An appreciation of the potential for diseases in animal populations to spill over into humans as is the case in avian influenza or even the origins of HIV

  4. Analysis and application for students who choose the Biodiversity area of concentration

    1. Biodiversity science: Detailed understanding of morphological and ecological diversity of a given organismic lineage

    2. Origins and evolution of life: Basic understanding of systematics and phylogenetics

    3. Quantifying biology: Knowledge of various sampling and species identification techniques to collect data

    4. Informatics:  Proficiency in database development and management

  5. Analysis and application for students who choose the Ecology area of concentration

    1. Principles of Ecology: Detailed understanding of ecological principles including energy flow, hydrologic, and mineral cycles, factors limiting species distribution and population size, and characteristics of species, populations, and communities

    2. Ecological interactions: Interactions relevant to different organismic groups.

    3. Biodiversity: Understanding of the biology of species, communities, and ecosystems.

  6. Analysis and application for students who choose the Environment & Human Health area of concentration.

    1. Interaction of health and environment: Understanding of how the environment affects human health and well-being.

    2. Disease: Environmental epidemiology and the impacts of disease.

    3. Diet: Effects of nutrition and diet on human health.

  7. Analysis and application for students who choose the Global Change Biology area of concentration.

    1. Global change biology expertise: How changes to the global environment impacts organisms and ecosystems, including impacts to spatial and temporal distributions of organisms, ecological processes, and ecosystem functions.

    2. Global change and the environment: Global change biology in environmental science, including effects of human activities and impacts on human health and well-being.

    3. Environmental problem solving: Conservation and mitigation strategies, ecological analysis, and natural resource economics

  8. Analysis and application for students who choose the Insect Biology/Arthropod Science area of concentration.

    1. Insects/arthropods and biodiversity science: Understanding of major groups of insects/arthropods, relationships, and diversity.

    2. Insects/arthropods and environmental science: Knowledge of the impacts of insects/arthropods (positive and negative) in the environment.

    3. Quantifying insects/arthropods and biology: Skills in collecting and identifying insects/arthropods

  9. Basic skills in research, analysis, communication.

    1. Reading carefully: Ability to read for detail and comprehension.

    2. Writing accurately: Ability to write succinctly, clearly, and coherently.

    3. Thinking critically: Critical thinking through the synthesis of biological knowledge from courses and lab work.

    4. Using theoretical and empirical knowledge: Ability to synthesize and apply information obtained through theory and observations.

    5. Quantitative skills: Obtaining the quantitative skills necessary for the subdisciplines.

    6. Analysis: Ability to perceive, tackle, and solve problems in environmental science.

    7. Research experience: Research experience to practice scientific approaches and methods. Work with a faculty mentor while participating in an undergraduate research program or designing an individual research project. Share research results or work in progress in the form of a paper, report, research poster, or public presentation.

    8. Communication: Strong communication skills, both written and verbal, to prepare for independent research work or team projects.

  10. Lifetime skills.

    1. Continuing appreciation for biological systems: To develop a passion for biology and its interconnections with the environment.

    2. Representing science: To become an advocate for the training and knowledge of science, particularly the biological disciplines.

    3. Problem-solving: To develop and practice scientific thinking and problem-solving skills, through data analysis, hypothesis testing, and critical reasoning, that translate to future careers inside and outside of biology.

Major Map

Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on their 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 Environmental Biology Major Map PDF.

Advising

In the Rausser College of Natural Resources, we provide holistic, individual advising services to prospective and current students who are pursuing majors and minors in our college. We assist with a range of topics including course selection, academic decision-making, achieving personal and academic goals, and maximizing the Berkeley experience.

If you are looking to explore your options, or you are ready to declare a major, double major, or minor, contact the undergraduate advisor for your intended major. Visit our website to explore all of our advising services.

Undergraduate Advisors, Molecular Environmental Biology

meb.ugrad@berkeley.edu
260 Mulford Hall

Contact Information

Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

130 Mulford Hall

Phone: 510-643-7430

Fax: 510-643-5438

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Michael Mascarenhas

130 Mulford Hall

Phone: 510-643-0319

Undergraduate Student Advising

Office of Instruction and Student Affairs, CNR

260 Mulford Hall

Phone: 510-642-0542

advising.rcnr@berkeley.edu

Undergraduate Staff Advisor

William Wyatt

260 Mulford Hall

meb.ugrad@berkeley.edu

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