You are here

Molecular & Cellular Biology: Undergraduate Programs


The Bachelor of Science program in Molecular and Cellular Biology offers a comprehensive course of study across a wide span of scientific inquiry. The 35-unit major in MCB includes core courses in introductory biology, genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, and biochemistry. Beyond this required course work, students select a minimum of 12 upper-division MCB elective units to complete their major. These elective courses allow students to explore coursework in related fields such as microbiology, evolutionary biology, biochemistry, physiology, neuroscience, and plant sciences. Courses taken as part of these 12 units must also address writing-emphasis, laboratory/research, and in-depth study (Core Elective) requirements set forth by the department. Independent laboratory research is a strongly encouraged supplement to undergraduate studies in the department.

The remainder of the 120-total unit requirement for the Bachelor’s degree is completed with foundational science courses (introductory chemistry, organic chemistry, introductory physics, calculus I, and calculus II or biostatistics), general-education courses, and free electives. Students are required to complete 42 total units of upper-division credit for the conferral of the Bachelor’s degree. The major is not accredited separately by external accrediting bodies.

Expected Learning Outcomes: 

Conceptual/Content Outcomes
In their courses and other MCB-related activities, MCB students will:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the ways that chemical principles govern the ability of biological molecules to form cellular structures, tissues, organs, and organisms, and the energy transformations that make these steps possible.
  2. Explain mechanisms and outcomes of the ability of cells to sense and respond to internal and external cues.
  3. Explain the role of and mechanisms by which the genome and its products generate biological structures and phenotypes, including human disease:
    • Differentiate among replication, transcription, and translation with regard to mechanisms and biological roles.
    • Analyze mechanisms of inheritance and their consequences for phenotypes.
    • Differentiate among various types of mutations and predict their outcomes at the molecular, cellular, and organismal level.
  4. Describe how evolution affects molecules, cells, and organisms and shapes the diversity of life on Earth.
  5. Explain how the properties of biological systems emerge from the interactions among individual components of those systems.
    • Relate the dynamic interactions of components at one level of organization to the emergent functional properties at a higher level of organization.
  6. Describe ways that research in different experimental organisms sheds light on the important biological processes described in #1-5.

Skill Outcomes
In their courses and other MCB-related activities, students will demonstrate their ability to:

  1. Communicate effectively about scientific ideas and methods. This includes oral and/or written presentation. This includes making appropriate choices of data-presentation modes (tables, diagrams, graphs, etc.).
  2. Read and interpret primary scientific literature in cell and molecular biology, linking the results to prior understanding of biological processes. Evaluate the reliability of sources of information about biology.
  3. Apply analytical thinking to biological problems:
    • Understand and/or build models that generate testable hypotheses about biological processes.
    • Critique experimental design in existing research and apply principles of experimental design to new research problems.
    • Apply quantitative strategies to analyze and understand biological processes.
  4. Analyze the role of biology in societal decisions and apply ethical decision-making to evaluate existing and new scientific approaches.


Updated date: Wed, 03/15/2017 - 16:28