Undergrad Majors

Undergraduate students at UC Berkeley have the choice of many majors in multiple colleges, including those below with either full or partial training in the life sciences.

College of Letters & Science


  • Molecular & Cell Biology - The department of Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) is a large department that is subdivided into five divisions: Biology and Molecular Biology (BMB), Cell and Developmental Biology (CDB), Genetics, Genomics & Development (GGD), Immunology & Pathogenesis (IMMP), and Neurobiology (NEU). The teaching and research activities of MCB concern the molecular structures and processes of cellular life and their roles in the function, reproduction, and development of living organisms. This agenda covers a broad range of specialized disciplines, including biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, structural biology, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, cell biology, developmental biology, tumor biology, microbiology, immunology, pathogenesis and neurobiology.
  • Integrative Biology - Integrative Biology explores the diversity and complexity of organisms, their life processes, interrelationships, and evolution. The major picks up where MCB stops, looking at the systems level and above for the most part. Faculty study such areas as evolution, paleobiology, ecology, and physiology.
  • Earth & Planetary Sciences - The Department of Earth and Planetary Science provides both the Environmental Earth Science major (a broad approach to the natural sciences with a focus on inter-relationships of the Earth's physical, biological and chemical processes) and the Marine Science major, which focuses on the role of water--from the ocean's central role in physical, chemical, biological and geological processes on earth (including climatic and oceanographic events) to the dynamics, morphology and restoration of rivers and waterways.

College of Natural Resources

  • Molecular Environmental Biology - The Molecular Environmental Biology (MEB) major is designed to expose students to the organization and function of biological organisms at the molecular, cellular, organismal, and ecological levels. 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. This major is ideal for pre-med/health and pre-vet students, as a foundation for graduate study in biology, and for career preparation in biotechnology, environmental consulting, and conservation resource management.
  • Nutritional Science - The Nutritional Science major combines a strong foundation in the biological and chemical sciences with specialized advanced course work that focuses on nutrient/non-nutrient function and metabolism. The application of this field informs recommendations for dietary patterns to achieve optimum health and the treatment or prevention of disease conditions as well as food production and safety. This major can prepare students for careers in the health professions (e.g. dietetics, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry) as well as food production, biotechnology, education, research, and public health. Students apply for a track in Physiology & Metabolism, Molecular Toxicology or Dietetics.
  • Genetics and Plant Biology - Genetics and Plant Biology is a major designed to serve those students who have a strong interest in plant biology but who want a major flexible enough to provide career opportunities in a wide range of fields. Thus the major has a relatively small number of core (required) courses and many electives, the latter including topics ranging from molecular, genetic, and microbiological studies, all the way to courses dealing with ecological and environmental issues. This diverse offering of courses prepares students for positions in government, industry and academia, as well as for training at the graduate levels to become a researcher and/or a teacher and for medical, veterinary and other health schools.
  • Microbial Biology - Microbial biology is a pivotal field of study because small life forms such as microbes, viruses, and fungi make up the majority of planetary biomass, and constitute key branches of the Tree of Life. Microbes play fundamental roles in maintaining biosphere health: they degrade environmental pollutants; they supply essential nutrients and chemicals directly to multi-cellular organisms, and they engage in numerous beneficial symbioses with higher organisms. Infectious diseases regulate populations of plant and animals, and outbreaks recur in human societies globally. The microbial biology major may also involve studying other small life forms such as fungi and viruses. The major is designed for students interested in competing for research positions in government, industry and academia, for pre-med and pre-vet students, for students interested in biology in general, and for students interested in pursuing post-graduate education in biology.
  • Conservation & Resource Studies - The Conservation and Resource Studies (CRS) major is an interdisciplinary program designed for students interested in environmental issues and areas of interaction among natural resources, population, energy, technology, societal institutions, and cultural values. The major’s orientation is toward flexibility and an individualized educational approach to understanding the structure and dynamic functions of complex environmental systems within our society and biosphere. Because CRS students draw on the course offerings of the entire campus, they have the flexibility to incorporate any combination of courses in the social sciences, biological sciences, physical sciences, or humanities to address complex environmental problems.
  • Forestry & Natural Resources - The Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) major focuses on the conservation and restoration of the earth's natural resources through hands-on study of the ecology, stewardship, and management of forest, woodland, and grassland ecosystems. It is designed to prepare students to manage forests and wildlands while sustaining ecological integrity and producing vital ecosystem services. The program offers concentrations in natural sciences or in human dimensions of natural resources.
  • Environmental Sciences -  Environmental Sciences (ES) major is an interdisciplinary program that deals with the impact of human activities on natural systems. In order to address these problems, students are trained to apply tools and techniques from a variety of disciplines such as biology, ecology, chemistry, toxicology, geology, hydrology, meteorology, geography, engineering, statistics, behavioral science, policy analysis, economics, and law. Students choose one of three concentrations: Biological Science, Physical Science, or Social Science. The senior research seminar, Environmental Sciences 196A-196B, in which students work intensively on individual research projects under faculty guidance, is a key feature of this major.

College of Chemistry

  • Chemical Biology - The B.S. degree in Chemical Biology offers interested students the opportunity to understand the chemical principles of biological function. In addition to an introductory set of math and physics courses, and a broad selection of chemistry courses similar to those required for the chemistry major, students pursuing the chemical biology major take courses in general and cell biology, biochemistry, biological macromolecular synthesis, and in bioinorganic chemistry. The focus of that part of the curriculum is on biomolecular structure, enzyme kinetics, energy and information flow, and metabolism. There is a strong emphasis on organic chemistry, quantitative thermodynamics, and kinetics to understand the logic of biochemistry. The field of chemical biology highlights the impact that chemical approaches have had on our understanding and treatment of disease.

College of Engineering

  • Bioengineering - The multidisciplinary undergraduate major in bioengineering is intended for academically strong students who excel in the physical sciences, mathematics, and biology. Revised in 2007, the structure ensures exposure to the breadth and depth of bioengineering subjects, while providing the necessary foundation in engineering and the physical and biological sciences. BioE graduates will be well positioned for careers in industry, further study in medical school, and/or graduate studies in bioengineering and related disciplines.

Interdisciplinary

  • Public Health - A diverse interdisciplinary field that has 6 separate foci, some of which emphasize Biology. Public health seeks to improve human health through the development and application of knowledge that prevents disease, protects the public from harm, and promotes health throughout the state, the nation, and the world. The biology heavy areas include biostatistics, infectious diseases, and epidemiology.