Degrees, Majors & Minors

Undergraduate Majors

Scroll down to read about the two bachelor's degree programs and four minors offered by the department.

Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences

open house at anatomy lab This degree program offers students a broad education in biology --  from molecules to ecosystems. It prepares students for  the biomedical fields, for teaching, for certification as an Associate Ecologist, Fisheries Biologist, or Associate Wildlife Biologist. The B.S. in Biological Science degree gives students technical competency in the six concentrations outlined below, and is an excellent base for graduate school studies.

Our students chose from among these six concentrations: Anatomy and Physiology; Biology Teaching, Ecology, Field & Wildlife Biology, Marine Biology & Fisheries, Molecular & Cellular Biology.

Click here to read more Biological Sciences undergraduate concentrations at Cal Poly

back to top

Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology

Cal Poly is one of the few California State University or University of California campuses offering a laboratory-intensive Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology.

petri dishesThe Microbiology major prepares students for graduate school, professional studies or post-baccalaureate careers in industrial microbiology, food and dairy microbiology, and biotechnology, as well as in public health microbiology, epidemiology, or clinical laboratory scientist programs.

The major consists of a core of freshman courses that provide students with a basic foundation in key biological principles, including an introduction to organismal, cellular, and molecular biology, as well as evolution, ecology and biodiversity. In their sophomore year, students receive hands-on training in manipulation of microorganisms, as well as an understanding of microbial cell structure and function, metabolism, genetics, and ecology.

In their junior and senior years, students take specialized courses in medical microbiology, immunology, microbial physiology, genetics, virology, and cell biology. Under the direction of their faculty advisors, students also choose elective courses related to their career goals or plans.

Go to the Cal Poly Catalog for course and application details

back to top

Undergraduate Minors

Minor in Biology

 students doing experimentCal Poly students from other majors can minor in biology through the department.  A minor in biology offers increased factual and conceptual knowledge in biology, an increased understanding of scientific methods and techniques used to study biology, and an increased ability to analyze biological topics in the news or on the job.  

Biological issues are relevant in many careers, including those in health-related businesses, agriculture, engineering, city planning, teaching K-12 students, journalism, political science, psychology, and statistics. In addition, an enhanced biology background will help students become better-educated citizens able to evaluate a variety of controversial issues, including genetically-modified organisms in agriculture, human cloning, genetic discrimination, the pressures of population growth.

Students in more closely related majors, such as biochemistry or kinesiology, can strengthen their biology background through the minor. Students may choose courses in environmental biology or in human biology and biotechnology, or may choose to take courses in several areas

All students in the minor will take three introductory biology courses (see the Biology Minor form for details) and then select an additional 15-16 units of 300 or 400-level courses according to their interests and goals (for a total of at least 28 units). Students may choose to emphasize courses in environmental biology or in human biology and biotechnology, or may choose to take courses in both areas.

Go to the Cal Poly Catalog for course and application details

back to top

Minor in Microbiology

tubes full of orange samplesA minor in Microbiology is offered through the College of Science and Mathematics. This minor is designed to give students from majors in which microbiology may be an important component increased exposure to factual information,  concepts, and skills in order to provide those students a more complete understanding of the roles of microorganisms as they pertain to studies in their chosen major. The minor gives students in the allied health and related fields the opportunity to expand their breadth of knowledge in microbial diseases, transmission and prevention, and immunologic responses.

Through the minor, students in applied fields of agriculture study such as Food and Dairy Sciences can gain additional training in pertinent topics such as microbial involvement in water and wastewater treatment; the role of microorganisms in recycling of nutrients and soil fertility; microbial roles in food processing, spoilage, production; and disease transmission.

Go to the Cal Poly Catalog for course and application details

back to top

Minor in Environmental Studies

A minor in Environmental Studies offers students from other disciplines the ability to analyze, explain, and evaluate environmental issues from both scientific and technical perspectives as well as social, political, economic and ethical aspects. The minor emphasizes integrating and analyzing knowledge from multiple disciplines.

Go to the Cal Poly Catalog for course and application details

back to top

Minor in Biotechnology

Students who minor in biotechnology take a core of required courses and restricted elective courses focusing on biotechnology. The Biotechnology Minor Form is available from the College of Science and Mathematics Dean’s Office or the Advising Center. The minor is open undergraduate students (except students already majoring in Biochemistry or
Microbiology, or students within the Molecular and Cellular Biology concentration).

Go to the Cal Poly Catalog for course details

back to top