Undergraduate Minors

Minor in Biology

 Cal 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.

Frequently Asked Questions for Biology Minor requirement

To begin the process of declaring a Biology Minor, please fill out this inquiry form.  Biology Minor Information Request

Go to the Cal Poly Catalog for course and application details

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Minor in Microbiology

A 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.

To begin the process of declaring a Microbiology Minor, please fill out this inquiry form.Microbiology Information Request Form


Go to the Cal Poly Catalog for course and application details



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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.

To begin the process of declaring an Environmental Studies Minor, please fill out this inquiry form.Environmental Studies Minor Information Request Form

Go to the Cal Poly Catalog for course and application details

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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 to undergraduate students (except students already majoring in biochemistry or microbiology, or students within the molecular and cellular biology concentration).


To begin the process of declaring a Biology Minor, please fill out this inquiry form.  Biotechnology Minor Information Request Form

Go to the Cal Poly Catalog for course details

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Frequently Asked Questions for Biology Minor Requirement

  1. After I get a signature from the Biology minor coordinator, where do I take my form?
    1. First to the Biology front office, where they will make you a copy of the form (for you to keep) and give you a welcome-to-Bio high five! If you are prone to lose forms, take a photo of your form for your records. 
    2. Then take the original to the Registrar’s office
  2. As a Biology minor will I get priority to register for BIO classes over students that are not Biology majors or minors?
    1. No, but the courses used by minors have enrollment capacity calculated with them in mind.
  3. Can I substitute a lower division (100-200 level) course for an upper-division (300-400 level) course?
    1. No. The only exception is if the course was taken at another institution. In which case it might have a 100-200 level number, but could count if it is equivalent to a 300-400 level course at Poly.
  4. Can a BIO course that is required for my non-Biology major count toward my Biology minor?
    1. Yes
  5. Is there an advantage to filing my Biology minor form early in my academic career at Cal Poly?
    1. Generally, no. Some exceptions:
      1. Yes, if it will motivate you to take the courses.
      2. Yes for NR major students, because for those students courses taken for one’s minor contribute to the student’s degree progress report.
      3. Yes for ENVM major students, because for that major BIO minor courses count toward your degree progress report (if and only if you are officially in the minor), thereby affecting your ability to sign up for classes. 
    2. Typically, I advise you to file your Bio minor form on or slightly before the Fall term of your final year. That way, there is less of a chance that you will change your course plan and have to re-file
  6. What if I change my plan of courses for my Bio minor?
    1. You need to file a new or revised plan. Take your old form, write REVISED on the top, and cross out the course you don’t plan on taking and add the new course, and bring it to me for an initial, then to the Registrar’s office. 
  7. Can I substitute a non-BIO course for a BIO course and use it for my BIO minor?
    1. Possibly, if the non-BIO course is equivalent to the BIO course (i.e., it is a legitimate substitution). However, doing reduces the benefits one gets from doing the BIO minor. Ask yourself, why am I doing a BIO minor and does this help my educational goal?
  8. Can I use a course that is cross-listed with BIO for my minor?
    1. Yes. For example, if you took CHEM 475, which is cross-listed with BIO 475, then you can use that course for the BIO 300/400 requirement for the BIO minor.
  9. What if I have a D grade in one of my courses counted for my BIO minor?
    1. That is okay, as long as you maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA in all the units counting toward your BIO minor. 
  10. Can I apply for course credit from an AP exam toward my BIO minor?
    1. If on your Degree Progress Report it lists you had credit for a course based on an AP exam you took, and that course is listed on the BIO minor form, then yes you may apply that course toward your minor. It is okay that you do not have a grade for the course (it is listed as CR only).
  11. Can I take similar courses and have them both count toward my BIO minor?
    1. If allowed by the Biology catalog, then typically yes. For example:
      1. BIO 406 and BIO 407 are both Advanced Anatomy and Physiology courses, but with different foci (Neuroscience and Endocrinology). The Biology catalog allows you to get credit for both courses, thus you can also have both apply toward your BIO minor. 
      2. You can not get credit for BIO 351 (genetics) if you already have credit for BIO 302 or 302 (intro to genetics or human genetics). These are rules in the catalog. 
  12. Can I do a BIO minor is I am already doing a BIO Concentration?
    1. If you are a Liberal Studies student, no. You can do one or the other.
    2. Not sure about other majors. This rule is in the process of changing. 

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