Major Requirements

Return to LETTER GRADE REQUIREMENTS:  Beginning Fall 2021, all lower division major preparation courses and upper division major courses must be taken for a letter grade to fulfill MCDB major requirements.

Students must earn a grade of C- or better in each prep course. (see below for details).

Students admitted to the MCDB major in Fall 2020 or thereafter are required to earn a letter grade of C in each MCDB Core course – LS107, Chem 153A, MCDB 138, 144, 165A. (See below for details).

A grade of “Passed” in courses taken to fulfill major preparation requirements or upper division major requirements are accepted if the course(s) were taken during the following quarters: Spring 2020, Summer Sessions 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, and Summer Sessions 2021.

MCDB Tentative Course Offerings 2022 – 2023 [Download PDF]

MCDB Major Requirements 2022 – 2023 [Dowload PDF]

Preparation for the Major

Life Science Series Physical Science Series
Chemistry 14A or 14AE, 14B or 14BE, 14BL, 14C, 14CL, 14D OR 20A, 20B, 20L, 30A, 30AL, 30B, 30BL
Math 3A, 3B, 3C or
Life Science 30A, 30B, Stats 13 or LS40
OR 31A, 31B, 32A
Physics 5A, 5B, 5C OR 1A, 1B, 1C, 4AL, 4BL
Life Science 7A (Cell and Molecular Biology), 7B (Genetics, Evolution, and Ecology), 7C (Physiology and Human Biology), 23L (Lab taken after 7B)

IMPORTANT NOTES – Preparation for the Major

  • ★ Chem 14CL or Chem 30BL is not required on the major, but most pre-health professional schools and possibly some graduate schools still require an organic lab class.
  • Students must earn a grade of C- or better in each prep course, and achieve an overall GPA of 2.0 in the prep for the major.
  • Students receiving grades of below C- in two prep courses, either separate courses or repetitions of the same course, are subject to dismissal from the major.
  • Students who complete Chem 20A can move to the 14 series starting with 14B, or after taking 20A, 20B, students can take 14BL, 14C, 14CL*, 14D.  Students who transfer chemistry credit from another school for 20A, 20L can take 14B, 14C, 14CL*, 14D.
  • The Chemistry 14 series is unique to UCLA – there are no equivalents at other schools and must be taken in its entirety at UCLA.

Upper Division Major Requirements

Upper Division Core Requirements
Biochemistry Chem 153A – Biochemistry: Intro to Structure, Enzymes, & Metabolism  (4 units)
Genetics Life Science 107 – Genetics  (5 units) (not required if LS4 completed)
Cell Biology MCDB 165ABiology of Cells (5 units)
Developmental Biology MCDB 138 – Developmental Biology (5 units)
Molecular Biology MCDB 144Molecular Biology of Cellular Processes (5 units)
Laboratory Requirement (choose from #1 – 5)
1. MCDB 104AL – Research Immersion Lab in Developmental Biology (5 units)
2. MCDB 187AL – Research Immersion Lab in Genomic Biology (5 units)
3. MCDB 150AL – Research Immersion Lab in Plant-Microbe Ecology (5 units)
4. MCDB 196B– Research Apprenticeship II (2nd quarter) (4 units) + MCDB 180B♦ – Scientific Analysis & Communication II (2 units)
5. MCDB 196B, 198B/C, or 199B/C ★★ + MCDB 145 – Appreciation and Critical Review of Biomedical Research (4 units)

IMPORTANT NOTES – Laboratory Requirement

MCDB 180B is taken CONCURRENTLY with 196B (same for 196A and 180A).

196A/180A is a pre-requisite for 196B/180B. The second quarter (196B) is applied to your laboratory requirement. 196A/180A/180B (8 units) are applied toward the 20 units of electives. Click here for more information, including application materials and instructions. 

★★ MCDB 145 offered Spring only. Students must apply for the MCDB 145 seminar during Winter quarter. It must be taken with an MCDB upper division research course. 

Upper Division Elective Requirement for the Major
20 Units of Approved Upper Division Electives 5 units must be MCDB department course(s) (Category 1), 5 units may be taken from Category 1 or 2, and 10 units may be taken from Category 1, 2, or 3. Please see the list of approved electives below.

See IMPORTANT NOTES PERTAINING TO MAJOR REQUIREMENTS (below) for information about how specific courses can or cannot be applied toward major electives.

List of Approved MCDB Electives


Five Units of MCDB Upper Division Electives
Course # Course Name Units
MCDB 104BL Advanced Research Analysis in Developmental Biology 4
Fundamentals of Digital Imaging and Image Processing 5
Cancer Cell Biology
MCDB C141 Molecular Basis of Plant Differentiation and Development 5
MCDB 145
Appreciation and Critical Review of Biomedical Research
MCDB 146 Metabolism and Disease 5
MCDB C150 Plant Communication
MCDB CM156 Human Genetics 5
MCDB 160 Principles of Light Microscopy 4
MCDB 168 Stem Cell Biology 5
MCDB M175A Neuroscience:  From Molecules to Mind 5
MCDB M175B Neuroscience:  From Molecules to Mind 5
MCDB M175C Neuroscience:  From Molecules to Mind 5
MCDB 180A Scientific Analysis and Communications I  (formerly 188A) 2
MCDB 180B Scientific Analysis and Communications II  (formerly 188B) 2
MCDB 191 Variable Topics in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology 2
MCDB 196A Research Apprenticeship I (1st quarter) 4
MCDB 198A-C Honors Research in MCDB 4 per quarter
MCDB 199A-C Directed Research in MCDB 4 per quarter


Five Units of Upper Division Electives from MCDB and Acceptable List of Outside Courses
Course Dept. & # Course Name Units
MCDB Courses
Any additional MCDB course listed above that was NOT taken to fulfill Category 1
Chemistry & Biochemistry
CHEM C100 Genomics and Computational Biology 5
CHEM 153C Biochemistry: Biosynthetic and Energy Metabolism and Its Regulation 4
CHEM 153L Biochemistry Laboratory 4
CHEM C159 Mechanisms in the Regulation of Transcription 4
CHEM CM160A Introduction to Bioinformatics 4
Computer Science/Computational and Systems Biology
COM SCI CM124 Computational Genetics 4
COM SCI CM186 Computational Systems Biology: Modeling and Simulation of Biological Systems 5
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Evolution, Development, and Disease 4
Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics
MIMG 100L Microbiology Lab for Professional Schools 3
MIMG 101 Introductory Microbiology 4
MIMG 102 Introductory Virology 4
MIMG 105 Biological Microscopy 4
MIMG 158 Microbial Genomics 4
MIMG 168 Molecular Parasitology 4
MIMG 170
Cell and Gene Therapy
MIMG C185A Immunology 5
Physiological Sciences
PHY SCI 121 Disease Mechanisms and Therapies 5
PHY SCI 125 Molecular Systems Biology 5
PHY SCI C130 Sex Differences in Physiology and Disease 4
PHY SCI 174 Cell Biophysics in Physiology and Disease 5


Ten Units of Upper Division Electives from MCDB and Acceptable List of Additional Outside Courses
Course Dept. & # Course Name Units
Category 1 or 2 Courses
Any additional MCDB or approved outside elective course(s) listed above that were NOT taken to fulfill Category 1 or 2
BIOSTAT 100A Intro to Biostatistics 4
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
EE BIOL 110 Vertebrate Morphology 6
EE BIOL 121 Molecular Biology and Evolution 4
Conservation Genetics
EE BIOL 162 Plant Physiology 4
Human Genetics
HUM GEN C144 Genomic Technology 4
Physiological Sciences
PHY SCI 166 Animal Physiology 6
STATS 100A Introduction to Probability Theory 4

NOTE: Elective credit is granted for either BIOSTAT 100A or STATS 100A, but not both.

Course Number Designations:

C = Course is offered concurrently to undergraduate and graduate levels in the same class.

M = Listed through multiple departments (may have different numbers in each department).

Important Notes Pertaining to Major Requirements

  • Any single course can be used in only ONE category on the major.
  • Courses applied toward the prep and major requirements must be taken for a letter grade.
  • MCDB majors are required to earn a letter grade of C in each MCDB Core Course (LS 107, CHEM 153A, MCDB 138, 144, 165A) and achieve a minimum overall GPA of 2.o in the major.
  • Students receiving grades below C in two required core courses, either in separate courses or repetitions of the same course, are subject to dismissal from the major.
  • LIFESCI 7A, 7B, 7C, 23L, and LIFESCI 107 are pre-requisites for all MCDB upper division coursework except MCDB 165A (pre-reqs: 14D or 30B and LS 7A, 7B, 7C).
  • Any upper division MCDB course will be accepted as an MCDB elective, EXCLUDING MCDB 100, 104AL, 138, 144, 150AL, 165A, 187AL, 187C, 187D, 190A-C, 192A, 192B, 193, 194A, and 199.
  • The MCDB department does not approve Biochemistry/MCDB or MIMG/MCDB double major petitions.
  • A maximum of 4 units of approved seminar course credit may be applied to the ELECTIVES requirement (e.g., MCDB 145, 180A, 180B, 191).
  • APPLYING INDEPENDENT RESEARCH TO MCDB MAJOR REQUIREMENTS:  To enroll in MCDB 196A/B, 199A-D, or 198A-D, students MUST be conducting research in an MCDB approved lab.  A list of approved faculty mentors is available on the MCDB Undergraduate Research website: https://www.mcdb.ucla.edu/undergraduate-research/ .
  • APPLYING INDEPENDENT RESEARCH TO THE LAB REQUIREMENT (196A/B, 180A/B):  Students must apply for these courses during their third or fourth year. Click here for more information, including application materials and instructions. 
  • A maximum of 12 units of research (MCDB 196A – B, MCDB 199A – C, MCDB 198A – C) may be applied to the major requirements.  Please note:  MCDB 196B (4 units) is applied to the upper division laboratory requirement and MCDB 196A (4 units) plus MCDB 199C (4 units) is applied toward the ELECTIVES requirement.
  • If you complete MCDB 104AL AND 104BL, 12 units of MCDB 199A-C or MCDB 198A-C may ALSO be applied to the electives. MCDB 104BL will be applied to the MCDB electives as well.
  • Elective credit is granted for either Biostats 100A or Stats 100A, but not both.

Requirements for the B.S. degree established by the College of Letters & Science are listed in the UCLA General Catalog.  A total of 180 quarter units are required for the degree; 60 of these 180 units must be upper division (course numbers 100-199).  Check your DAR to determine your allotted maximum number of quarter units.  NOTE:  The MCDB major UD requirements satisfy 48 – 50 upper division units.

Scheduling Tips

  • Not all electives are offered every year. Please consult the Schedule of Classes or the appropriate department.
  • When making a course plan to meet your major requirements, please make sure you have planned for all prerequisites for any upper division course in which you plan to enroll. To enroll in MCDB 168, you must have already completed MCDB 165A and MCDB 138. Courses which count on the MCDB major, may have upper division prerequisites.
  • Some electives are restricted to the home department’s own majors during first pass. For example, if you want to get into MIMG 185A, you may need to wait until your second pass because you are not an MIMG major.

Computing Specialization in MCDB

Majors in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology may receive a specialization in computing by:

  1. Satisfying all the requirements for a bachelor’s degree in the major and;
  2. Completing the following course requirements:
    • Program in Computing 10A, 10B, and 10C
    • Program in Computing 16A (Python)
    • STATS 13 or Life Science 40 (Stats)
    • One upper division course from:
      • Computer Science CM124
      • Computer Science CM186
      • Chemistry & Biochemistry C100
      • Chemistry & Biochemistry CM160A
      • MCD BIO M130
      • MCD BIO 187AL*
      • Physiological Science 125

Students may overlap the upper division courses for the specialization with an elective or lab requirement for the major.

*Space in MCD BIO 187AL is extremely limited and computing specialization students are not guaranteed space in 187AL simply because they plan to complete the specialization.

Students must earn a letter grade of C or better in each required course for the computing specialization and a combined GPA of at least 2.o in these courses to graduate with the specialization in computing.