Major Requirements

P/NP Courses for the MCDB Major – Spring 2020*

*The policies that were in place for Spring 2020 will extend to Summer Sessions 2020.

Changes to the Preparation for the MCDB Major:
A grade of “Pass” in any courses taken P/NP during the Spring 2020 quarter may be applied to lower division preparation courses required for the MCDB major.

Changes to the upper division major requirements:
A grade of “Pass” in any courses taken P/NP during the Spring 2020 quarter may be applied to the upper division major requirements for the MCDB major.

Changes to the Computing Specialization:
A grade of “Pass” in any courses (lower division or upper division) taken P/NP during the Spring 2020 quarter may be applied to the Computing Specialization requirements for the MCDB major.

These changes will apply to any student currently in the MCDB major, as well as any student who completes P/NP courses during Spring 2020 before entering the MCDB major.

MCDB Major Requirements 2019 – 2020 [Download PDF]

Preparation for the Major

Life Science Series Physical Science Series
Chemistry 14A, 14B, 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, 20L may take Chem 14C, 14CL, 14D.

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 – 4)
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)

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. 

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
MCDB M140 Cancer Cell Biology 5
MCDB C141 Molecular Basis of Plant Differentiation and Development 5
MCDB 146 Metabolism and Disease 5
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
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 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
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 at least an overall 2.0 GPA for upper division coursework taken to fulfill the major requirements.
  • 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).  Please note:  Students who completed the 5 unit LS2 & 3 which included labs, are not required to take LS23L.
  • 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 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 in the MCDB undergraduate office (128 Hershey Hall).
  • 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 a Research Immersion laboratory and follow-up Investigations course (i.e. MCDB 104AL/104BL) is completed, 12 units of MCDB 199A-C or MCDB 198A-C may ALSO be applied to the electives. The “BL” course 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.