Frequently Asked Questions





When should I declare?

You should declare as soon as you have decided that MCB is the right major for you and you have taken the declaration requriements (see declaration page). Declared majors have priority  enrollment in most upper division MCB courses so it is to your advantage to declare as soon as you are eligible.

What must I do to declare the MCB major?

Students who are ready to declare should go link on the Declaration Instruction Page to begin the process. Follow the instructions on the web site, which will take approximately 10 minutes. 

What courses do I need to take in order to declare the MCB major?

You need to have completed or be currently enrolled in Biology 1A, and have a C or better on the first midterm exam. You must also have completed or be currently enrolled in Chemistry 3B after the early drop deadline.

What kind of GPA must I have to get into the MCB Major?

You must have a 2.0 cumulative G.P.A., a 2.0 major G.P.A. (upper- and lower-division courses combined) and a 2.0 upper-division major G.P.A. to declare the major. This is a C average and is considered to be good academic standing in the College of Letters and Science.

Is this an impacted major?

No, it is not. If you have taken the courses necessary to get into the major (see declaration page), are in good academic standing, and have a reasonable amount of time to complete the upper-division requirements, you will be admitted to the major.

Can I declare a double major within MCB (2 emphases)?

No, I'm afraid not. Technically, this is a single major. However, you will have opportunities to explore other emphases through your MCB electives.

Can I minor in MCB?

Unfortunately there is no minor program in MCB.


Can I take any of the major course requirements for a P/NP grade?

All lower- and upper-division courses must be taken for a letter grade if they are to be used towards satisfaction of the major requirements.

Are there any minimum grade requirements that I must achieve in any MCB major courses?

While we would hope that you earn at least Cs in all of your classes, you must officially pass all courses (D- or better) and your major G.P.A.s must stay at or above 2.0. Note though that we've noticed a correlation between the grade students receive in Biology 1A/1AL and their upper-division MCB GPA.

How many courses and units must I complete in MCB?

There are 9 lower-division courses required for the MCB major, which total 39 units. You are then required to take a minimum of 21 upper division units, however your requirements will automatically give you 22 to 24 upper-division units, depending upon which emphasis and electives you choose.

What math courses does MCB accept?

MCB prefers students to take Math 10A and 10B. This sequence includes calculus and statistics, which are both very important for upper division MCB classes. However, students are also allowed to take 2 semesters of calculus, Math 1A and 1B, which may allow them to double major or minor in a department that requires that sequence. We highly recommend students take an introductory statistics class (Stats 2, 20, 131A, PH 142 etc)  if they choose the 1 series. For students who took AP Calculus and feel fully prepared to take higher level math, MCB will accept a combination of two from Math 1B, 53, 54, 55 and/or Stats 2, 20 to fulfill the math requirement. For example, we will accept a combination of Math 1B/53, Math 1B/Stats 20, Math 53/54 etc. Please carefully consider this decision as these classes are quick paced and assume a Berkeley level understanding of Math 1A/1B. All students must have 2 semesters of math and AP does not waive this requirement. Please see an MCB advisor for further clarification. 

I took Math 16 A/B can I still declare MCB?

Yes. You will have to take some additional math. We consider the 16 series equivalent to Math 1A so students who took the Math 16 series will be required to take Math 1B to fulfill the math requirement. 

May I use MCB research units to satisfy any MCB requirement?

Possibly. Students can petition to have appropriate research units substitute for the upper division lab in their emphasis. For more information on the approval process see here.

Can I use courses from other departments to satisfy MCB major requirements?

We have 9 possible major programs to follow. Each has its own set of approved electives. Some, but not all, of these lists include courses from other departments.

Once I complete all the MCB requirements will I be eligible to graduate?

The MCB requirements are only a portion of the requirements necessary for the B.A. degree. Consult with advisors in the College of Letters and Science regarding other requirements such as breadth, unit, residency and upper-division units outside the major.


I have an Academic Advising Hold on CalCentral. What do I do?

Please come into the Undergraduate Affairs Office, in 3060 VLSB. A staff advisor will be able to lift this hold after discussing your plans for next semester.

I have an Undeclared Senior Hold on CalCentral. What do I do?

If you are eligible to declare, please start the process online: Declaration Instruction Page. If you are not eligible, please come into the Undergraduate Affairs Office, in 3060 VLSB to meet with a staff advisor who will give you a conditions to declare form. You will need to bring this form to L&S Advising to get your undeclared senior hold lifted.

What is the difference between enrolling in my MCB upper division courses in Phase I and Phase II?

Some courses may fill up entirely with MCB majors in Phase I or the early part of Phase II, but not all MCB courses. Please speak with an advisor if you have questions regarding enrollment in specific courses.

Must I take Biology 1A/1AL before Biology 1B?

No. These are two separate courses, with separate prerequisites. If you have fulfilled the prerequisites for the courses, you can take either before the other. 

How often are the MCB courses offered?

The prerequisite courses are all offered fall, spring and summer. Enroll early because some are heavily impacted and fill quickly. The core courses of C100A, 110, 102, & 104 are all offered fall and spring. Check the Berkeley Academic Guide for offerings of our other courses.

When should I take the upper-division lab course?

As a general rule, we schedule this in your senior year, but this varies depending upon other factors. Please come in to speak with an advisor about this if you have questions.