Prospective Transfer Students

Planning to transfer to Cal and major in MCB?

General Information for Transfer Students

Every year, the Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) department welcomes more than 75 transfer students from around California and across the country to the MCB major. Transfer students are active members of the MCB community, getting involved in research experiences, student organizations, and other activities that complement the rigorous academic program of MCB.  

MCB accepts transferable coursework from most accredited colleges and universities. Students hoping to transfer to UC Berkeley with the intention of declaring MCB should plan to complete all lower division prerequisite courses at their transfer institution. Failure to complete the lower division requirements prior to enrolling at UC Berkeley may impact your admission to the University.

If you are admitted without having fully completed a specific series at the transfer institution, you may not have sufficient background to take the remaining equivalent course at UC Berkeley. Completion of the prerequisites is also necessary before starting upper division coursework. We advise you to postpone your admission to UC Berkeley until you complete that coursework. This will also allow for more course exploration in the emphases and other subjects.

Major Preparation - Lower Division Courses

The MCB major requirements include a number of lower and upper-division courses.  More information about the major, its emphases, and the requirements can be found on our "Major at a Glance" page. 

In general, students considering transferring to the MCB major at UC Berkeley should take at least two semesters/three quarters of the following lower division courses. The UC Berkeley equivalent courses are noted in parentheses.

Subject Berkeley Equivalent
 Berkeley Equivalent
 General Biology Biology 1A/1AL Biology 1B (includes lab)
 General Chemistry Chemistry 1A/1AL Chemistry 1B**  (includes lab)
 Organic Chemistry Chemistry 3A/3AL Chemistry 3B/3BL
 Calculus Math 1A*** Math 1B***
 Physics (calculus-based)* Physics 8A (includes lab) Physics 8B (includes lab)

Course descriptions for these courses can be found in the bulletin or by visiting the host department’s website.  Advanced Placement (AP) scores may be used to satisfy some of the lower division requirements. For a list of acceptable scores, click here.

*While it is highly recommended to complete Physics sequence prior to enrolling at UC Berkeley, it is not required to declare the major and can be completed while enrolled at UC Berkeley.

**Chemistry 1B is required for BMB track 2 only.    

***For transfer students, MCB will accept any two semester combination of Math 1A, Math 1B, Math 53, Math 54, or Math 55. The major DOES NOT accept the equivalent of the Math 16 series, nor does the major accept the AP test to fulfill the math requirement (effective fall 2013 for transfer students).

ACS Exam: Completion of the ACS exam is only required for students interested in Track 2 of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology emphasis. Students planning major in the MCB: Biological Chemistry track should have completed the Chem 1B equivalent and have taken and scored at least a 75% on the ACS exam, which then satisfies the requirement for Chem 112A/112B. 

Transferring from a California Community College

If you will be completing your transfer work at a California community college, please refer to ASSIST for all course articulations between your college and UC Berkeley. ASSIST have already been approved by MCB.

We advise you to complete all IGETC (Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum) requirements before you transfer here. Once here, you have limited time in which to complete these requirements in addition to major requirements.

If you are currently attending a community college, visit their Transfer Center for more information about the UC campuses and to find out if a Berkeley admissions representative will be visiting your campus.

Transferring from a 4-year or private college

Whether you are coming from a community college or a four-year institution, it is important to plan carefully before you transfer. The best approach to choosing the courses that are most likely to transfer and satisfy MCB requirements, is to compare the course descriptions for each requirement.

If you are transferring from a college/university that is not included in (most four year, private, out-of-state, and foreign institutions), please see the new UC Berkeley Transfer Information for In-State and Out-of-State Institutions articulation system. Courses not included in this system will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Be prepared to provide detailed information about the course(s) you would like to count towards the MCB major requirements.

Full evaluation of transfer courses will occur once you start at UC Berkeley, so it is important to retain any syllabi and/or course material that will be useful in determining course equivalency.

For questions related to University and college requirements, please contact the College of Letters & Sciences.


If you have any questions about the MCB major or transferring courses, contact us, at

For questions about the application process or myBerkeleyApp, be sure you read through the FAQs on the Transfer Admission website and/or speak with a transfer admissions representative in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Admitted to Cal and intending MCB? Check out our admitted transfer student page.