Undergraduate Advising

For general assistance, contact biology@sfsu.edu. For assistance with your major, contact your undergraduate Biology advisor. For assistance with University and General Education requirements, contact the CoSE Student Success Center (cssc@sfsu.edu).

Frequently Asked Questions

You will need to see two different types of advisors while at SF State. An advisor in the CoSE Student Success Center will be able to help you with University and General Education requirements. Advisors in the Biology Department are available to help you with your major requirements.

We recommend seeing advisors in the CoSE Student Success Center and in the Biology Department at least once per year. Our data tell us that students who see advisors regularly graduate more quickly.

The most important thing to bring is your questions! In addition to that, you should plan to bring any documents that might be relevant for your meeting (i.e., forms, transcripts, course plan, etc.).

Any student with a GPA over 2.0 is welcome to change their major into Biology. You can now change your major online on the Registrar’s Change of Major or Minor page. Once you have submitted the request online, you will need to see a Biology advisor to map out a graduation plan and get approval for the change of major.

Equivalencies and substitutions for major requirements must be approved by a Biology advisor. Please visit an advisor during office hours to get their approval. Your advisor will be able to submit a request to update your Degree Progress Report (DPR). It is super important to keep your Degree Progress Report up to date as the University uses the DPR to evaluate graduation applications.

There are several places to go for career advising. These include your Biology advisors and Career Services & Leadership Development. You can also network with SF State alumni who are in different careers by becoming active with Gator Connect. The Biology Department also hosts webinars about different careers - these webinars are advertised in the weekly BioNews email and on the Biology website. You can also find recordings on the Biology website.

First, you need to be on track to complete all of your University, GE and Biology requirements. Advisors in the CoSE Student Success Center and the Biology Department can help you evaluate if you have met all of the requirements. For Biology requirements, you can also find a checklist for your specific concentration below. Once you have confirmed that you are ready to graduate, you will apply online on the Registrar's Undergraduate Graduation page. To ensure that you can walk in the University’s commencement ceremony, you will need to submit your application no later than April 1st of the year in which you wish to graduate.

Any Biology student who has applied to graduate in summer, fall or spring of the current academic year will be invited via email to a Biology recognition ceremony. If you will be graduating in the summer following the spring recognition ceremony, but wish to participate, please reach out to Jee Quong in the Biology office.

Complete and submit the form Exceed Maximum Units Petition (Undergraduate) (PDF) and then meet with a Biology advisor to obtain approval. Once it has been approved by an advisor, please send it to biology@sfsu.edu to obtain the needed approval/signature of the Chair.

First off, don’t panic! We are here for you. An advisor in the CoSE Student Success Center can help you get back on track to graduate. More information about academic probation can be found on the Academic Probation: Understanding Probation and Disqualification page.

AP test scores need to be submitted to the Undergraduate Admissions Office to receive AP credit. Email ugadmit@sfsu.edu. If the AP credit is needed for a course substitution or requirement waiver, a major advisor will need to submit through Advisor Request.

It is possible to add classes after the add period has ended. You’ll need to fill out a Waiver of College Regulations (PDF) petition in order to add a course. The instructor of the course will need to sign the petition and provide you with an add permission number for the course. The completed petition with the instructor signature and permission number should then be emailed to biology@sfsu.edu for the Chair’s approval. If the Chair approves the petition, it will automatically be forwarded to the Dean’s office.

If a class you want to enroll in is full, please do not give up! There are a few steps that you can take to help your changes. First, prior to the start of classes, email the instructor of the course and copy the Biology Department at biology@sfsu.edu to let them know of your desire to enroll in the course. If an instructor has not been assigned, email the Biology Department at biology@sfsu.edu. Once classes start, make sure to attend all course meetings, while routinely following up with the instructor about the possibility of adding the course. Sometimes, if there is enough demand for a course, the Department will be able to open up a new section.

You may withdraw from a maximum of 18 units during your SF State undergraduate career. The procedure for withdrawing depends on how far the semester has progressed. For a full rundown of the procedures, please visit the Registrar's Dropping and Withdrawing page.

We have reduced the units for many of our biology degrees.  The new degrees offer flexibility for you to pursue interdisciplinary interests.

General Biology (BA degree) has not changed


(up through Spring 2021)


(Spring 2022)


Biology Major Comparisons



Check out our Webinar about the new versus old majors.

Zoom Meeting Recording
Access Passcode: Biol22SFSU!

Learning Resources

Biology faculty maintain regular office hours during the semester to meet with students in their classes in order to provide assistance with coursework and preparation for exams and assignments. Students are encouraged to meet with their professors during these office hours. In addition, the following resources are available:


Take Science Concepts (SCI) courses with your Biology courses. The following courses have companion 1-unit Science Concepts classes (SCI courses) to support student academic performance.

  • All lower-division major requirements (BIOL, MATH, CHEM, PHYS)
  • BIOL 350 Cell Biology
  • BIOL 355 Genetics
  • CHEM 333/335 Organic Chemistry I and II
  • CHEM 340/341 Biochemistry I and II


Career Advising


Pre-Health Professions Student Groups

Interested in Nursing?

If you are considering being a Biology major but have plans to change your major to the B.S. in Nursing, please review the information available on this advising page.


Center for Science and Mathematics Education

Teaching K-12
Meeting the Subject Matter Competency Requirements for the Single Subject Credential in Biological Sciences



  • Please monitor this page for an announcement of the approval process and an update of the course requirements (minimal differences from the requirement listed below).


Students applying for TEACHING CREDENTIAL programs for the single subject credential in Science (Concentration in Biological Sciences) may meet the subject matter competency requirements via one of two pathways:

  1. Demonstrate subject matter competency by completing an approved program that shows depth in biology requirements and obtaining a subject matter waiver from the APPROVED program
  2. Take TWO California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET):
  • Subtest I = test code 215 General Science
  • Subtest II = test code 217 Life Sciences


A credential in this subject matter area authorizes teaching general and integrated science and the area of concentration –Science: Biological Sciences.

Before requesting evaluation for Subject Matter Competency, please review these FOUR QUESTIONS:

  1. Have you taken an upper division/specialized Evolution course?
  2. Have you taken an upper division Ecology course with a lab/field component?
  3. Have you completed a Biology degree (or related Life Science degree) with courses overlapping the SF State General Biology B.A. degree content?
  4. Have you completed courses that cover the geosciences breadth requirement: Astronomy, Geology, Meteorology and Oceanography?

If you have responded NO to any of the 4 questions above, you should take the CSET Exams. The Department of Biology will not evaluate your transcripts.

If you have responded YES to all of the 4 questions above, you may submit your Subject Matter Competency Evaluation Request form (PDF) with your TRANSCRIPTS to the Department of Biology Credential Advisor.


IMPORTANT: The candidate may have the Subject Matter Competency Waiver approved by an alternate program that has a current approved program. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing provides this link to identify CSU campuses with current APPROVED programs for Biological Sciences.


Candidates for teaching credential programs who wish to meet the SF State requirements for Subject Matter Competency for the Single Subject Credential in Science: (Concentration in Biological Sciences) must meet both depth in biology requirements and breadth requirements in chemistry, geosciences and physics. Candidates for the teaching credential program who wish to have their transcripts evaluated for subject matter competency must contact a Department of Biology Credential Advisor to arrange a meeting.

The candidate must supply transcripts and additional supporting documentation to confirm completion of the required course work. This documentation may include course catalogs and course syllabi if the courses were not taken at SF State. Prior to meeting with the General Biology Advisor, the candidate should download and fill out the Biology Single Subject Credential Worksheet (page 2 of the Evaluation Request Form) to assist the Advisor in determining subject matter competency.

For the student matriculating at SF State, the course work for the BA in General Biology, with minor modifications and additional course work in the geosciences combined meet both the depth and breadth requirements. The course work (modified SF State Bachelor of Arts Requirements in General Biology with additional classes):


  • BIOL 230/240, General Biology I and II
  • CHEM 115 and CHEM 215/216* General Chemistry I and II (with lab)
  • CHEM 130, Organic Chemistry
  • PHYS 111/112 and PHYS 121/122, General Physics I/II
  • MATH/STAT 124, Statistics OR MATH 226, Calculus I
  • BIOL 355, Genetics
  • BIOL 525, 612 or 630, a Physiology course
  • BIOL 350, 401, 435, 450, 524 or CHEM 349, a Cell Biology course
  • BIOL 351, 402, 436, 526, 613 or 631, a Physiology or Cell Biology lab
  • BIOL 482, 529 or 585/586, an Ecology course with lab/field component
  • BIOL 337, Evolution*

Additional upper division biology electives to total 57 units for the major (at SF State) Electives selected when combined with other upper division biology courses should clearly demonstrate coverage of human, plant, animal and microbial biology. For example, the student may take the human physiology lecture, general microbiology, plant ecology and marine invertebrate zoology. It would be inappropriate for the student to take courses that focus on only plant biology or only organismal biology


Geosciences, 3 courses**
The Geosciences breadth requirement covers astronomy, geology, meteorology and oceanography, but the material need not be covered in four separate courses. These are the SF State course options:

Current Requirements (as approved by CTC):

  1.  ASTR 115/116: Introduction to Astronomy, 3 units and Lab, 1 unit
  2. ERTH 112: Our Dynamic Earth Lecture and Lab, 4 units
  3.  ERTH 400: Earth Systems I, 3 units (includes lab) or ERTH 535: Planetary Climate Change, 4 units (includes lab)
    Each covers geology, meteorology and oceanography


*Required for single subject science competence, though Chem 216 does not count toward the Biology B.A. degree
**Needed to meet the breadth requirements.


Students with degrees from other institutions:

If the course work was done at a different institution, the biology course work must include a year of general biology and classes in genetics, physiology, ecology, evolution and organismal biology. For breadth requirements, the course work in chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, meteorology and oceanography must total at least 24 semester (or 36 quarter) units.

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing has a specialized and limited credential in science: Biological Sciences (Specialized). To be eligible for the subject matter competency in this Biological Sciences (Specialized) credential, a candidate needs either a post baccalaureate degree or 30 semester units of postgraduate course work in the subject (or a closely related) subject. Teaching certification would be only for Biological Sciences. A teacher with this limited credential would not be able to teach general science, integrated science or introductory science.


Additional links of interest:

  1. Single subject credential program information/application packet (PDF)

  2. Single subject credential program information meetings



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