Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Upper Division Requirements, Sample 4-yr Plans, Elective List

Housed within the Division of Biochemistry, Biophysics, & Structural Biology, the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) emphasis is dedicated to the mechanistic understanding, at the molecular level, of essential processes for the life of the cell. To this end, the BMB emphasis uses rigorous and reductionist approaches to describe living systems in chemical and physical terms. Unique to BMB is the combination of powerful molecular biological methodologies (e.g. cloning, gene splicing and gene expression), with biochemical and biophysical assays, as well as structural biology strategies (e.g. X-ray crystallography, 2-D NMR, cryo-electron microscopy) for dissecting structure and function of macromolecules. Berkeley hosts unique, state-of-the-art facilities to carry out research using these methodologies.

The ability to understand complex biological processes by characterizing the activity of the molecular machinery governing processes such as DNA replication, transcription, transposition, recombination, protein synthesis, protein degradation and RNA processing, have greatly advanced our understanding of the living cell. Furthermore, these approaches and new knowledge are playing a major role in unraveling many complex biological processes at the organismal level, such as development, differentiation, mutagenesis, gene regulation, pathogenesis, oncogenesis, and aging.

Through the major you will learn not only how the molecules of life work in the healthy cells and organisms, but also how disruption of their function leads to disease. Furthermore, the identification and characterization of the molecular culprits for human illness is an essential step towards treatment by pharmacological agents that target these molecules to alter their activity. An exciting and invigorating aspect of these types of studies is that they can be done by individual students, armed with keen interest and curiosity.

Upper Division Requirements

Transfer Students intending BMB track 2: 

  • 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. 

  • Transfer students in Biological Chemistry must also take an extra BMB elective to fulfill minimum upper division unit requirement.

​Petitioning to Substitute MCB C110L with Research Units

Students may petition to substitute the lab course with equivalent knowledge and units obtained through independent research experience (such as 199 or H196 research), as determined by the Head Faculty Advisor of their major emphasis. Careful consideration and discussion with your faculty advisor is important when making the decision whether to use independent research to substitute the lab, as MCB labs expose students to many biological approaches not always encountered during these research projects. For more information on the approval process see Petition to Substitute MCB Lab Course.

​​Sample 4-yr Plans

These are just examples, for more sample schedules including spring start and transfer see or meet with an advisor to explore your options. It is recommended by MCB advisors and faculty to take the upper division lab as early as you can if you are interested in research and/or honors research. 

Approved Electives List for BMB

Molecular and Cell Biology

  • Any 3 or 4 unit upper-division MCB course EXCEPT 130L, 133L, 140L, 150L, 160L, 163L, 102, 104, 130, 180, 190, H196, 198, or 199.


  • 113 Advanced Mechanistic Organic Chemistry (F; 3 units)
  • 115 Organic Chemistry - Advanced Lab Methods (Sp; 4 units)
  • 130B Biophysical Chemistry (Sp; 3 units)

Environmental Science, Policy & Management

  • C148 Pesticide Chemistry and Toxicology (Sp; 3 units)


  • 110 Linear Algebra (F, Sp, Su; 4 units)

Nutritional Sciences & Toxicology

  • C114 Pesticide Chemistry and Toxicology (Sp; 3 units)


  • 112 Introduction to Statistical & Thermal Physics (F, Sp; 4 units)
  • 177 Principles of Molecular Biophysics (Sp; 3 units)

Plant & Microbial Biology

  • C112 General Microbiology (F; 4 units)
  • C114 Comparative Virology (Sp; 4 units)
  • C116 Microbial Diversity (F; 3 units)
  • C134 Chromosome Biology / Cytogenetics (Sp; 3 units)
  • 135 Physiology & Biochemistry of Plants (F; 3 units)
  • 150 Plant and Microbial Biology (F; 3 units)
  • 160 Plant Molecular Genetics (Sp; 3 units)

Public Health

  • 141 Intro to Bio-Statistics (Su; 5 units)
  • 142 Introduction to Probability & Statistics in Biology & Public Health (F, Sp; 4 units) - Note: For students who have completed Math 10A/B, or Stat 2 or 20, this course is not accepted to meet the elective requirement.


  • 131A Introduction to Probability and Statistics for Life Scientists (F, Sp; 4 units) - Note: For students who have completed Math 10A/B, or Stat 2 or 20, this course is not accepted to meet the elective requirement.

Approved Electives but NOT Regularly Offered

  • BioEng C141 Stats for Bioinformatics
  • Math 127 Mathematical & Computational Methods in Molecular Biology
  • Physics 132 Contemporary Physics
  • Stat C141 Stats for Bioinformatics