Cell & Developmental Biology

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

The CDB emphasis with tracks in Cell & Systems Biology and Medical Biology & Physiology well suited for those interested in basic research, medical and health sciences, and in teaching. Cells are the most basic unit of life. They house DNA, make proteins, produce energy, provide structure, transmit neural information, and sometimes cause disease. The dramatic array of structures and functions that cells perform are enabled by the process of development, which coordinates fundamental and diverse cellular changes and, at the most impressive, produces an entire complex organism like ourselves from one simple starting cell.

Armed with an array of modern methods, including advanced microscopy and powerful genomic approaches, cell and developmental biologists uncover the molecular cues that are responsible for the complex structures within cells, their functions, and the striking changes they undergo during development. The faculty in Cell and Developmental Biology at Berkeley are at the cutting edge of study in a range of important topics including stem cell development, cancer and cellular dysfunction, and understanding of mechanisms that allow cells to divide, move, sense and transmit signals, and regenerate.

Upper Division Requirements


Petitioning to Substitute MCB 133L 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 guide.berkeley.edu 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 Lists

CDB Elective List A

CDB Elective LIst B

Molecular and Cell Biology

  • C103 Bacterial Pathogenesis (Sp, 3 units) 
  • C112 General Microbiology (F, Su; 4 units)
  • C114 Introduction to Comparative Virology (Sp, 4 units)
  • C116 Microbial Diversity (F, 3 units)
  • 132 Biology of Human Cancer (F, 4 units)
  • C134 Chromosome Biology / Cytogenetics (Sp, 3 units)
  • 135A Molecular Endocrinology (F; 3 units)
  • 136 Physiology (F, 4 units)
  • 137L Physical Biology of the Cell (Sp, 3 units)
  • 141 Developmental Biology (Sp, 3 units)
  • 143 Evolution of Genomes, Cells & Development (F, 3 units)
  • C148 Microbial Genomics & Genetics (Sp, 4 units)
  • 149 The Human Genome (Sp, 3 units)
  • 150 Molecular Immunology (F, Sp, 4 units)
  • 160 Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology (F, 4 units)
  • 161 Circuit, Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience (Sp, 4 units)
  • 163 Mammalian Neuroanatomy (F, 4 units)
  • 165 Neurobiology of Disease (Sp, 3 units)
  • 166 Biophysical Neurobiology (F, 3 units)
  • 167 Physiological & Genetic Basis of Behavior (Sp, 3 units)

Molecular and Cell Biology

  • Any course on Elective List A except MCB 136
  • 130 Cell and Systems Biology (Sp, 4 units)

Integrative Biology

  • 103LF Invertebrate Zoology (Sp, 5 units)
  • 104LF Natural History of Vertebrates (Sp, 5 units)
  • 117 & 117LF Medical Ethnobotany with Lab (F, Su, 2 & 2 units)*
  • 123AL Exercise and Environmental Physiology (F, 5 units)
  • 131 General Human Anatomy (F, Su, 3 units)
  • 137 Human Endocrinology (F, 4 units)
  • 140 Biology of Human Reproduction (Sp, 4 units)
  • C143A Biological Clocks: Physiology & Behavior (Alt F, 3 units)
  • C143B Hormones and Behavior (Sp, 3 units)
  • 148 Comparative Animal Physiology (Alt F, 3 units)
  • * both lecture AND lab courses must be taken for IB 117/117L to obtain one elective requirement

Nutritional Sciences & Toxicology

  • 103 Nutrient Function & Metabolism (F, 3 units)
  • 108A Introduction & Application of Food Science (F, 3 units)
  • 110 Toxicology (F, 4 units)
  • 160 Metabolic Bases of Human Health and Diseases (Sp; 4 units)
  • 161A Medical NutritionTherapy I (F; 4 units)

Plant & Microbial Biology

  • 135 Physiology & Biochemistry of Plants (F; 3 units)
  • 150 Plant Cell Biology (F; 3 units)
  • 160 Plant Molecular Genetics (Sp; 3 units)


  • 110 Introduction to Biological Psychology (F, Sp, Su; 3 units)
  • C113 Biological Clocks: Physiology & Behavior (Alt F; 3 units)
  • C116 Hormones & Behavior (Sp; 3 units)

Public Health

  • 141 Intro to Biostatistics (Su; 5 units)
  • 142 Intro to Probability & Statistics in Bio & 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.
  • 150B Intro to Environmental Health Sciences (F; 3 units)
  • 162A  Public Health Microbiology (F, Su; 3 units)


  • 131A Intro 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 Courses but NOT Regularly Offered

  • MCB 113 Applied Microbiology & Biochemistry
  • MCB 115 Molecular Biology of Animal Virus
  • MCB 137 Computer Simulation in Biology (replaced by MCB 137L)
  • MCB C145 Genomics
  • MCB C146 Topics in Computational Biology and Genomics
  • NSTX 150 Mechanics of Metabolic Regulation
  • PH 150A Intro to Epidemiology & Human Disease