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Biological Sciences

Offerings: Bachelor | Master | Minor

Course Description

Biology is the study of living processes from the interaction of species with each other and their environment to the operant molecular mechanisms. The California State University San Marcos Biological Sciences Department presents a broad program of courses that deal with life on the ecosystem, population, organismal, and molecular levels. Life is a complicated series of chemical reactions and interactions, and we seek to understand the relationship of organisms to each other, to their environment, and within themselves in biochemical terms.

Biological Sciences majors may choose between: 1) a general concentration, 2) a molecular and cellular biology 3) an ecology concentration and 4) a physiology concentration. The general concentration provides wide exposure to the range of biological sciences while the cell/molecular, ecology, and physiology concentrations offer majors the opportunity to focus their studies. With an appropriate choice of biological sciences electives and General Education electives, graduates can meet the requirements of admission to graduate, medical, dental, optometry, veterinary, and other professional schools.

Modern biological science has progressed from the purely analytical to now include manipulative capability. Recombinant DNA techniques enable the investigator to generate specified changes in components of organisms for the purpose of better understanding some process, and in some cases to introduce new traits that will be of practical usefulness to society. The Cal State San Marcos program in biological sciences exposes students to cloning techniques, illustrates the techniques involved as part of their general education, and trains them for research positions. Society is the beneficiary of modern technology and is also at its mercy. Products of the industrial process and of our use of natural resources can perturb the dynamic balance in the environment, and by leading to the extinction of species, reduce the diversity of living forms. The Biological Sciences Department addresses fundamental problems in the ecological and environmental sciences. The Biological Sciences Department has well-equipped, modern laboratories. The academic atmosphere is enriched by a close faculty/student interaction (reminiscent of prestigious, small liberal arts colleges), and by numerous field trips to research facilities and sites in the area. Students receive training that will enable them to gain rewarding employment in a number of areas, including teaching, research, the health sciences, biotechnology, ecology, and environmental science.

Minor in Quantitative Biology and Biostatistics

Biology is becoming far more data-rich and computationally intensive. As a result, effective training of 21st century biologists requires dedicated training of students in quantitative and computational analyses. The purpose of the Minor in Quantitative Biology and Biostatistics is to provide Biological Sciences and related majors formal recognition of their expanded knowledge and skills in scientific computing, modeling, and statistics that will result from completion of a suite of required and elective courses. Students who complete this minor will be well prepared for graduate study, work in the private sector, or positions with government agencies or non-profits. Regardless of their choice of a career, the skills students gain in this minor will serve them well. The minor requires completion of nine courses (32-33 units), five courses (15-16 units) of which must be at the 300-500 level. The four required lower-division courses (17 units) are also required for majors in the biological sciences and can be double-counted. At least two courses (6 units) at the 300-500 level must be completed at CSUSM. Each course counted toward the minor must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better. At least three upper-division courses (9-10 units) must be exclusive to the minor (i.e., not double-counted for the major and minor). The remaining six courses (23-24 units) may also be used to fulfill requirements and electives for any of the concentrations in the B.S. degree in Biological Sciences. Students are advised that some courses have prerequisites, and should plan accordingly.


The graduate program in biological sciences leads to a research-based Master of Science (M.S.) degree. The program provides the opportunity for participants to receive advanced training in biological sciences and to pursue independent research investigations in specialized areas of interest. Laboratory and/or field research is an integral component of the program, which emphasizes a “hands-on” approach with close faculty mentoring. Research experience also enables students to hone investigative skills including experimental design, implementation, data analysis, and interpretation. Another important feature of the program is the Teaching Assistantship requirement, which is designed to give students the opportunity to discuss and implement pedagogical strategies employed in science education. Graduates with an M.S. in Biological Sciences will be prepared to continue study at the Ph.D. level, to successfully pursue careers in private industry or government affiliated labs and agencies, and to teach at the college level. Our program fosters the integration of many disciplines. A wide range of faculty expertise and research interests enables the department to offer a curriculum that spans the fields of molecular genetics, aquatic biology, evolution, ecology, physiology, biotechnology, microbiology, immunology, and molecular cell biology. Students may develop a program of courses and research tailored to their individual needs within the areas of faculty expertise. In addition, students may choose a research supervisor outside of the Biological Sciences Department, allowing them to pursue interdisciplinary studies, special field research, or industrial projects. Seminar courses focus on the primary literature and are presented as a forum for open interchange and dissemination of scientific knowledge. The department has sophisticated research laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation. Facilities include a vivarium, greenhouses, tissue culture laboratory, elemental analysis equipment, environmental growth chambers, numerous aquaria, flow cytometry, and equipment for radioisotope and modern molecular biology work. Excellent computer facilities and GIS software are also available. The close proximity of the campus to marine, chaparral, and desert environments provides many opportunities for field studies.

  • Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Ecology
  • Physiology
  • General Biology
  • Minor in Biological Sciences
  • Minor in Quantitative Biology and Biostatistics
  • Master of Science in Biological Sciences

College of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (CSTEM)


  • Biologist
  • Biomedical engineer
  • Biotech
  • Biotechnologist
  • Biotechnology careers
  • Botanist
  • Conservation
  • Entomologist
  • Horticulturist
  • Pharmacist
  • Toxicologist


  • Biomedical
  • Biotechnology
  • Environment
  • Environmental
  • Healthcare
  • Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Research


Cdc, Conservation, Ecology, Environment, Genetics, Green, Healthcare, Lab, Medicine, Organism, Research, Stem cells, Water