Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Biological Sciences

Undergraduate Degrees

Advisement

Advisement in the Department of Biological Sciences is required each semester. First semester freshman and transfer advisement takes place during orientation. Advisement in all remaining semesters takes place during the pre-registration period. The undergraduate coordinator forwards advisement appointment information each semester to all students in biological sciences and biochemistry.

Pre-Medical and Other Pre-Professional Preparation

The department offers specially planned courses within the biological sciences to prepare students for admission to professional schools (medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, occupational therapy, physical therapy, pharmacy, optometry, public health), paramedical sciences (medical technology, physician’s assistant, clinical and public health microbiology, clinical biochemistry), naturalist and environmental positions in the public and private sectors, jobs in industry (biotechnology), and graduate study (basic biological and biomedical fields). With the proper selection of courses under the guidance of the Department of Biological Sciences and the USC Rossier School of Education, the B.S. degree satisfies the California requirements for secondary school teaching in the life sciences.

Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences

The general education, writing, language and diversity requirements for a USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences degree are applicable.

Major core courses, Lower-division Units
BISC 120L General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution, or
BISC 121L Advanced General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution 4
BISC 220L General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology, or
BISC 221L Advanced General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology 4

Major core courses, Upper-division Units
BISC 320L Molecular Biology 4
BISC 325 Genetics 4
BISC 330L Biochemistry 4

Collateral sciences core courses Units
CHEM 105aLbL General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115aLbL Advanced General Chemistry 4-4
CHEM 322abL Organic Chemistry, or
CHEM 325abL Organic Chemistry 4-4
MATH 125 Calculus I 4
MATH 208x Elementary Probability and Statistics, or
BISC 305 Introduction to Statistics for Biologists 4
PHYS 135abL Physics for the Life Sciences (4-4), or
PHYS 151L Fundamentals of Physics I: Mechanics and Thermodynamics, and 4
PHYS 152L Fundamentals of Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism 4
Upper-division Major Requirements

Twenty units of upper-division BISC course work available for major credit are required. At least two courses in the upper-division electives must carry a lab (“L”) or be 490. No more than 4 units of BISC 490x may be used to fulfill the upper-division elective requirement. In addition, no more than two seminars (BISC 460 to BISC 462), totaling 4 units, may be applied to the upper-division elective requirement.

Total required units: 128

Free elective units: 12–16

Scholarship in Major Subject

The department requires that students receive a grade no lower than C- in their five core courses. They must maintain a 2.0 GPA in the upper-division biology and chemistry courses required for the major, as well as an overall 2.0 GPA. All major core courses must be taken on a letter grade basis.

Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences

The general education, writing, language and diversity requirements for a USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences degree are applicable.

Major core courses, Lower-division Units
BISC 120L General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution, or
BISC 121L Advanced General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution 4
BISC 220L General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology, or
BISC 221L Advanced General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology 4

Major core courses, Upper-division Units
BISC 320L Molecular Biology 4
BISC 325 Genetics 4
BISC 330L Biochemistry 4

Collateral sciences core courses, Lower-division Units
CHEM 105aLbL General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115aLbL Advanced General Chemistry 4-4
MATH 125 Calculus I 4
PHYS 135abL Physics for the Life Sciences (4-4), or
PHYS 151L Fundamentals of Physics I: Mechanics and Thermodynamics, and 4
PHYS 152L Fundamentals of Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism 4

Collateral sciences core courses, Upper-division Units
CHEM 322abL Organic Chemistry, or
CHEM 325abL Organic Chemistry 4-4
Upper-division Major Courses

Eight units of upper-division BISC course work available for major credit are required. No more than 4 units of BISC 490x may be used to fulfill the upper-division elective requirement. In addition, no more than two seminars (BISC 460 to BISC 462), totaling 4 units, may be applied to the upper-division elective requirement.

It is expected that students will take 100-level BISC core courses during the first year, two 300-level BISC core courses during the second year, and the remaining core courses and the 300- or 400-level BISC major elective courses during the third and fourth years.

Total required units: 128

Free elective units: 24

Scholarship in Major Subject

The department requires that students receive a grade no lower than C- in their five core courses. They must maintain a 2.0 GPA in the upper-division biology and chemistry courses required for the major, as well as an overall 2.0 GPA. All major core courses must be taken on a letter grade basis.

Honors Program in Biological Sciences

The department offers an honors program to outstanding students already pursuing studies for the B.A. or B.S. degree in Biological Sciences. This program offers students an opportunity to participate in undergraduate research, experience in writing an honors ­thesis summarizing the completed research, and experience in an honors seminar. Honors students are required to take two semesters of BISC 493x Honors Seminar (1 unit/­semester) and one semester of BISC 494x Honors Thesis (2 units) in addition to fulfilling all requirements of the B.A. or B.S. degree. Honors students must also choose BISC 490x as one of their upper division electives. This program leads to the designation on the transcript of Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences with Honors.

Honors Admission Requirements

Students may apply to the department for admission to the honors program after having completed at least one year of work at USC with a minimum GPA of 3.5 in all science and math courses required for the major.

Honors Scholarship Requirements

For continuation in the honors programs, students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 in the sciences and mathematics courses required for the major.

Bachelor of Science in Human Biology

The general education, writing, language and diversity requirements for a USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences degree are applicable.

Summary of Requirements

General core: 24 units; major electives: one thematic module of 20 units; restrictive electives: 16 units; total requirements: 60 units.

GENERAL CORE (24 units) Units
BISC 120L General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution, or
BISC 121L Advanced General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution 4
BISC 220L General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology, or
BISC 221L Advanced General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology 4
CHEM 105abL General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115abL Advanced General Chemistry 4-4
MATH 108* Precalculus, or
MATH 125* Calculus I 4
PHYS 135aL Physics for the Life Sciences 4

MAJOR TRACK (20 units) units
Choose one complete track module from below:
Applied Physiology
EXSC 300L Physiology of Exercise 4
EXSC 301L Human Anatomy 4
EXSC 400L Principles of Perceptual-Motor Learning 4
EXSC 405L* Applied Systems Physiology 4
EXSC 408L* Biomechanics 4

Biomedical Science
BISC 307L* General Physiology 4
BISC 320L* Molecular Biology 4
BISC 421* Neurobiology 4
EXSC 301L Human Anatomy 4
EXSC 406L* Exercise and Energy Homeostasis 4

Nutrition and Metabolism
BISC 307L* General Physiology 4
BISC 330L* Biochemistry 4
EXSC 200L* Nutrition: Macronutrients and Energy Metabolism 4
EXSC 350* Nutrition: Micronutrients and Homeostasis 4
EXSC 406L* Exercise and Energy Homeostasis 4

Human Evolutionary Biology
ANTH 200L The Origins of Humanity 4
ANTH 300 Evolution, Ecology, and Culture 4
ANTH 306 Primate Social Behavior 4
ANTH 406 Theory and Method in Biological Anthropology 4
BISC 313L* Evolution and Population Genetics 4

Restricted Electives (16 units) units
A minimum of 16 units is required. Courses can be selected from the elective list below or from any other track in the major.
ANTH 308 Origins and Evolution of Human Behavior 4
ANTH 405 Evolutionary Medicine 4
BISC 305 Introduction to Statistics for Biologists 4
BISC 325* Genetics 4
BISC 371L* Molecular Approaches to the Diversity of Life 4
BISC 403* Advanced Molecular Biology 4
BISC 405L* General Embryology 4
BISC 410* Applications of Molecular Biology to Medicine 4
BISC 411* Advanced Cell Biology 4
BISC 421* Neurobiology 4
BISC 423* Epilepsy to Ecstasy: Biological Basis of Neurological Disorders 4
BISC 424* Brain Architecture 4
BISC 426* Principles of Neural Development 4
BISC 435* Advanced Biochemistry 4
BISC 450L* Principles of Immunology 4
BISC 490x Directed Research 4
CHEM 322abL* Organic Chemistry 4-4
CHEM 325abL* Organic Chemistry 4-4
CHEM 432* Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences 4
EXSC 409 Metabolic Diseases 4
EXSC 439L Human Performance and Bioenergetics 4
GERO 310* Physiology of Aging 4
GERO 411L Physiology, Nutrition, and Aging 4
GERO 414* Neurobiology of Aging 4
GERO 440* Biodemography of Aging 4
MATH 126* Calculus II 4
PHYS 135bL Physics for the Life Sciences 4
PSYC 274L* Statistics I 4
PSYC 320* Principles of Psychobiology 4
PSYC 326* Behavioral Neuroscience 4
PSYC 425* Functional Imaging of the Human Brain 4

*Prerequisite required

Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology

The general education, writing, language and diversity requirements for a USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences degree are applicable.

Summary of Requirements

Students must complete the general core consisting of 20 units. In addition, they must select 16 units from one of the three track modules below, as well as 8 additional units from either of the other track modules or the restricted electives list. Total requirements: 44 units including at least 20 upper-division.

GENERAL CORE (20 units) Units
ANTH 200L The Origins of Humanity 4
BISC 120L General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution, or
BISC 121L Advanced General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution 4
BISC 220L General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology, or
BISC 221L Advanced General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology 4
EXSC 301L Human Anatomy 4
MATH 108* Precalculus 4

MAJOR TRACK (24 units) units
Choose 16 units from one of the track modules and 8 additional units from the other track modules or restricted electives list for a total of 24 units. No more than two courses may be lower-division (100- or 200-level).
Human Biology (16 units)
BISC 307L* General Physiology 4
BISC 320L* Molecular Biology 4
BISC 421* Neurobiology 4
EXSC 200L* Nutrition: Macronutrients and Energy Metabolism 4
EXSC 350* Nutrition: Micronutrients and Homeostasis 4
EXSC 405L* Applied Systems Physiology 4
EXSC 406L* Exercise and Energy Homeostasis 4
EXSC 408L* Biomechanics 4

Human Evolutionary Biology (16 units)
ANTH 300 Evolution, Ecology, and Culture 4
ANTH 306 Primate Social Behavior 4
ANTH 308 Origins and Evolution of Human Behavior 4
ANTH 406 Theory and Method in Biological Anthropology 4
BISC 313L* Evolution and Population Genetics 4
BISC 371L* Molecular Approaches to the Diversity of Life 4
GERO 440* Biodemography of Aging 4
PSYC 401* Evolutionary Psychology 4

Human Performance (16 units)
EXSC 202L Principles of Nutrition and Exercise 2
EXSC 203L Individualized Exercise Prescription 2
EXSC 250 Drugs and Ergogenetic Aids in Sport and Weight Control 4
EXSC 300L Physiology of Exercise 4
EXSC 310 Sociopsychological Aspects of Sport and Physical Activity 4
EXSC 400L Principles of Perceptual-Motor Learning 4
EXSC 401L* Kinesiology 4
EXSC 439L Human Performance and Bioenergetics 4

Restricted Electives (8 units) units
ANTH 405 Evolutionary Medicine 4
BISC 305 Introduction to Statistics for Biologists 4
BISC 307L* General Physiology 4
BISC 313L* Evolution and Population Genetics 4
BISC 325* Genetics 4
BISC 371L* Molecular Approaches to the Diversity of Life 4
BISC 403* Advanced Molecular Biology 4
BISC 405L* General Embryology 4
BISC 410* Applications of Molecular Biology to Medicine 4
BISC 411 Advanced Cell Biology 4
BISC 421* Neurobiology 4
BISC 423* Epilepsy to Ecstasy: Biological Basis of Neurological Disorders 4
BISC 424* Brain Architecture 4
BISC 426* Principles of Neural Development 4
BISC 435* Advanced Biochemistry 4
BISC 450L* Principles of Immunology 4
BISC 480 Developmental Biology 4
BISC 490x Directed Research 4
CHEM 322abL* Organic Chemistry 4-4
CHEM 325abL* Organic Chemistry 4-4
CHEM 432* Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences 4
EXSC 409 Metabolic Diseases 4
EXSC 441L* Prevention of Athletic Injuries 4
EXSC 442L* Advanced Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries 4
GERO 310* Physiology of Aging 4
GERO 411L Physiology, Nutrition, and Aging 4
GERO 414* Neurobiology of Aging 4
GERO 440* Biodemography of Aging 4
MATH 125* Calculus I 4
MATH 126* Calculus II 4
PSYC 274L* Statistics I 4
PSYC 320* Principles of Psychobiology 4
PSYC 326* Behavioral Neuroscience 4
PSYC 425* Functional Imaging of the Human Brain 4

*Prerequisite required

Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry

This degree is offered jointly by the Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry.

The general education, writing, foreign language and diversity requirements for a degree in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences are applicable.

Students must complete each required course in the Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry with a grade of C- or better, and maintain an overall GPA of 2.0 or better in all attempted courses in the two departments in the regular degree program.

Required Courses units
BISC 120L General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution, or
BISC 121L Advanced General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution 4
BISC 220L General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology, or
BISC 221L Advanced General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology 4
BISC 320L Molecular Biology 4
BISC 330L Biochemistry 4
BISC 403 Advanced Molecular Biology 4
BISC 435 Advanced Biochemistry 4
CHEM 105aLbL General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115aLbL Advanced General Chemistry 4-4
CHEM 300L Analytical Chemistry 4
CHEM 322abL Organic Chemistry, or
CHEM 325abL Organic Chemistry 4-4
CHEM 430a Physical Chemistry, or
CHEM 432 Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences 4
MATH 125 Calculus I 4
MATH 126 Calculus II 4
BISC 305 Introduction to Statistics for Biologists, or
MATH 208x Elementary Probability and Statistics, or
MATH 226 Calculus III 4
PHYS 135abL Physics for the Life Sciences, or
PHYS 151L Fundamentals of Physics I: Mechanics and Thermodynamics 4
PHYS 152L Fundamentals of Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism 4

Eight units of upper-division, non-core course work available for major credit in biological sciences or chemistry are required. Students enrolled in BISC 490 are limited to 4 units, while students enrolled in CHEM 490 may complete up to 8 units. No more than two seminars (BISC 460 to BISC 462), totaling 4 units, may be applied to the upper-division elective requirement.

Honors Program in Biochemistry

A B.S. degree with honors in biochemistry is available for eligible students. In meeting program requirements students must submit an application and satisfy the objectives of one of the program options noted below.

Option One: Biochemistry Honors with Chemistry Research

Students seeking admission into option one must have at least junior standing (64 units) with an overall USC GPA of 3.5 or better in at least 32 units at USC, and have a 3.5 or better in at least 16 units in biological sciences and chemistry. Students in this option must complete 8 units of research (CHEM 490) under the supervision of chemistry faculty with the results of research being described in an undergraduate thesis reviewed and ­approved by a faculty committee. To graduate with honors under this option students must earn a GPA of 3.5 in all biological sciences and chemistry courses required for the major.

Option Two: Biochemistry Honors with Biology Research

Students seeking admission into option two must have at least sophomore standing (32 units) with an overall USC GPA of 3.5 or better both cumulatively and in 16 units in biological sciences and chemistry. Students in this option must complete 4 units of research (BISC 490) under faculty in biological sciences or under faculty in any other department approved by biological ­sciences. In addition, students must complete two semesters of Honors Seminar (BISC 493), 1 unit each, and one semester of Honors Thesis (BISC 494), 2 units. To graduate with honors under this option students must earn a GPA of 3.5 in all sciences and mathematics courses required for the major.

Upon graduation, transcripts of students following either option will be noted, “Bachelor of Science with Departmental Honors.”

Minor in Biotechnology

The USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry and the Marshall School of Business jointly offer the cross-departmental minor in biotechnology. This minor brings essential knowledge in the basic sciences together with the corporate skills needed in a rapidly growing industry. The minor is especially well suited for the business, biological sciences, chemistry or engineering student seeking a career in business and/or the biomedical/bio-technical sciences.

This minor requires a varying number of units beyond major requirements depending upon the student’s major program of study: biological sciences (B.A. or B.S.), 16–18 additional units; business (B.S.), 28 additional units; chemistry (B.A. or B.S.), 32–34 additional units.

Students in other majors may be required to complete up to 46 units for the minor depending on whether their major includes any of the minor requirements and their prerequisites.

Please see a biological sciences or business adviser for specific program requirements.

Required Courses Units
Biological Sciences (16 units)
BISC 220L General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology, or
BISC 221L Advanced General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology 4
BISC 320L Molecular Biology 4
BISC 330L Biochemistry 4
BISC 406L Biotechnology 4
Recommended: BISC 300L, BISC 403, BISC 450L

Chemistry (12 units)
CHEM 105aLbL General Chemistry 4-4
CHEM 322aL Organic Chemistry 4

Recommended: CHEM 322bL, CHE 489

Finance, Business, and Accounting* (16–18 units)
ACCT 410x Accounting for Non-Business Majors, or 4
BUAD 285ab Accounting Fundamentals, Financial and Managerial Accounting, or 4-2
BUAD 286ab Accounting Fundamentals, Managerial and Financial Accounting, or 4-2
BUAD 305 Abridged Core Concepts of Accounting Information 4-6
BUAD 215x Foundations of Business Finance, or
BUAD 306 Business Finance 4
BUAD 304 Leading Organizations, or
BUAD 307 Marketing Fundamentals 4
FBE 403 Introduction to the Legal Environment of Business 4

*Students pursuing the business degree must enroll in BUAD 285ab or BUAD 286ab and BUAD 306.

Recommended: MATH 118x or MATH 125 and MATH 208x or MATH 218

Minor in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics

The USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences departments of biological sciences and mathematics and the Viterbi School of Engineering departments of computer science and biomedical engineering jointly offer the cross-departmental minor in computational biology and bioinformatics. This minor provides essential training in using quantitative skills to solve fundamental biological problems as well as problems related to public health, neuroscience and environment. The minor includes four tracks according to the background of the students in biology, mathematics, computer science and engineering.

As with all minors, students must include at least four upper-division courses (16 units) and four courses (16 units) dedicated exclusively to this minor (they can overlap). Four courses (16 units) taken outside the major department are required. The courses are designed for students in biology, mathematics, computer science or biomedical engineering. Other students may need more units to receive the minor. The CHEM 105bL or CHEM 115bL prerequisite for BISC 320 may be waived if the students have the necessary background determined by the faculty adviser for the minor. Students who waive these prerequisites cannot retake CHEM 105bL or CHEM 115bL for credit.

Please see the minor adviser for specific ­program requirements.

Required courses Units
Biological Sciences:
BISC 305 Introduction to Statistics for Biologists (Can be substituted by MATH 208 or MATH 408 or BME 423) 4
BISC 320L Molecular Biology 4
BISC 478 Computational Genome Analysis 4
BISC 481 Structural Bioinformatics: From Atoms to Cells 4

Mathematics:
MATH 125* Calculus I 4
MATH 126* Calculus II 4

Computer Science:
CSCI 103L Introduction to Programming 3
CSCI 104L Data Structures and Object-Oriented Design 4

Electives:
Biological Sciences: BISC 230L, BISC 300L*, BISC 313*, BISC 325*, BISC 330L*, BISC 403*, BISC 406L*, BISC 410*
Mathematics: MATH 225*, MATH 226*, MATH 408*, MATH 432*, MATH 458*, MATH 465*, MATH 466*, MATH 467*
Computer Science: CSCI 170*, CSCI 201L*, CSCI 270*, CSCI 477a*, CSCI 477b*, CSCI 485*

*Prerequisite required

Total requirements for students with no prior course work: 30 units. Students need to take 30 units of the courses listed: all requirements, and enough electives to add up to 30 units, while fulfilling the requirement that they must take 16 units unique to the minor (not used for their major or general education) and 16 units not offered by their major.

Students majoring in biological sciences, mathematics, computer science and biomedical engineering can meet many of these requirements with course work that also satisfies their majors.

Students of other majors need to take all the required courses plus at least one elective from mathematics or computer science (e.g., MATH 226, MATH 407, CSCI 201) from the list of elective courses to meet the minor requirements.

Minor in Craniofacial and Dental Technology

For a complete listing of course requirements, see the Ostrow School of Dentistry.

Minor in Natural Science

The minor in natural science will first provide students with a foundation in the basic sciences of physics, chemistry and biology. Each student will then build on this by selecting a variety of electives to meet individual scientific interests and academic goals. Eighteen units toward the natural science minor must be completed at USC. This minor is not available to majors in the natural sciences or engineering.

Required Courses (22 Units) Units
Any five courses from among:
BISC 120L General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution, or
BISC 121L Advanced General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution 4
BISC 220L General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology, or
BISC 221L Advanced General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology 4
CHEM 105aL General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115aL Advanced General Chemistry 4
CHEM 105bL General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115bL Advanced General Chemistry 4
PHYS 135aL Physics for the Life Sciences 4
PHYS 135bL Physics for the Life Sciences 4

And a capstone course:
BISC 321x Science, Technology and Society 2
Elective Course Requirement (8 units)

Any two courses chosen from among those offered for major credit by the departments of chemistry, physics, biological sciences, earth sciences and kinesiology.