Transfer Student FAQ

  • GE: As a science major you are exempt from GE Area B, that is, you do not have to take GE math or science. If you’ve already taken Area B, that gives you a head start, but that’s all.
  • WST: You must pass the Writing Skills Test before enrolling in Biology 100W or any of SJSU’s nine units of advanced GE courses known as SJSU Studies (see Schedule of Classes). You may enroll in any other upper division course without having passed the WST.
    • ALL SJSU students must complete 100W and nine units of advanced GE in three separate departments. Even if you score high enough on the WST to receive a waiver, you must take Biology 100W.
  • CHEMISTRY:(Note: Chemistry requires a C or better to progress through the series)
    • Inorganic: You need two semesters or three quarters of inorganic chemistry (SJSU’s Chem 1A and 1B). You must take the entire series at one school. If you started a three quarter sequence at a Community College, you must finish it there.
    • Organic: Most biology majors must take a full year of organic chemistry (SJSU’s Chem 112A, 112B, and 113A lab). Chem 1A and Chem 1B completion are required before enrolling in Chem 112A. If you took the full year of organic with lab at a Community College, that satisfies both our graduation requirement and medical school requirements. If you took the “simpler” one semester organic chemistry then you must complete the full one year sequence (Chem 112A, 112B, and 113A) at SJSU. Chem 112A is a prerequisite to the lab, Chem 113A; you should take Chem 112B and 113A concurrently.
    • The BA Concentrations and the BS in Conservation require only Chem 8 and 9. Some dental schools will accept just one semester of organic, but all medical schools require, and most dental, optometry, pharmacy, and physical therapy schools prefer the full year (Chem 112A, 112B, and 113A).
    • Biochemistry: Most biology majors take one semester, Chem 135. Those aiming for serious biochemical work may want to take the full year, Chem 130 and 131, but this requires Chem 55 (quantitative analysis) as a prerequisite. The only biology majors required to take Chem 55 are the Microbiology majors aiming for Clinical Laboratory Science (medical technology).
  • MATH: All medical schools require at least one semester of Calculus (Math 30 or 30Por Math 60). Most biology concentrations require calculus, but not all. You should take the Math Placement Exam (MPE) to determine whether or not you can take Math 30. You may enroll in Math 19 (trig and pre-calculus) without taking the exam.
  • PHYSICS: Biology majors take a year of non-calculus physics (2A and 2B). If you have already taken the calculus-based series, that fulfills this requirement. If you have taken the first half of a calculus-based series, you may take Physics 2B here to complete the series.


Biology: Every college offers lower-division biology differently. You must have had 10 semester units or 15 quarter units of lower division courses that include: plant and animal taxonomy, Mendelian genetics, evolution and ecology; and cell biology, including DNA, metabolism, membranes and transport. If you have studied these subjects in at least 8 or 10 semester units, with lab, and have completed Chem 1A, ALL WITH GRADES OF C OR BETTER, you may take upper division Biology major classes (numbered 100 and above). Otherwise, consult with an advisor and start with Biology 1A and 1B to make up for subjects you’ve missed.


  • COMPUTER TECHNIQUES: All SJSU majors must take Biol 5 (computer techniques) and either Biol 155 (lab majors) or Biol 156 (field majors). Biol 5 is a prerequisite to Biol 100W, Biol 155 or Biol 156 (one of which is a prerequisite to Biol 160).
  • Biology 1A requires Chemistry 1A and English 1A be taken concurrently (unless they have been taken previously and passed with a C or better). Biology 1B requires completion of Biology 1A and Chemistry 1A with a C or better, and concurrent enrollment in Biology 6, and English 1B (unless they have been taken previously and passed with a C or better). These prerequisites are not waived (students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree may be given exceptions). All prerequisite grades must be a C or better.
  • All of SJSU’s upper division major Biology classes (courses numbered 100 and above) require completion of Biology 1B or equivalent with a grade of C or better. You must bring unofficial copies of transcripts to the first class meeting to show completion of the prerequisites or in most courses you will be un-enrolled. Many upper division biology courses also have specific chemistry prerequisites; again, you must bring proof of completion to the first class meeting.
  • Two common beginning upper division courses are Biology 115 (genetics) and Microbiology 101 (introduction to microbiology). Biol 115 requires completion of Biol 1B and Chem 1B. Micr 101 requires Biol 1B and completion of Chem 112A or 8 (all with a grade of C or better).
  • Other beginning upper division classes include physiology (one required for everyone): Biol 124 (mammalian physiology) and the lab (Biol 125) require Phys 2B, Biol 1b, and Chem 112A; Bot 102 (plant physiology), Biol 135/L, and Micr 127 are the other physiology options (discuss with an advisor).
  • Other: Biology is a popular major. Many intend to go to medical school or work in biotechnology. The number of places in medical school has not increased, but applications have – dramatically. Increasing numbers are considering dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, and physical therapy. K – 12 teaching is also increasingly popular. Biotechnology is not a labor intensive market and what employers are looking for in the small number of entry level jobs in biotechnology, indeed in any professional job in biology are: writing proficiently and oral communication skills, team work skills, hands on lab experiences and specific skills, and good basic science, math, and computer techniques.
  • The title of your degree doesn’t matter. What does count is what you’ve done – in research, in lab, in job experiences. Get to know your advisors well!