These are exciting times in biology, and San Diego State University is a stimulating place for biological study. Recent breakthroughs in genetic engineering, genomics, immunology, and new ideas in evolution, systematics and ecology have all contributed to an atmosphere of enthusiasm and innovation. These subjects and many more can be found in the research programs in the Biology Department, where the curriculum spans the entire spectrum of life, from DNA to entire evolutionary lineages, and from viruses to fir trees to whales.

Microbiology is the study of bacteria, viruses, yeasts, molds, algae and protozoa. These microorganisms are important in their effect on the health and well being of all living creatures, including humans, and they are the key to the biological revolution in genetic engineering. In addition, they are vital to environmental science, food production, and the marine environment.

Program Overview

All biology majors complete lower division preparatory courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. The major consists of upper division core courses in cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, ecology, evolution, and electives. These elective courses enable students to specifically prepare for professional schools, complete secondary credential in science requirements, or specialize in one or more of the following formal emphases: Bioengineering; Cellular and Molecular Biology; Ecology; Evolution and Systematics; Marine Biology; Zoology.

Field-oriented classes are supported by a wide array of research projects, advanced instrumentation, and a strikingly varied set of natural "laboratories" near the campus. The Pacific Ocean, with its rocky inter-tidal zone, sandy beaches, and estuaries is only seven miles away. Twenty-five miles to the east are the pine and oak forests of the Laguna Mountains, and just beyond is the desert, which harbors surprisingly rich flora and fauna. The campus itself is located in a chaparral zone of canyons and mesas with natural drainages, reservoirs, and vernal pools. Regional field studies are also carried out in nearby Baja California.

Microbiology majors follow the lower division core for the biology program. Upper division courses are selected so that students get a basic education in the field as a whole and at the same time are able to specialize in a wide variety of academic areas including general microbiology or an emphasis in clinical laboratory science and public health microbiology.

Special Features

Biological Field Stations at ocean, mountain, and desert field sites, are available for classes and student research projects.

Laboratory and field experience. A large number of SDSU Biology students take place in individualized research projects supervised by faculty members.

Well-equipped instructional laboratories range from those having excellent study collections of major animal and plant groups to others equipped for instruction in recombinant DNA technology, radioisotope analysis, and computer-assisted ecological and physiological measurements.

Transmission and scanning electron microscopes are available for student instruction and research.

Seminars by renowned scientists are offered weekly by the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology groups, and by the Molecular Biology Institute (an interdisciplinary group of biologists and biochemists).

The Molecular Biology Institute's outstanding work has made it a leader in the California State University system and a designated site for training other CSU faculty in the techniques of biotechnology research.

The Preprofessional Health Advising Office provides special advising for SDSU students interested in entering the health professions. This includes medical, osteopathic, dental, veterinary, optometry, pharmacy, physician assistant, and chiropractic schools.

SDSU also offers a certificate program in Biotechnology, to introduce students to state-of-the-art techniques used in research laboratories and qualify certificate recipients for employment in various sectors of the biotechnological arena.

Career Opportunities

Students graduating with a bachelor's degree in biology or microbiology have a great variety of career possibilities. These include:

  • Health profession schools, into which the SDSU Biology program and preprofessional health advising office have an excellent record of training students for successful admission.
  • Biotechnology specialist in genetic engineering and other high technology laboratories in universities and industry.
  • Environmental consultant in endangered species surveys, environmental impact studies, and habitat analyses for public or private organizations.
  • Laboratory technician in research centers, commercial laboratories, hospitals, and government agencies.
  • Public information officer, author and journalist dealing with biological and microbiological subjects.
  • Sales representative and adviser for the pharmaceutical, chemical, petroleum, and agricultural industries.
  • Ecological specialist in federal, state, or county agencies, such as fish and game, forestry, and park departments.
  • Horticultural, agricultural, and nursery personnel.
  • Secondary School teacher (after obtaining the appropriate credential).
  • Veterinary assistant or animal care specialist in zoological parks and aquaria.
  • Specialized careers in the biotechnology industry required training in bioengineering.

Many biology and microbiology majors take a course of study that prepares them for medical, dental, veterinary, or allied health schools. Others go on to graduate schools to earn masters and doctoral degrees in various fields of biology that lead to teaching and research positions in universities, colleges, government agencies, and private industries.

Microbiology graduates find positions with federal, state, and local agencies. They conduct applied and fundamental research, disease control and diagnosis in humans and animals, and environmental quality control assessment. Microbiologists also work in private industry (e.g., biomedical or pharmaceutical research and production, food and beverage manufacturing, and quality and safety control capacities) and in the research laboratories of private, academic, or endowed foundations.

The emphasis in Clinical Laboratory Science and Public Health Microbiology prepares students to become licensed clinical laboratory scientists or certified public health microbiologists.

To further explore career options in this field, visit the Careers in Biology or Career Services Web site for more information.

General Catalog

You can view more complete information regarding the Biology program in the General Catalog. All students are responsible for reading and knowing the information pertinent to their areas of study available in the General Catalog. It contains requirements for all academic majors, course descriptions, policies, and regulations governing progress at the university. Catalogs are distributed at all New Student Orientation programs. To order a Catalog, call (619) 594-7535.