Welcome to the Department of Biology Advising

Closeup of Amy Tappen outside

Amy Tappen

Biology Undergraduate Academic Advisor

Biology and Microbiology Degree Info

Changing Majors

Biology Course Info

Top 5 tips for Success

25 Frequently Asked Questions


Biology Advising is now VIRTUAL!




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Overview of the Department

The Biology department at San Diego State University has excellent degree programs with courses taught by over 40 full time, research active faculty members. We serve and mentor approximately 1600 undergraduate majors in Biology and Microbiology, 80 minors, 200+ graduate students, and thousands of students from other departments. SDSU offers a rich variety of coursework in cellular and molecular biology, ecology, evolution, and related fields. In a typical semester, undergraduates have access to over 50 courses. Nearly all of these have class sizes less than 30, or have associated laboratory sections with less than 25 students. We have a large number of laboratory and field-based courses compared with Biology departments at other institutions. The lower division laboratories are taught by graduate students (rather than undergraduates), and many of the upper division laboratories are taught by the professors themselves.

There are significant opportunities for our undergraduates to conduct research with an internationally recognized faculty. Academic Analytics consistently ranked SDSU faculty research productivity highly when they performed these analyses in 2007-2010: #1 out of 92 small research universities in the United States, #15 out of all 155 public research universities, and #35 out of all 222 American research universities. Within SDSU, the department of Biology has one of the strongest research programs, with undergraduate, Master's and PhD programs in the areas of Cell and Molecular Biology, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology.

The SDSU student body is tremendously diverse. See a summary of student diversity and graduation rates on our Frequently Asked Questions page, FAQ #19.

Because of our emphasis on laboratory courses, hands-on activities and research opportunities, our graduates are uniquely prepared for a career in biology or the health professions, or postgraduate education.


Important: Registration Blocks

  1. You must be admitted to the major before registering for Biology 366. Finish your major preparation courses by the 5th semester. See the Bioadvising office if this impacts your registration plans.
  2. You cannot register for courses numbered Biology 450 or above until you complete certain upper division writing requirements. See the details on our Frequently Asked Questions #8.
  3. The university blocks students from repeating a course if they earned C or better the first time. There are no exceptions.
  4. SDSU blocks students from taking any course three times. If you cannot earn the grade you need after repeating a particular course, please meet with the Biology advisor immediately.

Important Links

Course Checklist for 2020-21

2020 Fall Class Schedule


Are you planning to enroll in Calculus? Please view the registration requirements:

                            Mathematics Placement Assessment


Are you planning to enrol in CHEM 200? Please view the registration requirements:

                          Chemistry Department Placement Exam


Are you graduating next year?

Back in 2010, we held an advising session specifically targeted towards students that were planning for graduation. The advice still holds true, so please click here to watch the event and get advice for the coming year!

This is an approximately 30 minute MPEG (mp4) movie. The file is large (131 MB), but will probably start playing inside your web browser part-way through the download.


Contact Us:

Amy Tappen, Biology Undergraduate Academic Advisor

Dr. Kevin Hovel, Professor and Vice Chair of Biology / Director of Undergraduate Advising and Curriculum

Biology Undergraduate Advising Office, LS-102   See a map
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr.
San Diego, CA 92182-4614
(619) 594-6442

The office is currently operating in virtual environments.


Important links:

Office of Advising and Evaluations
Office of the Registrar
Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement
Health Professions Advising Office
Office of Admissions


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