Your Major

Thought it would be fun to look at and talk about the requirements for different majors since I had to think about mine a lot recently. I was fairly limited to interactions with science-y people. I was surprised when I’d talk to kids who only had to take one or two labs their entire college careers. Labs aren’t necessarily harder than any other class, but time-wise, they really muck things up. You might need to study an hour every day for a class, but having 9-12 hours of lab a week is rough no matter how simple the work is (and it’s usually not simple).

I hear engineers have it bad. I never took any engineering classes but I did take math and physics with a lot of them and they always seemed swamped.

Anyway, I was interested in hearing about your major requirements and what you think about them.


Here were my requirements for a geophysics B.S. (minus the breadth stuff/GE or whatever it’s called):

CHEM 2A, 2B, 2C (all with labs)
MAT 21A, 21B, 21C, 21D, 22A(lab)*
PHY 9A, 9B, 9C (all with labs)

GEL 50/50L
GEL 60 (has a lab)
GEL 62 (has a lab)
GEL 100/100L
GEL 101/101L* (took the lecture but not the lab)
GEL 103 (lecture and field work)*
GEL 105 (has a lab)
GEL 106 (has a lab)
GEL 107/107L
GEL 108
GEL 109/109L
GEL 110 (6 weeks living in the field 6 days/week)*

Plus 12 more units of upper division geology (or select other) electives


I thought that was normal until I started my neurobiology B.S.
Here are those requirements:

BIS 2A, 2B(lab), 2C(lab)
CHEM 2A, 2B, 2C (all with labs)
CHEM 8A, 8B(lab)
MAT 17A, 17B, 17C (or 21 series)
PHY 7A, 7B, 7C (or 9 series and all with labs)
BIS 101, 105, 104

NPB 100
NPB 101/101L
NPB 102
Plus one more lab of your choice from NPB
STA 100
GEL 107 (Without the lab)

Plus 12 more units of upper division NPB (or select other) electives



So, math and physics would be easier in neuro. I have two more chemistry classes and a lot more biology (makes sense). The depth subject matter is HUGELY different though.

I only had TWO neuro labs. I had TWELVE geology labs. That’s absolutely insane. Many of those labs were 3 hours long, twice a week, on top of a lecture. The labs always took longer than 3 hours to complete, so we got our own keys to the microscopes and were given key-codes to get into the classrooms/hand samples/slides whenever we wanted. That part was sort of neat because I’d almost completely alone in the building some nights (still time consuming though).


In my opinion, geology is terrible. It’s set up so no matter what your interest is you HAVE to take all those classes I listed. GEL 107 is paleobiology. A really neat class about the history of life on Earth. If you like that, then you’ll love GEL 105: Igneous Rocks. Why is it required that I learn about optical mineralogy if my interest is paleobiology!? Both of those are considered geology, which is cool, but why not split it up so people interested in the history of vertebrates, natural hazards, and historical ecology (all geology classes) aren’t forced to take 4 or 5 classes that are solely about identifying rocks/minerals?

Neurobiology was better. There was a lot of chem and bio, which was tough, but the neuro stuff was almost completely left up to you. 100 was basic neurobiology and 102 was animal behavior. 101 was physiology, which was a bit tedious, but hey, 1 class compared to 6-7 in geology. After that one, I got to take mammalian vision, neural mechanisms of behavior, and primate evolution. Fun stuff all around. I would say the same about the geology electives I took if only the required classes weren’t frequently terrible.

Geology was really hard. The material wasn’t any more difficult than any chem, neuro, or bio class I had to take but squeezing in that many labs on subjects that were frequently outside of my interest made the hours feel longer. I was spending around 7-8 hours in the lab room every week. A few kids spent the entire night in the building finishing a lab last quarter. In addition, there was homework and projects and midterms and finals and lab practicals. Those weren’t easy either.

those were my majors. How were yours?




* those are the only classes I didn’t complete. I was that close to a geophysics degree and my university wouldn’t let me get it.

Your Major

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