Your path to a MCS Major

Marine and Coastal Science (MCS) Undergraduate Courses

Many upper division MCS classes are offered once per year or once every other year, so careful planning will help you fit in your preferred electives. Check when each MCS major class is offered.

The Marine and Coastal Science major begins with introductory courses in mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, and earth sciences.  These are followed by core courses in Marine Science. The major requirements provide focus and breadth, so that each student gains mastery in one area and broad exposure to many facets of Marine and Coastal Science.  Focus and Breadth areas include: Coastal Environmental Processes, Marine Ecology and Organismal Biology, Marine Environmental Chemistry, or Oceans and the Earth System.


COVID-19 update (posted 1/22/2021): While UC Davis plans to return to primarily in-person instruction starting Fall 2021, we are not yet sure what summer courses will look like. Please visit the Bodega Marine Lab website for the latest on their course offerings. Graduating seniors should work with their advisor to plan for their graduation requirements should Bodega Marine Lab courses need to be cancelled or you are unable to attend.

The sample academic plans below are provided for your convenience; classes are subject to change. See your major advisor for help creating a personalized academic plan.


[ UC Davis General Catalog ] [ UC Davis General Catalog MCS section ]

Other General Education courses to consider:

  • ANT 131–Ecology & Politics (4 units) GE credit: SS
  • ANT 133–Anthropology of Ocean world's (4 units) GE credit: SS, WC, WE
  • ARE 142–Personal Finance (3 units). GE credit: SS. Good for non-majors. Offered Fall and Spring quarters.
  • ESM/SAS 008–Water Quality at Risk (3 units) GE credit: SE, SL, SS, WE
  • HIS 172–American Environmental History (4 units) GE credit: ACGH, AH, SS, WE
  • HYD 150—Water Law (3 units) GE credit: ACGH, SS.
  • MGT 012Y–Life’s Financial Decisions (3 units) GE credit: QL, SS
  • NAS 161—California Indian Environmental Policy I (4 units) GE credit: ACGH, DD, SS, WE. No prerequisites. Offered Spring of odd-numbered years.
  • NAS 162—California Indian Environmental Policy II (4 units) GE credit: ACGH, DD, SS, WE. No prerequisites.
  • POL 12B–Climate Change and Politics (4 units) GE credit: SS, WE
  • SAS 018—GIS & Society (3 units) GE credit: QL, SE, SL, SS, VL.
  • STS 001—Introduction to Science, Technology & Medicine Studies (4 units) GE credit: SS, WE. Learn how society and science affect each other.
  • STS 011—Science on Trial: Law, Science, & Technology in the United States (4 units) GE credit: ACGH, SS. An introduction to law and science in America.
  • STS 101—Data & Society (4 units) GE credit: QL, SS. Learn to analyze and visualize data about some of today's most challenging social problems. Add data analysis to your portfolio of skills.
  • STS 180—Topics in Science & Technology Studies (4 units) GE credit: SS.

4-year Students | MCS Sample Academic Plan

4-year Students | MCS Sample Academic Plan

The following is a sample study plan for first year Marine and Coastal Science majors. It includes Bodega Marine Lab coursework during the summer after Junior year, but this requirement can be fulfilled in different ways or at a different time.

Year 1

  • Fall Quarter Total: 8-9 units 
    • CHE 2A (5)
    • MAT 16A or 17A or 21A (3-4)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 13-14 units 
    • CHE 2B (5)
    • MAT 16B or 17B or 21B (3-4)
    • BIS 2B (5)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 13-14 units 
    • CHE 2C (5)
    • MAT 16C or 17C or 21C (3-4)
    • BIS 2C (5)

Year 2

  • Fall Quarter Total: 11-12 units 
    • BIS 2A (5)
    • CHE 8A* (2)
    • PHY 7A or 9A (4-5)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 11-12 units 
    • CHE 8B* (4) 
    • PHY 7B or 9B (4-5)
    • GEL 16 (3)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 11-12 units 
    • PHY 7C or 9C (4-5)
    • BIS 101* (4)
    • EVE 12 (3)

Year 3

  • Fall Quarter Total: 10-12 units 
    • BIS 105* (3)
    • Depth Course (4-5)
    • Focus Course (3-4)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 10-12 units 
    • BIS 104* (3)
    • Depth Course (4-5)
    • Focus Course (3-4)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 8 units 
    • STA 100 (4)
    • GEL/ESP 116N (3)
    • EVE/ESP 111 (1)
  • Summer Total: 10 units 
    • Field Requirement
      • Research/Internship (3)
      • Focus Course (4)
      • GEL/ESP 150C** (3)

Year 4

  • Fall Quarter Total: 6-8 units 
    • Focus Course (3-4)
    • Breadth Course (3-4)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 6-7 units 
    • GEL/ESP 150B** (3)
    • Breadth Course (3-4)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 7-8 units 
    • GEL/ESP 150A** (4)
    • Breadth Course (3-4)

MCS Sample Academic Plan (pdf)
*Only required for the focus in Marine Ecology and Organismal Biology
**Choose two from GEL/ESP 150A, 150B, and 150C

2-year Transfer Students | MCS Sample Academic Plan

2-year Transfer Students | MCS Sample Academic Plan

The following is a sample study plan for transfer students. It assumes that you’ve completed the preparatory coursework. It includes Bodega Marine Lab coursework during the summer after Junior year, but this requirement can be fulfilled in different ways or at a different time. 

Year 1

  • Fall Quarter Total: 11-13 units
    • BIS 101* (4)
    • Depth Course (4-5)
    • Focus Course (3-4)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 6-7 units 
    • BIS 105* (3)
    • Focus Course (3-4)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 10 units  
    • BIS 104* (3)
    • GEL/ESP 150A** (4)
    • GEL/ESP 116N (3)
  • Summer Total: 10 units 
    • Field Requirement Research/Internship (3)
    • Focus Course (4)
    • GEL/ESP 150C** (3)

Year 2

  • Fall Quarter Total: 11-13 units 
    • STA 100 (4)
    • Depth Course (4-5)
    • Breadth Course (3-4) 
  • Winter Quarter Total: 6-7 units
    • GEL/ESP 150B** (3)
    • Breadth Course (3-4) 
  • Spring Quarter Total: 6-8 units
    • Focus Course (3-4)
    • Breadth Course (3-4)
    • EVE/ESP 111 (1)
  • Summer
    • No classes

2-year MCS Sample Academic Plan for Transfers (pdf)
*Only required for the focus in Marine Ecology and Organismal Biology
**Choose two from GEL/ESP 150A, 150B, and 150C