Frequently asked questions

Is there a recommended sequence for offering biology, chemistry and physics?

No, UC does not have a preferred course sequence. Individual schools or districts may determine the best sequence that will enrich their students’ learning.

Does UC approve online laboratory science courses?

Online courses may be approved in the “d” subject area if they meet the laboratory science course criteria, and include a teacher-supervised, hands-on lab component comprising of at least 20 percent of class time. Since UC has not seen computer software that adequately replicates the laboratory experience, computer simulated labs and lab kits are not acceptable. UC faculty considers the experimentation process a critical component of any laboratory science course because it brings the scientific process to life.

Online course publishers offering online laboratory science courses without a required, teacher-supervised, hands-on lab can still submit their courses to UC for "a-g" review and earn provisional approval. Final "a-g" approval will be awarded per institution based on the teacher-supervised, hands-on laboratory activities the individual high school, district or program developed to supplement the online curriculum purchased or licensed from the publisher. Institutions will be prompted to include descriptions of the required labs when submitting their new course submission to add the publisher's laboratory science course to their "a-g" course list.

Can earth or physical science courses be approved in the “d” subject area?

Lower-level laboratory science courses in the earth and physical sciences are only approved in the elective (“g”) subject area because these courses generally do not cover a full year of content in biology, chemistry or physics. Advanced-level courses in these topics can be approved in the “d” subject area if they delve more deeply into the fundamental knowledge of these subjects.

    A student has taken biology and an interdisciplinary science course, such as AP Environmental Science. Has the student fulfilled the two-year laboratory science requirement?

    Yes, the student has satisfied the laboratory science (“d”) subject requirement. An interdisciplinary science course approved in the “d” subject area can count for one of the required two years of laboratory science coursework.

    Do science courses in the “g” elective area require a laboratory component?

    Yes, similarly to courses approved in the laboratory science (“d”) subject area, all science courses in the elective subject area must include hands-on laboratory and/or field activities that are directly related to and support the curriculum, and that involve inquiry, observation, analysis and write-up. These hands-on activities should account for at least 20 percent of class time.

    Is the lab science requirement the same for UC and the California State University (CSU) system?  

    No. UC and CSU have different course requirements to satisfy the “d” subject requirement. For UC, students must complete two years of coursework from two of the three fundamental sciences of biology, chemistry and physics, or the last two years of an approved three-year integrated science sequence. All courses used to fulfill the “d” requirement must be courses from in the “d” subject area on the "a-g" course list

    For CSU, students must complete one year of coursework in the life sciences and one year of coursework in the physical sciences to satisfy the “d” subject requirement. They also will allow one of the two courses used to satisfy this requirement be from the “g” elective area.

    Can all three years of an integrated science program be approved in the “d” subject area? What if a student only completes part of the integrated science program?

    Students who have successfully completed a three-year integrated science (IS) sequence will have met the two-year laboratory science (“d”) requirement as well as the one-year elective (“g”) subject requirement. In most cases, the first year of an integrated science sequence fulfills the “g” requirement, and the second and third years of the sequence fulfill the “d” requirement. Students electing to enroll in an integrated science program are strongly advised to complete the entire three-year sequence. If a student completes only part of the sequence, the following combinations may be used to satisfy the “d” subject requirement:

    • IS 1 + IS 2 + one year in biology, chemistry or physics
    • IS 1 + two years in biology, chemistry and/or physics
    • IS 1 + one year in biology, chemistry or physics + IS 3
    • Introductory science (e.g. earth science, physical science, environmental science) + IS 2 + IS 3