Jun 16, 2021  
2020-2021 University Catalog 
2020-2021 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biochemistry – Major

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Biochemistry is the study of chemical processes within living systems. In other words, it is the study of living systems at the most fundamental level through the analysis of the chemistry of molecules that make up these systems. As the most basic of biomedical sciences, it provides the foundation on which genetics, molecular biology, physiology, cell biology, immunology, and other modern branches of biology and medicine are based.

Undergraduate study in biochemistry at the University provides a solid background for advanced training in any of the areas indicated above, along with an excellent preparation for medicine or any of the other health professions. Students in the biochemistry program also learn the experimental techniques that prepare them for technical positions in biomedical research in one of the growing number of industries involved in biotechnology. From cancer research to gene splicing to photosynthetic capture of solar energy, biochemistry leads the way with new ideas.

The biochemistry program draws on faculty expertise from the departments of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Biological Sciences, in areas including physical and analytical biochemistry, enzymology, cell biology, microbiology, immunology, and genetics. Students begin with a sound preparation in basic biology and chemistry during the first two years, supported by physics and mathematics. The third and fourth years involve, besides biochemistry itself, physical and analytical chemistry, molecular and cell biology, and genetics, as well as electives chosen by the student from an approved list of biology and chemistry courses to meet his/her particular interests. Students also have ample opportunities to pursue undergraduate research in biochemistry.

The sequencing of the human genome is only the first of many steps needed to translate how the human DNA sequence impacts disease through the production and regulation of the thousands of different protein molecules synthesized by the body every day. Biochemists are trained at the interface between chemistry and biology and obtain experience in techniques associated with molecular biology and biotechnology that can be applied effectively in medicine to ameliorate and cure disease.

Biochemistry Degree Requirements

To qualify for the Bachelor of Science in biochemistry, a minimum of 120 credit hours of approved courses is required, including courses in the natural and social sciences, mathematics, humanities, and communications. These requirements fulfill the University general education curriculum.

A minimum of 45 credit hours of courses in all areas of chemistry and 16 credit hours in biology are required, along with supporting courses in mathematics and physics as indicated below. American Chemical Society (ACS)certification of the degree can be obtained by inclusion of selected chemistry courses as part of the 45 credit hours required, together with additional electives. ACS certification requirements include in-depth courses and a minimum of 400 hrs of laboratory experience in four out of five areas of chemistry (Analytical, Biochemistry, Inorganic, Organic and Physical).  The department is also accredited by the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biologists (ASBMB). Students receive either certification or certification with high merit from ASBMB based on their performance on an ASBMB certification exam administered in their senior year.

Students are also strongly encouraged to complete as part of their degree program, an undergraduate research project under the guidance of a department faculty member.

In order to earn a degree from Misher College of Arts and Sciences, a student must complete thirty (30) in-residence credits at a University campus. Fifteen (15) of the thirty in-residence credits must be at the 300 level or higher. In-residence credits are defined as credits for courses offered by the University for which a student receives credit and a grade that can contribute to the student’s calculated grade point average.

Supporting Requirements in Science and Mathematics (30–31 credits)

Biochemistry Program Electives (6 credits)

Students must choose a minimum of 6 credits from any combination of the courses listed below. A combined maximum of 3 credits of CH 450 and CH 480 can be used to meet this requirement, and both courses require the approval of the department chair prior to registration. Additional courses, including graduate courses, may be selected with the approval of the department chair.

Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate Degree Program

Students may take advantage of the opportunity to integrate their BS degree program with one of the graduate degree programs offered through the department in either chemistry or biochemistry, including the MS (non-thesis), MS (thesis) and PhD programs. Students should consult with the department’s graduate program director regarding the differences among the various options and the specific requirements that they need to meet in order to enroll in the integrated program. Students may apply to the integrated program at any point prior to the beginning of the fourth year of their BS program. However, because not all graduate courses are offered every year, the time required to complete a BS/MS integrated program will depend in part on when students enter the program.

Sample Biochemistry Curriculum Plan

First Year

Second Year

Fall Semester

  •  Multidisciplinary Inquiry Requirement Credits: 3

Credits/Semester: 16

Spring Semester

Credits/Semester: 14-15

Third Year

Fall Semester

  • General Education Humanities or Social Science Requirement Credits: 3
    (See Footnote 4 Below)

Credits/Semester: 16

Spring Semester

  • Multidisciplinary Inquiry Requirement Credits: 3 

Credits/Semester: 14

Fourth Year

Fall Semester

  • Biochemistry Program Elective I Credits: 3
    (See Footnote 2 Below)
  • Free Elective Credits: 3
    (See Footnote 3 Below)
  • General Education Humanities or Social Science Requirement Credits: 3
    (See Footnote 4 Below)

Credits/Semester: 15-16

Spring Semester

  • Biochemistry Program Elective II Credits: 3
    (See Footnote 2 Below)
  • General Education Humanities or Social Science Requirement Credits: 6
    (See Footnote 4 Below)

Credits/Semester: 13

Total Minimum Credits: 120


  1. The ordering of CH 342 and CH 343 may be reversed upon consultation with a departmental academic advisor. CH 342 and CH 343 are offered on alternate years during the spring semester.
  2. Biochemistry program electives, in addition to the preapproved list, may be selected from other appropriate undergraduate courses with the approval of the department chair or designee. CH 450 (3 credits) can satisfy ONLY ONE of the biochemistry electives, although more credits may be taken. 
  3. One free elective (3 credits) cannot be a course required for the major degree. 
  4. A course which should be used to meet the General Education Discipline Requirement not satisfied by the courses in the major (i.e. social science or humanities; 6 cr of each are required). 

General Notes:

  1. American Chemical Society certification of the biochemistry BS degree may be obtained by inclusion of selected chemistry courses as part of the 45 credit hours required, together with additional electives. Consult with a biochemistry advisor.
  2. CH 450 - Undergraduate Research experience is strongly encouraged for all department majors. An application form is available in the department office.


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