Biochemistry Undergraduate General Info

Biochemistry Undergraduate General Information

What is Biochemistry?

Anyone who has ever imagined making a more effective medicine, discovering a cure for a disease, or finding a way to convert toxic waste into a valuable source of energy may want to consider a career in biochemistry.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Ohio State offers excellent training in the chemical basis of life and insight into the chemistry of living systems. The study of biochemistry provides a good background for further study or employment in many basic science fields. Many undergraduates in biochemistry go on to professional schools.

Ohio State's faculty and students are engaged in a range of research, including projects in biochemical and physiological processes of higher animals, molecular genetics, photosynthesis, and mammalian cell gene expression.

Biochemists look at how living organisms function at the molecular level. Biochemists may be teachers or researchers. They may study subjects such as the structure of enzymes, the transfer of genetic information, or photosynthesis. Biochemists tackle fundamental questions:

  • What are the structures of molecules?
  • How does molecular structure determine biological function?
  • How do molecules recognize one another in order to form complex cellular structures?
  • What is the nature of the dynamic chemical changes that occur in cells?

Looking for answers to such questions is exciting, considering that all of the uniquely human factors-memory, thinking, learning, feeling-are rooted in biochemical processes.

Biochemists have found that many biochemical processes are shared by all life forms. Basic research into the complex chemistry of living systems provides a springboard for practical advances in medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology.

Career Opportunities in Biochemistry

The career possibilities for students trained in the life sciences have never been better. A recent forecast by the United States Bureau of Labor statistics predicts that the need for life scientists will increase by 21 percent by the year 2000.

Biochemists may work in industry, pharmaceutical houses, hospitals, universities, or private research labs. The federal government employs many biochemists, as do state and local government agencies, and the rapidly growing field of biotechnology has a great need for biochemists.

Many jobs in biochemistry involve high-level research and require advanced-degree training. However, with the demand for biochemists at all levels and the excellent quality of The Ohio State University's training at the undergraduate level, a variety of employment opportunities can be found with a bachelor's degree.

Some jobs available to graduates with bachelor's degrees might include

  • biochemist;
  • medical or pharmaceutical lab technician;
  • food scientist; and
  • industrial salesperson.

The undergraduate biochemistry major is excellent preparation for professional schools, such as medicine, dentistry, optometry, or veterinary medicine. This major also provides a sound background for pursuing advanced master's or PhD degree work in the biological sciences. In general, jobs for graduates with master's degrees involve more responsibility and higher pay. For positions designing or directing research projects, a PhD is a must.

Salary Trends

Beginning annual salaries for graduates with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry range from $30,000 to $40,000. For graduates with a master's or PhD degree in biochemistry, salaries range from $45,000 to $65,000.

High School Preparation

Biochemistry is a demanding, rigorous discipline, yet satisfying for students interested in chemical life processes. A solid background in math, chemistry, physics, and biology is required.

All freshman applicants are considered within a competitive admission process for Autumn, Winter, and Summer quarters for the Columbus campus. The primary criteria for admission are the completion of the applicant's high school college preparatory program, performance in that program as indicated by class rank and/or grade-point average, and performance on either the ACT or SAT.

How to Major in Biochemistry at Ohio State

Once students decide they want to major in biochemistry, they should contact the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at 614-292-6009 for the current major requirements.

General Education Curriculum Requirements

Most students enter University College (UVC) upon enrolling at Ohio State and remain enrolled in UVC until they have qualified for and have been accepted into their chosen major and college.

While enrolled in UVC, students begin taking courses which will meet the General Education  (GE) requirements. The GE is a body of courses designed to ensure that each student becomes acquainted with the basic areas of academic study. To meet the GEC requirements, credit hours must be completed from the following areas of academic study: writing and related skills, quantitative and logical skills, natural sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, diversity experience, and issues of the contemporary world. Some majors also require completion of a foreign language requirement.

Biochemistry Requirements

Prerequisite courses required for the biochemistry major include:

  • General Chemistry I, II, and III;
  • Calculus and Analytic Geometry I, II, and III; and
  • Introductory Physics I - Particles and Motion; II - Electricity and Magnetism; and III - Thermal Physics, Waves, and Quantum Physics.

A sample four-year curriculum plan is available at the end of this document.

More About Biochemistry

Biochemistry majors at The Ohio State University are strongly encouraged to do a research project with a faculty member. Ohio State offers well-equipped laboratories which contain sophisticated instrumentation for biochemical research. Additionally, opportunities for interdisciplinary study are provided; independent studies and honors programs are also available.

Counselors in the Arts and Sciences Career Services Office provide career information and job counseling and will guide students through the process of finding and applying for jobs in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors. Career services counselors encourage students to begin career planning as early as their freshman year.

All students should file placement materials at the Career Services Office no later than the end of their junior or the beginning of their senior year.

Co-op Opportunities

Students who are interested in the college's cooperative education program should register with the Career Services Office in their sophomore year. This program offers a valuable opportunity to gain work experience while still in school.

For More Information

To obtain additional information about academic opportunities in biochemistry, call or write the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, 110 Celeste Laboratory, 120 W 18th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1292; 614-292-6009.

For more information about careers, call or write the Arts and Sciences Career Services Office, 06 Denney Hall, 164 West 17th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1371; 614-292-1868.

For more information about biological sciences in general, call, write, or visit the Academic Adviser, College of Biological Sciences, 105 Biological Sciences Building, 484 West 12th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1292; 614-292-8772.

Sample Curriculum


Course Title
Freshman Year: Biology 10
Chemistry 15
Mathematics 15
GEC Courses 10
Total Hours:
Sophomore Year: Chemistry 20
Mathematics 5
Physics 15
GE Courses 10
Total Hours:
Junior Year: Biochemistry Core Courses 26
Genetics 5
GE Courses 15
Total Hours:
Senior Year: Electives 10
GE Courses 40
Total Hours: