Degree: BS, BA
College: Arts and Sciences
Biochemists investigate how molecular structure determines biological function, how molecules recognize each other and how the dynamic chemical changes that occur inside cells are orchestrated. Biochemists look at how living organisms function at the molecular level, studying such subjects as the structure of enzymes, protein folding, the transfer of genetic information or photosynthesis.
Upon admission to the university, students can declare a major in biochemistry within the College of Arts and Sciences. Interested students should contact the Undergraduate Chemistry and Biochemistry Office to make an appointment with a biochemistry advisor to map out an appropriate program of courses.
The biochemistry major at Ohio State offers excellent training in the chemical basis of life and insight into the chemistry of living systems.
The biochemistry major consists of a minimum of 12 upper-level courses in biochemistry, molecular genetics, organic and physical chemistry, and mathematics.
Several science and mathematics courses are taken in support of the degree. These courses provide a strong foundation in all the scientific disciplines upon which biochemistry is built. All biochemistry majors take calculus, one year of general chemistry, one year of physics and one year of introductory biology. These basic math and science requirements of the biochemistry major are nearly identical to the requirements of many other science-based disciplines and can help fulfill prerequisites for pre-medicine, pre-optometry, pre-dentistry and pre-veterinary medicine.
Students can pursue either a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry. The BS is designed for students who wish to become professional biochemsists or to enter biotechnology fields. The BA includes all BS major requirements except for Calculus III, a second organic chemistry lab and a second physical biochemistry course; it also allows students to take algebra-based physics course work instead of the calculus-based physics course work required of the BS. This allows flexibility for the BA student to take other advanced science courses to prepare to apply to professional programs such as medicine, veterinary medicine, optometry or pharmacy.
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry supports an active Honors Program. The honors sequence General Chemistry 1910H and 1920H must be started in the fall semester and is recommended for well-qualified entering freshmen. In addition, there is an Honors organic chemistry sequence available to sophomores. These courses offer more intensive investigations into these topics and provide an excellent foundation for pursuing advanced levels in chemistry.
Scholars programs of interest to biochemistry majors include the Biological Sciences, Health Sciences Scholars, and STEM Exploration and Engagement Scholars programs. The Biological Sciences Scholars Program emphasizes research, with individualized advising and significant lab and field experience. The Health Sciences Scholars Program is focused on preparing students for careers in health sciences and health care. The STEM Exploration and Engagement Scholars Program connects students with other science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields through mentoring and community outreach.
Biochemistry majors at Ohio State, especially those destined for graduate and professional school, are strongly encouraged to do a research project with a faculty member. Ohio State offers well-equipped laboratories containing sophisticated instrumentation for biochemical research. Information about choosing an undergraduate research laboratory is available through Ohio State’s Undergraduate Research Office and the biochemistry advisor.
The Undergraduate Chemistry and Biochemistry Club provides opportunities for students to interact with faculty, discuss careers and research areas with scientists from the Ohio State campus and beyond, and participate in service activities.
Examples of jobs available to biochemistry majors upon graduation include biochemist, medical or pharmaceutical lab technician, food scientist, or industrial sales representative. A large portion of the students who complete the biochemistry major go to professional school to pursue advanced degrees in fields such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry or veterinary medicine.
The median annual wage for biochemists and biophysicists was $91,190 in May 2017 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,410, and the top percent earned more than $177,840.
The median annual wages for biochemists and biophysicists in the top five industries in which these scientists worked were as follows:
- Wholesale trade: $110,160
- Research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences: $104,250
- Management, scientific and technical consulting services: $100,780
- Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing: $76,110
- Colleges, universities and professional schools; state, local and private: $55,690
Students who complete the biochemistry major will be prepared to:
- Understand the relationship between biochemistry and broader areas of science in a historical context
- Apply chemical, mathematical and physical concepts to describe biological processes
- Apply biochemical concepts to explain basic cellular processes
- Use scientifically valid reasoning to investigate and articulate how biochemical knowledge is acquired
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has been ranked among the top chemistry departments in the nation by The National Research Council and U.S. News and World Report.
The department's faculty includes 20 recipients of an NSF Career Award, 16 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, three DOE Early Career recipients, three fellows of the American Chemical Society, three Ohio Eminent Scholars, two Distinguished University Professors, and one Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor.
The department receives over $12 million in federal funding annually with approximately 90 percent of the faculty supported by federal research grants.
Interested in a career in the STEM fields?
Check out the STEM Pathway to discover the many majors Ohio State offers that can lead to a career in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.