Biochemistry is an interdisciplinary scientific field that combines studies in biology, chemistry and physics, focusing on how organisms and their constituent cells operate. A baccalaureate degree in the field can prepare graduates for entry-level positions as research associates or science assistants, while a doctoral program can prepare graduates for more advanced work in research or academia.
Bachelor programs may require an undergraduate research project. Some Ph.D. programs require students to serve as teaching assistants. Doctoral students must pass department exams, as well as compose and defend a dissertation. Common prerequisites include a high school diploma or equivalent to enter a bachelor program and at least a bachelor's degree to enter a Ph.D. program.
Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry
Biochemistry bachelor's degree programs usually include general education requirements in areas like computer programming, English and the humanities. Core coursework usually focuses on specific areas of biology, chemistry and mathematics. Common topics include:
- Analytic, organic and physical chemistry
- Cell and molecular biology
- Human biology
- Enzymes and proteins
- Metabolic biochemistry
Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemistry
Ph.D. programs in this field are designed to train researchers who can conduct original fieldwork. These programs may integrate topics in biophysics, metabolic biochemistry, molecular biology, cellular biology, nucleic acids and genetics. In some cases, doctoral students receive a master's degree en route to obtaining the Ph.D.
Coursework at the doctoral level is designed to be a supplement to students' research interests and dissertation projects. Topics may include:
- Biological structures
- Cell regulation
- Molecular biophysics
- Nucleic acids, proteins and enzymes
Popular Career Options
The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) lists a number of positions in laboratory science and academia that are commonly pursue by biochemists (www.asbmb.org). Possible titles include:
- Biochemistry professor
- Genotyping scientist
- Protein chemist
- Research lab specialist
Continuing Education Info
Many Ph.D. holders pursue postdoctoral training at outside institutions. This training enhances their abilities to design original research projects and to obtain corresponding funding. Postdoctoral positions may also transition to laboratory director positions.
Metabolic biochemistry studies aren't widely available, however students can study biochemistry at the bachelor's and Ph.D. levels. A professor, scientist or lab specialist are all viable career options for graduates.