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Biochemistry

Program Overview

303 Bagley

Biochemistry is the study of the living organism at the molecular level. It draws on the techniques of analytical, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry in determining the molecular basis of vital processes.

Undergraduate Program

Adviser
303 Bagley, Box 351700
(206) 616-9880, (206) 543-9343, (206) 685-8376
advisers@chem.washington.edu

The Biochemistry Program offers the following programs of study:

  • The Bachelor of Science degree with a major in biochemistry (requires 195 credits)
  • The Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in biochemistry

Suggested First- and Second-Year Courses: BIOL 180, BIOL 200 (or BIOL 201, BIOL 202); CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162 (or CHEM 145, CHEM 155, CHEM 165), CHEM 237, CHEM 238, CHEM 239, CHEM 241, CHEM 242; MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126; PHYS 121, PHYS 122, PHYS 123 (or PHYS 114, PHYS 115, PHYS 116 with one physics lab course strongly recommended).

Bachelor of Science

Program Admission Requirements

Application to BA and BS degree programs in biochemistry is competitive. Applicants are considered in the following groups: Direct Freshman Admission, Research/Honors Admission, Early Admission, and Regular Admission. Completion of minimum requirements described below does not guarantee admission. All applicants have the right to petition and appeal the department's admission decision. Applications are considered twice each academic year and are due on the second Friday of October and the second Friday of April, with the exception of Direct Freshman Admission. The application and additional information is available at depts.washington.edu/chem/undergrad/.

Direct Freshman Admission
  1. Open to freshman students formally admitted to the UW
  2. Score of 5 on the AP chemistry examination
  3. Indication on the UW freshman application of biochemistry as the studentís first choice of major
  4. Successful direct-admission applicants generally have received a minimum 1400 on the SAT (math and verbal sections), or minimum 30 on the ACT
  5. Admission is for autumn quarter only
Research/Honors Admission
  1. Students with exceptional records can apply for consideration for admission to the biochemistry major via the Honors or Research track. Students seeking admission should submit an application that includes:
    1. Cover sheet (available on the Department of Chemistry website)
    2. Unofficial transcript
    3. Statement of purpose. May include a description of interest in biochemistry, career goals, undergraduate research interests, degree interest (BA or BS), and any other information applicant believes is useful in evaluating the application.
    4. (Research track only) Written letter or recommendation from research adviser
  2. Honors Track. Students participating in the chemistry Honors sequence who have completed the following courses with a minimum 3.00 cumulative GPA: CHEM 145, CHEM 155; MATH 124 and MATH 125, or MATH 134 and MATH 135
  3. Research Track. Students who have performed at least 6 credits of undergraduate research (CHEM 199, CHEM 299, or higher) and who provide a strong recommendation from faculty research adviser. Chemistry undergraduate research may be considered as well.
Early Admission
  1. Course requirements: CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162 (or CHEM 145, CHEM 155, CHEM 165). BIOL 180; MATH 124, MATH 125 (or MATH 134, MATH 135)
  2. Factors included in the admission decision include academic performance as measured by GPA in courses required for application, difficulty of other courses completed, frequency of incompletes or withdrawal grades, number of repeated courses, relevant work and life experience, and record of honors.
  3. Successful applicants for the BS biochemistry program typically have a cumulative GPA greater than 3.20 in courses listed above under course requirements. Successful applicants for the BA biochemistry program typically have a cumulative GPA greater than 3.00 in courses listed above under course requirements.
Regular Admission
  1. Course requirements: CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162 ( or CHEM 145, CHEM 155, CHEM 165); CHEM 237, CHEM 238 (or CHEM 335, CHEM 336); BIOL 180, BIOL 200; MATH 124, MATH 125 (or MATH 134, MATH 135)
  2. Factors in the admission decision include academic performance as measured by GPA in courses required for application, difficulty of other courses completed, frequency of incompletes or withdrawal grades, number of repeated courses, relevant work and life experience, and record of honors.
  3. Successful applicants for the BS biochemistry program typically have over the minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA orin courses listed above under course requirements, with no individual course grade lower than a 2.0. Successful applicants for the BA biochemistry program typically have a cumulative GPA greater than 2.00 in courses listed above under course requirements, with no individual grade below a 1.7.

Major Requirements

105 credits, as follows:

  1. General Chemistry: CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162 (or CHEM 145, CHEM 155, CHEM 165)
  2. Organic Chemistry: CHEM 237, CHEM 238, CHEM 239, CHEM 241, CHEM 242 (or CHEM 335, CHEM 336, CHEM 337, CHEM 346, CHEM 347)
  3. Physical Chemistry: CHEM 452, CHEM 453 (or CHEM 455, CHEM 456, CHEM 457)
  4. Biochemistry: BIOC 426, BIOC 440, BIOC 441, BIOC 442
  5. Biology: BIOL 180, BIOL 200
  6. Mathematics: MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126 (or MATH 134, MATH 135, MATH 136)
  7. Physics: PHYS 121, PHYS 122, PHY 123 (or PHYS 114, PHYS 115, PHYS 116), with the PHYS 121 sequence recommended
  8. Genome Science: GENOME 361 or GENOME 371
  9. 11 credits chosen from a current department list (available in 303 Bagley or at depts.washington.edu/chem/undergrad/degreereqs.html) of upper-division science classes including math, biology, microbiology, chemistry, and genome sciences. Up to 9 credits of approved advanced-level undergraduate research may also be applied to this requirement. Research conducted outside chemistry or biochemistry must first be approved by a biochemistry adviser.
  10. Grade and Graduation Requirements: A minimum 2.0 grade and a minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA required for all chemistry, biology, and biochemistry courses counted toward the major. Minimum 2.50 GPA required for the BIOC 440, BIOC 441, and BIOC 442 sequence. Minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA required for graduation.

Bachelor of Arts

Program admission requirements same as for BS degree, above.

Major Requirements

90-92 credits as follows:

  1. General Chemistry: either CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162, (or CHEM 145, CHEM 155, CHEM 165)
  2. Organic Chemistry: either CHEM 237, CHEM 238, CHEM 239, CHEM 241, CHEM 242, or CHEM 335, CHEM 336, CHEM 337, CHEM 346, CHEM 347
  3. Biochemistry: BIOC 405, BIOC 406
  4. Physical Chemistry: CHEM 452, CHEM 453
  5. Biology: BIOL 180, BIOL 200
  6. Mathematics: either MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126, or MATH 134, MATH 135, MATH 136
  7. Physics (12-15 credits): either PHYS 121, PHYS 122, PHYS 123, or PHYS 114, PHYS 115, PHYS 116
  8. Science Electives: 9 credits to be taken from a current department list available in 303 Bagley or at depts.washington.edu/chem/undergrad/degreereqs.html. Up to 3 credits of advanced undergraduate research may count toward this requirement. Research conducted outside chemistry or biochemistry must first be approved by a biochemistry adviser.
  9. Grade and Graduation Requirements: Minimum 1.7 grade in chemistry, biochemistry, and biology courses required for the major. Minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA required for graduation.

Continuation Policy

All students must make satisfactory academic progress in the major. Failure to do so results in probation, which can lead to dismissal from the major. For the complete continuation policy, contact the departmental adviser or refer to the department website.

Student Outcomes and Opportunities

  • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: At the conclusion of their studies, graduating biochemistry majors should possess a general working knowledge of the basic areas of biochemistry; be proficient in basic laboratory skills; have the ability to carry out strategies for solving scientific problems; have an understanding of the principles and applications of modern instrumentation, computation, experimental design, and data analysis; have had the opportunity to gain experience with a research project; have the ability to communicate scientific information clearly and precisely; have the ability to read, understand, and use scientific literature; have an awareness of the broader implications of biochemical processes; have had the opportunity to work as part of a team to solve scientific problems; and have had an introduction to opportunities in, and requirements for, the careers available to biochemistry majors.

    Students planning a career in biomedical research, the health professions, or biotechnology find the biochemistry degree to be an excellent choice. The degree is also good preparation for graduate school in any aspect of biochemical or biomedical research.

  • Instructional and Research Facilities: Research facilities for the department are housed in the Biochemistry-Genetics Building, which provides approximately 52,000 square feet of research space, conference rooms, and a departmental library. In the immediate vicinity are the departments of Immunology, Genome Sciences, Microbiology, and Pharmacology, as well as programs in biomolecular structure, molecular medicine, neurobiology, and molecular and cellular biology, with which the department has common research interests. Laboratories are equipped with modern research equipment and are supported by external, centralized research facilities. An emphasis on biomedical research is facilitated by the location of the department within the School of Medicine.
  • Honors Options Available: With College Honors (Completion of Honors Core Curriculum and Departmental Honors); With Honors (Completion of Departmental Honors requirements in the major). See adviser for requirements.
  • Research, Internships, and Service Learning: No formal internship program. Students are encouraged to pursue national and regional internships. See adviser for more information.
  • Program Scholarships: Resident tuition scholarships and book prizes are awarded annually by the Department of Chemistry to eligible chemistry and biochemistry majors. Applications are available during the month of March for the following academic year. See department adviser for more information.
  • Student Organizations/Associations:
    • Alpha Chi Sigma: the UW affiliate of the national chemistry-related science organization for chemistry and biochemistry majors
    • Phi Lambda Upsilon: the UW affiliate of the national chemistry honorary society
    • The Free Radicals: a general undergraduate club for chemistry and biochemistry majors.

Of Special Note:

  • The Bachelor of Science in biochemistry degree requires a minimum of 195 credits.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to participate in undergraduate research.