Biochemistry is the study of the basic biological and chemical processes that occur in all living systems. It is an area suited to students who enjoy science and math and who may be considering a career as a research scientist. A biochemistry degree is solid preparation for advanced degree science programs and for careers in medicine, biology, chemistry, or dentistry. In addition to offering a core of course work in biochemistry, this field is interdisciplinary and also involves the study of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and computer science.
Why Study at Iowa?
Iowa’s biochemistry program focuses on individual students. It is designed to develop creative researchers, effective physicians and other health professionals, and excellent teachers. The major has a strong liberal arts emphasis, which provides a broad-based foundation for careers and advanced study.
Biochemistry students study with research-oriented faculty who make themselves available for informal meetings with their students, often without an appointment. You will have access to the department's research facilities. You'll also be able to join the Biochemistry Undergraduate Majors Club, where you can learn about biochemistry careers and graduate study.
The Department of Biochemistry is one of the basic science departments of the university's Carver College of Medicine. Its faculty are internationally known. They supervise research in biochemistry; molecular, cellular, developmental, computational, and structural biology; and model system genetics. Their research is supported by agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society.
Iowa offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in biochemistry. About 200 students major in biochemistry.
The BA degree provides a rigorous education in biochemical concepts and practice in the laboratory while allowing the flexibility to specialize in additional disciplines or obtain clinical volunteer experience. The BA degree in biochemistry is intended for most students, including those with pre-medicine, pre-pharmacy, pre-dental and other pre-health professional majors and for students with double majors.
The BS degree is intended primarily for students planning a career in research, including those with a long-term goal of attending graduate school (MS, PhD, MD/PhD) or obtaining a job as a research technician.
All BA and BS students take the following courses:
- Foundations of Biology and Diversity of Form and Function
- Principles of Chemistry I–II
- Organic Chemistry I–II
- Organic Chemistry Lab
- Calculus I–II
- Physics I–II
- Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I–II
- Experimental Biochemistry
- Advanced science electives (BA students take two courses, BS students take three)
- Physical chemistry or biophysical chemistry (BA students take one course, BS students take two)
Students in the BS program also take:
- Technical Communication in Biochemistry
- A research and independent study course or lab-intensive advanced science courses
Majors are encouraged to do lab research in biochemical areas of interest and many engage in one-on-one lab research. Interested students can become affiliated with one of the department's active research laboratories early in the curriculum by taking independent study or honors courses.
In addition to work required for the major, you'll take courses in other disciplines, including related sciences. Biochemistry majors also can take courses in any of the departments at the university, including business, psychology, engineering, or journalism.
See Biochemistry in the UI General Catalog to learn more about these degree programs and graduating with honors.
Students interested in this major must meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Admission Requirements Tabs
Living-Learning Communities in the residence halls that may be of interest to biochemistry majors include Health Sciences, Honors Research Opportunities in the Natural/Life Sciences, or Women in Science and Engineering.
Biochemistry students are encouraged to apply for internships in industry to gain additional research experience and become familiar with the industrial research setting. Students also can apply for part-time jobs in the biochemistry department, where they assist in ongoing research projects.
Faculty, Facilities, and Resources
The Department of Biochemistry is housed primarily in the Bowen Science Building and the Medical Education Research Facility. It has 25 well-equipped research laboratories, a reading room, state-of-the-art instrumentation, Biochemistry Stores, the Heath conference room and other conference rooms, as well as access to many Carver College of Medicine core facilities.
Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.
Iowa's biochemistry program offers solid preparation for careers in medicine, biology, chemistry, dentistry, research, or related sciences. About one-third of biochemistry majors go on to study medicine; others enter graduate programs, professional degree programs, such as dentistry, or find jobs in industry and research.
Biochemists with advanced degrees work in teaching and research. They also pursue administrative careers at universities, medical schools, hospitals, government laboratories, private research agencies, biotechnology companies, and in food, drug, cosmetics, chemistry, petroleum, and other industries.
Application Process Tabs
Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences declaring biochemistry as your major.