Biochemistry B.A.

The Department of Chemistry, part of the College of Arts and Sciences, offers four undergraduate majors. Each features a very active undergraduate research program:

  • Biochemistry B.A.
  • Biochemistry B.S.
  • Chemistry B.A.
  • Chemistry B.A.

Biochemistry is the study of the chemical principles underlying basic biological systems. Fundamentally, biochemical research aims to characterize the link between the structure and function of biological macromolecules. When pursuing a major in the department of Chemistry, you learn from award-winning faculty who consistently rank among the best in their respective fields.

The Biochemistry B.A. major requires study in general chemistry, organic chemistry, and a four-course biochemistry sequence, which includes a lab. You can then choose to take courses in other chemistry disciplines such as analytical, inorganic, materials, nuclear, or physical chemistry. The Biochemistry B.A. degree is less rigorous in math, chemistry, and physics than the Biochemistry B.S. degree. These degree requirements allow students more flexibility to take a breadth of courses and pursue combined majors more easily.

Students who complete this degree go on to pursue extremely successful careers in medicine, research, and business. Some students go on to professional schools directly, while others may enter academic or governmental research settings.

The Department of Chemistry offers an undergraduate minor in Chemistry for students majoring in subjects outside of the department.

Coursework

Getting started

Students pursuing the Biochemistry B.A. begin by taking an introductory chemistry course, and then proceed to the organic chemistry sequence.  It is recommended that you start foreign language study in the first semester and complete the math, English composition, Public Oral Communication, and Critical Approaches to the Arts and Sciences requirements within the first year.

Tracks and concentrations

There are no official tracks or concentrations in the Biochemistry B.A. major.

Students can choose to complete their elective hours with study in the disciplines of analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, materials chemistry, nuclear chemistry, and physical chemistry. Choose these courses on the basis of your interests and your performance in prerequisite courses.

Upper level coursework

The Biochemistry B.A. requires upper-level coursework in organic chemistry and biochemistry. Work with your academic advisor to choose upper-level elective courses that match your academic and career interests.

Options include analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, materials chemistry, nuclear chemistry, and physical chemistry.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Students often combine their Chemistry coursework with other areas of study to add an additional major or a minor. Students pursuing the Biochemistry B.A. often include a major or minors in Psychology, Biology, Neuroscience, Exercise Science, or in a foreign language.

Popular certificates include The Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP) and The Business of Life Sciences.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

The Department of Chemistry has a very active undergraduate research program. Students work closely with a faculty advisor and with graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and other scientists in a group. They are expected to participate in all aspects of the research program: studying the original research literature, designing projects, and interpreting results.

Students interested in graduate school, careers in teaching, or any career involving managing people will be able to explore these careers in their role as a Chemistry Associate Instructor (CAI). CAIs assist faculty with the teaching mission of the department. Speak with an academic advisor if you are interested in this opportunity.

Honors

Highly motivated students who wish to acquire a strong foundation in chemistry may want to take Chemistry Honors courses. Biochemistry B.A. students can take honors courses and participate in research, but they cannot receive the departmental honors notation.

The Chemistry Honors notation is awarded to students who complete a B.S. degree in Chemistry or Biochemistry, earn a 3.3 cumulative GPA or better, and complete a research thesis.

High-achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Departmental merit awards are given to students based on their academic accomplishments. Summer research scholarships are intended for undergraduates already engaged in research activities, who can benefit from full-time summer research.

Applications for departmental merit scholarships and summer research scholarships are due in early February. See an advisor for more information.

Students can also apply for a Hutton Honors College research grant.

Internships

Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs, as early as their freshman year.

Previous Biochemistry B.A. students have found internship opportunities with the following organizations:

Learn more about internships, and the possibility of earning credit, through the Walter Center for Career Achievement. You have access to many resources there for finding both domestic and international internships. It may be possible to earn academic credit for an internship by enrolling in ASCS-Q 398 or CHEM-X 373.

Foreign language study

Students pursuing the Biochemistry B.A. are required to complete a single foreign language through the fourth semester. Many students continue their foreign language study in order to add a minor to their degree.

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 60 languages. Learn more about the foreign language requirement for a College of Arts and Sciences degree.

Here is partial list of resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly globalized world. Biochemistry students often pursue language study and other coursework in the following locations:

  • Adelaide, Australia
  • Canberra, Australia
  • Canterbury, England
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Hong Kong Semester Exchange (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)
  • Istanbul, Turkey (CIEE)
  • Oxford - St. Anne's, England
  • Perth, Australia
  • Wollongong, Australia

Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Chemistry faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Biochemistry B.A. students may find enrichment in one of the following organizations:

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Residential Programs and Services at IU offers a variety of learning communities, which allow students to select to live among peers with a common interest. Some of the following learning communities may be of interest to Biochemistry students:

For a complete list of Living Learning Centers, Academic Communities and Thematic Communities, visit the Residential Programs and Services website.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Professional organizations that serve as valuable resources for Biochemistry students include:

Use the Indiana University Library system to search Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, and nonprofit organizations.

Build your skills

Through the major

The Biochemistry B.A. provides you with the following set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work:

  • Discipline knowledge: possess diverse conceptual comprehension within all traditional subfields of biochemistry
  • Critical thinking: gather, evaluate, and interpret relevant scientific data and make judgments
  • Technical skills: perform laboratory skills with accuracy and precision
  • Communication skills: utilize discipline conventions and formalizations to convey information, ideas, problems, and solutions
  • Career competencies: gain transferable skills and a deep foundation of knowledge

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your major is a concentration representing about one-quarter of your degree requirements. Together with your other coursework, it provides many opportunities to develop the following abilities, as identified by the 11 Goals of the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak and write clearly and persuasively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
  • Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
  • Work in a team structure
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Obtain and process relevant information
  • Analyze quantitative data
  • Create and/or edit written reports
  • Obtain technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software programs
  • Create and edit written reports
  • Ability to persuade or influence others

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic and career advisors about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good career exploration starting point is an appointment with a career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. You can get advice about how to write your resume and prepare for job interviews, too.

Use the IU Career Guides to determine if the path you are considering aligns with your short- and long-term goals. These offer information about each field's preferred educational preparation, employment opportunities, insider tips, industry-related interview questions, and more.

You might want to take a career course to help you maximize your time at IU. Chemistry majors should consider taking CHEM-G307 Chemical Career Planning. This course will aid you in planning for careers in chemistry and related fields, including academia (graduate school), professional careers (medicine), industry, and education.

ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience will provide you the opportunity to explore the relationshiop between your chosen field of study and life after graduation while developing a career and academic development plan for post-collegiate success.

The job market

The employment outlook is positive for students with a Biochemistry B.A. degree, with employment projected to grow almost 20% until at least 2022. You develop skills in basic research which, depending on the route you take with your degree, may ultimately lead to the creation of products or processes to improve lives.

Students with the Biochemistry B.A. degree take their education in many directions, whether moving directly into a career or going on to graduate or professional studies. Graduates develop the ability to handle complex research projects, bringing a sense of curiosity and creativity to their work.

Biochemistry B.A. graduates are prepared to work in scientific research, healthcare, and teaching. They can become dentists, food science researchers, forensic investigators, teachers, pharmacists, chiropractors, scientific illustrators, or patent lawyers, to name a few possible career paths.

The degree is sufficient for entry-level positions such as laboratory assistant, technician, technologist, and research assistant, spanning industries from education to museum work. Dozens of companies recruit and interview IU Biochemistry students for entry level positions.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Talk with Biochemistry faculty, the academic advisor and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates.

 

 

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profit, and government organizations.

Graduate students at IU find support through internal fellowships and awards. Financial support is also available from organizations and corporations unaffiliated with the university.

Resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you will need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

A Biochemistry B.A. degree will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as chemistry, dentistry, health administration, law, medicine, and optometry.

Advanced degrees in biochemistry can lead to careers in industrial research and development in fields as wide-ranging as materials science, biotechnology, and medicinal chemistry. They also prepare students for academic careers in colleges and universities.

Combining a chemistry degree with one in another field enhances your career possibilities to include patent law, medical research, environmental science, and chemical engineering.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you can prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.

Indiana University graduate opportunities include:

Alumni connections

Catch up on alumni paths through the IU Chemists Alumni Journal, a newsletter for alumni prepared in cooperation with the Indiana University Alumni Office.

The IU College of Arts and Sciences organizes Alumni and Friends events. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly, follow careers, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Department of Chemistry attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Curiosity about the sciences and the world around them
  • Ability to think critically, with a willingness to ask questions
  • Eagerness to work hard, even if it is challenging
  • Creativity to look for new patterns emerging from old ideas
  • Accuracy and precision when performing technical procedures
  • Capable of applying research concepts to new situations

Learn more

Contact the Chemistry academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
chemadv@indiana.edu