The Department of Chemistry is part of the College of Arts and Sciences and offers four undergraduate majors:
- Chemistry B.S.
- Chemistry B.A.
- Biochemistry B.S.
- Biochemistry 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 BS major requires study in general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, analytical chemistry, and physical chemistry. You can then choose to take elective courses in disciplines like inorganic chemistry, materials chemistry, nuclear chemistry, organic chemistry, and surface chemistry. Courses in math, physics, and biology are also required. Students have plenty of opportunity to develop their laboratory skills through course requirements and electives, and many students work with faculty in their labs for further mentoring.
Students who complete the Biochemistry B.S. degree go on to pursue extremely successful careers in medicine, research, and business. Some students go on to professional schools directly after completing their undergraduate degrees, while others enter academic or governmental research settings. The rigorous nature of this degree program prepares students for entrance exams into competitive M.S., Ph.D, and M.D. (pre-health) programs on a national level. This degree program follows the curriculum and has received ACS (American Chemical Society) approval for student certification.
The Department of Chemistry offers an undergraduate minor in Chemistry for students majoring in subjects outside of the department.
Biochemistry B.S. students will begin by taking an introductory chemistry course and then proceed to the organic chemistry sequence. Students should start foreign language study in the first semester and should complete Calculus I and II, English composition, and the 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.S. major.
Students can complete their elective hours with further study in the disciplines of biology, inorganic chemistry, materials chemistry, nuclear chemistry, organic chemistry, and surface analysis. Choose these courses on the basis of your interests and your performance in prerequisite courses.
Upper level coursework
The Biochemistry B.S. requires upper-level coursework in biochemistry, biology, analytical chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry. You can choose to culminate your research with a senior thesis capstone.
Work with your academic advisor to choose upper-level elective courses that match your academic and career interests.
Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates
Students often combine their Chemistry coursework with other areas of study by adding an additional major or minor. Students pursuing the Biochemistry B.S. often include a minor or second degree 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
When pursuing a degree in Biochemistry, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.
You can get involved in research as early as your first year. Many incoming first-year students apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker.
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 an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA). UTAs assist faculty with the teaching mission of the department. Speak with an academic advisor if you are interested in this opportunity.
Highly motivated students who want to acquire a strong foundation in chemistry may choose to take chemistry honors courses. 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. Your academic advisor can tell you more about the honors opportunity.
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 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 with internships, as early as their first year.
Previous Biochemistry B.S. students have found internship opportunities with the following organizations:
- Bloomington Animal Shelter
- Community Health Network
- Elkhart General Hospital
- Indiana University Biology Department
- Indiana University Intensive Freshmen Seminars
- IU Health Bloomington Hospital
- Proctor and Gamble
- Red Cross
- Rushville Pharmacy
- Sabic Innovative Plastics Research and Development Department
- Virginia Commonwealth Medical Center
- Volunteers in Medicine
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.S. degree are required to complete a single foreign language through the third 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 80 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:
- Arabic Flagship Program
- Center for Language Technology and Instructional Enrichment
- Chinese Flagship Program
- Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships
- IU Language Workshop
- Language Tables
- Project GO
- Russian Flagship Program
Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in our increasingly interconnected 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
The College of Arts and Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Chemistry faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.
Biochemistry B.S. students may find enrichment in one of the following organizations:
- Alpha Chi Sigma Fraternity
- Chemistry Club
- Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students
- National Organization for Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers
- Timmy Global Health
- Women in Science
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:
- Collins Living-Learning Center
- Health Sciences Residential Community
- Women in Science, Technology, Informatics, and Mathematics Living-Learning Center
For a complete list of Living Learning Centers, Academic Communities and Thematic Communities, visit the Residential Programs and Services website.
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:
- Department of Chemistry Community Outreach
- Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital
- Volunteers in Medicine
- WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology
Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.
Professional organizations that serve as valuable resources for Biochemistry students include:
- American Chemical Society
- American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
- Biochemical Society
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.S. degree 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 coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:
- Question critically
- Think logically
- Communicate clearly
- Act creatively
- Live ethically
These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provde the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.
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:
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to work in a team
- Written and verbal communication skills
- Leadership skills
- Strong work ethic
- Analytical and quantitative skills
- Ability to take initiative
- Being detail oriented
- Demonstrating adaptability
- Technical skills relevant to the field
- Interpersonal skills
- Computer skills
- Organizational ability
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 advisor and career coach 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 starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with the career coach assigned to you.
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. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.
Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.
Maximize your career preparation with a career course. Biochemistry majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The section dedicated to Natural and Mathematical Sciences provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go!
The job market
The employment outlook is positive for students with a Biochemistry B.S. degree, with employment projected to grow almost 20% until at least 2022. The emphasis on science and math in this major prepares students for careers in research and other related fields. You develop skills in basic research which, depending on the route you take with your degree, ultimately may lead to the creation of products or processes to improve lives.
Students who obtain a B.S. degree in Biochemistry 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.S. 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 work in museums. Dozens of companies recruit and interview IU Biochemistry students for entry level positions.
Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center's First Destinations survey!
Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.
Talk with Biochemistry faculty, the academic advisor, the career coach, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates with a Biochemistry B.S. degree.
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.S. 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 degree in chemistry with one in another field expands 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:
- Department of Chemistry
- School of Dentistry
- Maurer School of Law
- School of Education
- School of Optometry
- College + Kelley program
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 has thousands of active alumni. Check out the College Luminaries Program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring Alumni.
Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts and Sciences alumni, 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
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