Why Biochemistry?

Chemistry is the study of the structure, properties, and changes in matter. Since most everything around us is matter (and made up of atoms and molecules), chemistry is a vital part of understanding the behavior of the materials that make up our everyday life. Biochemistry is more specifically the study of the chemical processes and molecules present in living things. Inside a living cell, an astounding number of very carefully regulated chemical reactions are going on all the time. Biochemists thus work to bridge the gap between pure chemistry and biology.


Outcomes of USF’s program:

The program-level student learning outcomes are as follows:

  • Use the scientific method to design experiments and/or build mathematical models, to analyze quantitative and qualitative data, to interpret data using common statistical methods and software programs, and to draw appropriate conclusions in chemical and biological sciences.
  • Report chemical and biological findings in an accurate and knowledgeable way, both in written and oral forms.
  • Effectively use primary scientific literature, including finding information, assessing sources, critically evaluating the work of others, and contributing to scientific knowledge.
  • Integrate and relate information from chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, and the liberal arts to make meaningful connections to society and the natural world and to apply this knowledge to new situations.
  • Understand and apply ethical implications of science including scientific integrity and relationship between science and society.
  • Biochemistry majors should have a broad knowledge in chemistry (specifically organic, biochemistry, physical, and analytical) as well as cellular biology, molecular biology, and genetics. Important concepts include: a) energy is required by and transformed in biological systems, b) macromolecular structure determines function and regulation, c) information storage and flow are dynamic and interactive, and d) discovery requires objective measurement, quantitative analysis and clear communication.


Job Outlook

The job market for biochemists, chemists, and related professions (including the health professions) is strong. Biochemists have a wide variety of employment options at both the bachelor’s level and with further study.

According to Chemical and Engineering News, chemists and biochemists work in academia (37%), the chemical and pharmaceutical industry (30%), other manufacturing (25%), and in government (7%). The unemployment rate for chemists and biochemists is essentially the same as for all college graduates, and 75% of employed (bachelor’s degree) (bio)chemists are working in a field related to their education. The median starting salary as of 2013 for chemists or biochemists with a bachelor’s degree was $39,560, whereas students with a master’s degree or Ph.D. started at $55,000 and $75,750, respectively.

Biochemists make up roughly one-third of all chemists. Biochemistry majors can get a job with only a bachelor’s degree (for example as a lab technician, research assistant, or in the business side of the chemical or pharmaceutical industry), but many students choose to pursue additional education. Of those students who go on to graduate studies, most (45%) do so in either chemistry or biochemistry, while another 10% of such students go on to pharmacy school, 26% go to medical school, and another 5% go to dental school.