Biochemistry Major, ACS

What is Biochemistry?

Biochemistry is the study of the molecules and chemical reactions of life. The defining feature of biochemistry is that it uses the principles of chemistry to explain biology at the molecular level. Biochemistry is a relatively new area, less than a hundred years old, but advances are occurring at a remarkable rate for several reasons.

  1. We now understand many central processes of life. These discoveries include the structure of DNA and the flow of information, the unraveling of central metabolic pathways, and the structure and function of many proteins.
  2. We now understand molecular patterns which are common to diverse expressions of life in simple and complex organisms, including plants and animals.
  3. We now understand the molecular causes of many diseases and this helps in the diagnosis and treatment of many health problems.

Understanding biochemical concepts and techniques enables researchers to attack fundamental problems in biology and medicine. Some of these might include: How does a fertilized egg give rise to cells as different as muscle, brain, liver? How do cells communicate in a complex organ? How is the growth of cells controlled? What causes cancer? What is the molecular mechanism of memory? How can genetic engineering be applied?

Career Opportunities in Biochemistry

Careers in the health fields will always be available, especially as new data leads to better diagnosis and treatment. An undergraduate degree in chemistry with a biochemistry emphasis will provide preparation for professional programs in human medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, etc., as well as provide the background for graduate programs in any of the life sciences. There are positions at the bachelor's level in laboratories doing research, product development, or quality control, as well as sales, marketing, and information providers. Workers in the environmental fields would also be served by this program. The increase in biotechnology companies is also expected to increase the number of positions available.

Biochemistry at UW-Platteville

The four year degree program at UW-Platteville leading to a Bachelor of Science in chemistry is an ACS-certified biochemistry emphasis that provides the graduate with the appropriate chemistry/biology/biochemistry background to succeed in bachelor's level positions or in graduate/professional schools.

The student in this program is required to take courses in the major areas of chemistry—general, inorganic, organic, quantitative analysis, and physical chemistry as well as seven credits of biochemistry. All chemistry majors are required to take one year of general physics and at least two semesters of calculus. For the biochemistry emphasis, students replace some of the theoretical courses in chemistry with courses which include: Unity of Life; Microbiology Immunology, Genetics; and one of the following: Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, or Biotechnology.

Recommended High School Courses

Student success is enhanced when students take the maximum number of courses in mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, and English. UW-Platteville offers test-out examinations for students with advanced preparation.


Total for graduation 120 credits
General Education 31 credits
Major Studies 52-54 credits

Every student majoring in chemistry must meet the writing certification requirement as established by the department. Details may be obtained from the department chairperson.

Course Number Course Name Credits
Chem 1140 and 1240 General Chemistry I and II 8
Chem 2150 Quantitative Analysis 4
Chem 2730 Inorganic Chemistry 4
Chem 3540 and 3510 Organic Chemistry I, Lecture and Lab 5
Chem 3630 and 3610 Organic Chemistry II, Lecture and Lab 4
Chem 4000 or 4660 Research or Internship or Coop 1
Chem 4060 Seminar 1
Chem 4130 and 4110 Physical Chemistry I, Lecture and Lab 4
Chem 4240 Instrumental Analysis 4
Chem 4630 and 4610 General Biochemistry,Lecture and Lab 4
Chem 4830 and 4910 Advanced Biochemistry,Lecture and Lab 4

The following biology classes are also required: Biol 1650, Unity of Life; Biol 3240, Microbiology; Biol 3620, Immunology; Biol 3330, Genetics; and one of the following biology electives: Biol 2040, Cell Biology; or Biol 4040, Molecular Biology; or Biol 3530, Biotechnology.

Phys 1350/1450 or 2240/2340 (Introductory or General Physics) and Math 2640/2740 (Calculus and Analytic Geometry), or equivalent, are required as prerequisites to advanced chemistry courses.

Students who expect to enter graduate programs in biochemistry or related areas such as physiology, molecular biology, microbiology, etc. are advised to elect additional advanced courses appropriate to their career goals after consultation with their advisor. Students who expect to enter graduate programs in chemistry are advised to elect additional advanced courses in chemistry.

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