Biochemistry and biotechnology are at the cutting edge of many new advances in healthcare and science. The Biochemistry Concentration of the BS Chemistry degree provides a broad education that includes all 5 traditional disciplines of chemistry (inorganic, organic, physical, analytical, and biochemistry) while offering the flexibility to customize the curriculum to prepare for professional programs such as medical, dental, or pharmacy. The molecular basis of a chemistry degree establishes a firm foundation for a career in healthcare or for exploration of biological systems in graduate school or in a career. Data from the Association of American Medical Colleges show that biochemistry and chemistry majors consistently earn among the top scores on the MCAT, only behind majors such as physics, math, and engineering. The new version of the MCAT for 2015 will now include a section on biochemistry that is not present in the current MCAT, emphasizing the value of this discipline in medical preparation.
Chemistry is the study of matter, and an understanding of matter and materials is necessary in healthcare, manufacturing, and scientific research. It is a fundamental area of knowledge that provides a foundation for most other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) areas. Chemistry graduates also have skills in data gathering, data interpretation, and problem solving that translate well into desirable careers outside of science.
STEM graduates have a wide variety of career options, both in STEM areas and in non-STEM areas. The 2012 STEM Report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce provides interesting data on the value of a STEM degree. STEM graduates will have lifetime earning substantially greater than non-STEM graduates ($2.2 million vs. $1.7 million). Nationally, 43% of STEM graduates work outside of a STEM area, often choosing a highly-paid non-STEM occupation, demonstrating the versatility of a STEM degree. Meanwhile, STEM occupations such as chemistry are growing more quickly than the economy as a whole (17% vs. 10%).
The American Chemical Society 2013 Salary Survey shows that chemists have low unemployment (3.5%) compared to the overall unemployment rate (7.4% according to Bureau of Labor Statistics). The median salary for a BS Chemist is $73,300. Using your chemistry degree for a graduate or professional degree results in higher salaries (e.g. median for PhD chemist is $102,000). A BS Chemistry graduate earns a 23% higher salary than the average BS degree graduate (www.salaryexplorer.com).
Skills and interests suited to a career in chemistry
Successful chemistry majors develop strong problem-solving skills, including comfort with math and working with abstract ideas. While facts and knowledge are present, chemistry courses focus on understanding how and why nature behaves as it does, and relies little on rote memorization. Many chemistry majors enjoy tinkering with things and find great satisfaction with the laboratory work including manipulation of materials and operating analytical instruments. Two semesters of advanced coursework in biochemistry plus a laboratory course in biochemistry that build on principles from earlier coursework provide a very strong education in biochemistry with graduates typically being successful in graduate and professional programs.
About the program
The Biochemistry Concentration provides a flexible curriculum to allow students to customize their education to suit their career aspirations. This flexibility is especially well-suited for students completing pre-medical, pre-dental, or pre-pharmacy requirements. Students can focus on a secondary area with a minor, or customize their degree with upper-division electives in any field as well as undergraduate research.