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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major

Accredited by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major

Accredited by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

microscopic view of fluorescent cells.

As a biochemistry and molecular biology major, you will study molecular and cellular processes connected with aging, disease and oncogenesis as well as learn how the concepts of molecular biology inform research approaches. You will also acquire training in fundamental and state-of-the-art molecular biological experimental strategies, bioinformatics and computer-based analysis of protein structures.

Please note, BMB majors may not seek a double major in biochemistry and biophysics, biology, biohealth sciences, botany, microbiology or zoology.

Meet a BMB major

Options in biochemistry and molecular biology

Biochemistry and molecular biology majors complete an option while earning their degree. Advanced molecular biology and computational molecular biology are designed for students interested in careers in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries or graduate work in the molecular life sciences, with the latter especially well-suited for students interested in computational aspects of molecular biology. Pre-medicine is ideal for students interested in careers in medicine and related health professions.

The advanced molecular biology option is designed for students interested in pursuing graduate work in molecular life sciences or entering the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. It provides advanced training in genomics, epigenetics and other areas of current research in molecular biology, in addition to the core courses in the major. Students have numerous opportunities for undergraduate research and can earn research credits, which can be applied to the upper-division science elective requirements.

The computational molecular biology option is designed for students interested in the interface of molecular biology, computer science and statistics. It provides strong preparation for graduate school in computational biology as well as the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. This option couples the comprehensive core training in biochemistry and molecular biology with advanced coursework in mathematics, statistics, computer science and bioinformatics. Students participating in undergraduate research can earn research credits, which can be applied to the upper-division science elective requirements.

Biochemistry and molecular biology students interested in a career in medicine can select this option. In addition to offering a rigorous foundation in biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry and genetics, the pre-medicine option meets the requirements for most medical schools in the U.S. by providing students with training in psychology, ethics and social sciences. Students have a wide choice of medically relevant electives in areas such as physiology, microbiology and immunology. Students have numerous opportunities to participate in undergraduate research.

Career preparation

Biochemistry and molecular biology majors receive excellent training to prepare for careers in the health sciences, for technical employment at the B.S. level, or for graduate study in the life sciences. Thanks to their rigorous research experiences, classroom training, and advising by faculty, BMB majors are highly successful in gaining admission to medical and dental school, graduate school, pharmacy and other professional schools, as well as finding employment in universities, government, research institutes, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies and other industries.

Faculty in the department provide research strength in many arenas of biochemistry and molecular biophysics and we encourage our majors to extend their education outside the classroom by taking advantage of opportunities for undergraduate research. The BMB major is a good fit for students who are curious and excited about the cellular, genetic, and molecular mechanisms in living organisms. Students receive in-depth training in the life sciences, chemistry, physics, quantitative and computational sciences and are thus well prepared to pursue rewarding careers in healthcare, dentistry, genetic technologies, pharmacology, pharmaceutical development, neuroscience, basic and applied research, agricultural science, food science and technology, environmental sciences, forensics, nutrition, and patent law.

Prospective students

High school students interested in careers in BMB should prepare for college by taking four years of mathematics and at least one year each of physics and chemistry. Additional coursework in biology, computer science, written and spoken English, and foreign languages is highly desirable.

Students transferring from a community college should have completed one year each of the following by the end of the sophomore year if they plan to graduate in four years’ total time: general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, general biology, two-quarters of college-level math should have been taken, starting with calculus, or 90 total quarter credits including baccalaureate core courses and electives.

High school students, community college, and other transfer students interested in the BMB program are encouraged to contact Kari van Zee, the lead advisor for advice about preparatory courses before they attend or apply to OSU. She welcomes opportunities to meet with potential students and their families. Tours of BB facilities are also available through van Zee and members of the advising team, Lauren Dalton and Kate Shay. Students are also encouraged to seek out any other member of the faculty for informal advice.

Trisha Chau working in a lab.
“The best thing about being a science student at OSU is that I came here wanting to learn and try everything, and I got opportunities to do just that."
Tricia Chau (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology '18), studying medicine at Oregon Health and Science University.

Meet our students and alumni

Fulbright awards will take science students to Germany and New Zealand

Oregon State University and the College of Science are thrilled to congratulate biochemistry and molecular biology Honors student Maja Engler and biology alumna Emily Newton on receiving the 2021-2022 Fulbright Award.

‘Fearless’ biochemistry and molecular biology senior works at the cutting edge of cell evolution

Ilana Gottfried-Lee has spent the past two years performing cutting-edge research in the Unnatural Protein Facility - diving headfirst into a project that has never been attempted before.

This undergraduate is "krilling" it

Giulia Wood’s summer activities — or, in her case, winter — have included polar plunges into the Southern Ocean, listening to cracking glaciers and conducting research on Antarctic krill. 

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