Biochemistry Major

Goals for Biochemistry Majors

     Energy is required and transformed

     Macromolecular structure determines function and regulation

     Information storage and flow are dynamic and interactive                 

Requirements for the Biochemistry Major

100 Level Requirements:

CHEM: Either CHEM 105, CHEM 105P, CHEM 116, or CHEM 120.

BISC: Either BISC 110, BISC 110P, BISC 112, BISC 112Y, or BISC 116.

PHYS: Either PHYS 100, PHYS 104, PHYS 106, PHYS 107, PHYS 108, PHYS 109 or equivalent. This requirement may be satisfied by students passing the physics exemption exam for one of these courses.

MATH: Either MATH 116, MATH 120 or equivalent. This requirement can be satisfied by earning Wellesley credit from the AP Calculus BC exam or placement into MATH 205 or a higher level course by the Department of Mathematics.

200 Level Requirements:

CHEM: CHEM 205 (if CHEM 120 was not taken) and CHEM 211.

BIOC: BIOC 219, BIOC 220, and BIOC 223.

300 Level Requirements:

BISC: two 300-level courses from among the following: BISC 303; BISC 311; BISC 314; BISC 316; BISC 318; BISC 328; BISC 329; BISC 333; BISC 334; BISC 335; BISC 336; NEUR 332 or other course if relevant to the major and approved by the director.

BIOC: BIOC 331 and one course from among BIOC 320, BIOC 323, BIOC 324 or BIOC 325.

Lab/Research Requirement: The BIOC major requires sufficient laboratory work at the 300-level or sufficient independent research experience. To fulfill this requirement:

(i) Any two 300-level courses counting toward the major must have a laboratory component OR

(ii) Any one of the 300-level courses counting toward the major must have a laboratory component AND the student must also carry out an independent research experience and write a paper based on it. The independent research experience can be fulfilled in any of the following ways:

 - One unit in total of BIOC 250,BIOC 350, BIOC 250H, or BIOC 350H
 - Completion of at least one semester of a senior thesis (BIOC 355 of BIOC 360)
 - Completion of an approved, off campus or on campus research experience with a minimum of 130 hours, including pair experiences such as the Wellesley Summer Research Program or the Sophomore Early Research Program. Any such experience must be approved by a BIOC Program faculty member.

In all cases for option (ii), the student must complete a paper (of at least 8-10 pages in length) on the research. The paper must contain substantial literature references, and a copy of the paper must be submitted to the Biochemistry Program Director as partial fulfillment of this requirement. A student who completes a thesis does not need to write an additional paper.

Other Notes: Students should be sure to satisfy the prerequisites for 300-level courses. Students planning graduate work in biochemistry should consider taking additional courses in chemistry, such as analytical, inorganic, or the second semester of organic. Students planning graduate work in molecular or cell biology should consider taking additional advanced courses in these areas. Independent research (BIOC 250, BIOC 250H, BIOC 350, BIOC 350H, BIOC 355 & BIOC 365, BIOC 360 & BIOC 370) is highly recommended, especially for those considering graduate studies.

The following BIOC courses are cross-listed in either BISC or CHEM: BIOC 219; BIOC 220; BIOC 223, BIOC 227; BIOC 320; BIOC 323; BIOC 324; BIOC 325, BIOC 331

One potential sequence of required courses could be as follows:

Year 1: Fall: Either (1) CHEM 105, CHEM 105P or CHEM 120 and Math or Physics, or (2) BISC 116 and CHEM116; Spring: CHEM 205 or CHEM 211 and either BISC 110, BISC 110P, BISC 112 or BISC 112Y (if BISC 116 not taken in the Fall), Math or Physics (if neither taken in the Fall).

Year 2: Fall: BIOC 219 and either CHEM 205 or CHEM 211; Spring: BIOC 223 and BIOC 220; Math and/or Physics taken either semester as needed.

In Years 3 and 4, students may elect to complete the following requirements in whatever order suits them:

(a) BIOC 331;

(b) BIOC 320, BIOC 323, BIOC 324 or BIOC 325;

(c) two approved 300-level BISC courses (and independent study if needed for lab requirement).

For additional examples of current and previous Biochemistry majors’ four year schedules, please see the BIOC Major Course Planning Guide on the Biochemistry website.

Please discuss your program with the director or another member of the advisory committee as early as possible, especially if you are planning on international study.

Independent Research in Biochemistry 

BIOC 250, BIOC 250H, BIOC 350, BIOC 350H, BIOC 355/BIOC 365 are open to any student. The research should focus on some aspect of the molecular biosciences and may be advised by any member of the Biochemistry Advisory Committee, or by another member of the faculty upon approval by the Advisory Committee.  BIOC 360 and BIOC 370 are open only to Biochemistry majors (see "Honors," below).

Honors in Biochemistry

Honors work may be advised by any member of the Biochemistry Advisory Committee or by another member of the faculty upon approval by the Advisory Committee. To be admitted to the Honors thesis program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all (non-independent study) work in the major field above the 100 level. Students with a GPA below the cut-off should register for BIOC 355. If that course is completed successfully, the department may petition on the student's behalf if the student's GPA in the major is between 3.3 and 3.5.  Students should enroll in BIOC 360/BIOC 370 after approval by the advisory committee.

Double-Counted Courses in Biochemistry

The College does not allow a course to double-count toward two majors or toward both a major and a minor. Therefore, if a student wishes to count a course that could count toward the BIOC major toward another major or a minor, the student must take an additional course toward their BIOC major that has been approved by their advisor.