On This Page

Biochemistry Major

Required Courses
BIOL 1102Biological Principles II1
or BIOL 1109 Scientific Reasoning in Biology
BIOL 2124Biochemistry and Cell Biology1
Select one of the following:1
CHEM 1092
Introductory Chemistry and Quantitative Reasoning II
CHEM 1102
Introductory Chemistry II
CHEM 1109
General Chemistry
CHEM 2250Organic Chemistry I1
CHEM 2260Organic Chemistry II1
CHEM 2320Biochemistry1
CHEM 2510Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics1
MATH 1700Integral Calculus (or higher)1
PHYS 1130Introductory Physics I1
or PHYS 1140 Introductory Physics II
Select two electives from the following (one must be 3000 or above): 2
BIOL 2210
Plant Ecophysiology
BIOL 2112
Genetics and Molecular Biology
BIOL 2118
BIOL 2175
Developmental Biology
BIOL 2566
Molecular Neurobiology
BIOL 3304
The RNA World
BIOL 3314
Advanced Genetics and Epigenetics
BIOL 3333
Advanced Cell and Molecular Biology
CHEM 2100
Chemical Analysis
CHEM 3250
Structure Determination in Organic Chemistry
CHEM 3270
Biomimetic and Supramolecular Chemistry
CHEM 3310
Chemical Biology
CHEM 3510
Reactivity and Kinetics

A minimum of eleven courses from among the required and elective biochemistry courses must be completed for the major. Students placing into MATH 1800 Multivariate Calculus or higher must take MATH 1300 Biostatistics, MATH 1400 Statistics in the Sciences, or one math course at the 1800-level or above.

Students placing out of BIOL 1109 Scientific Reasoning in Biology, CHEM 1109 General Chemistry, PHYS 1130 Introductory Physics I, or PHYS 1140 Introductory Physics II must still complete a minimum of eleven courses related to biochemistry.

Additional Information and Program Policies

  • Only one D grade is allowed in courses required for the major. This D must be offset by a grade of B or higher in another course also required for the major.
  • Students may not count courses taken Credit/D/Fail toward the major.
  • Advanced placement exams are used for placement in courses for the biochemistry major, but do not count toward the eleven courses required for the major.
  • Biochemistry majors cannot minor or major in biology, chemistry, or neuroscience, and may only double-count courses to a second major or a minor with permission of the Biochemistry Program.
  • Bowdoin does not offer a minor in biochemistry.
  • Students may request transfer credit by talking with the program director the semester prior to enrolling in a course.
  • Independent studies do not count as an elective, but can count as one of the eleven required courses for the major.
  • Students may engage in independent study at the advanced (4000–4051) level. Majors pursuing honors in biochemistry are required to register for BIOC 4050 during the first semester of their senior year and BIOC 4051 during the second semester of their senior year.
  • Advanced independent studies and honors projects do not count as electives, but may be applied to towards the total number of credits required to complete the major. 
  • Many research advisors require that students perform summer research in their laboratory prior to registering for advanced independent study, so interested students should aim to finalize such plans with their prospective research advisor in the first semester of their junior year.

Information for Incoming Students

The Biochemistry major requires a firm foundation in both chemistry and biology prior to enrollment in the core biochemistry courses. First-year students with an interest in biochemistry should complete introductory chemistry coursework (CHEM 1091 Introductory Chemistry and Quantitative Reasoning I, CHEM 1092 Introductory Chemistry and Quantitative Reasoning II, CHEM 1101 Introductory Chemistry I, CHEM 1102 Introductory Chemistry II or CHEM 1109 General Chemistry) and introductory biology coursework (BIOL 1101 Biological Principles I, BIOL 1102 Biological Principles II or BIOL 1109 Scientific Reasoning in Biology) by the end of the first year, if possible. Please consult the biology and chemistry sections of the Catalogue for information about introductory course sequences and proper placement.

If placement results indicate a two-semester introductory chemistry sequence is required, students are recommended to begin with introductory chemistry in their first semester. If the two-semester introductory biology sequence is also required, one option is to complete these courses in the sophomore year, in parallel with the organic chemistry sequence; please consult with a member of the biochemistry program for suggestions about timing. The most important planning step is to ensure that CHEM 1092 Introductory Chemistry and Quantitative Reasoning II, or CHEM 1102 Introductory Chemistry II, or CHEM 1109 General Chemistry is completed during the first year to enable enrollment in the two-semester organic chemistry sequence in the sophomore year. Please contact a member of the biochemistry program if you have any questions. 

Note that completing the tiered biochemistry major requires, in most cases, that students take a math and a lab-science course, or take two lab-science classes, at the same time in their first year. This is most often during the second semester; for example, a student placed in CHEM 1101 Introductory Chemistry I/CHEM 1102 Introductory Chemistry II and BIOL 1109 Scientific Reasoning in Biology may choose to enroll in CHEM 1102 Introductory Chemistry II and BIOL 1109 Scientific Reasoning in Biology in their second semester of their first year. Taking more than one math/lab-science course in the same semester of the first year can be challenging, so students are encouraged to speak with their pre-major academic advisors about designing a feasible course schedule if they are considering future study in biochemistry.

Additional information: For a flow diagram of courses required for the biochemistry major, please visit the “Navigating the Major” page of the biochemistry program's website.

This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue