Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses


Biochemistry and Biophysics

Advisory Committee: Professors Bishop, Goutte, Hansen‡, Loinaz† (Chair), O'Hara†, and Poccia†; Associate Professors Carter and Jaswal; Assistant Professors Edwards, Jeong*, and Purdy; Visiting Assistant Professor Lee.

Biochemistry and Biophysics is an interdisciplinary major that integrates the three disciplines of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, using the principles of chemistry and physics to explain and explore biological phenomena.

Major Program: A student in the major takes six foundational courses in the three disciplines as well as a tracked set of intermediate courses to develop a more advanced understanding along either a more biophysical or biochemical track. Students then develop their expertise by the selection of courses from a list of electives. For the Biophysical track 2 electives are—selectedat least one of which is a biology course with a lab. For the Biochemistry track 1 elective is selected. One advanced course completes coursework for the major.

The six foundational courses are:

CHEM 151/155, CHEM 161, BIOL 191, BIOL 291/371, PHYS 116/123, and PHYS 117/124.

The additional intermediate courses depend on which track a student elects. Students who are on the Biophysics Track will select one course in each of the following three options:

  • MATH 140 (Mathematical Modeling), MATH 260 (Differential Equations), MATH 272 (Linear Algebra w/Applications), MATH 284 (Numerical Analysis), MATH 365 (Stochastic Processes), MATH 370, Theoretical Statistics, STATS 230 (Intermediate Statistics), or STATS 231 (Data Science)
  • PHYS 225 (Modern Physics) or CHEM 351 (Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy)
  • PHYS 230 (Statistical Mechanics & Thermodynamics) or CHEM 361 (Physical Chemistry)

Students who are on the Biochemistry Track will take CHEM 221, CHEM 231, BIOL 331, and PHYS 230 or CHEM 361.

Electives for the major are as follows: For the Biophysical Track, two electives are selected at least one of which must be a laboratory course in biology. In the Biophysics Track, the electives include BIOL 241, BIOL 271, BIOL 291, BIOL 301, BIOL 310, BIOL 321, BIOL 331, BIOL 351, BIOL 371, BIOL 381, BIOL 404, CHEM 221, CHEM 330, COSC 111, COSC 112, MATH 211, MATH 260, PHYS 343, or STAT 235.

For the Biochemistry Track one elective is selected which must be a biology course with a laboratory. In the Biochemistry Track, the electives include BIOL 221, BIOL 241, BIOL 271, BIOL 291, BIOL 301, BIOL 321, BIOL 351, BIOL 371, or BIOL 381.

Other courses not listed here may satisfy this elective upon approval by the Advisory Committee.

The required advanced course is BCBP 400/CHEM 400/PHYS 400/BIOL 400. 

Special Topics Course BCPB 490 may be elected for students who wish an intensive laboratory or research tutorial in Biochemistry and Biophysics with individual members of the faculty.

For completion of the major, a comprehensive requirement consists of attendance at 6 or more BCBP approved seminars during your senior year, and presentation of a paper to a committee of BCBP faculty. 

Departmental Honors Program: Some majors may elect to pursue an independent research project that enables them the opportunity to graduate with honors. Candidates for the degree with honors should elect BCBP 498 and 499D.

*On leave 2018-19.
† On leave fall semester 2018-19.
‡On leave spring semester 2018-19.

Biochemistry & Biophysics

370 Molecular Genetics

(See BIOL 370)

371 Molecular Genetics W/Lab

(See BIOL 371)

400 Molecular and Cellular Biophysics

(See PHYS 400)

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

498, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Fall semester. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2023, Spring 2025

Departmental Courses

291 Cell Structure and Function

(See BIOL 291)

310 Structural Biochemistry

(See BIOL 310)

331 Biochemistry

(See BIOL 331)

404 Seminar in Biochemistry

(See BIOL 404)