Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses


Biochemistry and Biophysics

Advisory Committee: Professors Bishop, Goutte†, Hansen, Loinaz, and O'Hara (Chair); Associate Professors Carter, Jaswal†, and Purdy; Assistant Professors Edwards, Jeong, Ragkousi, and Wu Orr; 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 seven 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 selected, at 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 seven foundational courses are:

CHEM 151/155, CHEM 161/165, BIOL 191, BIOL/BCBP 291/371, MATH 121, 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 271 (Linear Algebra), MATH 272 (Linear Algebra w/Applications), MATH 284 (Numerical Analysis), MATH 365 (Stochastic Processes), MATH/STAT 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/BCBP/CHEM 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 221, BIOL 241, BIOL/PHYS 265, BIOL 270/271, BIOL 291, BIOL 301, BIOL/BCBP 310, BIOL 320/321, BIOL/BCBP/CHEM 331, BIOL 350/351, BIOL 370/371, BIOL 380/381, CHEM 221, CHEM/BIOL 330, COSC 111, COSC 112, MATH 211, MATH 260, PHYS 343, or STAT 235.  For Fall 2020 UMass Course:  ANIMLSCI 581H. 

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/PHYS 265, BIOL 271, BIOL/BCBP 291, BIOL 301, BIOL 321, BIOL 351, BIOL/BCBP 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 2020-2021.  †On leave fall semester 2020-2021.  ‡On leave spring semester 2020-2021.  

Biochemistry & Biophysics

292 Cell Structure and Function

(See BIOL 292)

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

499 Senior Departmental Honors. 

Single Course.

Spring Semester. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2023, Spring 2025

Departmental Courses

291 Cell Structure and Function w/Lab

(See BIOL 291)

310 Structural Biology

(See BIOL 310)

331 Biochemistry

(See BIOL 331)