Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses


Biochemistry and Biophysics

Advisory Committee: Professors Bishop‡, Goutte†, Hansen, Jaswal, Loinaz (Chair), and O'Hara†; Associate Professors Carter†, Jeong, and Purdy; Assistant Professors Edwards, Ragkousi, and Wu Orr†.

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 must be a biology course with a lab. For the Biochemistry track 1 elective is selected that is a biology laboratory course. 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.  NOTE: For the BCBP class of '23 and '24, the following classes can also be used to fulfill the requirement for BCBP/BIOL 291 (Cell Structure/Function) or BCBP/BIOL 371 (Molecular Genetics): Developmental Biology (BIOL 221), Neurophysiology (BIOL 351), Genetic Analysis (BIOL 241), and Small Proteins (BIOL 311)

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 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.

DEI Requirement: Beginning with the class of 2024, the Biochemistry and Biophysics Major (both tracks) will include one course that engages with issues of systemic racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion, or social justice as it pertains to science and scientific communities.  Examples of existing courses that fulfill this requirement are listed below.  Other courses not listed or offered in the Five Colleges can substitute with the approval of the chair of BCBP.  ANTH-245: Medical Anthropology, BIOL-150/CHEM-250: Being Human in STEM, ENST-220/HIST-104: Environ Issues 19th Cent, ENST-225: Climate Science/Society, ENST-260: Global Environ. Politics, ENST-306/SOCI-306: Pandemics and Society, ENST-314/SOCI-314: Climate Justice, LJST-255: Community and Immunity, PHYS-255/ASTR-155: Phys, Astro, Society, SOCI-228: Feminism and COVID-19, SOCI-314: Climate Justice, or SWAG-209: Feminism in Sci and Med.  

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 2023-2024.  †On leave fall semester 2023-2024.  ‡On leave spring semester 2023-2024.  

Biochemistry & Biophysics

498, 498D, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Single Course.

Spring Semester. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2023, Spring 2025