Our major is well suited for students who wish to think broadly and quantitatively about how living systems can be understood at the molecular level using fundamental laws of chemistry and physics. We are devoted to the individual development and support of all students, in the classroom and beyond, as they build their skill sets as modern-day biochemists and biophysicists.
Our program is grounded in the idea that interdisciplinary training in the physical sciences leads to a better understanding of living systems. The interdisciplinary BCBP major comprises courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and computer science, in addition to the senior-year comprehensive requirements. Following a common set of seven introductory courses in chemistry, biology, and physics, students will choose, depending on their particular scientific interests, either the “Biophysics” or “Biochemistry” track of the major. While these two tracks share much in the way of coursework (see the "Course Requirements" link on the left), they differ somewhat in the emphasis of the upper-level courses: the biophysical track offers a focus on computational and physical approaches to studying biological problems; the biochemical track provides a stronger emphasis on the tools and principles of molecular biology and biological chemistry.
In terms of course requirements, BCBP is one of the most academically demanding majors at Amherst: it requires 13 courses, some of which may have further prerequisites that don’t directly count toward the major. Moreover, at least 7 of the required courses in the biophysical track and 9 in the biochemical track have laboratory components (these numbers of lab courses could be even higher depending on a student’s course selection). We point this out not to discourage anyone from majoring, but so that students interested in BCBP will have a realistic view of the demanding trajectory required for completing the major.