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Biochemistry and Biophysics Major

Revealing how life works

Biochemistry and Biophysics Major

Revealing how life works

Delaney Smith standing in the Learning and Innovation Center on campus

"The biochemistry and biophysics professors are great. I couldn't have asked for a better education. All the professors know you by name and they are very passionate about what they teach."

Delaney Smith (Biochemistry & Biophysics '19), 2018 Goldwater Scholar, 2019 Fulbright Fellow at the University of Ghent, Belgium.

The BASICS: Biochemistry & Biophysics (BB)

Biochemistry is the chemistry of living systems of all forms. Biochemists explore the chemical structure of living matter and the chemical reactions occurring in living cells. Biophysicists uses mathematics and physics to solve biological problems, using physical science methods to study the structure and functions of macromolecules.

If you are fascinated by the way mathematics and physics influence the study of life, this may be the right major for you. And BB majors are highly successful in gaining admission to medical and dental schools, graduate school, as well as pharmacy and other professional schools.

As an OSU biochemistry and biophysics major, you will:

  • benefit from a world-class faculty who dedicate themselves to helping you become the best scientist you can be,
  • receive excellent training for careers and exceptional preparation for graduate school,
  • have opportunities to conduct laboratory research in medical science, agriculture, nutrition, toxicology, environmental science, biotechnology and drug development alongside faculty experts.

Biochemists and biophysicists work in universities, biotechnology, chemical manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, hospitals and more. They study the chemical and physical principles of living things and their biological processes, such as cell development, growth, heredity and disease.

At OSU, our researchers' findings enhance our understanding of conditions like cancer, hearing impairment and immune dysfunction. Using cutting-edge facilities and equipment (including electron microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, electrophysiology and macromolecular interactions), our research focuses on:

  • Molecular biophysics and structural biology
  • Protein engineering
  • Cellular and molecular biology
  • Computational biology and bioinformatics
  • Biochemistry education
Check out our department's research
RNA and protein DNA sequencing.

Biochemistry and biophysics majors study a broad range of courses centered on the chemistry and physics of life processes.

The PROGRAM: Studying biochemistry and biophysics at Oregon State

BB majors select one of three degree options based on specific interests. The first two options are designed for students interested in careers in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries or graduate work in biochemistry and biophysics, with the second especially well-suited for students interested in neuroscience. The third option is ideal for students interested in careers in medicine and related health professions.

Fun fact: Our medical school acceptance rate is 67 percent, well above the national average of 40 percent!

The Advanced Biophysics Option is designed for students interested in pursuing graduate work in biophysics or entering the workforce in biophysics and pharmaceutical industries. It provides advanced training in physical chemistry and physics, bioinformatics, statistics, mathematics, and other areas of current research in biophysics, in addition to the core courses in the major. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in undergraduate research, and up to three research credits can be applied to the upper-division science elective requirements. Faculty advisors work with students to help them identify electives, research opportunities, and professional internships that align with their interests.

The neuroscience option is designed for students interested in combining foundational training in chemistry, biology, mathematics, physics, biochemistry, and biophysics with training in psychology, neuroscience, and anatomy and physiology to deepen their understanding of the brain and the nervous system. This option supports students who want to pursue graduate work in neuroscience, biophysics, bioinformatics, and pharmaceutical research as well as work in health professions. Students can engage with exciting research projects that match their interests.

This option is suitable for biochemistry and biophysics students interested in a career in medicine. In addition to offering a strong foundation in general chemistry, organic chemistry, mathematics, physics, biology, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, biophysics, statistics, and biological sequence analysis, the pre-medicine option meets the requirements for most medical schools in the U.S. by providing students with training in genetics, psychology, ethics, and social sciences.

Students have a wide choice of medically relevant electives in areas such as anatomy and physiology, microbiology, neuroscience, and immunology. They can also participate in meaningful undergraduate research projects. Faculty pre-medical advisors guide students to integrate undergraduate research and other relevant professional opportunities into their undergraduate experience and to prepare themselves as strong candidates for admission to the medical schools and health programs of their interest.

Learn more about your biochemistry and biophysics curriculum

Wondering what kind of classes you'll take? Your BB major includes in-depth curriculum, including courses like

  • Cancer: Society's Malignant Shadow
  • Neuroscience of Sensory and Motor Systems
  • Applied Bioinformatics
Biochemistry and biophysics courses

Want to know more about coursework requirements? Your BB major covers different science disciplines, from biology to physics to chemistry. Use the OSU Catalog to learn more about:

  • your typical sequence of courses in each discipline
  • what pre-requisite courses you'll need
  • your major's core curriculum
Biochemistry and biophysics course requirements

What does your four-year course load look like as a BB major? Check out this sample plan for one example of how to map out your academic journey.

Biochemistry and biophysics major: sample plan

WATCH: Meet a biochemistry and biophysics major

Meet Nathan, a biochemistry & biophysics major at Oregon State. After transferring from a nearby community college, Nathan took full advantage of what a research university can offer. Here, he discusses the inspiration he feels working with dedicated professors and faculty, as well as the fulfilling internship opportunity he’s pursuing thanks to this program.

The EXPERIENCE: Hands-on opportunities

What makes a biochemistry and biophysics degree from Oregon State better? One big reason: Our hands-on learning experiences! Science is often a competitive career field — these experiences give you the real-world skills to support your future goals.

Undergraduate Research

This is your chance to see up close what it means to be a scientist. Don’t just study science in the classroom — get in a lab and contribute to it, working alongside world-class faculty!

Learn why undergraduate research is better here


Practice your science in a professional setting. An internship with a real-world employer is the perfect opportunity to experience what your future career in science could look like.

Learn about amazing internship opportunities

Study Abroad

Our students’ work spans the globe! Immerse yourself in another culture to gain a global perspective in your studies.

Take your science studies around the world


Here’s your chance to discover like-minded communities of peers who share your interests! Come together and engage in meaningful ways.

Connect with a club and more members of Team Science

The SUPPORT: Learning resources for science students

Team Science is here to help you thrive. Our student support is another reason we always say, "science is better at Oregon State." You'll have access to a huge array of support services and resources designed to thrive both in and out of the classroom. Here are some places to get started:

Student resources

At OSU, support comes in a LOT of forms — here's where to start. From our Science Success Center to health and wellness resources, connect with the support you need to thrive as a college student.

Check out our student resources page

Learning Assistant (LA) Program

Love learning in smaller, collaborative group settings? Our Learning Assistant Program combines small-school attention with big-school resources. Your LA group replaces traditional lecture formats with active learning strategies, maximizing the way you engage with your STEM courses.

Explore our Learning Assistant Program

Tutoring Centers

Our tutoring centers are welcoming, friendly spaces where peer and faculty mentors offer guidance and share study techniques to help you grasp course materials and improve your academic performance.

Learn more about our science-focused tutoring centers


All members of the biochemistry and biophysics advising team are teaching faculty with Ph.D.s in biochemistry who have conducted research. Meeting with your advisor will help you make the most of your academic journey and help keep you on track to graduation.

Visit the department's advising page

And of course, you can always reach out to our student Peer Advisors at with questions, as well! Our Peer Advisor team is friendly, helpful and can share their first-hand knowledge of the Oregon State experience.

The PAYOFF: Careers in biochemistry and biophysics

What jobs can you get with a biochemistry and biophysics degree?

With a biochemistry and biophysics degree from OSU, you’ll be able to embark on a huge number of career paths.

Here are just several examples of career pathways our BB alumni have followed:

The PROOF: Successful students and alumni

Young Alumni Award recipient aims to cure mitochondrial diseases

The remnants of ancient bacteria live inside each of us as mitochondria, structures in cells that are critical for life. Breakthrough work from Simon Johnson, B.S. biochemistry and biophysics ‘09, and his lab has shed new light on how dysfunction of mitochondria causes human disease. For his great strides towards a cure for mitochondrial diseases within a decade since his last degree, Johnson has received the 2023 Young Alumni Award in the College of Science.

Biochemistry and computer science senior bridges gap between the byte and the gene

Goldwater scholar and graduating senior Alyssa Pratt has always had a love for the sciences. She started with a love for the stars and now spends her day in the cyberspace realm with her double major in computer science; and biochemistry and molecular biology at Oregon State University.

Sahana Shah, ’24, dreams of a new campus center for students with disabilities

When honors student Sahana Shah ran for the student House of Representatives, she won the election with the most votes of any candidate. One of her main platforms? Helping establish a disability cultural center to better adapt the campus to the needs of neurodiverse students. She is now joining forces with other student groups to bring the idea to life.

From architecture to biochemistry: ‘Life is too short to do something you don’t like.’

International student Elizaveta Zhivaya found her niche in microbiome research and will start a Ph.D. in neuroscience next year.

Oregon State researchers identify potential new means of slowing neurodegenerative diseases

Researchers from the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics have discovered a new class of potential drug targets for people suffering from neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Download Biochemistry and Biophysics brochure 2022 (PDF)