Skip to main content

Biochemistry and Biophysics Major

Revealing how life works

Biochemistry and Biophysics Major

Revealing how life works

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

As a biochemistry and biophysics major, you’ll get to study in a nationally and internationally recognized program that has a world-class faculty, a tradition of interdisciplinary research, outstanding teachers and extraordinary laboratories to facilitate undergraduate learning. You will study a broad range of courses centered on the chemistry and physics of life processes with training that integrates the principles of chemistry, physics, mathematics, biochemistry, genetics and computer science. As a biochemistry and biophysics major, you will receive excellent training for careers in medicine, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, in addition to exceptional preparation for graduate school in all fields of the biological sciences, from immunology to neuroscience and genetics. You will have opportunities to conduct laboratory research in medical science, agriculture, nutrition, clinical chemistry, food science, toxicology, environmental science, biotechnology and drug development with faculty experts across Oregon State.

Biochemistry and biophysics majors have been very successful at gaining admission to medical, dental, and graduate schools. In 2017 and 2018, biochemistry and biophysics students won the highly competitive Goldwater scholarship—the top undergraduate award in the nation for sophomores and juniors in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Options in biochemistry and biophysics

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.

Recent graduates: What are they up to

Professor of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic

Research scientists at biotech companies

Medical students at Harvard, Oregon Health & Science University and Baylor University

Graduate students at Johns Hopkins, Stanford and New York University

Emergency Physician and Hospitalist, Hawaii Emergency Physician Association
Vascular Surgery Fellow, Mayo Clinic
Dentist, Gentle Dental
Forensic Pathology Fellow, Office of the Medical Investigator
Curriculum Fellow and Lecturer, Harvard
Gastroenterologist, Cleveland Clinic
Associate Veterinarian, Banfield Pet Hospital
Resident Doctor and Spinal Cord Surgery Specialist, Johns Hopkins
Research Scientist, Oregon Health and Science University

Sample courses

Macromolecular Structure

Genetic Biochemistry

Molecular Medicine

Introduction to Biological Sequence Analysis

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.

Meet our students and alumni

Biochemistry student awarded Goldwater Scholarship, studies molecular origins of alcohol addiction

Honors biochemistry/biophysics student Delaney Smith receives the 2018 Goldwater scholarship. She is the only Goldwater Scholar from an Oregon institution this year.

Biochemistry senior credits Science faculty with helping him realize his ambition

An award-winning scholar and undergraduate researcher in biochemistry assistant professor Afua Nyarko’s lab, Diego Rodriguez exemplifies the power of using perseverance and dedication to achieve one’s goals.

Scientist who discovered protein involved in cancer metastasis named Alumni Fellow

Alumna Marian Waterman, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of California, Irvine, is honored as 2018 Alumni Fellow.

Finding clarity and calm during a global pandemic

Joaquin Rodriguez, a biochemistry and biophysics senior doing research on viruses, explains why the coronavirus has a high rate of transmission.

Next steps

Download Biochemistry and Biophysics Brochure 2020 (PDF)