Degree Requirements  Technical Electives  Undergraduate Research  Advising  Handbook for current students

Biochemistry is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses biological and chemical sciences. We investigate the many fascinating processes within living systems at a molecular level. As a biochemistry student, you will explore questions such as

  • What chemical reactions occur within cells, their functions, and how are they regulated?
  • What is the chemical mechanism of inheritance, growth, cell division, and differentiation?
  • How does the body convert energy and nutrients to new cells or create movement?
  • What chemical and physical properties of naturally occurring molecules enable them to carry out such highly specific functions?

As part of the School of Molecular & Cellular Biology community, you will also take courses and study with MCB majors and have the benefit of curricular enhancements available to all MCB undergraduates. These include research in available laboratories schoolwide, honors sections, study abroad, and advanced teaching facilities.

A bachelor's degree in biochemistry will prepare you for graduate studies in biochemistry, chemistry, molecular biology, or medical school and other professional programs such as dental, pharmacy, or veterinary school. Our graduates have become leaders in medicine, pharmacology, agriculture, nutrition, microbiology, cell biology, food technology, pollution control, and biotechnology.

Admission

Incoming, prospective Biochemistry students should apply for admission to the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (LAS) and choose Biochemistry as their intended major.

Transferring from UIUC

Any UIUC student wishing to change their major to Biochemistry must meet with Jeff Goldberg, the department’s academic advisor. Email him at biocug@mcb.uiuc.edu or call 217-244-3149 to schedule an appointment. If departmental approval to transfer is granted, students will be directed to complete a Curriculum Change Form during the posted LAS application period.

College of LAS guidelines and forms for declaring or changing a curriculum or major

Transferring from outside UIUC

If you are transferring from a two-year or four-year college program, carefully review and consider the requirements for the degree and how best to prepare for our program.

In contemplating transfer, you should be aware of the following:

  1. A good background in qualitative and quantitative analysis is very important. Be prepared to take CHEM 236 and 237 or CHEM 232 and CHEM 233 if you have not taken an equivalent course and you need additional preparation.
  2. A strong background in Calculus (I, II, and III) is required to understand the necessary concepts of physics and physical chemistry.
  3. Review the typical four-year plan to determine how much time you’ll need to complete the degree requirements.
  4. All transfer students, regardless of their previous academic credits, take three full years to complete a Biochemistry degree once on our campus.

More information on transferring to UIUC is available from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research is strongly recommended for biochemistry students. Your experience working with a faculty mentor, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers will enhance your understanding of biochemical principles covered in our courses and prepare you for graduate work or a career.

You can receive course credit for research by enrolling in BIOC 290 or BIOC 492. Before enrolling, you must gain approval from a faculty member who will supervise your research.

BIOC 290: Biochemistry Undergraduate Research 

BIOC 290 provides a great opportunity to get a head start on your senior thesis research. Although not mandatory for biochemistry students, research is highly recommended.

Approval process

  1. Meet with faculty members in either biochemistry or elsewhere in the School of MCB to identify a faculty supervisor and possible project. Use the MCB faculty directory as a resource. After reading the information describing faculty research, select three or four potential laboratories. Do not send a blanket e-mail to the entire faculty.
  2. With the help of your chosen faculty supervisor, complete the BIOC 290 Learning Agreement Form. This form includes learning outcomes, specific activities, and work expectations. The means of evaluation and credit to be awarded (1–5 hours per semester) are also specified in this document. The agreement must be reviewed and approved by the Associate Head of the Biochemistry Department. Incomplete forms will be returned.
  3. Submit your signed Learning Agreement to room 417 RAL as soon as possible. You only need one learning agreement form for the balance of your research experience (including BIOC 492) unless you switch labs.
  4. The Department of Biochemistry will then authorize you to add BIOC 290 to your schedule. A signed copy of the Learning Agreement will be sent to both you and your faculty supervisor.

 

BIOC 492: Senior Thesis Research

BIOC 492 provides the opportunity to work in a research laboratory during your senior year. Participation in the program is contingent upon completion of the biochemistry core courses MCB 354 and BIOC 455.

NOTE: It is probable that many seniors will submit a thesis two different times during the semester—first in early March for awards and distinction review, and second at the end of the semester with all the other seniors.

Approval Process

  1. Finding a lab, filling out Learning Agreement. If you were in a BIOC 290 lab and plan to remain in the same lab, no further paperwork is necessary. If you're not already conducting BIOC 290 research, identify faculty members with whom you might like to work. Contact them to schedule an interview and discuss a possible project. Students are responsible for identifying and negotiating a position with a faculty member and having the faculty member sign the BIOC 492 Learning Agreement.
  2. Register. In consultation with your research advisor, determine how you want to distribute your hours over two to three semesters (summer, fall, spring). A minimum of 6 hours of BIOC 492 is needed to be considered for departmental distinction. Seven hours can count toward your Advanced Technical Electives and you can register for up to 10 hours total in BIOC 492. Up to 6 hours may be taken in any one semester. Register each semester for BIOC 492 by using your faculty advisor's individual CRN (course registration number), which can be obtained from the department office.
  3. Schedule. In consultation with your thesis advisor, establish a schedule for your work. It is important that you agree on a timetable and to any changes that may be required.
  4. Grade. You must submit a thesis approved by your faculty supervisor, the Biochemistry Department Head, and the College of LAS Honors Dean, in order to receive a grade and credit hours for the course. A deferred grade ("DFR") will be given for all semester grades in BIOC 492 until the thesis is presented. That is, when you take BIOC 492 in both the fall and spring semesters, the grade given at the end of the fall semester will be "DFR", not a letter grade. This "DFR" grade will be changed to a letter grade after your thesis has been deposited.
    NOTE: Grades for lab experiences do not count in your major GPA.
  5. Honors. Biochemistry majors who satisfactorily complete BIOC 492 may be eligible for departmental honors. More information is below.

Graduation with Distinction, Awards for Research

For third-year students

William T. and Lynn Jackson Scholar Award in Biochemistry

This monetary award provides, in part, a summer stipend for a Biochemistry major who will begin working on a BIOC 492 research project in a Biochemistry faculty laboratory during the summer before their senior year. Nominations require a recommendation letter from the research advisor describing the 492 project and the student's qualifications, a BIOC 492 Student Information Form, the student's resume and statement, and a copy of their unofficial transcript. Nomination deadline is early March.

For fourth-year students

Graduation with Distinction

Biochemistry majors who satisfactorily complete BIOC 492 may be eligible for departmental honors. Registration in BIOC 492 is required; substitution of MCB 492 or CHEM 499 is not permitted. Students must submit a BIOC 492 thesis and be nominated by their thesis advisor.

To qualify for graduation with distinction, you must be a Biochemistry major who (1) is registered for at least 6 hours of BIOC 492, (2) completes a senior thesis, and (3) is recommended for distinction by your thesis advisor. To be eligible, you must have an overall grade-point average of at least 3.25 and must be registered in BIOC 492. Recommendations for distinction are based on the quality of the thesis work and academic GPA. It is important that the thesis advisor comment on whether the results presented in the thesis are the sole work of the student or are a result of collaborative efforts. This should also be made clear in the thesis.

The decision on which level of distinction (Highest, High or Distinction) lies solely with the Awards Committee. Nomination deadline is early March.

Thesis awards

Thesis awards are available to BIOC 492 students who graduate in May. The winners and their achievements are recognized at the School of MCB Awards Ceremony, typically held on Reading Day each May. Students must be nominated by their BIOC 492 thesis advisor. Nomination deadline is mid-March.

William T. and Lynn Jackson Senior Thesis Award

This award is given to the senior student who presents the best Biochemistry thesis. The award, which includes a cash prize, is sponsored by Dr. William Jackson, a chemistry graduate of the University of Illinois.

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A bright future

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Biochemistry students are well-prepared for medical, dental, and other professional schools and graduate programs. Our alumni become physicians, develop novel medicines at biotechnology companies, conduct research at national laboratories, teach at universities, and pursue careers in a variety of fields.

The School of MCB's professional mentorship program matches students with professionals working in medicine, biotechnology, and more.

Academic advisors organize a variety of activities, such as workshops for pre-med students and alumni talks that are relevant to biochemistry majors.

Contact us

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Jeff Goldberg, Senior Coordinator Student Academic Affairs
Office of Student Academic Affairs, Department of Biochemistry
417 Roger Adams Laboratory
600 South Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801
biocug@mcb.illinois.edu; 217-244-3149

Biochemistry Advising

Welcome to the Biochemistry Office of Student Academic Affairs! This office provides valuable services to both graduate and undergraduate students. The undergraduate advising portion of the office houses the academic advising folders for our undergraduate students. We email advising information to you and distribute printed information and other handouts about the program, department, and university. If you are a prospective student in Biochemistry, we can meet with you and your parents. We are happy to also make referrals and answer questions. Other resources we provide include course information, references for graduate institutions, career planning, and summer research opportunities.

If you are a first-year student, we highly recommend you meet with your advisor during registration periods and at other times when advice is needed. If you are a second-year, third-year, or fourth-year student, you may plan your schedule without consulting a biochemistry advisor, but self-advising is not recommended. Advisors are always available by appointment and advising information is emailed to all biochemistry students prior to each registration period.

Students are assigned a Biochemistry faculty advisor. This provides students with a unique opportunity to interact individually with a faculty member regarding academics, research, off-campus opportunities, and post-graduation options. All students are strongly encouraged to meet with their faculty advisor at least once a semester. Although third-year and fourth-year students may plan their schedules without consulting a faculty advisor or the Coordinator of Student Academic Affairs (Jeff Goldberg), self-advising is not recommended. Advisors are always available by appointment, and registration information is emailed to all biochemistry students for registration periods.