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Overview: Biochemistry Undergraduate Study

The Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology (BBMB) offers undergraduate study in biochemistry with three specialization options: Research & Biotechnology; Pre-Medicine; and Biophysics. Biochemistry majors can study in either the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) or the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS). All three specializations are available within both Colleges.


 Biochemistry seniors examine an unknown in capstone course BBMB 411L
In capstone lab BBMB 4110, biochemistry seniors examine an unknown they will independently identify

What do biochemists do?

Biochemists seek to understand life processes in terms of chemical and physical principles. They conduct research in the frontiers of biology such as metabolic networking; structure and function of enzymes, membranes, and hormones; computational approaches; genomic and proteomic technology; protein engineering; plant biotechnology; muscle structure and function; and the design and evaluation of drugs for the treatment of disease. Biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology provide the basis for much of modern biotechnology. Graduates have opportunities in industry, especially the biotechnology sector, in universities, veterinary medical, and medical schools, and government laboratories. Students who meet the necessary high scholastic standards have the opportunity to continue their studies in graduate school, medical school, or veterinary medical school.


What can I do with a B.S. degree in biochemistry?

Graduates from our biochemistry program understand the chemical principles of biological systems including molecular biology. They have developed laboratory expertise in modern biochemical techniques, including the ability to analyze data and prepare scientific reports. Most have participated in undergraduate research and have developed the skills necessary for both written and oral presentations at a level that will serve the student both within the university and in postgraduate professional life. Graduates have the experience of interacting with persons of different disciplines and cultures. Students have the training in mathematics and physics to solve problems of broad scope in biological, biomedical and environmental sciences and to provide leadership in diverse scientific and technological arenas.

Our graduates often move on to graduate study, medical school, and industry careers.

Screenshot of story from LINK magazine about '22 graduate Tulika Sharan shows female student in lab coat
Student Story: Tulika Sharan, B.S. Biochemistry '22, current Ph.D. student at University of Wisconsin-Madison

What if I'm Pre-Med?

We commend you on your goal of serving others through a career in human medicine! Iowa State has pre-medicine programming, clubs, advising, and specializations within several majors that can help you reach your goals.

With enough preparation, any major at Iowa State could facilitate successful admissions to medical school. Some will have more overlap with pre-med admissions requirements than others. It is up to you to decide what pre-med major is best for you, and Iowa State faculty and staff are here to help provide the information you need to make a good decision.

Biochemistry: A Smart Pre-Med Major at Iowa State

Pre-Med Iowa State students may choose any major that suits their interests and goals while allowing them to complete pre-med admissions requirements. Biochemistry is one of the top pre-med majors reported by physicians. The biochemistry major with Pre-Medicine specialization allows for successful completion of typical medical school admissions course requirements within the major's 4-year plan. As a Pre-Medicine biochemistry major, you'll receive advising and coursework specifically designed to support your goal of becoming a physician. The Pre-Medicine specialization may also be customized for allied health careers such as Pre-Dental, Pre-Pharmacy, and Pre-Vet students.

Want to know more about going Pre-Med and the biochemistry major? Read more here about the Pre-Medicine biochemistry major specialization, other common pre-med majors, and some guidance for those choosing between biological sciences pre-med majors at Iowa State.


Biochemistry students confer about lab results
Biochemistry students confer about lab results

Why should I consider biochemistry at Iowa State?

Biochemistry students at ISU are engaged, supported, and successful.


How can I learn more?

Check out these links:

Prospective Students


Current students

Who can I talk to?

  • Prospective students: Contact Claire Kruesel (, Biochemistry (BBMB) Undergraduate Program Coordinator.
  • Current students: Reach our to your Academic Advisor or Faculty Mentor (to find out who they are, use the Navigate app). You can also email Claire or stop by her office (1228 Molecular Biology Building).