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What is the difference between chemistry major and biochemistry major?

Discussion in 'Pre-Pharmacy' started by jungjh9001, May 29, 2008.

  1. jungjh9001

    jungjh9001 5+ Year Member

    Mar 9, 2008
    I know this can be a very "basic" question..

    but what is the difference between chemistry major and biochemistry major?

    the school that I want to go to has both majors..

    but I'm not sure which one I should apply..
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  3. l3abyt43

    l3abyt43 2+ Year Member

    Mar 15, 2008
    Well, obviously biochemistry has emphasis in biology while the other 1 doesn't. It depends on whether you like biology or not. Most of the people I know (who are currently either rx or pre-rx) have/had biochem as a major. Plus, if you're going to major in biochem, try looking into taking classes like pharmacology. That may look good on your application. Hope this helped!
  4. If you're a biochem major you will study chemical characteristics & reactions of living things
    If you're a chem major you'll learn about composition and reactions of atomic and molecular system.
  5. jiiniix2

    jiiniix2 5+ Year Member

    even if you don't like one you can switch to the other. most of the lower level classes are the same but it's the upper level that's different.
  6. kismet

    kismet 2+ Year Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    Sacramento, CA
    Chemistry electives generally suck unless you want to go into researching and designing drugs... biochemistry electives usually allow you to take things like NPB that you'll need for pharmacy school.
  7. shehsheh

    shehsheh 2+ Year Member

    Dec 12, 2007
    I would recommend majoring in biochem... you will get to experience both biology and chem with an emphasis in biochem courses. With my personal experience (at my school), I was required to take more chem courses than bio. In fact, I had to take physical chem, analytical chem (1 year), inorganic upper division chem, etc. These were all courses that the chem major were also required to take. I believe I had to do only 7 units of upper division bio courses (which I could pick for myself ... i took genetics and immunology.)

    Plus I think biochem will help you out more in pharmacy school than chem.
  8. omnione

    omnione SDN Pharmoderator Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Do note that biochemistry is not just a hybrid of biology and chemistry. Biochemists hate it when people say that.;)

    I like to think biochemistry as the subject where the biological processes of organisms and processes are explained using chemistry concepts. In the intro course, you get your general biology concepts explained again but in more detail using the organic and general chemistry that you just learned. Elective courses that follow will focus more in-depth for a certain subject, like nucleic acids, plant biochem, etc.

    Depending on the school, even the pre-biochem sequence may be different. Some schools may have chem majors take a more intensive and detailed general chemistry sequence designed for the chem major in mind. Also, chemistry courses start to diverge after organic like hardcore inorganic chem, quantitative, etc. The research opportunities between the two majors differ greatly.

    For pharmacy school, there isn't an advantage of one over the other.
  9. ilovePharmD2

    ilovePharmD2 2+ Year Member

    Mar 2, 2008
    I debated between Biology, Biochemistry and Chemistry. I'm leaning more towards chemistry because i would love to work in a pharmaceutical company if i end up not getting into pharmacy school. I don't know if i can work with a pharmaceutical company with Bio or Biochemistry. Does anyone think differently?
  10. IrishRxMan

    IrishRxMan 2+ Year Member

    May 1, 2008
    We have two profs that worked in industry before signing on to my school. I can ask them if you want. I know one has their PhD in something other than a science though.
  11. ilovePharmD2

    ilovePharmD2 2+ Year Member

    Mar 2, 2008

    please do and let me know. thanks.
  12. chibipinkbunny

    chibipinkbunny 2+ Year Member

    Feb 1, 2007
    San Francisco
    I was a chem major before pharmacy school so maybe I can help you out. Well if you're a chem major you have to take the basics. Organic Chemistry for Chem majors, Inorganic Chemistry, and Physical Chemistry. I don't know what the program is like at your school, but at mine, chemistry majors had to take physics for engineers, and math classes that include Calculus I, Calculus II, Vector Calculus, Differential Equations, and Linear Algebra. You were also required to take a Chem lab, so I took Nuclear Chemistry, and Nuclear Chem lab. I took the bare basics for Chemistry though because I realized 3/4 of the way through that I would have enjoyed biology, or psychology better. If you like math, and physics then go ahead, but if you're not keen on it than you may want to reconsider.
  13. dovebar

    dovebar Guest

    Jun 20, 2006
    i know this isn't relevant...but biochem is harder than bio. i got a biochem degree and i think i had to work 2-3 times harder to get a good grade in there than a bio class. if you're picking one or the other and still want to have a life during college pick bio. higher gpa=better chance of pharmacy school good luck
  14. pdang

    pdang 7+ Year Member

    Jun 26, 2007
    true, i also have a degree in biochem. i know what you mean
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2008
  15. cinnamoroll12

    cinnamoroll12 5+ Year Member

    Dec 16, 2007
    Me three. ;) Based on my personal opinion, I have to say that chem is harder than biochem.
  16. PearLBenzene

    PearLBenzene Accepted Pharmacy Student 2+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2008
    Me four!!!! I would have to agree that upper level chemistry is harder than biochem. But I found biochem to be more interesting and essentially more helpful to what a pharmacist would need to know.

    Physical chemistry? A bunch of ridiculous mathematical equations. Seriously, will i ever use it again? of course not.
  17. ReggaeRx

    ReggaeRx 2+ Year Member

    Jan 6, 2008

    I would have to disagree with you. Biochem was my undergrad major, and I was faced with the same decision between chem and biochem. I must say that biochem as a major is very demanding in the amount of upper-level courses that has to be done. You will be taking maybe only 2 or 3 chem classes less than a chem major along with a lot of bio classes.
    While this may differ with schools, this was my experience at my school and there were a number of people in my year who switched their major back to chem, as biochem was too grueling.

    However i agree that biochem as a major is probably the best fit for any student going into pharmacy or health sciences.And i also believe that adcoms think the same way, eventhough they say they view the majors equally. But I would go with what best fits your abilities and what classes you enjoy the most. As in the end your grades probably matter more than all of that, who knows!

    Good luck, and study hard.:)
  18. GatorRxGirl

    GatorRxGirl 5+ Year Member

    Sep 23, 2005
    Somewhere on the beach.
    It isn't that ridiculous. I LOVED pchem.

  19. PearLBenzene

    PearLBenzene Accepted Pharmacy Student 2+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2008
    I guess it depends on the school. Most people that dropped out of biochem at my university did it because of the chemistry courses, not biochem. By all means I was not trying to make it sound like a cake-walk. Biochem is a very difficult major! But possible.
  20. panzer

    panzer 2+ Year Member

    Jul 8, 2007
    I can attest to the fact as chemistry is the reason I am thinking of switching to biology which I will also do in a shorter time. As for pharmacy school, you can still do a bio major and fit in biochem for future relevance. I think one should receive credit for it even as a biology major as it is an upper level course. I haven't done it yet so I can't say for sure.

    Seriously, I thought there would be less chemistry than what it is in the biochem major. Also, how does physical chemistry help in pharm school? To me, it is more of an overkill than any real benefits..
  21. PearLBenzene

    PearLBenzene Accepted Pharmacy Student 2+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2008
    Don't biology majors have to take one or two biochem courses anyway? Like a non-majors one or something?

    And yes, there was more chemistry in a biochem major than I anticipated too.
  22. cinnamoroll12

    cinnamoroll12 5+ Year Member

    Dec 16, 2007
    Actually at my school, bio majors such as human bio/general bio and biochem majors are almost exactly the same, but differ by two classes. All of these majors require metabolic biochem. Biochem major requires extra classes such as structural biochem and cell bio.
  23. ReggaeRx

    ReggaeRx 2+ Year Member

    Jan 6, 2008

    I agree that it definitely depend on the school, as someone else mentioned that biochem was very similiar to the bio program at their school while for me that was the opposite, biochem was apart of the chem dept. and coursework heavily reepresented chem.

    I was not trying to say you are making it sound easy. I am only trying to inform the owner of this blog that if they attend a school where the biochem major is more chem focused, there might not be a lot of differences between the # of chem classes they have to do. As was my experience where I took only 2 or 3 less chem classes than a chem major.
  24. madvillain

    madvillain 2+ Year Member

    May 8, 2008
    biochemists here have to take the same courses as chem majors minus the higher up ones like inorganic and instrumental analysis (i believe).. they take more bio and biochem classes though (obviously)

    basically biochem majors are just people who cant handle the mathematics that chem majors are required to do:D :laugh:

    but really it just depends on which you like more... if you dont like math as much and like biology, do biochem. biochemists here only go up to calc 3 whereas chem majors go up to calc 4 and linear analysis
  25. I am healthily obsessed with these mathematical equations that you refer to, which leads me to my next point and question...

    1)I love the study of the biological processes of organisms.
    2)I love the study of substances on a molecular/atomic level.
    3)I love the "chase" of mathematics

    I am interested in all of these things equally among each other.

    What about me, and people like me, who can "handle" all of these? Would taking biochem be logical from the "happy medium" perspective? Should I double major? But then it leaves something out, and I have never heard about a triple major.

    I guess biochem is the happy medium, so, with all due respect for mister madvillain, I would have to disagree, and humbly ask for further advice on this subject.

    The end (in the context of my career goals in the medical field) is generalized, obviously, so the means is what I am interested in finding out (hopefully as early as possible)
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2009
  26. Ackj

    Ackj 7+ Year Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    For my school, there's no actual biochemistry major, but its "chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry."

    If you take that route, you dont need to take calc 3, differential equations, spectroscopic identification, or quantum. Instead you take gen bio 1+2, genetics, and cell bio, along with biochem 1+2.

    Not a whole lot different, but biochem seems to be more work, considering you're still taking physical 1+2 and analytical 1+2 either way.
  27. krystal2812

    krystal2812 5+ Year Member

    Feb 29, 2008
    Maybe we r in the same school, Ackj. lol. I working on chemistry major, concentration in biochemistry, too. Yea. It's not much different than chem major. We don't have to do pchem lab but we did one year of pchem lec. We don't need the upper division of analytical but we did at lower level. However, chem major only need to take one semester of lec biochem. We did 5 courses (3 lec and 2 lab).
  28. matt48

    matt48 5+ Year Member

    Jan 2, 2009
    Biochem is my major. It's not a mix or a hybrid between biology and chemistry like everyone said. To me, biochemistry is a totally seperate field from both biology and chemistry. You learn about the chemical mechanism of the biological processes in plants/animals and from that knowledge you can analyze various biochemical pathways.
  29. My N

    My N

    Apr 15, 2014
    What does major in chemistry with concentration in biochemistry look like? Does it more of chemistry than biology ?

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