BA in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

The Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (BMB) major provides students with a strong foundation in biology and chemistry followed by the opportunity to focus on particular aspects of these disciplines through electives and undergraduate research. Laboratory work is stressed throughout, since biochemistry and molecular biology are experimental sciences that require a broad range of practical skills. Upper-level courses emphasize state-of-the-art research and experimental techniques used to probe the structures and functions of biologically important molecules from the intracellular to systems levels. The BMB curriculum provides exceptional preparation for pursuing advanced degrees in the biomedical sciences as well as entering the biotechnology workforce. A dual-degree BA in BMB/MA in Biotechnology is available to students pursuing the BA in BMB.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate mastery of both fundamental and advanced concepts in Biology and Chemistry, with a strong focus on the molecular biological and biochemical components of these disciplines.
  • Demonstrate expertise in the scientific method, specifically the ability to apply the scientific method—which includes the critical assessment of the scientific literature, analysis of data, and use of modeling and simulation in their understanding and communication of the BMB discipline.
  • Attain the technical and/or analytical skills required for employment or postgraduate education in BMB or BMB-related careers, including professional careers and science education.

Requirements

All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in BMB will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning, as well as some of the requirements in the Intellectual Toolkit Capacity. In addition, the Historical Consciousness Hub Unit is earned through the required CAS BI 216/206 course. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, cocurricular experiences.

The BMB major requires a minimum of 14 biology and chemistry courses. Students must also complete a total of four related courses in math and physics.

A grade of C or higher is required in all courses taken for credit in the major.

Excluding Foundation Courses, at least five courses must be taken in the BU Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Program.

Course titles and full descriptions are located in the Courses portion of this Bulletin. Unless otherwise noted, all required courses are 4 credit hours.

Foundation Courses (7–9 courses)

Biology

  • CAS BI 108
  • CAS BI 213 recommended (or BI 203 or BI 218 (5 cr))
  • CAS BI 216 recommended (or BI 206)

Chemistry

  • Choose one of the following general chemistry sequences:
Sequence I (recommended) Sequence II Sequence III
CAS CH 109 &
CAS CH 110
CAS CH 111 &
CAS CH 112
CAS CH 101 &
CAS CH 102 & CAS CH 201 (2 cr)

AND

  • Choose one of the following organic chemistry sequences:
Sequence I (recommended) Sequence II Sequence III
CAS CH 203 (or CH 218) &
CAS CH 214
CAS CH 211
CAS CH 212
CAS CH 203 (or CH 218 (5 cr)) &
CAS CH 204 &
CAS CH 220 (2 cr)

Core Courses (4 courses)

  • CAS BI/CH 421
  • CAS BI/CH 422
  • CAS BI 552
  • CAS CH 525

BMB Electives (2 courses)

Choose two courses from the following list:

  • CAS BB 350^
  • CAS BB 351^
  • CAS BB 352^
  • CAS BB 450^
  • CAS BB 451^
  • CAS BB 452^
  • CAS BB 453^
  • CAS BB 522
  • CAS BI 311
  • CAS BI 315
  • CAS BI 385
  • CAS BI 410
  • CAS BI 411
  • CAS BI 413
  • CAS BI/NE 445
  • CAS BI/NE 455
  • CAS BI/NE 481
  • CAS BI 510
  • CAS BI 513
  • CAS BI/NE 525
  • CAS BI/NE 535
  • CAS BI 550
  • CAS BI 551
  • CAS BI 553
  • CAS BI/NE 556
  • CAS BI 560
  • CAS BI/NE 561
  • CAS BI 565
  • CAS BI 572
  • CAS BI 576
  • CAS BI 577
  • CAS BI/NE 589
  • ENG BF 571
  • GMS BI 751 (6 cr)*
  • GMS BT 432
  • GRS BI 735
  • GRS BI 753
  • GRS CH 625
  • GRS CH 626
  • GRS CH 634
  • GRS CH 648
  • GRS CH 724
  • GRS MB 722

^ Students can use one semester of 4-credit Undergraduate Research in BMB to fulfill a BMB elective if not using Undergraduate Research or Honors Research to complete the Advanced Lab elective. Please see Undergraduate Research Options section below.

*Students cannot get credit for GMS BI 751 and any of the following courses: CAS CH 373, CAS BI/CH 421, or CAS BI/CH 422.

Note: Other courses, including those in some study abroad programs, may fulfill BMB electives by petition, but students still need to adhere to the requirement for five BU Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Program courses.

Advanced Lab Elective (1–2 courses)

Choose one option from the following list:

  • CAS BI 513 or
  • CAS BB 522 or
  • CAS BB 401 and BB 402 or
  • Two of the following: CAS BB 450, BB 451, BB 452, BB 453

Note: A course cannot fulfill a BMB elective and the Advanced Lab elective requirement simultaneously.

Related Requirements (4 courses)

Mathematics/Computer Science

Choose a total of two courses from the lists below. At least one course must be calculus or statistics:

Calculus Courses
  • CAS MA 121
  • CAS MA 122
  • CAS MA 123
  • CAS MA 124
  • CAS MA 127
  • CAS MA 129
  • CAS MA 196

Note: Only one of CAS MA 121 and 123 can be taken for credit; similarly, only one of CAS MA 122, 124, 127, or 129 can be taken for credit.

Statistics Courses
  • CAS MA 115
  • CAS MA 116
  • CAS MA 213
  • CAS MA 214
  • CDS DS 100

Note: MA 113 will not satisfy major requirements. Students cannot take more than one of the following for credit: CAS MA 113, 115, or 213; similarly, students cannot take more than one of the following for credit: CAS MA 116 or 214.

Computer Science Courses
  • CAS CS 105
  • CAS CS 108
  • CAS CS 111
  • CDS DS 110

Physics

Choose one of the following sequences:

  • CAS PY 105 & 106 or
  • CAS PY 211 & 106 or
  • CAS PY 211 & 212 or
  • CAS PY 241 & 242

Undergraduate Research Options

Laboratory research is a central feature of the BMB program. In addition to structured lab courses, many students volunteer, work, or receive academic credit for research conducted in BMB faculty or outside labs. Students may receive academic credit for research through the Undergraduate Research in BMB program and the following courses require students to submit an online application and receive approval from the BMB Research & Honors Chair.

Standing (and any prerequisites) Credits earned Course
First Year 2 credits BB 140/141
Sophomore 2 credits BB 240/241
Junior and 0 Prior Semesters of Research 2 credits BB 340
4 credits BB 350
Junior and Prior Semester(s) of Research 2 credits BB 341
4 credits BB 351
Junior and (BB 341 or BB 351) 4 credits BB 352
Senior and 0 Prior Semesters of Research 4 credits BB 450
Senior and Prior Semester(s) of Research 4 credits BB 451
Senior and (BB 341 or BB 351 or BB 451) 4 credits BB 452
Senior and (BB 352 or BB 452) 4 credits BB 453

Notes:

  • Students should discuss what constitutes a “prior semester of research” with the Undergraduate Program Specialist in BMB when applying for research for credit.
  • Students must have a 3.0 GPA in BMB major courses to participate in Undergraduate Research in BMB.
  • Senior-level research (including Honors) can be used to satisfy the Advanced Lab elective if two semesters of research are taken.
  • Students can use one semester of 4-credit research to fulfill a BMB elective if not using research courses to complete the Advanced Lab elective.
  • Seniors may pursue Honors Research in BMB; see the Honors in the Major section below.

Please visit the BMB website for additional information on undergraduate research.

Honors in the Major

Honors Research in BMB requires senior standing and a 3.5 GPA (both overall and in BMB major courses). Students must complete two semesters of Honors Research (CAS BB 401 & 402) and two semesters of the Honors Seminar (CAS BB 497 & 498). In addition, Honors students must write and defend a senior thesis as well as present their research at the annual BMB Senior Symposium. Honors Research can be used to satisfy the BMB Advanced Lab elective if both semesters of research are completed.

Additional Information

Please see the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Program portion of this Bulletin for information on the following topics:

  • Advanced Credit (AP & IB Exams)
  • Intercollege Cross-Registration
  • Premedical Students
  • Program Residency Requirements
  • Study Abroad Programs