Skip Navigation


Molecules and Integration

Biochemistry arose from the fields of biology and chemistry to investigate biological molecules and understand how their interactions result in living systems. In today’s society, understanding in this discipline is essential for informed, critical thinking about many significant issues in science, health and public policy. Biochemistry is an ideal interdisciplinary major for students who want to get a broad scientific foundation, pursue a career in biochemistry or enter the health professions. Smith's biochemistry program has been awarded full accreditation by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)—one of approximately 60 colleges and universities in the country to receive this accreditation, and the only biochemistry program in the Five Colleges to have this distinction.


Congratulations to the graduating class of 2022!

Congratulations to all our graduating seniors. You persevered through the pandemic and crossed the finish line! We want to also celebrate your record 12 Honor thesis projects out of a graduating class of 20 majors. The 2022 biochemistry graduating class rocks!

Biochemistry Student Wins National Scholarship Award

Our own Ahlenne Abreu ('22) has been awarded one of the only ten 2020 Promega Diversification of Our Research Scientists (DOORS) Scholarship awards. This is a national competition with the mission to recognize and empower future life-science researchers. Congratulations Ahlenne!

Student Liaisons

Senior: TBA
Junior: TBA

Biochemistry Honors info and dates

At this link, please find the application instructions and important dates for 2022-23 BCH Honors.  This is for students graduating in May 2023.  If you intend to apply for Honors, be advised that the application deadlines are very early in the Fall semester. Get started asap!


All graduating biochemistry majors should be able to:

  • Summarize, explain and critically evaluate published scientific literature. This includes being able to identify the “big picture” ideas, what was known in the field prior to the work being described, and what new information the experiments contribute to the field.
  • Write and orally present biochemical content clearly.
  • Interpret and analyze data, employing rigorous quantitative skills when necessary.
  • Describe the process of scientific research. Be able to recognize and implement critical elements of experimental design (such as proper control experiments), recognize what conclusions can (and cannot) be reasonably be drawn from a given set of experimental results, and understand how to conduct research responsibly.
  • Locate and use valid, peer-reviewed sources when doing research.
  • Demonstrate a command of essential biochemistry content including knowledge of:
    • The structure and function of proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and lipids
    • Enzyme kinetics and inhibition
    • Metabolic pathways, including their chemical reactions, regulation and energetic driving forces
    • Replication, transcription, translation, gene expression and DNA repair mechanisms
    • The different levels of biological organization from single cells to whole organisms
    • How to carry out and explain the basis of important biochemical techniques

Because biochemistry builds on the fundamentals of both biology and chemistry, students who major in biochemistry begin by taking introductory courses in both of these fields. Biochemistry follows in either your second or third year, along with additional courses in cell biology, physiology, molecular biology and physical chemistry. More specialized courses can be selected according to students' individual interests.

Foundation Courses

Biological Sciences
  • BIO 132/133 Cells, Physiology and Development*
  • BIO 202/203 Cell Biology

*Exemption from BIO 132/133 may be obtained if you received advanced placement on your Smith College transcript for biology (e.g. AP, International Baccalaureate, A levels).

  • CHM 111/111L Chemistry I: General Chemistry*
  • CHM 222/222L Chemistry II: Organic Chemistry
  • CHM 223/223L Chemistry III: Organic Chemistry
  • CHM 224/224L Chemistry IV: Introduction to Inorganic and Physical Chemistry

Note: An equivalent sequence would be CHM 118/118L (Advanced General Chemistry), CHM 222/222L (Chemistry II: Organic Chemistry) and CHM 223/223L (Chemistry III: Organic Chemistry)

*If you received advanced placement on your Smith College transcript for chemistry, you are strongly encouraged to start the introductory chemistry courses with CHM 118/118L.

Upper-Level Courses

  • BCH 252/253 Biochemistry I: Biochemical Structure and Function
  • BCH 352/353 Biochemistry II: Biochemical Dynamics
  • BCH 335/336 Physical Chemistry of Biochemical Systems (or CHM 332 Physical Chemistry II)
  • BIO 230/231 Genomes and Genetic Analysis

Choose one:

  • BIO 200 Animal Physiology
  • BIO 204 Microbiology (*Instructor requires the lab, BIO 205, to be taken concurrently)
  • BIO 206 Plant Physiology (*Instructor requires the lab, BIO 207, to be taken concurrently)
  • ESS 260 and ESS 261 - Anatomy and Physiology I & II 


Choose one:

  • BCH 380 Seminar: Topics in Biochemistry
  • BCH 390 Biochemical Research Using Advanced Techniques
  • BIO 306 Immunology
  • BIO 310 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • BIO 317 Experimental Design in Bio-Molecular Engineering
  • BIO 322 Topics in Cell Biology
  • BIO 332 Molecular Biology of Eukaryotes
  • CHM 328 Bioorganic Chemistry
  • CHM 338 Bio-NMR Spectroscopy and Imaging
  • CHM 357 Selected Topics in Biochemistry
  • CHM 369 Bioinorganic Chemistry

Special Notes

The S/U grading option is not allowed for courses counting toward the biochemistry major with the exception of Special Studies BCH 400 or 400D which can only be taken S/U.

New for AY 2020-2021 only: one required course and its associated lab (if applicable) may be taken S/U and still count toward completion of the biochemistry major.  In consultation with their academic and/or pre-health advisor(s), students should carefully evaluate the possible downstream ramifications of taking a specific course S/U, since it may impact applications for graduate or medical training programs!


You are advised to complete all the following foundational courses before your junior year: BIO 132/133, BIO 202/203, CHM 111/111L and CHM224/224L (or just CHM118/118L), CHM 222/222L, CHM 223/223L, and BCH 252/253.

Majors are encouraged to include research in the form of a special studies (BCH 400, 400D) or honors project (BCH 430D, 432D) in their course of study.

First-Year Advising

Because the biochemistry major requires a sequence of courses with various prerequisites, it is recommended that you start the introductory chemistry sequence your first semester. Entering students are encouraged to see one of the biochemistry advisers with any questions they have about the major. You are encouraged to attend the Presentation of the Major, scheduled in the fall, where you can meet current majors and the biochemistry faculty.

Major Advising

There are many ways to complete the major. All majors are strongly encouraged to complete the following foundation courses in the first two years:

Fall Spring Fall Spring
CHM 111 or CHM 118 CHM 222 CHM 223 CHM 224
BIO 132/133 (or in spring) BIO 132/133 (or in fall) BIO 202/203 BCH 252/253

How you complete the remaining requirements depends on your individual goals. Discuss with a biochemistry adviser the best pathway to choose if you are interested in studying abroad, planning graduate study or planning to fulfill prehealth requirements.

Study Abroad

Biochemistry majors frequently spend either a year or semester abroad. Consult early with your academic adviser and the program's Study Abroad adviser (Cristina Suarez) to plan ahead for this experience.

If you are considering studying abroad, be sure to contact advisers in the Office for International Study to review additional details and credit requirements.

Graduate School

The biochemistry major offers a strong academic and experimental background for entrance into graduate school. The major will prepare students to enter molecular and cellular biology graduate programs. Students interested in graduate programs in biological chemistry will find it also advantageous to choose the biochemistry major. Students planning graduate study in biochemistry or molecular biology are advised to include a year of calculus and a year of physics in their program of study. Independent research is also highly recommended in preparation for graduate school.

Health Professions

The biochemistry major includes several of the requirements for entrance into the health professions, including two years of chemistry and one year of biology. The biochemistry course is also a requirement for several health professions (veterinary medicine and pharmacology) and is strongly recommended by the majority of medical schools. The microbiology course is required by nursing and veterinary medicine programs.


Director: Dave Gorin

You can choose to complete an honors thesis during your senior year. An honors student receives 8 to 12 credits for completing a substantial research project in the laboratory of a faculty member.

You will write a thesis and are required to give a formal oral presentation of your honors research. In addition, you will present and discuss your thesis in a closed meeting with the program faculty. This oral examination includes a short presentation on the project, followed by a discussion of your thesis and related material with the biochemistry faculty.

In order to enter the honors program, you must have a GPA of 3.3 in the major and GPA of 3.0 outside of the major. You may apply no earlier than the end of your second semester junior year and no later than the beginning of the first semester of your senior year. Application guidelines and forms are available on the class dean's website and should be submitted to the biochemistry honors director for approval by the program committee.

The final honors designation (highest honors, high honors, honors, pass or fail) will be based upon an evaluation of the written thesis (50 percent), honors examination (20 percent), and the GPA in the major (30 percent).

Application Deadlines for the AY 22-23 can be found here.

Preparing for a career in the health professions allows you to pursue a liberal arts education—majoring in any area of study—while also taking a subset of important courses.

Health profession schools (e.g., schools of human and veterinary medicine, dentistry, optometry, nursing and public health) are interested in the overall quality and scope of your undergraduate work. All health profession schools require certain undergraduate courses, which can be taken within a liberal arts program.

The biochemistry major includes several of the requirements for entrance into the health professions including basic chemistry and biology courses. The biochemistry course is also a requirement for certain health professions (veterinary medicine) and is strongly recommended by the majority of medical schools. The microbiology course is required by nursing and veterinary medicine programs.

For more information visit the prehealth website.

Planning Ahead

Schools of human, veterinary medicine and dentistry all require two semesters each of:

  • biology (and labs)
  • general chemistry (and labs)
  • organic chemistry (and labs)
  • physics (and labs)
  • English

Some of these schools also require or recommend additional courses in:

  • biology
  • anatomy and physiology
  • mathematics (statistics and calculus)
  • biochemistry
  • a foreign language
  • social sciences
  • public speaking

*Nursing schools and schools of public health do not require all of the laboratory courses listed above. Instead, they require statistics, some laboratory courses and specific social science courses.


Preparing for a career in a health profession varies from individual to individual, so we urge you to make use of the many resources available, including your premajor or major adviser, members of the Board of Prehealth Advisers and the staff at the Lazarus Center for Career Development.

Lunchbag Seminars

The board hosts regular lunchbag seminars focused on a variety of prehealth and health professions topics.


We are an energetic community dedicated to the promotion and advancement of biochemical and molecular biology education. You will find in the program a diverse number of curricular offerings ranging from proteomics and genomics to enzymology, pharmacology, and bioinformatics.

Smith College Catalog
Smith's online course catalog includes course listings (description, instructor and offered terms), department data, information on majors and minors, honors programs, and cross-listed and interdepartmental courses. A search function allows you to find courses by course number, department, keywords in the title, term offered, number of credits, fields of knowledge, and professor.

Five College Course Guide
The Five College consortium increases your choices. Four liberal arts colleges—Smith, Amherst, Hampshire and Mount Holyoke—along with the University of Massachusetts, offer joint courses of study as well as certificate programs in interdisciplinary fields. Courses are available at no extra cost to Smith students.

Electives offered during the next academic year:
Fall 2022

  • BIO 322 - Seminar: Topics in Cell Biology - Synthetic Biology & Bionanotechnology (Nathan D. Derr)

Spring 2023


You can receive academic credit by completing a special studies with a biochemistry faculty member or a biochemistry-related project with a faculty member outside the program (subject to approval).

Students who elect to do special studies can receive from one to five hours of course credit in a given semester for completion of an independent research project that is performed in a faculty member's lab. Culmination of the research is marked by a written report, usually in the form of a manuscript draft, a laboratory report or as a scientific poster. For some students, their research has formed the basis of a publication in a peer-reviewed journal or has been presented at a national meeting. Contact a faculty member directly to specifically discuss the opportunities.




Faculty Research

The faculty in biochemistry offer research opportunities in their specific fields of interest. To learn about the research interests of our faculty, read each professor’s bio and contact them directly for more information about current opportunities.

Check out a sample of theses/dissertations done by students in the biochemistry program at ScholarsWorks.


Center for Molecular Biology

The Center for Molecular Biology (CMB) has state-of-the-art molecular biology instrumentation and provides first-class support for molecular biology research, training and education of all interested faculty, staff and students at Smith College, and supports educational outreach in local schools.

Center for Proteomics

The Center for Proteomics (CFP) provides educational workshops and seminars on various topics in proteomics, bioinformatics and biological mass spectrometry with a focus on the state-of-the-art high-performance, tandem mass spectrometry and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis instrumentation.

Center for Microscopy and Imaging

The Center for Microscopy and Imaging (CMI) maintains and provides access to multiple light and electron microscopes. They provide training and access and offer consul on experimental design, data acquisition and data analysis.

Smith College Resources

Young Library
Online journals, publications and search engines

Smith Science Center Safety webpage

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Resources

American Chemical Society resources

Search for, or compare sequences of, proteins or DNA for similarity

Database of enzymes, searchable by name, number, function, co-factors, etc.

Enzymatic Pathways
Find enzymatic pathways by enzymes or metabolites

ExPASy Tools
A great collection of tools for protein modelling and sequence/structure analysis

ExPASy Swiss-PdbViewer
Source to download free protein structure display and manipulation software

ExPASy Swiss-Prot and TreMBL
One of the best databases of protein sequence/structural analysis

Entrez Protein Query
Search protein sequence and structure databases

National Center for Biochemical Information
A collection of useful links

Programs to align and compare multiple protein sequences (excellent), predict secondary structure (no worse than any other), and other useful functions

Protein DataBase
The collection of protein structures

Protein Explorer
A powerful, yet easy-to-use molecular visualization program.

Search engine for Medline literature database

Biochemistry Celebrates Its 60th Anniversary

Smith’s biochemistry department was established in 1957 and is the oldest interdisciplinary major at the college. To celebrate its 60th anniversary, the department organized a series of events, including a keynote address and an alumnae roundtable.


Program in Biochemistry

Ford Hall, Room 255B
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: 413-585-3804
Fax: 413-585-4534

Program Director: Cristina Suarez

Administrative Assistant: Sarah Lanzoni

Mailing address:
Program in Biochemistry
Smith College Clark Science Center
100 Green Street
Northampton, MA 01063