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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

B.S. in Biochemistry

General Information

Biochemistry is the study of the molecular basis of life. Lying at the interface between chemistry and biology, biochemistry is concerned with the structure and interaction of proteins, nucleic acids, and other biomolecules as related to their function in biological systems. As one of the most dynamic areas of science, biochemistry has led to improved medicines and diagnostic agents, new ways of controlling disease, and greater understanding of the chemical factors that control our general health and well-being.

The bachelor of science degree in biochemistry is appropriate for students pursuing advanced degrees in biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysics as well as in the biomedical fields and health professions.

Before declaring the biochemistry major, students must earn at least 30 credits in courses graded A-F at Syracuse, and earn at least a grade of C+ in CHE 275 and BIO 326 or 327.

See the Course Catalog for degree requirements.

Distinction in Biochemistry

Biochemistry majors are encouraged to participate in research through its BCM 460 course. For students whose research culminates in a written thesis, it is possible to graduate with Distinction in Biochemistry if the following requirements are met:

  • The student must have a transcript showing an overall cumulative GPA of 3.4, and must also have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.4 in all natural sciences and mathematics courses taken at S.U.
  • The student must have taken a minimum of 6 credits of BCM 460.
  • Before completion of the final semester at Syracuse University, the student must make a presentation (either poster or oral) based on his/her research, at one of the following: (1) the Capstone Project Presentation in the Honors Program; (2) the Syracuse University Biology Department Undergraduate Research Conference in April; (3) an external conference sponsored by an outside (non-S.U.) educational institution with its own accredited 4-year biochemistry degree program; (4) an external conference sponsored by a nationally-recognized scientific society with a biochemistry component (e.g. ACS, FASEB, Biophysical Society). A symposium specifically designed for undergraduate researchers from multiple institutions and sponsored by a regional or local chapter of a national scientific society is understood to qualify as external, even if it is physically located at Syracuse University.
  • The written thesis must be judged to be of high quality by a committee of readers selected from among the biochemistry program faculty listed in the Syracuse University Course Catalog. The student is responsible for selecting potential readers and obtaining their consent to serve. The committee of readers should include the research supervisor, but in any case must include at least one member whose primary appointment is in Syracuse University’s Biology Department, and one member whose primary appointment is in Syracuse University’s Chemistry Department. For further information, contact the biochemistry major advisors (James C. Dabrowiak, 315.443.4601, or Samuel H. Chan, 315.443.3182,

Scope of the Research Project:

It is recommended that students start their research as early as possible, but not less than three semesters before graduation. The amount and scope of the research required will vary somewhat with the specific problem studied. It is highly unlikely that students beginning research in their senior year will be able to amass enough data, and have the time to prepare a high quality thesis that meets the requirements for the degree with distinction.

Distinction Proposal Form:

A completed Distinction Proposal Form must be submitted to the Chemistry or Biology Department office in the semester prior to graduation. Submission deadlines are as follows:

  • May graduates: February 1
  • December graduates: September 15

Thesis Preparation:

Students should begin drafting chapters of their thesis and reviewing them with the research advisor in the fall of their senior year (May graduates). Toward the end of the spring semester after the advisor and the student have a revised draft, the thesis should be submitted to the reader for additional comments and suggestions. A suggested timeline for thesis preparation is given below.

Suggested Timeline for May Graduation:

  • Feb 15th Submit completed draft to research advisor
  • Feb 16 - March 31st Confer with advisor and make necessary revisions
  • April 1st - April 20th Submit the revised draft to the reader and make the corrections suggested
  • April 20th - deadline Prepare final research thesis for submission
  • Obtain final approval and signatures from the advisor and reader
  • last Friday in April Submit final document (2 hardcopies + electronic)

Suggested Timeline for December Graduation:

  • Oct 1st Submit completed draft to research advisor
  • Oct 15 - Nov 15th Confer with advisor and make necessary revisions
  • Nov 15th - Nov 25th Submit the revised draft to the reader and make the corrections suggested
  • Nov 25th - deadline Prepare final research thesis for submission
  • Obtain final approval and signatures from the advisor and reader
  • first Wednesday in Dec. Submit final document (2 hardcopies + eleclionic)

Thesis Submission:

Two copies of the final approved thesis, with original signatures, must be submitted to the Chemistry or Biology Department office. An electronic copy must also be provided. One of the hard copies will be bound and returned to the student. Deadlines for thesis submission are:

  • May graduates: last Friday in April
  • December graduates: first Wednesday in December

Honors Students:

Biochemistry majors who are writing a thesis to fulfill the Capstone requirements of the Honors Program may use the same thesis for the Degree with Distinction in Biochemistry but the title page should be modified appropriately. See the Thesis Guidelines for formatting instructions.

Please see program directors to obtain required paperwork.


Program Faculty