What is Biochemistry?

Biochemistry is the discipline in which scientists combine chemistry and biology to investigate living systems and their relationship to the environment. A biochemist is concerned with what effects the environment, diseases, foods and chemicals have on living things. Biochemists develop methods for testing, run the tests, and write reports about the results of the tests. The testing is to develop new technologies, treatments, medicines and vaccines for treating diseases and reducing other environmental concerns.

At UCSB, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry conducts studies in an exceptionally wide range of areas including:

  • The electronically excited states of atoms and molecules;
  • Ion structure and reactivity;
  • The synthesis of new organic molecules with medicinal properties;
  • Theoretical descriptions of atoms and molecules in the solid, liquid, and gas phases;
  • Light-induced chemical reactions;
  • The synthesis and characterization of novel materials;
  • The chemistry of neurological processes;
  • Proteins and protein assemblages of cellular processes;
  • The mechanisms by which molecules undergo chemical change in organic, inorganic, and biological systems;
  • Polymer synthesis and characterization;
  • Conformation and energetics of polypeptides and DNA/RNA oligonucleotides.

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Biochemistry?

Students who like to invent and enjoy thinking in quantitative and mathematical terms may be interested in biochemistry. Likewise, students who can break complex questions into a series of less complicated questions that can be answered through experimentation should consider the biochemical sciences. A student interested in biochemistry may also like to perform experiments or is inquisitive about how things work.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the undergraduate advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

Biophysical Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry
The RNA World
Membrane Biochemistry
Post-translational Protein Processing
Magnetic Resonance in Biological Systems
Enzyme Mechanisms

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.


General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?

Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be.  The following list provides only a handful of possibilities.  Biochemistry majors with strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in many fields.  Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study options include:

Physical Chemist
Research and Development 
Research Assistant
Biological scientist
Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist
To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
O*Net Online
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Come visit the Career Resource Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.

See what other UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn


Graduate and Professional Schools

Click on "Graduate School" for information on how to choose a graduate school, how to pay for graduate school, how to survive and flourish in graduate school. 
This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

This is a databse to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Come to the Career Resources Room to view the CHOICES lab version of graduate schools.

Experience Search Strategies

UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers by Majors and Diversity.

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.

Science Careers 
Careers in Biochemistry nationally and internationally.

Simply Hired
Job options in biology and biochemistry that are updated frequently.

Biotech Employment
Database of jobs in the biotech industry

Job board for those interested in healthcare, pharma, and science

Professional Associations

The Biochemical Society
The Biochemical Society exists to promote excellence in research and education in the field of chemical bioscience.

Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine
ACB is a professional body dedicated to the practice and promotion of clinical science.

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
The Society's purpose is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through publication of scientific and educatinal journals.

American Association for the Advancement of Science
AAAS is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people.


UCSB Resources

Career Resource Room

UCSB General Catalog

UCSB Office of Student Life

UCSB Library - Chemistry and Biochemistry
Davidson Library subject guide for chemistry and biochemisty. Research assistance, subject guides, and useful resources compiled by your friendly librarians.

UCSB Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

UCSB Research
Research areas in Biochemistry and Biophysics.

UCSB Minors