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A degree in biochemistry prepares you to contribute to a variety of life science and engineering disciplines including human or veterinary medicine, pharmacy, agriculture and sustainability, metabolic engineering, and synthetic biology.

For over fifty years, we've engaged the best and brightest in the Department of Biochemistry at Virginia Tech. Faculty in our department have expertise in humans, animals, plants, and microbes, which share the majority of their biochemical pathways. We feel strongly that a well-educated biochemist is prepared to deal with the biochemistry of any organism. Our dedication to providing a high-quality degree program for our students is reflected in our current ranking as the fourth top land-grant Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biochemistry program in the United States.

In 2021, we were named a University Exemplary Department Honoree because of our ability to develop and sustain academic community engagement activities for student well-being and a sense of belonging. We were able to do this through initiatives to transforming student advising, innovating curriculum, refining experiential learning and meeting student challenges and expectations. You can read more about this award below.

What is Biochemistry?

Biochemistry is the branch of the life sciences devoted to understanding the molecular mechanisms by which life's processes take place. Biochemists take a deeper look into the cellular and molecular composition of different organisms to better understand biological processes. A biochemist must not only be able to describe chemical processes, but apply that knowledge to biological and living systems that affect everyday life. Across disciplines, scientists work to answer questions about life and the world around us. Students in our department receive fundamental education in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics and many of our students go on to pursue post-baccalaureate studies in graduate, medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy school. 

Is Biochemistry the right major? I am interested in...

Student observing a sample with forceps in lab

Where medicinal chemistry investigates the synthesis or creation of molecular compunds, biochemists investigate how drugs are metabolized within the body. Biochemists understand how different compounds function inside the body, setting a foundation for those interested in pursuing a career in drug development. 

Student holding a pipette under a fume hood in lab

Because of their strong background in biology and chemistry, biochemists can use their knowledge as a foundation to conduct scientific research. Researchers use techniques such as gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry to identifiy chemical and biological problems and propose solutions. Within the biochemistry program, students will take knowledge from lecture-based classes and apply it to lab work. Students are also highly encouraged to engage in undergraduate research.

Erlenmeyer flask on a hot plate

A background in biochemistry can also be applied to the field of forensic science. Forensic scientists are responsible for analyzing evidence from a crime scene. Using lab techniques to analyze such evidence, forensic scientists relay findings and contribute to criminal investigations. Possible careers include DNA analysts, forensic toxicologists, and forensic pathologists.

Student observing a 3D model of a molecule on a computer

Bioinformatics is the cross between statistics and biology, using computational and mathematical models to understand biological systems. Computational biochemistry, which overlaps frequently with bioinformatics focuses on the theory and experimental simulation of biological molecules and processes. At the intersection of biology, chemistry, computer science, and physics, computational biochemistry analyzes biochemical mechanisms, functional genomics, protein structure-function, computer-aided drug discovery, and more. Students within our biochemistry program have the opportunity to take electives in computational biochemistry and engage in research.

Student observing a sample through a microscope

Biochemistry is the study of the chemical processes of living organisms - including humans. Biochemists ask the how and why behind the functions of the human body to address problems in medicine. Regardless of one's specific interest in medicine, a background in biochemistry can provide the neccessary foundation for those looking to attend medical school and pursue a career in medicine.

Student observing wells under a microscope

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in empahsis on the study of infectious diseases. Through the understanding of the chemical processes of life, biochemists can analyze how pathogens disseminate and spread throughout populations. Research in this area is not only crucial to better understand pathogens that currently affect the world, but essential to protect populations from future infectious diseases and promote vaccine development.

See what recent graduates of our program had to say

If you're wondering why students chose our biochemistry program here at Virginia Tech over numerous programs around the nation, read their stories below. 


Have you made your final decision?

No matter where you are in the process of finding the best program and university for you, we're here to support you. If you're ready to join Hokie Nation, you can apply now. Still need convincing? Visit us in-person or virtually or connect with one of our biochemistry peer mentors to answer any questions you might have.