Chemical Biology Major

Program Overview

The major in Chemical Biology addresses the growing interest that many biologists have in the molecular aspects of biology and the increasing emphasis that many chemists place on the significance of chemical interactions and reactions in biological systems. The mission of the major in Chemical Biology is to provide students with an inter-disciplinary and thorough training in both biology and chemistry so that they can understand and investigate the chemical processes that take place at the molecular level in living systems. Chemical Biology majors take a wide variety of chemistry and biology courses with the flexibility to focus on particular areas of their own interest. All students majoring in Chemical Biology engage in faculty-directed independent research projects as part of the major requirement. This gives students the opportunity to apply the principles that they have learned in the classroom and laboratory to the solution of real world scientific problems. In doing research, students gain hands-on experience in the use of state-of-the-art instrumentation, data analysis and interpretation. Students have presented their research at local and national conferences and in journal publications.

A major in Chemical Biology provides a strong academic background for students interested in pursuing graduate, professional and industrial careers at the interface between chemistry and biology. Students in the major benefit from the presence of pharmaceutical, chemical and biochemical industries, and many strong graduate and professional programs in the Philadelphia region. Chemical Biology majors have gone on to careers in cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, pharmacy and pharmacology, medicine, biotechnology, forensic science and neuroscience.

Learning Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: Students will gain an appreciation of the integration of chemistry and biology to solve scientific problems. 

Objective 1.1: Students will use fundamental chemical principles such as molecular structure, bonding, and interactions, stoichiometry, kinetics, equilibrium, and thermodynamics to understand and explain biological systems, processes, and structures.

Objective 1.2: Student will demonstrate knowledge of biochemical pathways used by living organisms to provide energy and macromolecules for synthesis.

Objective 1.3: Students will understand the biochemical underpinnings of how organisms respond to changes in their environment.

Goal 2: Students will understand the role of chemical properties in biological systems and processes.

Objective 2.1: Student will describe the molecular mechanism of evolutionary change and genetic variation at both the cellular and organismal levels.

Goal 3: Students will acquire research experience through faculty-supervised independent projects in chemistry or biology.

Objective 3.1: Students will search the literature for published work relevant to a problem of interest.

Objective 3.2: Students will use, in a "hands on" environment, chemical tools and instrumentation to study and solve problems involving chemical and biological systems, processes and structures.

Objective 3.3: Students will analyze data, including data reduction, presentation, and interpretation.

Goal 4: Students will effectively communicate scientific information.

Objective 4.1: Students will develop cogent, well structured, and researched written and oral   presentations of scientific content.

The traditional undergraduate programs include 40 courses distributed across three components: A General Education component divided into Signature Courses, Variable Courses, and an Integrative Learning requirement; a Major and Divisional component; and Free Electives. In addition to course requirements as specified in each area, students must complete one certified course in each of the following overlay areas:

  1. Diversity, Globalization or Non-western Area Studies,
  2. Ethics Intensive, and
  3. Writing Intensive. Overlay requirements are part of the forty-course requirement.

General Education Signature Courses

See this page about Signature courses. Six courses

General Education Variable Courses

See this page about Variable courses. Six to Nine courses

MAT 155Fundamentals of Calculus3
or MAT 161 Calculus I
Natural Science
Select one of the following:
General Physics II
and General Physics Laboratory II
University Physics II
and University Physics Lab II

General Education Overlays

See this page about Overlays.

General Education Integrative Learning Component

See this page about Integrative Learning Component. Three courses

BIO 101Bio I: Cells4
Select one of the following:
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry Lab I
General Chemistry Honors I
and General Chemistry Lab I
Select one of the following:
General Physics I
and General Physics Laboratory I
University Physics I
and University Physics Lab I

GEP Electives

At least six courses

Major Concentration

Fourteen courses

Select one of the following:
Applied Statistics
Applied Calculus II
Calculus II
BIO 102Bio II: Genetics4
BIO 201Bio III: Organismic Biology4
Select three of the following:
Advanced Cell Biology
Light and Electron Microscopy
Molecular Genetics
Applied&Environmental Micro
Molecular&Cellular Biophysics
Bacterial Pathogenesis
CHM 125General Chemistry II3
or CHM 126 General Chemistry Honors II
CHM 125LGeneral Chemistry Lab II2
CHM 330Instrumental Analysis3
CHM 330LInstrumental Analysis Lab2
CHM 210Organic Chemistry I3
CHM 215Organic Chemistry II3
CHM 210LOrganic Chemistry Lab I1
CHM 215LOrganic Chemistry Lab II1
CHM 320Physical Chem for Chem Bio3
Select one of the following in-depth Chemistry courses:
Biophysical Chemistry
Environmental Chemistry
Mechanisms in Organic Chem
Tech Applications of Chemistry
Organometallic Chemistry
Water Chemistry
Adv Biochem: Inorganic Chem
Select one of the following:
and Biochemistry Lab
Select one of the following:
Undergraduate Research in Bio
Undergraduate Research in Bio
Junior Research I
Junior Research II
Senior Research I
Senior Research II

A Chemical Biology major must register for Chemical Biology Seminar each semester as a junior and a senior.