Chemical Biology Major

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.

Goal 1: Students will understand the role of chemical properties in biological systems and processes. 

Outcome 1.1: Students will understand and be able to describe biochemical processes of living organisms and the role of macromolecules in these processes.

Goal 2: Students will gain knowledge of problems at the chemistry-biology interface and learn the molecular approaches utilized to solve these. 

Outcome 2.1: Students will acquire an in-depth understanding of fundamental chemical and biological principles to apply quantitative reasoning to biological problems and their solutions.

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

Outcome 3.1: Students will be able to design an experiment, use modern instrumentation for data acquisition and processing in laboratory courses and in independent research.

Goal 4: Students will effectively communicate scientific information.

Outcome 4.1: Students will search the literature for published work relevant to a problem of interest and be able to develop cogent written and oral presentations of scientific content.

The traditional undergraduate programs includes a minimum of 120 credits 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 areas1:

  1. Diversity, Globalization or Non-western Area Studies,
  2. Ethics Intensive
  3. Writing Intensive, and
  4. Diversity

Overlay requirements are part of the 120 credit requirements

General Education Signature Courses

See this page about Signature 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:
PHY 102
General Physics II
and General Physics Laboratory II
PHY 106
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 101
Bio I: Cells
and Bio I: Cells Lab
or BIO 150L Bio I: Cells Lab Phage
Select one of the following:
CHM 120
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry Lab I
CHM 121
CHM 120L
General Chemistry Honors I
and General Chemistry Lab I
Select one of the following:
PHY 101
General Physics I
and General Physics Laboratory I
PHY 105
University Physics I
and University Physics Lab I

Major Requirements 

Required Courses:
MAT 128Applied Statistics3-4
or MAT 162 Calculus II
BIO 102
Bio II: Genetics
and Bio II: Genetics Lab
or BIO 151L Phage Lab
BIO 201
Bio III: Organismic Biology
and Bio III: Organismic Biol Lab
CHM 125
General Chemistry II
and General Chemistry Lab II
or CHM 126 General Chemistry Honors II
CHM 330
Instrumental Analysis
and Instrumental Analysis Lab
CHM 210
Organic Chemistry I
and Organic Chemistry Lab I
CHM 215
Organic Chemistry II
and Organic Chemistry Lab II
CHM 320Physical Chem for Chem Bio3
or CHM 310 Physical Chemistry I
CMB 390Chemical Biology Seminar 10
Select three of the following:12
Advanced Cell Biology
and Advanced Cell Biology Lab
Molecular Genetics
and Molecular Genetics Lab
and Neurobiology Lab
and Immunology Lab
and Microbiology Lab
Applied&Environ Microbio
and Applied & Environ Micro Lab
Molecular&Cellular Biophysics
and Mol & Cell Biophysics Lab
and Biotechnology Lab
Bacterial Pathogenesis
and Bacterial Pathogenesis Lab
Select one of the following in-depth Chemistry courses:3
Chemistry of the Earth
Biophysical Chemistry
Medicinal Chemistry
Atmospheric Environmental Chem
Mechanisms in Organic Chem
Tech Applications of Chemistry
Organometallic Chemistry
Aqueous Environmental Chem
Inorganic Biochemistry
Select one of the following:3-4
Select one of the following: 23
Undergraduate Research in Bio
Undergraduate Research in Bio
Junior Research I
Junior Research II
Senior Research I
Senior Research II
Total Hours51-54

Students must register for CMB 390 each semester as a junior or senior (4 total).


The research requirement can also be satisfied with CMB 490 Introduction to Research and an in-depth Chemistry course or a Biology elective course listed above.

Free Electives

At least six courses.