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Undergraduate Catalog

2012 - 2013

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Gregory F. Burton, Chair
C-104 BNSN, (801) 422-4917

College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Advisement Center
N-179 ESC, (801) 422-6270
1112 TMCB, (801) 422-4214

Admission to Degree Program

All degree programs in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry are open enrollment. However, special limitations apply for teaching majors.

The Discipline

Chemists and biochemists study the fundamental processes that govern the natural world, including atomic structure and how atoms interact to form molecules and materials. They study the mechanisms of chemical processes, including those that underpin living systems such as the transfer of information from DNA to RNA to proteins. They work to develop simplifying models (theories) that permit the correlation and explanation of observations about the behavior of matter. Chemical principles are fundamental to the understanding of subjects ranging from the molecular biology of life to the structure of rocks and minerals. Chemistry and biochemistry provide an essential foundation for the medical sciences, engineering (especially chemical engineering), electronics, energy, environmental sciences, materials science, pharmacy, and virtually all manufacturing processes.

Chemistry and biochemistry are active branches of science that are vital to human existence. Inasmuch as the field embraces all aspects of the material world, it is subdivided into five areas of interest. Examples of these diverse areas include the regulation of protein synthesis, cellular signal transduction at the molecular level and proteometrics (biochemistry), design and synthesis of medicinal compounds (organic chemistry), design and synthesis of new molecular structures and materials (inorganic chemistry), spectroscopic study of energy transfer and molecular structures (physical chemistry), and analysis of medicinal compounds, biological materials, and contaminants or trace elements found in the environment (analytical chemistry).

Chemistry and biochemistry involve far more than test tubes and beakers. They include sophisticated methodologies such as recombinant DNA technology, working with a variety of instruments such as mass spectrometers, calorimeters, chromatographs, ultracentrifuges, lasers, X-ray diffractometers, electron microscopes and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, all of which are used by undergraduate chemistry and biochemistry students at BYU. Computers also play an important role in these disciplines, with applications varying from simulation of molecules and the collection and analysis of data.

Career Opportunities

Graduates in chemistry and biochemistry obtain positions in virtually every industry, and those who have imagination and intellectual curiosity are in particular demand. The disciplines also provide an excellent preprofessional course of study for those interested in medicine, dentistry, law, and business. The chemistry and biochemistry curricula are both rigorous and intellectually rewarding.

Graduation Requirements

To receive a BYU bachelor's degree a student must complete, in addition to all requirements for a specific major, the following university requirements:

  • The university core, consisting of requirements in general and religious education. (See University Core for details. For a complete listing of courses that meet university core requirements, see the current class schedule.)
  • At least 30 credit hours must be earned in residence on the BYU campus in Provo as an admitted day student
  • A minimum of 120 credit hours
  • A cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • Be in good standing with the Honor Code Office

Undergraduate Programs and Degrees

Students should see the department office for help or information concerning the undergraduate programs.

Graduate Programs and Degrees

    MS in Chemistry
    MS in Biochemistry
    PhD in Chemistry
    PhD in Biochemistry

For more information see the BYU 2012–2013 Graduate Catalog.

General Information

Required High School Preparation
  1. It is recommended that a student complete the following courses in high school:
    • 3 units of English.
    • 2 units of physical science, chemistry, and physics.
    • 4 units of mathematics, consisting of 2.5 units of algebra, 1 unit of geometry, and 0.5 unit of trigonometry. This should qualify students to begin college mathematics with Math 112, analytic geometry and calculus.

      Because mathematics provides the foundation for all work in the physical and mathematical sciences, particular attention should be paid to high school preparation in this subject.

      To decide which mathematics course should be taken first, contact the Mathematics Department, 292 TMCB, and request a mathematics placement test.

  2. All students, especially freshmen and those transferring, should contact the department between March and August each year for advisement about efficient course scheduling and opportunities for student employment.

Kenneth W. Brighton, H. Tracy Hall, Ida Tanner Hamblin, and other scholarships are available to qualified chemistry majors.