Online Biochemistry Degrees
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Biochemistry sits at the intersection of biology and chemistry, applying the theories and methods of chemistry to phenomena in biology. Students who enroll in a biochemistry program can pursue several a career in several fields, including education, health, industry, and public service. Additionally, an undergraduate degree in biochemistry prepares them for research in graduate programs related to biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysics, among others.
Those with a degree in biochemistry typically focus their research in concentrations such as membrane structure and function, protein biochemistry, molecular biology of gene regulation, DNA repair, and reproductive biology. Biochemists and biophysicists earn an average median salary of $82,180, and the field is growing faster than the average among all U.S. occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017). Additionally, those who obtain biochemistry degrees may find positions as analytical chemists, biotechnologists, clinical research associates, forensic scientists, and physician associates, among many other professions.
In the past, traditional, brick-and-mortar colleges were the only options for educating aspiring biochemists. These days, however, there’s been a rise in online biochemistry degree programs from reputable institutions, particularly at the graduate level. These distance-based degrees have the benefit of offering relative flexibility with the time and place students can complete their coursework, research, and assignments. It’s important to note that due to the essentially hands-on nature of scientific disciplines such as biochemistry, a majority of these online programs require in-person practicums or intensives completed either on campus or in approved facilities close to a student’s home.
Read on to discover what to expect from an online biochemistry degree, including the coursework, tuition, and three outstanding professors in this in-demand field.
Professors to Know at Universities with Online Biochemistry Programs
Barbara Fortier is a program manager at the University of New England, and she has more than 12 years of experience in classroom teaching with students in grades six through the undergraduate level. She earned a master’s degree in marine science and physical oceanography from the University of New England and a master’s in geosciences from Mississippi State University. Her bachelor’s degree is in education from Lesley University. While a graduate student in the marine sciences department at the University of New England, Fortier studied freshwater discharge from the Saco River in southern Maine. She began her current role as the program manager in 2015, where she assists students with all aspects of completing the requirements they need to enter health occupations graduate programs.
Dr. Gaudet teaches molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University. She obtained her doctorate in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University and her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the Université de Montréal in Canada. She also completed postdoctoral work at Harvard University where she has worked as a professor in molecular and cellular biology since 2002. Dr. Gaudet’s primary research area is the structural biology of membrane proteins. While conducting her research, she uses biochemistry and X-ray crystallography to glean critical insights into the molecular mechanisms of signaling and transport proteins. These play an essential role in hearing, immunity, neuronal development, and pain reception.
Dr. Kurian is a lecturer at University of North Carolina Wilmington in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He earned his doctorate from the University of Maine, his master’s from Mahatma Gandhi University in India, and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Calicut in India. He is one of the newest faculty members at UNCW; he came on board in August 2017 after having taught at Carroll College in Montana and St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. Dr. Kurian completed a postdoctoral research position at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he worked on catalytic mechanisms in NiSOD and Ni trafficking in E. Coli and Helicobacter pylori.
Admissions Requirements for Biochemistry Programs
While every biochemistry program has different admissions requirements, many schools have overlapping policies.
For undergraduate admissions, typically, high school graduates with no previous college experience will need to submit their official transcript, show proof of completing certain courses, and rank in a certain percentage of their graduating class. Those who have attended college elsewhere will need to obtain and submit an official copy of the transcript from each school. Most schools also require a minimum grade point average in previous college coursework.
For master’s degree programs, a common requirement is the completion of an undergraduate degree as well as several years of work experience in a biological field. Students will also likely need to submit their GRE score along with several letters of recommendation.
Online Undergraduate Programs in Biochemistry
Because of the intense research focus of biochemistry, most people entering the field have a graduate degree or more. However, everyone needs to earn their bachelor’s degree before they can register for a graduate program. Below is one school that offers an undergraduate degree in biochemistry exclusively online.
To earn this degree, students must complete 120 credit hours and 42 courses. Each online course lasts 7.5 weeks. Students will study the chemical processes of all living organisms to prepare them for further study in graduate school or dental, medical, or pharmacy school. While transfer credits are accepted, at least 30 of the 120 credits must come from Arizona State University. Examples of coursework include calculus for engineers, general chemistry, general physics, social-behavioral sciences, and organic chemistry. Some of the highest-paid careers for graduates of this program include pharmacist, clinical trial manager, compliance manager, health sciences manager, hydrogeologist, marketing manager, pharmacist, and wind energy project manager.
- Location: Tempe, Arizona
- Accreditation: North Central Association of Schools and Colleges
- Tuition: $12,834 per year
- Program length: Two to four years, depending on transfer credits
Online Graduate Programs in Biochemistry
For those who have begun their higher education in biochemistry, a graduate degree is helpful, if not necessary, for many jobs in this field. Below are two featured master’s programs in biochemistry or related fields.
This master’s degree program in chemistry allows students who have an undergraduate foundation in chemistry to increase their knowledge in chemistry through coursework, in-depth study, and independent research. However, about one-third of the program’s full-time graduate students do not have traditional undergraduate degrees in chemistry. The program can be completed with 36 credit-hours, 21 of them in chemistry. Additionally, nine credits must come from the student’s area of specialization either in business, clinical research, or education. The final degree requirements include six credits from any graduate courses and a comprehensive research project approved by the student’s advisory committee. Examples of chemistry courses include mass spectrometry, organic chemistry, and molecular modeling. Business course options for this degree include accounting, information analysis, economics, corporate finance, and marketing. Students in the program also have the opportunity to teach undergraduate labs and mentor students in research. There is no on-campus requirement to complete the program.
- Location: Wilmington, North Carolina
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
- Tuition: $578.25 per one to two credits for North Carolina residents or $2,229.25 per one to two credits for non-North Carolina residents
- Program length: Two years
This 30-credit program in biochemistry provides students with a thesis and non-thesis option. Some of the required courses include biochemistry, the biochemistry of cancer, medicinal chemistry, and molecular biology, but students can also broaden their knowledge of chemistry through optional courses in biochemistry of obesity and diabetes, forensic chemistry, and toxicology. To enroll in the program, students need a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry or a related field from an accredited school, completion of several chemistry prerequisite classes, and two letters of recommendation. If approved to submit a thesis, it counts as three of the 30 credits. Non-thesis students must pass a comprehensive exam after completing 24 or more credits. The program is designed for working professionals and offers flexible options for all online courses.
- Location: West Hartford, Connecticut
- Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- Tuition: $699.00 per credit
- Program length: Two years
Other Online Programs in Biochemistry
Traditional undergraduate and graduate degree programs are not of interest to everyone. A refresher course might be a good option for those who are unsure about whether biochemistry is the right track for them, as well as for those who have not worked in this field for several years. A short-term certification program might be more interesting to professionals who simply wish to extend their knowledge into a new specialization in biochemistry. Below are a few options of other online biochemistry programs.
Harvard University offers a free, non-credentialed course in principles of biochemistry that introduces students to the biochemical approach to cellular functioning as well as the structure of macromolecules. Some of the topics studied include the manipulation of pathways and enzymes with drugs or mutations, protein functions within enzyme kinetics, and major metabolic pathway characterization as they connect with highly regulated networks. Students explore topics that range from simple red blood cells to complex liver and muscle tissues. The final goal of the class is to gain a better understanding of the link between metabolic disturbances and diseases in humans.
- Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- Tuition: None, but a certificate of verification available for $199
- Program length: 15 weeks
This two-course certificate prepares students for the MCAT and medical school, or simply allows students to expand their biochemistry knowledge. The first course, the foundations of biochemistry, is offered in the fall and covers bioenergetics, membranes and water, enzyme mechanisms, fundamental energy conversion pathways, methods in protein biochemistry, protein-mediated cell signaling, and protein structure and function. The second course, metabolic biochemistry, is offered in the spring and covers biochemistry of photosynthesis, DNA and RNA metabolism, and metabolism of amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, metabolism, and nucleotides. Students may begin the program with either course as one is not a prerequisite for the other.
- Location: Tucson, Arizona
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- Tuition: $650 to $1,332 per unit
- Program length: Nine months
The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Miami has created an online executive doctorate program for current scientists who want to remain employed while completing it. The degree is also appropriate for non-academic scientists working in the fields of biochemistry, biotechnology, molecular biology, medicine, or nanotechnology. Students can benefit from distance learning platforms and streamed lectures, but they will also perform research at the institution where they are employed. To complete the doctorate program, students must take the required courses, perform dissertation research, pass a qualifying exam, visit campus every year to present their research as a poster, and pass a dissertation examination.
- Location: Miami, Florida
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
- Tuition: $1,960 per credit
- Program length: One year
The online biochemistry course at the University of New England is a good choice for students applying to admission to a health program who have not yet completed a biochemistry prerequisite. Some of the health fields that students have entered when completing this course include dental medicine, medicine, nursing, physical therapy, physician assistant, and veterinary medicine. The four-credit-hour course is completely online and teaches the foundations of clinical medical sciences so that students can learn the core concepts of biochemistry that apply to human health and disease. The course is self-paced, allowing full flexibility for students.
- Location: Portland, Maine
- Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission
- Tuition: $1,360
- Program length: 16 weeks
Accreditation and State Authorization
When a school is accredited, it means that an outside agency has reviewed the courses, admission requirements, professors, programs, and all other aspects of the school or program and found them to be of quality. The accrediting body typically consists of college professors and others in education without a tie to the school receiving the accreditation.
Although accreditation is voluntary, most employers and colleges do not accept coursework from a student who attended a non-accredited institution. It is the student’s duty to ensure the value of his or her educational dollar by enrolling in accredited universities. Schools can apply for regional accreditation, program accreditation, or both.
The following are some of the major regional accrediting boards:
- Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission
- North Central Association of Schools and Colleges
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Programs may also seek programmatic accreditation, where the accreditor reviews and accredits programs that meet defined quality criteria. The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is the major accrediting board specifically for biochemistry programs.
As a final note, the Higher Education Act introduced the concept of “state authorization” many decades ago. It means that a school needs to earn authorization in the state where it is located to receive federal student aid under Title IV. Schools also need to apply for authorization in each state where it wishes to grant degrees. This accounts for the difference in tuition for residents and non-residents, as well as for why students residing in some states may not be able to enroll at the online college of their choice. To ensure program eligibility, students are encouraged to check out state authorization pages (e.g., University of Miami) or contact admissions officials.