Biochemistry program

MUndergrad major

Learn the chemistry behind living things.

Biochemistry is the study of molecules used by living things, as well as how these molecules can be used to develop new products and solve problems. As a biochemist your future could be in the growing biotechnology industry or in graduate or professional school in areas such as pharmacy or medicine. Biochemists have the knowledge and skills to take these diverse directions and many more.

UWL's biochemistry major is accredited by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which allows the program to offer a prestigious ASBMB-certified bachelor of science degree in biochemistry. UWL biochemistry graduates often find themselves choosing among several good job offers. They are also highly attractive to graduate and professional programs.

Biochemistry jobs

Many biochemistry students pursue careers in the health professions, biotechnology industry or government laboratories, working in areas such as drug design, vaccine development, biological assays, and protein or genetic engineering. Employment surveys show that biochemistry majors are the primary candidates recruited by biotechnology companies. Biochemistry graduates also may continue their education in doctoral programs.

Chemistry-related occupations and chemistry-related industries are projected to grow in the state, according to the Department of Workforce Development. The median pay of chemists and materials scientists in 2021 was $79,760 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Entry level

  • Research chemist with the Centers for Disease Control
    Government scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Industrial chemist managing pollution control
  • Science policy advocate for a non-profit organization
  • Chemistry professor (with further education)
  • High school science teacher (with teacher certification)

Further education

  • Medical or other professional study in pharmacy, veterinary medicine, nuclear medicine, optometry, dentistry and more
  • Graduate study in cell and molecular biology, systems biology, genetics, genetic counseling, developmental biology, analytical chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, material science, polymer chemistry, biomedical engineering and more
  • Law school (example: patent law)
  • Industrial management training
  • Graduate study in business

What distinguishes UWL's Biochemistry program?

Prestigious ASBMB-Certified B.S. degree in biochemistry

The UWL Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is fully accredited by both the American Chemical Society-Committee on Professional Training (ACS-CPT) and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). These recognitions acknowledge the quality program, staff and facilities of the department, and they enable the program to offer prestigious ASBMB-Certified degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry, along with several other degree options.

Student scholarships available

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry awards student scholarships annually to support returning undergraduate students in the major and graduates of the program who are entering a professional program in the basic sciences and/or health professions. 

Undergraduate research opportunities

Students have numerous opportunities to get involved in cutting-edge chemical, biochemical, and educational undergraduate research projects. In 2019-20, the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department had the highest percentage of students participating in undergraduate research at UW-La Crosse. Summer undergraduate research fellowships are also available to conduct research with a faculty member. Learn about the research interests of faculty.

Preparation with technical and soft skills

Students are given broad preparation with both technical and soft skills. This leads to graduates who are flexible and creative problem solvers who can adapt and thrive as their career advances. Students gain real-world skills including:

  • Problem solving
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Independent learning
  • Data organization and analysis
  • Mentoring
  • Project management
  • Clear and concise writing
  • Public speaking
Experiential learning opportunities for all majors

Students gain 300 hours of hands-on, practical laboratory experience with specialized scientific equipment.

Make connections with other students

Students have opportunities to connect and enjoy fun and informative experiences through the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club.

One-on-one advising

Students in the program benefit from a comprehensive and inclusive approach to academic and career advising. Each student is assigned a departmental staff member to provide coordinated and focused academic and career planning. This approach empowers each student to make decisions compatible with their interests.

Internships available

Students are encouraged to participate in internship experiences, which may be taken for academic credit. They offer practical experiences in the field, and, in some cases, are paid. Campus support is available to help find internships through UWL Career Services and Handshake.

High percentage of graduates successfully pursue doctoral degrees

The Chemistry & Biochemistry Department currently has over 250 student majors. Each year, over 30 students graduate with bachelor of science degrees in chemistry or biochemistry. Typically, 30-50% of graduating seniors apply to, and are accepted by graduate programs at major research universities where they pursue doctoral degrees in chemistry or related areas.

Co-author with faculty

Students routinely co-author professional presentations ​and publications with chemistry faculty members. Students often present their research at regional and national meetings. Examples of co-authored research include:

  • Roskam JL, Nowak KL, Taylor KT, Rendler SR, and Beyer KD. (2021) Phase diagrams of aqueous solutions of the potassium salts of malonic, succinic, and glutaric acids. The Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics. 158: 106466-106477.
  • Stuttgen GM, Grosskopf JD, Berger CR, May JF, Bhattacharyya B, and Weaver TM. (2020) Closed fumarase C active-site structures reveal SS Loop residue contribution in catalysis. FEBS Letters. 594(2); 337-357.
  • Thielen MK, Vaneerd CK, Goswami M, Carlson EE, and May JF. (2020) 2-aminobenzothiazoles inhibit virulence gene expression and block polymyxin resistance in Salmonella enterica. ChemBioChem. 21(24): 3500-3503.
  • Macedo LJA, Miller EN, and Opdahl A. (2017) Effect of probe-probe distance on the stability of DNA hybrids on surfaces. Analytical Chemistry. 89(3): 1757-1763.
Excellent pre-health choice

The Chemistry Department had 223 total majors in fall of 2022 with 42% of those majors indicating they are on the pre-health track, looking to future careers in healthcare fields.

Sample courses