Skip Navigation

Careers and Graduate Education Requirements

Biochemistry Major Career Paths
Graduate Programs in the Biomedical Sciences – entry requirements 
Pre-health professional school – entry requirements

Biochemistry Major Career Paths

moleculeThe Biochemistry major provides excellent training and experience as an entrée to a large number of career paths. Career opportunities open to majors include research, health sciences, biotechnology, education, government service and scientific administration. Graduates with Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees can find employment as research technicians, science teachers, editors of scientific books, journals, and newsletters.

Many majors opt for careers in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, optometry, pharmacy, podiatry and audiology. The major provides complete preparation for application to these schools of the health professions. With a Bachelor’s degree majors can also apply to schools of nursing, respiratory care, clinical laboratory sciences, physical and occupational therapy.

Research-related careers for biochemistry majors at the Bachelor’s or Master’s level include pharmaceutical, biotechnology companies, and government laboratories such as the National Institution of Health, Interior Department, and Homeland Security.

Some biochemistry majors opt for careers in academic research and teaching or industrial research. The major prepares students to apply to a variety of Doctoral programs in biochemistry, structural biology, molecular biology, genetics, and public health.

The biochemistry degree can be combined with advanced degrees such as an MBA, MS in Chemistry or Public Health. Some majors have chosen paths in finance, law, journalism, forensic science or administration.

Careers in Biochemistry and Cell Biology – Degree requirements
Academic Independent Research PhD
Biotechnology: Stem cell Development, therapeutics, diagnostic reagents,
Drug discovery
NIH, USDA, Interior, FDA, US Public Health, eDC, Military, etc BS, MS, PhD
University PhD
College, Community College MA, MS, PhD
Secondary School BS, MA, MS, PhD
Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Optometry, Pharmacy, Podiatry, 
MD, DO, DDS, DBM, PharmD, OD, AuD
Public Health MS, PhD in Public Health
Forensic Science BS, MS
Patent and Environmental Law BS, LLD
Journalism and Science Writer BA, BS, MA, MS, PhD
Financial BA, BS + MBA
Government, Medical, Industrial Science Administration  
NIH, NSF, Interior Dept, FDA, Public Health, CDC, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical companies, reagent and diagnostic companies BA, BS, MA, MS, PhD

Graduate School Entry Requirements

To be successful in graduate school, you must be curious, independent, and self-motivated. In contrast to undergraduate education, which is dominated by faculty determined content laden lectures, graduate education demands student hypothesis driven exploration. For this reason, many students find graduate studies exciting and liberating. Entry into PhD programs in the biomedical sciences is dependent upon research experience and letters of recommendation, grade point average (GPA), and Graduate record exam (GRE) scores, GRE subject scores may also be required or can enhance your application. Entry into Master’s level programs may not require GREs or research experience and are a good training option for students that have not had significant research experience, developed independence, or for students that were late academic bloomers. For information on the  Stony Brook Master’s program in Biochemistry contact Dr. Neta Dean (, director of the Master’s in Biochemistry program. For help finding research experience at Stony Brook, refer to the Biochemistry Major section on  independent undergraduate research.

Since research progress and publication of data is central to completion of the PhD thesis, there is no set time limit for a PhD program. However, in the biomedical sciences the PhD training period typically ranges from 5-7 years. Because of the significant time investment, it is important to carefully select a graduate program that fulfills your training requirements, meets your research interests, and stimulates your curiosity. In order to select appropriate graduate programs, first identify the areas within Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Genetics, Developmental Biology, etc that your would like to explore in depth through inquiry and research. Then, identify graduate programs that meet your requirements.

There are many web-based tools to help you identify programs including:  Peterson’s Guide to Graduate EducationPrinceton ReviewPhD.orgGraduate Guide, and  Embarkdesigned to identify graduate programs based on degree programs, location, and program rankings.  US News and World Report also provides program rankings and articles on finding the right graduate school. In selecting graduate programs to apply to, it is important to establish whether program faculty in your areas of research interest are actively pursuing research and publishing and will have the ability to take on new graduate students. Literature searches and email inquiry will help you to answer these questions. Never go to a school where there is only one person working in your area of interest; when you get there their lab may be full; they may have left or retired or they may have decided to leave science and become an itinerant musician. Discuss your possible graduate programs with your Stony Brook faculty research mentor or other faculty members to help narrow down your list of programs to 5-6 schools. Most good science PhD programs in the biomedical sciences should pay you a stipend and give you a tuition waiver.

Pre-Health Professional School Entry Requirements

The biochemistry major more than meets the entry requirements for graduate schools of the health professions and biomedical science. More importantly, the biochemistry major provides students with exceptional preparation for the rigorous curriculum of the first year of medical, dental, veterinary medicine, optometry, audiology, pharmacy, podiatry schools, and graduate studies in the biomedical sciences. For more information click  here.

Education Requirements for: Audiology, Dentistry, Medicine (allopathic and osteopathic), Optometry, Pharmacy, Podiatry, and Veterinary Medicine:

One year of biology with lab
One semester of Biochemistry*
Two years of chemistry (general and organic) with labs
One year of physics with lab
One year of college mathematics, with at least one semester of Calculus
One semester statistics
One year of English
Courses in Psychology and Sociology

In addition: Optometry schools usually require one semester of statistics and one to two semesters of psychology. Veterinary schools usually require microbiology and biochemistry. Some pharmacy schools want biochemistry, microbiology, human anatomy & physiology, speech communication/public speaking and courses in macro/microeconomics.

Admittance/aptitude examinations:

Dental Schools: Dental Aptitude Test (DAT), 19-20 out of 30 on each of 6 parts.
Medical Schools: Medical College Admittance Test (MCAT), 70% %tile or higher.
Optometry Schools: Optometry Aptitude test (OAT), 330-350 out of 400
Pharmacy schools: Pharmacy college admissions test (PCAT), 600 out of possible 800.
Veterinary Medicine Schools: Graduate Record Examination (GRE), 80th percentile on each part.

Competitive grade point averages (GPA): minimum of 3.5-3.6.

Evidence of “Humanness”, knowledge of the profession, and leadership:

Volunteer activity, extracurricular activities including campus and/or community service, leadership in some activities. Research is not required, but valuable as evidence of analytical ability and ability to solve problems.

Top of Page