Frequently Asked Questions

What is Biochemistry?

Biochemistry is using chemical techniques and practices to understand biological systems. Being a biochemist requires extensive training in both biology and chemistry. Students who study biochemistry are in demand in biomedical research, the pharmaceutical industry, and medicine.

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I am interested in becoming a Biochemistry major at Villanova. Can you tell me more about your program?

The best way to learn about our program is to come to visit. We would schedule a visit for you where you would meet with faculty and students, and learn about Biochemistry at Villanova.  Current Villanova students interested in the Biochemistry program should contact either program co-director, Dr. Janice Knepper or Dr. Jennifer Palenchar.

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Can I sit in on a class?

Absolutely! Let us know when you would like to visit us, and we can suggest one or more chemistry or biology classes that would give you an idea of what to expect if you would come here as a student.

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Is there any financial aid specific for Biochemistry majors?

All financial aid awards are made through the University Financial Aid office. The Biochemistry Program does not have any funding for financial aid, and is not involved in financial aid decisions.

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Can you send me a course syllabus?

We can usually provide syllabi for specific courses. The best way to get this is to contact the Program directors by email (see contact information above); we will send your syllabus as a PDF file.

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There are several Biochemistry courses offered by the Chemistry Department. How are they different from one another?

The Biochemistry courses offered by the Chemistry Department are:

  • CHM 4611 - Survey of Biochemistry is a one semester course designed to give an overview of structural and metabolic biochemistry. The course provides an introduction to biochemical principles to Biology, Comprehensive Science, or premedical majors. This course should not be taken by Biochemistry majors, and is not recommended for students preparing for graduate programs in biomedical research.
  • CHM 4601 - Survey Biochemistry Lab accompanies CHM 4611 - Survey of Biochemistry . The course provides an introduction to biochemical techniques.
  • CHM 4621 - Biochemistry I: Structure and CHM 4622 - Biochemistry II: Metabolism are a two semester biochemistry sequence designed to provide an in-depth study of biochemistry. The sequence is very similar to the first year biochemistry course taught in medical or dental school. The sequence is required for Biochemistry majors and concentrators, and recommended for Chemistry and Biology majors.
  • CHM 4603 - Biochem Tech. and Pract. accompanies CHM 4621 - Biochemistry I: Structure and CHM 4622 - Biochemistry II: Metabolism . CHM 4603 is taught with CHM 4622, but is a double laboratory course that gives experience in techniques in both structural and metabolic biochemistry.
  • CHM 4623 - Biochemistry III is a capstone course for the Biochemistry major. Taught in seminar format, the class reviews and discusses recent literature in a breaking field of biochemistry. Lately, the course has concentrated on topics associated with RNA Biochemistry.

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Do I have to take the lecture and laboratory components of a course together, or can I take them separately?

Since the lecture and laboratory components of our courses complement each other, we strongly recommend that you take the lecture and lab components at the same time. We can make exceptions to this depending upon the circumstances, but this requires the approval of the Department Chair or Assistant Chair. Contact the Chemistry Office if you have any questions or would like to seek approval to take one part of the course without the other.

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Which courses are offered in the summer?

We offer the survey Biochemistry course, CHM 4611 - Survey of Biochemistry . The accompanying laboratory course is not available in the summer. For a complete list of summer offerings, check the Summer program website at

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Which upper division Biology courses may be taken?

You may take only courses for which you have the appropriate prerequisites, or obtain the permission of the instructor. We envision most students taking BIO 4205 - Cell Biology , or BIO 3595 - General Microbiology .

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How does the Biochemistry program award use advanced placement credit?

Advanced placement credit in the Arts and Social Sciences are accepted, with students receiving the appropriate credit as free elective credit. Students should refer to the Enchiridion for specific information regarding acceptable AP scores and the resulting course credit. Students receiving an AP score of 4 or 5 in either Calculus A or Calculus B/C are given course credit for Calculus I and II (MAT 1500 and MAT 1505) and need not take these courses to fulfill the Biochemistry major requirements.  Students will have to complete one additional MAT course to fulfill core requirements. Students receiving an AP score of 4 or 5 on the Biology exam receive credit for Biology I and II (BIO 2105 and 2106) and will be placed into upper level biology courses. Students receiving an AP score of 4 or 5 on the Chemistry exam will receive credit for General Chemistry I and II (CHM 1151/03 and 1152/04) and will be placed into upper level Chemistry courses. Students receiving an AP score of 4 or 5 on the Physics exam will receive credit for Physics I and II (PHY 1100/1101 and PHY 1102/1103) and need not take additional Physics courses at Villanova.

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Villanova Biochemistry at a Glance

mendel science center

Degrees Offered: BS

Core Faculty: 14

Undergraduate Majors: 100 (each incoming class has approximately 25 students)

Equipment: Complete array of modern instrumentation.

Building:  Mendel Science Center