Biochemistry is the perfect choice for students interested in careers in industry, teaching, graduate school programs or even pre-professional programs. Biochemistry is an increasingly desirable background for a variety of careers.

The biochemistry major at Central is housed within the chemistry department, which is certified by the American Chemical Society. Students receive instruction comparable to that at larger institutions while benefiting from individualized attention and a broad liberal arts background.

Central offers two undergraduate biochemistry degrees to meet the goals and interests of its students — a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree.

The B.S. in biochemistry provides an ACS-certified curriculum with substantial research experience for a variety of careers including biotechnology, pharmacology, research and agricultural chemistry. A B.A. in biochemistry provides a solid chemistry core within a flexible curriculum for careers in medicine, optometry, dentistry, sales or teaching.

The Central Difference

Which Degree Is Right for You?

Central offers the option of either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and biochemistry. They are equally challenging at Central. The major courses are the same for both degrees and students in both tracks take their classes together. The pre-requisite courses to enter the major are the same. It’s the structure of the degrees that are slightly different.

The Bachelor of Science degree emphasizes lab work, hands-on experience and independent research. This degree is recommended for those intending to delve intensely into a technical or research-related career or graduate school for research. It typically has a higher level math requirement.

The Bachelor of Arts degree, with less required lab work, emphasizes a broad education and provides more flexibility than the Bachelor of Science degree. The Bachelor of Arts degree is recommended for those intending to enter law school, earn a teaching certificate or work in sales or business. It typically requires proficiency in a second language.

Success Secrets of a National Scholarship Winner

“The greater the risk, the greater the reward,” says 2020 Goldwater Scholar Katie Wang ’21.

Research Opportunities

Besides internship opportunities, you'll be encouraged take responsibility for a research project. Faculty are involved in many ongoing projects and always willing to help nurture new ideas for research. Current projects include the study of mushroom extracts on cells and organic molecules that bind with phosphorylated compounds.

State-of-the-Art Equipment

You'll have direct access to classrooms and laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation and presentation technology, including:

  • 300 MHz Bruker NMR
  • Spectrum Rx Perkin Elmer ATR-FTIR Spectrometer
  • HP 6890 GC with an HP 5973 quadrapole mass selective detector
  • HPLC series 1100 with UV-Vis detector
  • Two HP 6890 gas chromatographs with TCD

A Glowing Endorsement

Central is one of only seven Iowa private colleges and universities with a chemistry program endorsed by the American Chemical Society.

Off-Campus Experiences

Central students can study off-campus — both internationally or domestically in the United States. These opportunities give students the chance to prepare to be global citizens, equipped to compete in the global job market. Students can check out experiences led by Central faculty or attend select academic programs across the world that provide opportunities for study, service, internships and other types of experiential learning. Options include experiences in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Central America, Ghana, England, the Scottish Highlands and more.

Beyond Central

Putting the “Hire” in Higher Education

  • Amy Philavanh ’22, Quality Control Specialist, Kemin Industries
  • Aiyana Rouse ’21, Quality Control Laboratory Technician, Mark Anthony Brewing Inc.
  • Katelyn Wang ’21, Surgical Assistant, Oral Surgery
  • Nicole Del Re ’20, Chemist – Innovation and Sustainability, Siegwerk
  • Erich Thalacker ’18, Software Engineer, Google
  • Taylor Sanders ’17, Internal Medicine Resident, MercyOne
  • Rachel Atherton ’14, Family Medicine Physician, Bellin Health
  • Cory Keller ’13, Quality Assurance Supervisor, T. Marzetti Company
  • Elsie Rankin ’13, CLS Chemist, Kemin Industries

Three Central Students Awarded Latinos Unidos of Iowa Scholarships

Latinos Unidos of Iowa awarded scholarships to three Central College students.


  • Bio-Chem Club
  • SCATE (Students Concerned About The Environment)
  • Health Professions Club

Graduate Placement

Thanks to rigorous coursework and top-notch professors, 94 percent of Central students were admitted into their first or second choice graduate school. Whether you are interested in biochemistry, molecular genetics or a health profession, Central can help you achieve your career goals.


Students with internship experience have a proven track record in a professional environment, which often leads to employment following graduation. About 76 percent of Central students complete an internship or pre-professional experience before graduating, which means you can get a head start on your career!

Central College student

Courses & Faculty

The chemistry department offers a strong foundation in concepts, coursework and laboratory skills in organic, analytical, inorganic, physical and biochemistry. The curriculum, certified by the American Chemical Society, means graduates are ensured the strong scientific background and the research opportunities needed for graduate school or careers in chemistry or the health professions.

The department also offers students flexible course options in order to incorporate off-campus experiences, research and other liberal arts interests during their four years on campus.

Learn more about this discipline in the course catalog.

Meet the Faculty

  • James Dunne, B.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • Ashley Garr, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • Mary Ross, B.S., Ph.D., Lecturer of Chemistry
  • Jim Shriver, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry
  • Jay Wackerly, B.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry

Sample Coursework

First Year

  • General Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Introduction to Cells
  • Calculus I

Sophomore Year

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Physics

Junior Year

  • Biochemistry
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Genetics

Senior Year

  • Microbiology
  • Physiology
  • Histology


Learn More

Want to find out more about Biochemistry at Central? Contact us to learn more about this discipline and our other strong academic programs.

Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.


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