Biochemistry graduate students study the chemical processes and transformations occurring in living organisms. They learn how to break complex biological systems into small parts and extract different chemical components for use in laboratory study.
written by Rana Waxman
Biochemistry graduate students may pursue careers in public and private organizations. Masters programs such as a Masters of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology exist for students interested in graduate work in this field.
Biochemistry graduate students should ideally possess the following qualities:
A Masters of Science in Biochemistry program usually requires 2-3 years to complete. Many schools offer thesis and non-thesis programs of study. Research project requirements are usually included in the curriculum. In many cases the student is required to pass oral and written examinations to complete their degree. A Ph.D. in Biochemistry program may take 5-7 years to complete. It is not always necessary to obtain a master’s degree prior to pursuing a Ph.D. Most Ph.D. programs are heavily focused on research. Many programs encourage graduate students to pursue publication of their research findings. In most cases students are required to pass an oral defense of their dissertation upon culmination of their research. Some biochemistry graduate students choose to pursue a career in medicine (M.D.) following completion of a graduate program.
Graduate courses vary among institutions; general courses may include the study of:
Biochemists have a variety of career options. Typically they will work in laboratories or offices focused on conducting experiments, analyzing experimental outcomes, and finding real world applications for scientific discoveries. Biochemists may pursue careers in the following industries:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual salary of biochemists and biophysicists in 2012 was $81,480. The top 10% of earners salaries exceeded $147,350 and the bottom 10% of earners salaries were below $41,430. Individuals working as druggists' sundries merchant wholesalers earned a median salary of $103,390, research and development professionals earned a median salary of $86,530, pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturers earned a median salary of $82,490, those employed by testing laboratories earned $74,230, and academic researchers earned a median salary of $52,990. The BLS projects that job growth for biochemists will be 19% between 2012 and 2022.