Welcome to the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology & Plant Pathology web site. If you have found your way here you must have some interest in the undergraduate or graduate programs offered by our department and/or are considering attending Mississippi State University and are "fact-finding" what different programs have to offer. In the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology & Plant Pathology, we offer an array of concentrations or degree specialization within the department, from forensic sciences to pre-professional programs such as medicine, dental, veterinary, business and pharmacy to bioinformatics concentrations. Our core curriculum is well-grounded in the life sciences and is designed to offer you a comprehensive education toward a degree that can be leveraged into a variety of careers in medicine, biotechnology, agriculture and research.
If you are interested in pursuing medical school at the completion of your undergraduate degree, biochemistry is a great major. A recent survey of medical school faculty, residents, and medical students gauge the importance of topics to a students' success in the current medical school curriculum. The survey found that biochemistry ranked as the most important discipline compared to other natural science curriculum. And we have designed our curriculum with medical school in mind. The curriculum will not only prepare you for the MCAT, but also medical school classes and medical school entrance requirements.
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Physicians and surgeons have demanding education and training requirements. Physicians typically need a bachelor’s degree, a degree from a medical school, which takes 4 years to complete, and, depending on their specialty, 3 to 7 years in internship and residency programs. Wages for physicians and surgeons are among the highest of all occupations, with a median wage equal to or greater than $208,000 per year. Overall employment of physicians and surgeons is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.
If attending dental school is on your horizon, you should consider an undergraduate degree in biochemistry with a pre-dental concentration. We have taken the guesswork out of what you should take, designing our curriculum to prepare you for the Dental Admissions Test and dental school classes.
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of the teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health. Dentists must be licensed in the state(s) in which they work. Licensure requirements vary by state, although candidates usually must graduate from an accredited dental school and pass written and practical exams. The median annual wage for dentists was $158,120 in May 2017. Overall employment of dentists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.
If you enjoy math and chemistry, pharmacy may be the career path for you. Pharmacists make good money, have flexible hours, are well respected, and have the ability to relocate. Pharmacy school typically requires only two to three years of college work for entry. However, four-year undergraduate programs can be of benefit to students and biochemistry graduates have been very successful in Pharmacy School and perform well on the Pharmacy College Admissions Test.
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and offer expertise in the safe use of prescriptions. They also may conduct health and wellness screenings, provide immunizations, oversee the medications given to patients, and provide advice on healthy lifestyles. Pharmacists must have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), a 4-year professional degree. They must also be licensed, which requires passing two exams. The median annual wage for pharmacists was $124,170 in May 2017. Employment of pharmacists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
The pre-optometry concentration will provide you the necessary tools to take the Optometry Admissions test and perform well in Optometry school. Optometrists are concerned with all aspects of the eye—the promotion of eye health and safety, vision care, and basic examinations of the internal and external parts of the eye. Expanding technology is creating new and exciting opportunities for optometrists.
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Optometrists examine the eyes and other parts of the visual system. They also diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed. Optometrists must complete a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree program and obtain a license to practice in a particular state. O.D. programs take 4 years to complete, and most students have a bachelor’s degree before entering such a program. The median annual wage for optometrists was $110,300 in May 2017. Employment of optometrists is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.
If research is your passion, the science concentration may be the perfect fit. Not only will you get well-grounded in biochemistry, the curriculum allows for specialization in cell biology, anatomy and/or physiology. Pair your course work with an Undergraduate Research Scholar program and you will be a scientist. This concentration is designed for students who wish to pursue graduate research at the completion of the undergraduate degree.
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and of biological processes, such as cell development, growth, heredity, and disease. Biochemists and biophysicists need a Ph.D. to work in independent research and development. Many Ph.D. holders begin their careers in temporary postdoctoral research positions. Bachelor’s and master’s degree holders qualify for some entry-level positions in biochemistry and biophysics. The median annual wage for biochemists and biophysicists was $91,190 in May 2017. Employment of biochemists and biophysicists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.
If you are a computer nerd but also love biology, bioinformatics may be the best path. A strong grasp of mathematics is essential in this concentration. Bioinformatics is fundamentally about the application of computer-based approaches to the understanding of biological processes. Today's technology has given us high-capacity analysis of genes and proteins which make it necessary to integrate informatics when solving biological problems.
O*Net Online: Bioinformatics scientists conduct research using bioinformatics theory and methods in areas such as pharmaceuticals, medical technology, biotechnology, computational biology, proteomics, computer information science, biology and medical informatics. May design databases and develop algorithms for processing and analyzing genomic information, or other biological information. The median annual wage for bioinformatics is $76,690. Employment of bioinformaticians is projected to grow 5 to 7 percent.
The pre-MBA is the perfect concentration for someone wishing to enter the biotech or agribusiness industry. Students in this concentration receive a strong biochemistry background matched with business courses. Students who complete this concentration are well-rounded and ready to tackle a master's in business administration or agribusiness management.
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Employment of business and financial operations occupations is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 773,800 new jobs. This median annual wage for business and financial occupations was $67,710 in May 2017.
Perhaps you've seen CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the television show that put forensic sciences in the spotlight. If you like solving problems and are interested in criminology, this concentration may be in your scope. There is something undeniably intriguing about searching for the evidence that could help solve a criminal case. The Forensic Sciences concentration will give you the tools you need to enter into a rewarding career.
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Forensic science technicians aid criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing evidence. Many technicians specialize in various types of laboratory analysis. Forensic science technicians typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in a natural science, such as chemistry or biology, or in forensic science. On-the-job training is generally required for both those who investigate crime scenes and those who work in labs. The median annual wage for forensic science technicians was $57,850 in May 2017. Employment of forensic science technicians is projected to grow 17 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.
If insects intrigue you then the entomology concentration will suit you well. Entomologists are needed in a variety of fields including agriculture, chemistry, biology, human/animal health, molecular science, criminology, and forensics. Entomologists detect the role of insects in the spread of disease and discover new ways to protect food and fiber crops, and livestock from being damaged. They also promote beneficial insects which contribute to the well being of humans, animals, and plants.
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Entomologists are categorized as zoologists by the U.S. Department of Labor. Entomologists need a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions; a master’s degree is often needed for higher-level investigative or scientific work. A Ph.D. is necessary to lead independent research and for most university research positions. The median annual wage for entomologists was $62,290 in May 2017. Employment of entomologists is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Plants are important to everything we enjoy about life. They feed us, oxygenate us, heal us, shade us and clothe us. Everyone needs plants. But sometimes even plants need a doctor. Plant pathologists study the diseases and disorders of plants including fungus, virus, and bacteria. This concentration is perfect for someone with a green thumb and an investigative spirit.
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Plant pathologists are categorized as soil and plant scientists by the U.S. Department of Labor. Plant pathologists need a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions. An average 7% job growth is expected through 2024. The median annual wage for plant pathologists was $69,170 in May 2017.
Students who wish to pursue veterinary college at the completion of their undergraduate degree should consider biochemistry. The curriculum is built for preparation for the rigorous of veterinary school and the Graduate Record Examination. A strong biochemistry background allows graduates of this concentration to perform well in their post-bacculareate studies.
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Veterinarians care for the health of animals and work to improve public health. They diagnose, treat, and research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and other animals. Veterinarians must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from an accredited veterinary college, as well as a state license. The median annual wage for veterinarians was $90,420 in May 2017. Employment of veterinarians is projected to grow 19 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.
The Biochemistry minor allows students to develop research skills needed to enter the science-related workforce.
The Entomology minor allows students to enhance their employment opportunities with a well-grounded understanding of insects.
The Plant Pathology minor allows students to enhance their employment opportunities with the skills needed to diagnose and treat plant pathogens.
Over 50% of Mississippi State graduates started out as transfer students, so we know how to make the transition as seamless as possible. For students that are considering transferring from another university or community college, be sure to check the Transfer Guide to ensure a smooth transition.
Students may apply for university, college and departmental scholarships through one application. You can find the scholarship application once you login to myState. Under the banner tab, select Financial Aid and Scholarships. The application is listed as Submit/Revise General Scholarship Application.
Undergraduate Program Advising
The Undergraduate Student Advising Guide details the programs and coursework required as part of the different concentrations within the Biochemistry Major.
Research and Internships
There are several ways students can get 'hands-on' research experiment. Students may apply for the Undergraduate Research Scholars program offered through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Students may also complete a summer internship or a Directed Individual Study (DIS) research experience on-campus. You may also find employment and opportunity working in the many laboratories in the department. Ask your professors if they are looking for student assistance. Research experience looks great on your resume, plus you have the opportunity to publish your findings. Most importantly, when interviewing for entry into professional schools (medical school, veterinary, etc.) research and internship experiences make great talking points and demonstrate a commitment to your field. In addition, laboratory or field-based research opportunities give you invaluable hands-on experience and a chance to apply what you are learning in the classroom. Please visit our internship page to learn more.
Career Opportunities and Professional School Information
Biochemists, molecular biologists, entomologists, and plant pathologies are employed in a variety of industries concerned with genetic engineering, human and animal nutrition, processing of foods, development of drugs and other medications, manufacture of chemicals for a wide range of uses, in ecological studies, and also in the area of sales for biochemical products. They also participate in laboratory research in universities and colleges, in research institutes, in hospitals, forensic laboratories and in government installations. Please visit our careers page to learn more.
The Biochemistry major is accredited by the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Accreditation is a national, independent, outcomes-based evaluation mechanism that recognizes excellence in B.S. or B.A. degree programs in biochemistry and molecular biology and related disciplines. As a benefit of the accreditation, students may sit for the comprehensive accreditation exam, easing their admission into competitive research programs and other advanced training opportunities.