Why study biochemistry & molecular biology at UC Santa Cruz?

If you want to learn from world-renowned experts who study the science behind cancer, develop new “smart drug” delivery methods, remedy environmental pollutants, and invent new disease detection and medical imaging technologies, then our Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology is for you. Come join our inclusive culture. We want your undergraduate education to be immersed in real-world research that’s revealing the fundamental processes of life like never before.

Research access

When you declare the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology B.S. at UC Santa Cruz, you’ll have unparalleled access to research laboratories, hands-on training with state-of-the-art equipment, mentorship from renowned faculty and researchers, and crucial résumé-boosting research experiences, including:

  • Strong research internship connections with tech and biotech industry leaders in Silicon Valley
  • Opportunities to be published in scientific journals as first-time research coauthors
  • Vibrant research programs empowering underrepresented student communities in STEM fields
  • Robust funding opportunities through our competitive student research awards and scholarships
  • Annual research poster symposiums for developing next-level science communications skills
  • Extensive upper-level research courses to choose from
  • Senior exit requires an intensive research lab before graduation

Research mentorship

Research facilities

Research courses

Current research and course offerings include the latest in biochemistry, metabolism and bioenergetics, molecular biology, protein function, structure and function of nucleic acids, kinetics and regulation, and computational approaches to chemistry. Explore current biochemistry & molecular biology course offerings.

Career advancement

The most telling success metrics for our biochemistry & molecular biology degree program are the quality of the students we attract and—more importantly—the professional success they achieve after they graduate. The degree program is proven to give you:

  • A covalent bond research network
  • Mentorship by internationally distinguished faculty and researchers
  • The latest high-impact research and instrumentation knowledge
  • Project management and leadership skills
  • Involvement with large research projects, both government and private
  • Next-level science communications skills
  • Minimal to no debt

First job success

Our Biochemistry & Molecular Biology B.S. should be your choice if you’re looking to get a job in the biotech, materials science, or biomedical industries immediately after graduation: 57 percent of our undergraduates are employed within six months after graduation, and 60 percent receive multiple job offers (data from 2015). In fact, UC Santa Cruz ranks 13th worldwide for being one of the “top 20 universities that are most likely to land you a job in Silicon Valley” and 9th in the nation for “highly paid biology and anatomical sciences graduates.” For example, high-performing students who decide to delay graduate school and work in California report annual earnings of more than $76,000 within five years after graduation (data as of 2015).

Graduate school success

We’re also ambitious: 90 percent of our Biochemistry & Molecular Biology B.S. graduates plan to pursue graduate school within five years after graduation. More than 30 percent are accepted to graduate school before graduating (data from 2015).

Funding opportunity

In addition to being highly employable and competitive graduate school candidates, our students also graduate with minimal debt. UC Santa Cruz is the second-best university in the nation for undergraduate social mobility, including financial support for students who come from households that earn less than $50,000 annually. In addition to this campuswide support, you’ll also have access to some of the strongest internal funding opportunities among undergraduate programs nationwide.

A few of our undergraduate funding opportunities for biochemistry & molecular biology majors include:

  • Doug Drexler Chemistry Scholarship
  • Ellen Renard Memorial Scholarship
  • Joseph F. Bunnett Undergraduate Research Prize
  • Sharon Ann Hibdon Undergraduate Opportunities Award
  • Tony Fink Memorial Student Award
  • Undergraduate Research in Science & Technology Award

Alumni network

Banana Slugs are uplifting. Get connected with 850+ biochemistry & molecular biology alumni who hold leading positions at universities, private companies, medical institutions, and renowned research centers throughout the world. They are also some of the most decorated and famous researchers in history. Here are a few of our notable alumni:

  • Joseph DeRisi: Award-winning American biochemist for work on SARS and malaria, MacArthur Fellow (Crown ’92, B.A. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology)
  • Gia Voeltz: Award-winning biologist exploring neurodegenerative diseases, HHMI Investigator (Crown ’94, B.S. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology)


Current Students

How to apply

Undergraduate student admissions to UC Santa Cruz are handled through the University of California’s online application system. Be sure to review the steps you must take, and when, to ensure that your application is considered.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree policies

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry
Program Size: ~180 students
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 9.9:1

If you intend to pursue graduate school or a professional career in the biotech or biomedical industry, our Biochemistry & Molecular Biology B.S. is for you. The undergraduate major is hands-on, eye-opening, and one of the most challenging at UC Santa Cruz. As a student, you’ll benefit from close faculty-student interaction, well-equipped laboratories, extensive independent research opportunities, and course offerings that integrate biology, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, and physics.

Advising for Biochemistry B.S.


How to apply

Undergraduate student admissions to UC Santa Cruz are handled through the University of California’s online application system. Be sure to review the steps you must take, and when, to ensure that your application is considered.