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Biochemistry or Genetics? A math concern

  1. Jun 20, 2011 #1
    Hello, this will be my first post- so, apologies if I've accidently broken any forum rules.

    Anyway, my question is this: Should I major in Genetics or Biochemistry?

    As of now, I'm leaning toward biochem (I would love either major- biochem just covers more of my interests). However, my math skills are a tad mediocre. The highest level math class I've taken is one step below pre-calculus (although, I did get an 'A').

    I'm a fast learner, but I'm still afraid I wouldn't be able to understand/keep up with the mathematical demands of biochemistry. One of the colleges I'm looking at does give biochemistry majors the option of taking lower level math classes instead of calc. If I went that route, would the other aspects of biochem course work still be doable for me (such as the physics)?

    As I'm willing to take more math classes to compensate for my less educated self would minoring in something like statistics or math be any help? If not, then genetics it is!

    Thanks for any input.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 20, 2011 #2
    Do you want to go further than undergraduate?

    Biochemistry or genetics don't really have much math. The biochem majors at my school are only required to take up to Calc 2. I know a major myself, and according to her they see an integral every so often. This shouldn't be a concern. The chemistry/biochem courses will probably be more of a big deal than calc 2.

    You don't need to minor in math, that would be way overkill for either of those majors. It probably wouldn't hurt, but I doubt much that you would learn would be relevant. Statistics may be useful though. I work in a genetics lab and I see statistics books everywhere and have heard some genetics graduate students talk about courses in stat and whatnot.
  4. Jun 20, 2011 #3
    It depends on your program. I was a Molecular Biology/Biochemistry major and Physics major in undergraduate.

    The only time you needed calculus for Biochemistry was to learn about kinetic rate laws. Even then it was only 1st semester calculus, and to be honest, it wasn't needed because you're never asked to derive rate law (for example, dr/dt=k[a]^b[r]... if you don't know what that means... no worries). The highest math requirements that I've ever come across, required for Biochemistry majors, was 1st semester calculus. Molecular biology was just college algebra and trig.

    However, if you do attend graduate school, you may be asked to take a course in Physical Biochemistry (physical chemistry for bio majors) or physical chemistry that will take into account higher maths. However, I'm sure that will be totally dependent on your interest.

    It's interesting to note that there are areas in biochemistry that are heavily involved with physics and entail more maths that you maybe interested in. For instance, x-ray crystallography, biophysics, and molecular physics. I've attended conferences where I've seen an increase in Biological disciplines attacking problems from a physical perspectives.
  5. Jun 21, 2011 #4
    I'll have a talk with a few college advisers and whatnot. But, I'm thinking I may give biochem a try. Thanks for the help.
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