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Studying Studying genetics

  1. Mar 27, 2005 #1
    Hey guys,

    My little brother who is in high school is obsessed with genetics, and he wants to go into this field after graduating from high school this year. Does anyone know what's the best way to make a career out of genetics in the US? I am a physics major and I don't know much about those fields, but most schools don't have an undergraduate degree in genetics. Should he major in biology or biotechnology or biochem or something like that? or is the field of genetics a graduate level program only ? Your advice is appreciated. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 27, 2005 #2


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    It depends what type of genetic of brother wants to study. Also, he has to be ready to go to graduate studies which will help him focused on a certain field.

    For bacterial/microbial genetics, microbiology might be a more suited major to teach the proper background.

    For vertebrate/human genetics, cellular biology or biology (with a program focused on genetics and also some program offer human genetics concentration) is more of the desired.

    For example, this is my old university major in biology & microbiology program
    http://www.biology.mcgill.ca/undergrad/majorconc.html#HumGen [Broken]
    http://www.mcgill.ca/microimm/undergraduate/programs/faculty/ [Broken]

    As far as biochem and biotechnology is concern, it will depend on what your brother wants and his interest. Biotechnology is the applied side of biology. Genetics will be view; however, the focus will be on the use of genetics tools in the industrie and it is usually focused on plants and microbes. Biotech also tend to be a minor, a concentration or given at the graduate level.

    For biochem, genetics is cover but the overall program as a focus on the chemistry side of biology. If you brother is more interrested on the "biology" side of genetics, then he should avoid biochem.

    If your brother does not know what he wants to focus on, then major in biology is the best start. It will lay the proper foundation for genetics. He can choose a focus after 1 or 2 years.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  4. Apr 1, 2005 #3


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    I'd suggest he major in either biology or biochemistry. Biotech is really specific, and I think there's a lot of advantage in getting a broader biology training before specializing in genetics so you don't become too narrow-minded. If he attends a larger university, those biology departments will have the greater variety of classes to choose from. Look for programs with course offerings in molecular biology, cell biology, and biochemistry. Any decent university should offer the basics of general biology, genetics, physiology, microbiology, along with required classes in chemistry, calculus, and physics. There's really no need for him to major in biochemistry if he's interested primarily in genetics. He can take biochemistry courses as part of a biology major. As iansmith mentioned, biochemistry is more of a chemistry major with biology applications (when I was in college, I actually attempted a double major in biology and chemistry, though dropped chemistry to a minor, because the biochemistry major just seemed a bit too narrow in focus to suit my interests).
  5. Apr 1, 2005 #4
    I would stay away from biochem, it's totally chemistry with just enough biology tossed in to attach the bio at the front. If I remember correctly, my biochem classes required 1 year of general chem and 1 year of organic chem, but only the most basic biology class offered at my university. This was mainly to insure that the student had at least heard the words, DNA, chromosome, and protein once in their life. Genetics is truly a fascinating field, I remember being very disappointed when I discovered that my college didn't offer any kind of advanced genetics course until grad level.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2005
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