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Programs / Science / Biochemistry

Program Details

The science of biochemistry seeks to understand how organisms function by investigating enzyme reactions, mechanisms of gene regulation, chemical signaling pathways, and cellular structure at the molecular level. Biochemists study how animals, plants and bacteria make use of energy to grow, compete with other organisms and reproduce. Many of the biochemist’s findings are of direct relevance to humanity—they help us understand and treat disease, improve food production and find new techniques to produce valuable products such as vitamins and antibiotics.

Biochemistry programs are excellent training options for entry into medicine and other health sciences professional programs.

Honours programs are offered in Biochemistry, Computational Biochemistry, and the combined program in Biotechnology and Biochemistry. A four-year Major program in Biochemistry is also offered.

As a student of Biochemistry at Carleton University, you will be provided with a solid foundation in biology and chemistry, as well as with many opportunities to apply your knowledge to modern-day challenges facing the discipline.

Our programs help you understand how advancements in biochemistry can be successfully applied to a wide range of issues. By developing a strong foundation in both basic and applied science, you will become a better scientist, and your undergraduate education will allow you greater flexibility throughout your career.

The Ottawa area is one with considerable environmental and biotechnology companies. Several government departments are involved with the research that leads to environmental legislation and regulations, and over 100 companies are conducting research in medical, agricultural and environmental biotechnology. Associations with these organizations, as well as with the National Capital Commission, national museums and the National Research Council Canada, can provide you with unparalleled research and study opportunities.

Biochemistry – BSc (Major)

Biochemistry – BSc (Honours)

Biochemistry and Biotechnology – BSc (Combined Honours)

Computational Biochemistry – BSc (Honours)

Biochemistry (Major and Honours)

The first and second years of the Major and Honours programs in Biochemistry provide a solid foundation in the sciences and mathematics. You then progress to more intensive studies in biochemistry, cell biology, molecular genetics and organic chemistry.

By the fourth year of your program, you will be focusing on more specialized courses such as those dealing with bioinformatics, proteins or DNA repair. If you are in the Honours program, you will complete an Honours thesis project.

Biochemistry and Biotechnology

(Combined Honours)

The science of biotechnology applies the basic principles of biology and biochemistry to the study and manipulation of living organisms in relation to industrial, medical, agricultural and environmental problems. Some of the topics of current interest include genetic engineering, metabolic modification, applied microbiology and fermentation techniques, biological control and culture and modification of cells and tissues.

Computational Biochemistry (Honours)

Computational Biochemistry allows you to complement your studies in biochemistry with a rigorous program in computer science, mathematics, computational methods and data analysis. It will give you a strong background in core areas of biology and chemistry such as genetics, cell biology, organic chemistry and analytical chemistry. You will take a variety of lecture and laboratory biochemistry courses, including bioinformatics. Optional courses allow you to focus on areas such as molecular genetics, pharmaceutic drug design, functional genomics and protein structure and function.

First-year Seminar in Science

Carleton introduces you to issues of contemporary science in a first-year seminar course called Seminar in Science (NSCI 1000). You will attend six special lectures given by prominent Canadian researchers, as well as small group seminars led by a professor who acts as both your mentor and teacher. Through assignments, presentations and discussions, you will develop analytical and communication skills needed for success in the world of science.

A sample first year

  • 1.0 credit in Introductory Biology I and Introductory Biology II
  • 1.0 credit in General Chemistry
  • 1.0 credit in Elementary University Physics I and Elementary University Physics II
  • 1.0 credit in Elementary Calculus I and Linear Algebra I
  • 0.5 credit in Seminar in Science (NSCI 1000)
  • 0.5 credit in an arts or social sciences elective

The workplace

Carleton Biochemistry graduates go on to a wide range of careers. Many work in Ottawa’s growing biotechnology sector or in pharmaceutical companies, government and private-sector labs, research institutes and industry.

Others use their background to prepare for graduate school or for studies in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy.

Computational Biochemistry graduates are prepared for careers in the growing field of bioinformatics, working in areas such as drug design, the synthesis of new biomaterials, the mapping of brain function and genomic research.

Graduate studies

Graduates of any of our Honours programs are generally well qualified to go on to graduate studies. If you think that you may wish to pursue an advanced degree, you are encouraged to investigate graduate programs early in order to ensure that your program is suited to meet the relevant graduate-level requirements.

Professional programs

Many professional programs, including medicine, dentistry, teaching and veterinary science, encourage applicants from a variety of backgrounds to apply. Biochemistry can provide a strong foundation for many of these programs.

What students are saying about Biochemistry


The Institute of Biochemistry at Carleton University is welcoming and exhilarating, with a consistent sense of belonging from day one. By combining my interests in the fields of molecular biology and chemistry, I have been able to build a program that appeals most to my interests. The classes are engaging, and the hands-on laboratories present new learning strategies, while the research labs provide you the opportunity to work on groundbreaking research alongside world class researchers. My Biochemistry degree will serve me well as I further explore the world of research and potentially pursue a medical degree.
Christopher Mattice, Biochemistry student