Student Examining a Vial of a Substance


Curious about the molecular nature of biological systems? Find the answers to your questions, conduct research and learn from an interdisciplinary team of chemistry, biology and biomedical sciences faculty in the biochemistry program. 

Why Study Biochemistry?

Biochemists study the chemistry of life seeking to understand the complex molecules that dictate cellular processes. As a biochemistry major at USD, you will have a strong foundation in chemistry and apply that knowledge to biological systems. Through hands-on learning experiences using research facilities within your coursework and in undergraduate research, our students develop problem-solving skills and think at the molecular level. A biochemistry degree prepares students for a range of professional paths including graduate studies in chemistry, biochemistry, biology or biomedical sciences; professional studies in medicine, pharmacy, or dentistry; and careers in the life sciences, biochemistry, pharmaceutical or biomedical industries. Our faculty will work with you to choose a minor that best complements this degree, keeping your long-term goals in mind.

Understand molecular reactions in living systems and prepare yourself for an in-demand career by majoring in biochemistry at USD.


Degrees & Offerings

Biochemistry (B.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

Biochemistry focuses on the interface between the traditional disciples of chemistry and biology. Modern research, in industry and academia, is more multidisciplinary than ever. This degree will teach you how to approach large-scale problems in biological systems from the perspective of both disciplines. This will set you on a path toward careers in research, to enter professional schools or in jobs in the pharmaceutical or biomedical industries. We have a long history of undergraduate students and faculty performing high-impact research together.

Program Details






Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.

Student Opportunities

As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.
A Biochemistry student operating large lab equipment.

Faculty in the biology and chemistry departments have active research programs and a long tradition of undergraduate research. Biochemistry majors are strongly encouraged engage in research either in our departments or elsewhere on campus, including in basic biomedical sciences and in collaboration with the medical school. Undergraduate researchers use state-of-the-art instrumentation and are encouraged to lead their portion of the research project. Our faculty have expertise across the areas of biology and chemistry and have been awarded competitive federal research grants and research excellence awards. Apply for the chemistry department’s intensive 10-week summer research program that includes support for a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation. Students can earn up to $6,000 in the summer conducting research in laboratories of USD chemistry faculty mentors on the Vermillion campus. Undergraduate students work side-by-side with an international team of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. They learn science communication skills by presenting their work and are trained to perform research in a collaborative team. Our faculty encourage students to get involved in research as soon as possible. It is never too early to start! The students most engaged in research are often those who go on to receive competitive scholarships and graduate fellowships.

Apply to the REU

Get involved in both Biology Club and Chemistry Club. These student-led extracurricular groups get together to share their love of biology and chemistry. Chem Club’s activities include making liquid nitrogen ice cream, outreach activities at local schools that help kids get interested in science, participating in the American Chemical Society’s Program-In-A-Box, implementing ideas for improving safety/sustainability in the department, and other social events. They start their meetings with a fun chemistry demonstration and end with the motto “Chemistry has all the Solutions”. The Biology Club decorates a boat for the D-Days parade. Chemistry and Physics Club members help decorate providing a fun way to meet students outside of your department. 

Explore Student Organizations

The biology and chemistry departments each sponsor a weekly seminar series that brings leading experts from around the country to the Vermillion campus to speak about their research. Students also are encouraged to meet with the visitors during their time on campus. Do not miss the premier lectures in chemistry, the Haines and Estee Lectures. These seminars allow you to improve your understanding of biology and chemistry and network with leaders in the field. 
Set yourself apart from others by taking CHEM 116: Honors Principles of Chemistry at USD. This course is offered for high-achieving freshmen that have a strong background in high school chemistry, often including AP Chemistry or dual credit courses. Students taking the course in the fall semester receive credit for the full first-year chemistry sequence. This course is designed to prepare students for upper-level courses in biology and chemistry. If you are interested in continuing your education after your B.S., it will be especially beneficial to be involved in the honors program.

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in biochemistry.
A BBS Student using a dropper during a lab test.

Basic Biomedical Sciences

Housed in the state's only medical school, the Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences creates an environment of innovative and interdisciplinary research aimed at examining human disease.

Biology academics standing in water holding a net


Research, explore and experience the study of life from the molecule to large biomes in the Department of Biology.

Chemist Student Examining a Piece of Material


USD Chemistry is a tight-knit community of scholars. Undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, and faculty work together in the classroom and the laboratory to solve some of today's biggest challenges in health, energy and the environment.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty & staff in the Department of Chemistry. Our faculty are internationally recognized scholars and continually update and improve their knowledge and skills as chemists. We aim to develop relevant skills so that our graduates are highly marketable in the job force.
Bio Image for Faculty Member James Hoefelmeyer

James Hoefelmeyer

Bio Image for Faculty Member David Hawkinson

David Hawkinson

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Chaoyang Jiang

Chaoyang Jiang

Graduate Coordinator, Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kadal Mariappan

Kadal Mariappan

Senior Lecturer
Faculty Default

George Schoendorff

Visiting Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Haoran Sun

Haoran Sun

Bio Image for Faculty Member Andrew Sykes

Andrew Sykes

Bio Image for Faculty Member Joseph Vitt

Joseph Vitt

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Rick Wang

Rick Wang

Bio Image for Faculty Member Steven Wu

Steven Wu

Assistant Professor
Student Utilizing State-of-the-Art Chemistry Facility

Utilize State-of-the-art Research Equipment

At USD, your education goes beyond the textbook; you'll get hands-on experience with robust facilities that help advance your skills and broaden your experiences. Extensive state-of-the-art research equipment is accessible to all students engaged in research projects with faculty and staff. This includes atomic absorption spectrometers, elemental analyzers, electrochemical instruments, spectrofluorimeters, X-ray diffractometers and much more.
Chemistry professor with students in lab

Scholarships, Awards, Mentorship

USD offers a wide range of scholarships for students, including scholarships specifically for chemistry majors. The Department of Chemistry annually awards over $20,000 in scholarships and grants awards to about 30 undergraduate students. This is a testament to the generosity of our alumni and friends of the chemistry department. Our alumni have won prestigious national scholarships. In the last five years alone we have a Rhodes Scholar, two National Science Foundation Graduate Research fellows, and two Goldwater scholars. Not only do the faculty support students in these applications, but our alumni play a critical role in this continued success. Together, they mentor the next generation of scholars through the application process. 

Surprisingly Affordable

USD offers low tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, as well as scholarships, financial aid and employment opportunities to help make your education even more affordable.

Undergraduate Tuition & Costs

Learn more about tuition and fees for undergraduate students and see how your out-of-pocket costs at USD compare to those at other colleges and universities. Visit the Undergraduate Tuition & Costs Detailed page for program specific costs and fees. 

Financial Aid

Navigating options for how to pay for college can be challenging, but you are not alone. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you and your family to explore how you can make your college education even more affordable.


USD awards nearly $9.5 million in scholarships each year. View our scholarships to see which ones you may qualify for and how you can apply.

Student success story

Success story Ngan Nguyen smiling.
The chemistry department has provided me with an incredible platform, offering extensive opportunities and support that go beyond the classroom. As someone who is curious about the intricacies of life at a molecular level, I had a transformative research experience that ignited my career aspirations. Thanks to the great support and mentorship from the department faculty, I had the privilege to contribute to published scientific work, present our research at regional and national scientific conferences, win competitive awards, and attend summer research experiences both at USD and beyond.

Ngan Nguyen

B.S. Biochemistry '24

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