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Biology vs. Chemistry

majord14majord14 Posts: 120Registered User Junior Member
edited August 2010 in Emory University
Hi I will be a senior this year, and I am really interested in both the Biology and Chemistry programs, especially the BS/MS degrees of both.

My career goals are to be a biological researcher, researcher at the CDC, AIDS (or diseases in general) researcher, or a researcher at a biotechnology company.

I honestly do not know which program would prepare me better for those careers as well as a graduate degree in Biochemistry.

Please help!!!!!!!!!!!!
Post edited by majord14 on

Replies to: Biology vs. Chemistry

  • bernie2012bernie2012 Posts: 614Registered User Member
    The biology program here is better than chemistry due to the large array of course offerings (also less effected by the economy. Due to this, the electives offered for the chem. major are very limited. Often only one is offered per semester, if any) and it's connectedness to psyche, NBB, and anthro. I recommend it. Perhaps get a BA in chem., or take a little more chem than necessary for say a pre-med student to get well exposed to the field. I am currently trying to pull of a BA in both. So far, the bio courses are better. Well, except for my orgo. class.
  • collegestu816collegestu816 Posts: 206Registered User Junior Member
    Based on your interest in biological research and public health a BS in Biology in probably your best bet, or if you're ambitious definitely go for the 4 yr BS/MS program.
  • impervious0neimpervious0ne Posts: 102Registered User Junior Member
    I recommend the BA/MSPH program because your interest seems to lie on public health (epidemiology and biostatistics). It's a 5 year program combining the Master of Science in Public Health (most people who get MSPH instead of MPH are people who intend to get a doctorate in this field) and a regular 4 year BS/BA degree. I would think Chemistry, Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology, or Anthropology & Human Biology would be a great fit for you.
  • NogueiraNogueira Posts: 223Registered User Junior Member
    I've heard that the vast majority of pre-meds here in Emory are biology majors (around 75% biology 25% chemistry). So I'm guessing the school would equally concentrate more on biology.
  • bernie2012bernie2012 Posts: 614Registered User Member
    Yes, it does concentrate more on biology, though I think better teachers are in chemistry. Now if only chemistry could get enough attention so that those teachers can offer innovative courses. I bet chem. would get more majors. I think the dept. has lots of potential and it shouldn't fall to the wayside at a major university in the health sciences. The overall strength of the chem. program should be as important as biology as both collaborate in various efforts. As big and important as biochem and NBB are, we should have an undergrad. biochemistry major, but this would take more development of the undergrad. chem. dept. which seems not to be a priority.
  • spazattackspazattack Posts: 831Registered User Member
    I think the reason not many people are Chem majors is because of ochem and pchem. 2 of the hardest science classes.
  • bernie2012bernie2012 Posts: 614Registered User Member
    The curve in Ochem and PChem however, is probably more generous than some of the harder bio/NBB classes like NBB 301. That theory doesn't make much sense, because other schools seem to have a much higher proportion of chem. majors than we do. The dept. is ok, but not as strong as anthro., psyche, NBB, and bio.
  • dgeblldgebll Posts: 478Registered User Member
    Chemistry has 40 faculty members, while Biology has 37. Chemistry has 14 full professors. I could not find the number easily on the bio department website, but it almost certainly has a similar ratio. The chemistry department is ranked 38th, while the biology department is 34th.

    The two departments have around the same prestige level. They could probably go tit-for-tat as far as highest-quality faculty go. You're going to get a great education in each. Many of the Chemistry professors may teach more graduate-level classes or concentrate on research, which may be why there seem to be less classes taught. I'm not sure on that.

    Hopefully this information gives you more information to make your decision.
  • bernie2012bernie2012 Posts: 614Registered User Member
    Are you talking about graduate or undergraduate? The graduate level is good for chemistry admittedly. But I really believe that they should try to find some funding to to permanently expand the course offerings. It'll never really be comparable to bio in this context, but it can most certainly be better. And why do some classes like Analytical and biochemistry not have a lab? Most peers have labs associated with those courses, even if it is optional.
  • dgeblldgebll Posts: 478Registered User Member
    I was talking generally. Obviously, the context of this discussion is undergraduate. Even thought those rankings were of the graduate programs, there is no way (that I know of) to objectively measure the quality of a science undergrad program. Since the graduate rankings take into account important criteria for undergrads like quality of the faculty, etc, I thought that it would be useful information for this discussion.

    I don't have answers to your questions, but I can give some likely reasons for the difference in course offerings. It may have little to do with money and more to do with the interest in the undergrads for the chemistry programs. There's no sense in offering courses that no one will take. The economy has shrunk the size of the Graduate School, so there may not be enough TAs to teach lab sections. Many professors in the chemistry department also may have received grants to do research over the last couple years, leaving fewer to teach classes. This happens in every department in every University, and there's not much that one can do about it.

    There are many reasons why things are the way that they are. I would assume that since there are actually more chemistry faculty than biology faculty, investment in professors isn't the issue. But maybe this is a good question to send to the director of undergraduate studies in the chemistry department?
  • bernie2012bernie2012 Posts: 614Registered User Member
    I don't think it'll help, I have even heard from certain faculty members that this issue has been raised in the past, and they don't know why it's the case. And many agree on the biochemistry thing. In general. many I talk to who are interested in chem., site the lack of diverse course offerings as a primary reason. Keep in mind that many chem. majors are not pre-med (at least in relation to biology, where it seems like an overwhelming majority are), so I would imagine that I am certainly not alone in the way I feel.

    However, as always, I'd imagine that if we had an engineering school, the chem. dept. would have a broader array of course offerings. But unlike, many/most peers, it is sadly not the case. I may get around to asking if I can take a course at Tech.
  • SheareEmorySheareEmory Posts: 4Registered User New Member
    I agree with spazattack, i really think the gap in the numbers between bio and chem majors is hugely attributed to pchem. In fact, as a chemistry major at Emory I find that the majority of people that chose between these majors went with biology for this very reason.

    Regardless, I think it's safe to say both majors are highly reputable at Emory and you should pursue whichever you enjoy more. They will both have their share of difficulty level but if you are more passionate about one over the other it will definitely help.
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