A new major added to the catalog of Virginia Wesleyan

If you have performed a “degree audit” recently in WebAdvisor, you might have noticed a new option under the dropdown “What if I changed my program of study?” list. Biochemistry has been added to the majors available at Virginia Wesleyan. The list now sums to a grand total of 42 majors offered to students.

This new addition is so recent that it is not available in the course catalog as of yet. It will officially appear in the 2022-2023 catalog. With the program falling under the Department of Chemistry, a majority of the required credits relate to chemical science. 

The program comprises 32 credits from chemistry courses and 16 credits from biology-related coursework. The major encompasses relevant coursework that may be useful to many pre-medicine focused undergraduate students. 

Among those that made this new opportunity possible was Dr. Kevin Kittredge, professor of chemistry and chair of chemistry/physical science. He had the following to say about the development of the new program, “Over the last two decades there has been an increased demand for graduates who have studied biochemistry by both industry and government. Biochemistry is a bridge between biology and chemistry.” 

By making a B.S. in biochemistry available at VWU, students are provided another degree option in the STEM disciplines. “We currently have the courses in place to create this degree and it seemed appropriate to do so at this time. This should also help with recruiting students who are unsure of whether to major in biology or chemistry,” Kittredge said. He went on to say, “The skills being taught are used in both academics and industry, so that should make our graduates attractive candidates for potential jobs and graduate programs.”

Sophomore Alex Cain has taken interest in the offering of this new program of study. He said,”I’m pursuing this major because it’s a lot closer in content to what I want to pursue in life, which is molecular biology. This is because it delves deep enough into biochemistry and cell biology, while avoiding things that I don’t need for my career path, such as ecology and instrumental methods of chemistry.” 

Cain decided to change his course of study while scheduling for his fourth semester at Virginia Wesleyan. If a student is undecided between chemistry, biology or double majoring in both, they should speak with their advisor about aligning their coursework with these degree requirements. 

Cain also noted how the new major better addresses those wanting to go into medicine. 

He said, ”I’m glad it’s being added because I know it will also be useful for students who may want to pursue pre-medicine.” 

In the past, many students at VWU have chosen paths in biology or chemistry to pursue their overarching career goal of medicine. They no longer have to decide between either, as this offers the “best of both worlds.”

By Jack Palmer