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How do I Become a Biochemistry Professor?

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  • Written By: Hillary Flynn
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 February 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Biochemists are scientists who study the chemical structure of living things. Their primary focus is exploring the chemical reactions that drive biological processes such as metabolism, reproduction, and growth. To become a biochemistry professor, one must first complete a lengthy academic program that culminates in a doctorate degree in biochemistry, biotechnology, or another subdiscipline of biology that offers extensive research opportunities in the field of biochemistry. Any position in biochemistry will require a strong commitment to research, and biochemists teaching at the university level can expect to expend much energy on research both before and after obtaining a professorship.

Prior to acceptance to a PhD program, a student who wishes to become a biochemistry professor will need to complete a bachelor's degree in a biological discipline, then a master's degree that focuses on a biochemistry specialty. To complete a bachelor's degree in biology, undergraduate students can expect to take courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, engineering, and computer science, in addition to the standard general education courses required by each university. Students will likely participate in technology courses that involve simulating biological processes, operating laboratory equipment, and using appropriate methods for conducting research.

The master's degree program and doctorate program required for students who wish to become biochemistry professors will probably include work done in the classroom, extensive laboratory work, and individual research leading to the completion of a thesis or dissertation. Completing these academic requirements is the first step to acquiring any position in biochemistry, and a candidate who wants to become a biochemistry professor will have to go even further. An undergraduate degree will qualify you for entry level laboratory work, but most researchers will need a PhD, and aspiring professors can expect to work in postdoctoral research positions that will allow them to become published prior to being considered for any university teaching positions.

Once the academic and research requirements are satisfied, someone who wants to become a biochemistry professor can expect to begin a university teaching career as a non-tenured assistant professor. Tenured positions are those that do not require contract renewal. Once an assistant professor has proven him or herself, the next promotion would be a tenured associate professor position. And finally, the highest level and most coveted position is that of the tenured, full professor. The average length of time to advance to a full professorship is about seven years.

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