Haverford’s biophysics program is located at the interface between physical and biological sciences. For our ambitious students and faculty who seek to understand biological processes from physical and chemical points of view, this is an especially exciting place to be. Our rigorous program combines classroom and laboratory training along with significant faculty mentorship—all in an environment that facilitates moving freely between traditional disciplinary boundaries.
A highly specialized program, students pursuing the concentration must also be biology, chemistry, or physics majors; we offer a range of courses of study depending on the student’s particular area of interest. Concentrators can choose to focus on biochemistry, biophysics, or biochemistry/biophysics, all of which provide exceptional training for students interested in pursuing Ph.D. and/or M.D. degrees.
Curriculum & Courses
Our curriculum varies depending on the particular concentration each student chooses to pursue. However, all students in the program are required to complete our core curriculum, which includes courses in biology, chemistry, and physics. Required courses include Biology 200, which covers cell structure and function; Biology 300, a lab in biochemistry and molecular biology; and Chemistry 112, which covers chemical dynamics. Concentrators must also take a math course at the level of calculus II or higher and an introductory physics class.
Additional courses specific to each student’s major combined with their biophysics concentration are also required.
Biochemistry/Biophysics Core Curriculum (required of all)
- BIOL 200 (Cell Structure and Function; full-year course).
- One semester of BIOL 300 (Laboratory in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, cross-listed as CHEM 300) or BIOL 390 (Laboratory in Biochemical Research).
- CHEM 112 or 114 (Chemical Dynamics).
- One semester mathematics course numbered 118 (Calculus II) or higher.
- PHYS 105 and 106, or 101 and 102 (two semesters of Introductory Physics), or the Bryn Mawr equivalents.
If students do not take these courses at Haverford or Bryn Mawr, they must have the substitute course(s) approved for college credit by the relevant departments. Beyond this foundation, students must take the following advanced interdisciplinary coursework:
Biology Major with a Biophysics Concentration
Biology majors seeking a biophysics concentration must complete the biochemistry/biophysics core curriculum (see above) as well as the following additional requirements:
- MATH 121 (Calculus III) or 216 (Advanced Calculus).
- PHYS 213 (Waves and Optics), 211 (Laboratory in Electronics, Waves and Optics); half-credit course), and 301 (Advanced Laboratory in Modern Physics).
- PHYS 214 (Quantum Mechanics) or CHEM 305 (Quantum Chemistry).
- PHYS 303 (Statistical Physics) or CHEM 304 (Statistical Thermodynamics and Kinetics).
- A 300-level course in biophysics approved by the concentration coordinating committee.
- Two half-semester courses with significant Biophysics content: BIOL 301 (Advanced Genetic Analysis), 302 (Cell Architecture), 303 (Structure and Function of Macromolecules), 304 (Biochemistry: Metabolic Basis of Disease), and 306 (Inter- and Intra-Cellular Communication), 308 (Immunology), 310 (Molecular Microbiology, 314 (Photosynthesis), 316 (Biochemical Adaptations), 351 (Molecular Motors and Biological Nano-Machines); and 357 (Topics in Protein Science).
Students may use courses meeting concentration requirements for the biology major in lieu of one semester of BIOL 300.
Physics Major with a Biophysics Area of Concentration
Physics majors desiring a biophysics area of concentration must complete the biochemistry/biophysics core curriculum (see above) as well as two half-semester courses with significant biophysics content:
- BIOL 301 (Genetics), 302 (Cell Architecture), 303 (Structure and Function of Macromolecules), 304 (Biochemistry: Metabolic Basis of Disease), 306 (Inter- and Intra-Cellular Communication), 308 (Immunology), 310 (Molecular Microbiology, 314 (Photosynthesis), 316 (Biochemical Adaptations), 351 (Molecular Motors and Biological Nano-Machines); and 357 (Topics in Protein Science).
Students may use 300-level biology courses meeting concentration requirements for the physics major in lieu of one or two of the six required 300-level physics courses.
Associated Programs and Concentrations
Check out our other academic offerings: