Biophysics Concentration

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.

  • Concentration

    Biochemistry/Biophysics Core Curriculum (required of all)

    • BIOL H200 (Evolution, Genetics and Genomes) and BIOL H201 (Molecules, Cells, and Organisms); (BIOL H200 and BIOL H201 constitute a full-year sequence; prior to 2018-19 these were offered as BIOL H200A and BIOL H200B).
    • One semester of BIOL H300 or BIOL H301 (Advanced Lab in Biology) or BIOL H303 (Laboratory in Biochemical Research).
    • CHEM H112 or CHEM H114 (Chemical Dynamics).
    • One semester mathematics course numbered MATH H118 (Calculus II) or higher.
    • PHYS H105 and PHYS H106, or PHYS H101 and PHYS H102 (two semesters of Introductory Physics), or the Bryn Mawr equivalents.

    Concentrators typically complete required coursework at the 200-level and higher in participating Haverford departments.  One course taken elsewhere may be substituted with prior approval of the relevant department and the Concentration coordinator; students seeking additional flexibility may petition the Concentration Committee in advance regarding their needs and plans.

    The advanced interdisciplinary coursework requirements vary by major and desired concentration:

    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 H121 (Calculus III) or MATH H216 (Advanced Calculus).
    • PHYS H213 (Waves and Optics), PHYS H211 (Laboratory in Electronics, Waves and Optics); half-credit course), and PHYS H301 (Advanced Laboratory in Modern Physics).
    • PHYS H214 (Quantum Mechanics) or CHEM H305 (Quantum Chemistry).
    • PHYS H303 (Statistical Physics) or CHEM H304 (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 H311 (Advanced Genetic Analysis), BIOL H313 (Structure and Function of Macromolecules), BIOL H314 (Biochemistry: Metabolic Basis of Disease and Adaptation), BIOL H316 (Inter- and Intra-Cellular Communication), BIOL H320 (Molecular Microbiology), BIOL H322 (Cell Architecture), BIOL H324 (Photosynthesis), BIOL H326 (Biochemical Adaptations), BIOL H328 (Immunology), BIOL H451 (Molecular Motors and Biological Nano-Machines), BIOL H454 (Advanced Topics in Virology), and BIOL H457 (Topics in Protein Science).

    Students may use courses meeting concentration requirements for the biology major in lieu of one semester of BIOL H300/BIOL H301.

    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 the following additional requirements:

    • Two half-semester courses with significant biophysics content: BIOL H311 (Advanced Genetic Analysis), BIOL H313 (Structure and Function of Macromolecules), BIOL H314 (Biochemistry: Metabolic Basis of Disease and Adaptation), BIOL H316 (Inter- and Intra-Cellular Communication), BIOL H320 (Molecular Microbiology), BIOL H322 (Cell Architecture), BIOL H324 (Photosynthesis), BIOL H326 (Biochemical Adaptations), BIOL H328 (Immunology), BIOL H451 (Molecular Motors and Biological Nano-Machines), BIOL H454 (Advanced Topics in Virology), and BIOL H457 (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. 

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You can find detailed instructions and information on the Application Instructions page. If you need to contact us directly, please send an email to admission@haverford.edu.

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