Michelle Foley 5 min read Academic Tips and Info, College Lists

List of All U.S. Colleges With a Biophysics Major

If you’re a STEM nerd torn between the dual worlds of math and science, biophysics might be the field for you! This captivating field combines the life biologist’s understanding of systems and processes with the physicist’s penchant for analyzing experimental data. Together, they study the mechanics of how living things work.

 

This broad, interdisciplinary major equips its students with an understanding of the world around them so they can later solve its problems. Biophysicists back environmental, medical, and societal solutions with their complex expertise.

 

For many budding scientists, biophysics is a compelling field, but most will have to do a bit of research to decide if it’s really for them. Here, we’ll break down which colleges offer biophysics programs and what to look for in a school.

 

Overview of the Biophysics Major

 

While course requirements will vary from school to school, you can near-universally count on taking general chemistry, calculus, and biology classes, often with a lab. More specifically, you’re likely to cover most of the following subjects:

 

  • Computing and Programming
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Mechanics

 

After completing your introductory GenEd classes, your course selections will get a bit more specialized, and you’ll take mostly biophysics, biology, and physics classes. Some schools will have an additional research or internship requirement.

 

Of course, biophysics majors should be good at, or at least passionate about, math and science. Mathematical skills are a muscle, and STEM students routinely stretch and exercise them. Biophysics majors study much more than most, so you’ll need both intense passion and work ethic to succeed.  

 

Those with scientifically analytical and detail-oriented minds do well in this field. Biophysicists care about how things work, down to the barest minutia.

 

After graduation, biophysics majors often go to graduate school, particularly to study medicine, dentistry, and law.

 

Many of the major’s requirements overlap with premedical ones, and the mathematical and scientific skills built there mirror those on the MCAT. While there is no “best” pre-med major, this one is a solid choice for prospective doctors.

 

Not everybody wants to be a doctor, though, so many grads go into academic and clinical research and a few even go into science writing and journalism. Others work as biomedical engineers, pharmacists, or biophysicists. 

 

This is a great field for those interested in working with biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, but many will have to acquire a Ph.D. to become specialized leaders in it.

 

What to Look for in a College as a Biophysics Major

 

Internship Opportunities

 

True, deep learning is a worthy endeavor, oftentimes best pursued out of the classroom. Aside from the typical accomplishment-building, resume-padding aspects of this opportunity, internships provide you with valuable industry experience. Students with an internship or two graduate with better knowledge and preparation for the “real world.” 

 

Still, securing one is no easy task, so strong support from your college is invaluable. Check out your university’s career and internship programs, and ask current students about their internship-hunting experience. Of course, the internships you’ll search for will vary depending on your specific interests; aspiring pharmacists will seek pharmaceutical internships, while prospective science writers will seek science-writing internships.

 

Research Opportunities 

 

Given the high number of biophysics students planning to go to grad school or enter a research position right after graduation, undergraduate research is almost a necessity. Of course, academic quality should be a priority in your personal selection process, and access to academia extends far beyond what you’ll learn in class. A strong undergraduate program understands this and makes research opportunities readily available to its students. Through research, you can explore varied interests, build skills and experience, and learn deeply. 

 

Columbia University, for example, offers the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program (SURF). Interested students apply, and a faculty committee then matches selected ones to fitting labs. The program is competitive, but luckily, it is available for first, second, and third-year students.

 

Resources and Technology

 

It’s hard to do proper research without the tools to do so! Biophysics is big on real-world applications and solutions. In fact, many graduates go on to design medical equipment.

 

That’s why it’s so essential that your college has the physical resources you need. Depending on your focuses, that may include state-of-the-art computers with which to analyze digital models, or delicate instruments for studying spectroscopy.

 

Make sure that A) your university has these resources, and that B) they’re accessible to undergraduates. 

 

Johns Hopkins is fantastic in satisfying these requirements, even allowing students to use equipment and perform research outside of their specific departments. Their T.C. Jenkins Department of Biophysics houses an X-ray crystallography facility, a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance facility with five spectrometers, and more.

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List of All U.S. Colleges With a Biophysics Major

 

School Name City State
University of California, Santa Barbara | UCSB Santa Barbara California
University of Miami Coral Gables Florida
Drake University Des Moines Iowa
Towson University Towson Maryland
Amherst College Amherst Massachusetts
Washington University in St. Louis | WashU Saint Louis Missouri
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | RPI Troy New York
University of Scranton Scranton Pennsylvania
St. Mary’s University, Texas San Antonio Texas
Arizona State University | ASU Tempe Arizona
University of California, Los Angeles | UCLA Los Angeles California
University of California, San Diego | UCSD La Jolla California
Claremont McKenna College | CMC Claremont California
Pitzer College Claremont California
University of San Diego | USD San Diego California
Scripps College Claremont California
University of Southern California | USC Los Angeles California
University of Connecticut | UConn Storrs Connecticut
George Washington University | GW Washington DC Washington DC
Georgetown University Washington DC Washington DC
Eckerd College Saint Petersburg Florida
Emory University Atlanta Georgia
Illinois Institute of Technology | Illinois Tech Chicago Illinois
Loyola University Chicago Chicago Illinois
University of Southern Indiana | USI Evansville Indiana
Iowa State University Ames Iowa
Loyola University New Orleans New Orleans Louisiana
Johns Hopkins University | JHU Baltimore Maryland
Brandeis University Waltham Massachusetts
Northeastern University Boston Massachusetts
Andrews University Berrien Springs Michigan
University of Michigan Ann Arbor Michigan
Oakland University Rochester Hills Michigan
Rowan University Glassboro New Jersey
New Jersey Institute of Technology | NJIT Newark New Jersey
Barnard College New York New York
Columbia University New York New York
St. Lawrence University Canton New York
The State University of New York at Geneseo | SUNY Geneseo Geneseo New York
Syracuse University Syracuse New York
Duke University Durham North Carolina
Wake Forest University Winston-Salem North Carolina
Miami University Oxford Ohio
Xavier University Cincinnati Ohio
Oklahoma City University | OCU Oklahoma City Oklahoma
Carnegie Mellon University | CMU Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania | UPenn Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Swarthmore College Swarthmore Pennsylvania
Temple University Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Washington and Jefferson College | W&J Washington Pennsylvania
Brown University Providence Rhode Island
Lipscomb University Nashville Tennessee
Brigham Young University | BYU Provo Utah
Walla Walla University College Place Washington
Marquette University Milwaukee Wisconsin

 

Notice a school that’s missing? Email us and let us know!

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?

 

No matter your major, you must be academically comparable to previous years’ admits to be a competitive college applicant. Most selective schools use the Academic Index, a complex tool based on your grades, test scores, and class rankings, to evaluate academic aptitude and filter out students who don’t meet their standards.

 

The qualitative aspects of your application, like your essays and extracurriculars, are your place to show who you are and demonstrate fit with your chosen schools and the biophysics major. 

 

Consider joining or starting a STEM-based club in high school. Classic choices include robotics, computer programming, biology, and physics clubs. 

 

It’s never too early to start hunting for research opportunities, either! Look for opportunities to work in an out-of-school lab and for interesting summer programs and internships, locally or otherwise. Young women may be interested in Girls Who Code.

 

If you’ve got a creative side, you might enjoy sculpting 3-D models which explore scientific ideas, as work in this major often includes the creation and study of biophysical models. Academically, take the most advanced classes you can in physics, biology, chemistry, and calculus, and convey your passion for the biophysical world in your essays.

 

If you’re struggling to figure out where you match up to other applicants, we recommend using our free Chancing Engine. Unlike other solely stats-based chancing calculators, ours considers your profile holistically, including both your quantitative stats and qualitative extracurriculars.

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Michelle Foley
Essay Breakdown Writer at CollegeVine
Short bio
Michelle Foley is currently taking a gap year before starting at Yale College in Fall '21, where she is considering majoring in Art, English, or Cognitive Studies while earning her Spanish certificate. In her free time, she likes to paint, run, and read!