The Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology unites two academically rich and overlapping disciplines - microbiology as an organism-defined discipline and biochemistry as a discipline underlying the study of all living systems. Edward Voorhees established the Department of Soil Chemistry and Bacteriology in 1901, the first department of agricultural microbiology in the country and the progenitor of the current Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology. The Biochemistry component of the Department had its genesis at the School of Agriculture as the Department of Agricultural Biochemistry in 1925 under Dr. Walter C. Russell. In 1965, the Departments of Agricultural Microbiology and Agricultural Biochemistry were merged to form what is today the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology.

The mission of the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology is to provide leadership in research and education in Biochemistry and Microbiology to advance our understanding of life processes. Microorganisms are the smallest living things, the oldest form of life on Earth, ubiquitous in the biosphere and perform diverse metabolic functions and ecosystem services that are central to and essential for life on Earth. Microbiology is the study of all aspects of microorganisms, exploiting bacteria, archaea, fungi and viruses; Biochemistry is the study of life processes of all living systems, at the level of molecules and their interactions. Our department combines these disciplines in one encompassing theme.

The academic programs in Biochemistry and Microbiology serve the central mission of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, and Rutgers University through its programs in fundamental and applied research and instruction in microbiology and biochemistry. Microbiology and Biochemistry are at the core of the food, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industries, where they are broadly utilized in wide ranging applications from food fermentations, new pharmaceuticals production, waste treatment, to biodegradation of toxic chemicals. Thus, the fields of microbiology and biochemistry are major contributors toward industrial development, human, animal and plant health, environmental integrity and agricultural productivity.


 First Semester Planning 

We recommend that students register for approximately 15 credits each semester and no more than 16 credits in their first semester. Your schedule should be well-balanced and include coursework from a variety of subjects. A diverse schedule will help you begin your studies in potential majors and minors; explore a breadth of new knowledge across departments at Rutgers to meet SAS Core Curriculum learning goals; and survey broader academic interests through elective courses as you work to attain the required 120 degree credits for graduation.

Your schedule will look something like this: 

Expository Writing or English course per placement results (3 credits)

Major Exploration course (3-4 credits)

Major or Minor Exploration course (3-4 credits)

Course beyond main academic interest, such as SAS Core or elective course (3 credits)

 Byrne or First-Year Interest Group Seminar (FIGS) (1 credit) 

 Total Credits: 15-16


At a Glance


Undergraduate Advisor
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Programs Offered:

Major in Microbiology
Minor in Biochemistry

Cook Campus

Department Website