As you register for classes now or in the future, you may be confused by the fact that there are three biochem options here at Michigan. The biochem classes all have relatively similar grade distributions each semester as the professors’ coordinate with each other to standardize the courses. So what’s the difference?! Here’s a handy little breakdown:


MCDB 310

  • 4 credits
  • 90 min, 2 times a week + 1, 90 min discussion per week
  • Usually in the afternoon/evening (around 4 PM)
  • Have to go to lecture because iclickers, discussion offered (not required as of F18)
  • Exams are multiple choice and short answer, can drop one exam (not final), final isn’t cumulative
  • Relatively more bio-based, BIO 171/172/225 -esque, not as much like orgo/pchem
  • Offered in the summer and more SLC study group supported
  • Strengths: Other project/hw grades to buffer if you’re not an exam person, recorded lectures
  • Weaknesses: Hard to pay attention at this time of the day



  • 4 credits
  • 1 hour, 3 times a week
  • Usually in the morning (around 9 AM)
  • Lecture isn’t required (no iclickers), new discussion being offered this W19 (don’t know if required or not)
  • Exams are 40 multiple choice questions only, 5 non cumulative exams
  • Relatively more bio-based
  • Combined class with graduate students
  • Strengths: Recorded lectures
  • Weaknesses: Too early in the morning for some people


CHEM 351

  • 4 credits
  • 1 hour, 3 times a week
  • Usually in the morning (around 10 AM), has a discussion
  • Exams involve problem-solving questions (multiple choice, true/false, short-answer, matching and fill-ins, mechanisms, chemical drawings, etc.)
  • Relatively more chem-based
  • Strengths: Some majors require this one, precursor class to CHEM 451, more in-depth knowledge of biochem if you plan to continue in either the minor, major, or field of study (might help for the MCAT, talk to an advisor)
  • Weaknesses: Bigger time commitment than the other two, notoriously “hard”


And as a bonus, here are reviews of the lab component of the class!

CHEM 352

  • 2 credits
  • 4 hours lab + 1 hour lecture
  • Scheduled for 4 hours, but can often end early. The remaining time can be used as office hours to ask instructors for help writing the reports.
  • Lectures are not required and recorded, but recommended for lab report help
  • Frequently there is quite a bit of work (lab reports and prereading) to get done at home unlike some labs that only span the 4 hours and you never think about it until the next week


CHEM 353

  • 3 credits, ULWR
  • 4 hours lab + 1 hour lecture + 1 hour discussion weekly
    • Exact same lecture and lab as CHEM 352, but contains an extra discussion
  • Learn to write a scientific paper



  • 3 credits
  • 2 hours twice a week

2 thoughts on “Which biochem class is right for me: a mini-blog

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    We study biochemistry because it is the best way to understand how life works in a fundamental way. Physics and chemistry shape the way reactions and processes work in nature, biochemistry takes the knowledge from chemistry to study the fundamenta…

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