The minor includes core courses in biological sciences and biochemical engineering, as well as an array of electives.The minor includes core courses in biological sciences and biochemical engineering, as well as an array of electives.

Undergraduate Study
Biotechnology & Biochemical Engineering Minor

Society is being reshaped by the technological application of the tools of modern biology. Bioprocessing plays a key role in manufacturing pharmaceuticals, biomaterials, and agents for gene and cell therapies. In addition, biological approaches play a pivotal role in the processing of corn and biomass into fuels like ethanol.

This minor provides specific training for students to enter and contribute to these growing industries. It also provides an in-depth preparation for future graduate study for those interested in biotechnology research. Unlike "areas of specialization" within engineering majors, this minor will appear on a student's transcripts, providing credentials for prospective employers or graduate schools.

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Required Courses

This minor consists of 10 units: six core courses, one quarter of research, and three electives.

Core Courses

Six courses in biological science and biochemical engineering:

  • BIOL SCI 215 Genetics and Molecular Biology*
  • BIOL SCI 219 Cell Biology *CHEM ENG 275 Molecular and Cell Biology for Engineers may replace either BIOL SCI 215 Genetics and Molecular Biology or BIOL SCI 219 Cell Biology
  • BIOL SCI 217 Physiology or BMD ENG 303 Systems Physiology
  • BIOL SCI 301 Principles of Biochemistry
  • CHEM ENG 375 Biochemical Engineering
  • CHEM ENG 377 Bioseparations


One quarter of research: Independent Study 399-0 Projects in an approved laboratory, or the complete set of laboratories:

  • BIOL SCI 220 Genetic and Molecular Processes Laboratory (.34 units)
  • BIOL SCI 221 Cellular Processes Laboratory (.34 units)
  • BIOL SCI 222 Physiological Processes Laboratory (.34 units)

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Three electives providing opportunity for greater depth in both fundamental biology and engineering applications. For a list of the electives that fulfill this requirement, please download the minor declaration form.

Additional Requirements

  • A minimum GPA of 2.0 is required in the courses in the minor.
  • Students must earn a BA/BS degree from Northwestern University to earn the minor.
  • No more than five courses may be double counted to fulfill requirements in the major program.
  • A maximum of two (2) classes not offered by the department may be taken p/n for the minor. Students must also comply with departmental and McCormick p/n regulations for courses that double count between the minor and the major program.
  • Students not majoring in Chemical Engineering should take the Bio Sci core courses (215, 217, 219, and 301) listed in the minor before taking Chem Eng 375 and 377.  In addition, students should take Thermodynamics (Chem 342-1) and recommended Advanced Cell Biology (Bio Sci 315) to prepare for Chem Eng 375 and 377.    
  • Students must submit a completed Petition to Receive form for the minor to the McCormick Academic Services Office before the beginning of their final quarter as undergraduates.

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Additional Information About the Minor

  • Since the minor is geared toward students interested in the bioprocess industries, it fits very naturally within the chemical engineering major. However, students from other fields such as biomedical engineering, environmental engineering, or biology may also be interested.
  • There are differences between the minor and the bioengineering area of specialization in the chemical engineering major. Although both options have a similar focus, the minor covers both greater depth and breadth due to its more extensive course requirements. Students interested in biotechnology but unable to complete the minor requirements can pursue the biomedical engineering and biotechnology specialization.
  • If you’re a premed student, the minor is compatible with standard medical school requirements.
  • Completing the minor will generally allow students to complete the master of science in biotechnology program in four quarters, rather than five. 

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Declare This Minor

In order to receive the minor a student must complete the minor declaration form, obtain the required approvals, and submit the form to the McCormick Academic Services Office before the beginning of the student's final quarter as an undergraduate.

For further information please contact Danielle Tullman-Ercek, coordinator of the minor and professor of chemical and biological engineering.