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Biochemistry & Molecular Biology - Doctor of Philosophy

Department Overview
Graduate Programs
Master of Science
Doctor of Philosophy
Course Descriptions
Molecular Modeling Facility

Specific Program Requirements (Hegis Code 0414)

A minimum of 45 course credits and 15 research credits is required.

Required Courses


General Biochemistry I & II (BIOC 1010, 1020) 8 credits

Biochemistry of Gene Expression (BIOC 1250)

4 credits

Protein Structure and Function (BIOC 2690)

3 credits

Advanced Biochemical Techniques (BIOC 9110)

9 credits

Departmental Seminar & Journal Club (BIOC 8020)

4 credits

Cell Biology (CELL 1360)

3 credits


14 credits

At least 4 elective credits must be in Biochemistry courses.


Subtotal, course credits 45 credits

Doctoral Dissertation Research (BIOC 9900)

15 research credits

Total 60 credits

During the first year, the student takes General Biochemistry I (BIOC 1010) and Biochemistry of Gene Expression (BIOC 1250) in the Fall term and General Biochemistry II (BIOC 1020) and Protein Structure and Function (BIOC 2690) in the Spring term. Departmental Seminar and Journal Club (BIOC 8020) is required during each year of enrollment in the Ph.D. program but only four credits of this course may be applied towards the programís minimum credit requirements. All Ph.D. students are required and expected to attend departmental seminars. These seminars include those presented by students and invited speakers. In addition, Ph.D. students will carry out three laboratory rotations of approximately three months each during the first year (BIOC 9110). Since the academic load in the Spring term is fairly heavy and Part I of the Qualifying Examination (the Preliminary Examination) is taken in June of the first year, the third rotation may be extended into the summer.

M.D./Ph.D. Candidates

Course requirements for M.D./Ph.D. candidates seeking their Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology are Cell Biology (BIOC 1360), Biochemistry of Gene Expression (BIOC 1250), and Protein Structure and Function (BIOC 2690). Departmental Seminar and Journal Club (BIOC 8020) is required during each year of enrollment in the Ph.D. program. Students may elect to take additional courses offered in other departments. M.D./Ph.D. students must also pass the written and oral examination(s), prepare a thesis proposal, and defend a doctoral dissertation like all Ph.D. candidates.

Qualifying Examination

Part I of the Qualifying Examination (the Preliminary Exam) is administered at the end of the first year (usually in June). This written examination tests the student's mastery of material covered in the first-year curriculum and other selected topics. All first year students must take the examination at this time. Under certain circumstances, if performance on the examination is unsatisfactory, a student may be given the opportunity to re-take the examination within one year. No more than two opportunities to pass the examination will be provided.

Part II (Qualifying Exam): Within one year of completing Part I of the examination, the student must submit a short written proposal describing the design of a research project on a topic not directly related to the student's dissertation research. An examining committee will be established consisting of at least three faculty from the program and one faculty member from another doctoral program within the College. This committee will review and approve the studentís topic. The proposal will then be presented and defended orally in front of the examining committee and the department, at which time the student will be examined on various aspects of the proposal.


The student is considered a doctoral candidate when he or she has passed both parts of the Qualifying Examination, has earned at least 30 didactic (letter-graded) credits including all the required courses, and has been recommended for candidacy by the program faculty. M.D./Ph.D. students are eligible for candidacy under the same conditions except that the credit requirement consists only of the required graduate courses.

Dissertation Committee

Students must choose a thesis advisor after successful completion of Part I (Preliminary Exam) of the Qualifying Examination (i.e., at the end of the first year). Before the end of the second year, a dissertation committee should be formed. This committee must have at least five members, including at least three graduate faculty from the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program and one graduate faculty member from another doctoral program. One member of the committee may be a scientist with appropriate expertise from outside the College. The thesis advisor chairs the committee. Within a year of beginning the thesis research, the student should present a dissertation research proposal to this committee. A written progress report should be presented to the committee at least once each year. Upon approval of the committee, the student may write the dissertation and defend it before the committee and the department.


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