PhD Program in Biochemistry

The PhD in Biochemistry is a shared degree among the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Department of Biological Sciences, and the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. The core of graduate courses will provide a firm foundation in the theory and techniques of biochemistry, with full integration of the core disciplines of chemistry and biology. With this foundation, students will be prepared to specialize in either biochemistry or molecular biology.

Admission Requirements

  • Hold a BS degree in Biology or Chemistry or the equivalent from an accredited college or university. Previous completion of at least 28 credits, including labs, of chemistry or biology courses at the upper division level is required. The following courses are recommended as background regardless of undergraduate major: biochemistry or molecular biology, two semesters of organic chemistry, and two semesters of general biology. Students are expected to have taken either physical chemistry or genetics as an undergraduate. Students not having taken at least one of these courses will be required to make up this deficiency either before or during their first year of graduate study by taking appropriate coursework.
  • A GPA of at least 3.0 (on a four-point scale) during the last 60 credits of the undergraduate program.
  • A combined score of 1120 (verbal and quantitative) on the Graduate Record Exam.
  • Three letters of recommendation evaluating the applicant’s potential for graduate and research work.
  • A statement of purpose/research interests.
  • Receive approval from the Biochemistry Graduate Committee.
  • Foreign students whose native language is not English must obtain a score of 80 or higher on the TOEFL iBT or 550 on the paper TOEFL or a 6.5 on the IELTS.

Degree Requirements

The PhD in Biochemistry requires a minimum 75 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate degree. The Dissertation Committee will assist the student in choosing a curriculum suitable to the student’s interests, goals and background. This will include selection of electives as well as suggestions for other courses that may be needed to develop skills critical for the student’s research and career goals, especially quantitative skills. A grade of C or higher must be earned in all courses.

Coursework Requirements

  • Required Core Courses (16 credits)
    • BHC 6831 Introduction to Biochemical Research (3 credits)
    • BCH 6108 Biochemical Techniques (3 credits)
    • CHM 6036 Advanced Biochemistry I (3 credits
    • PCB 6025 Molecular and Cellular Biology I (3 credits)
    • CHM 6037 Advanced Biochemistry II 3 or PCB 6027 Molecular and Cellular Biology II (3 credits)
    • BSC XXXX Ethics, Publication and Intellectual Property (1 credit)
  • Additional Required Courses (33 credits)
    • BSC 5945 Supervised Teaching in Biology (2 credits min.) or CHM 6940 Supervised Teaching (2 credits min.)
    • BSC 6913 Student Research Laboratory (1 credit) or CHM 6910L Graduate Research in - Chemistry (1 credit) (taken during lab rotations)
    • BSC 7961 Dissertation Proposal Seminar (1 credit) or CHM 6936 Chemistry Colloquium (1 credit)
    • BSC 6936 Topics in Biology (4 credits min.) or CHM 6935 Graduate Seminar (4 credits min.)
    • BSC 6913 Student Research Lab (4 credits min.) or CHM 7910 Dissertation Research (4 credits min.)
    • BSC 7980/CHM 7980 PhD Dissertation (21 credits min.) or BSC 7982 Dissertation Defense Seminar (21 credits min.)
  • Electives (5 -26 credits)
    • BSC 6415 Animal Cells in Culture (3 credits)
    • BSC 6415L Animal Cells in Culture Lab (2 credits)
    • CHM 5302 Organic Chemistry of Nucleic Acids (3 credits)
    • CHM 5325 Physical Chemistry of Proteins (3 credits)
    • CHM 5351 Computer Modeling of Biological Molecules (3 credits)
    • CHM 5440 Kinetics and Catalysis (3 credits)
    • CHM 5503 Physical Chemistry of Nucleic Acids (3 credits)
    • CHM 5506 Physical Biochemistry (3 credits)
    • CHS 5536 Forensic DNA Chemistry (3 credits)
    • MCB 6935 Advanced Topics in Microbiology (3 credits)
    • PCB 5665 Human Genetics (3 credits)
    • PCB 5665L Human Genetics Lab (2 credits)
    • PCB 5725 Membrane Signal Transduction (3 credits)
    • PCB 5786 Membrane Physiology (3 credits)
    • PCB 6236 Comparative Immunology (3 credits)
    • PCB 6526 Advanced Molecular Biology (3 credits)
    • PCB 6566 Chromosome Structure and Function (3 credits)
    • PCB 6786 Membrane Biophysics (3 credits)
    • PCB 6935 Advanced Topics in Genetics (3 credits)
    • BCH 6130C DNA Synthesis and Amplification (1 credit)
    • BCH 6132C Electrophoresis (1 credit)
    • BCH 6133C DNA Sequencing (1 credit)
    • MCB 5315C Prokaryotic Cloning (2 credits)

Rotation and Choosing an Advisor

Students will spend 4-5 weeks in the laboratories of three Biochemistry faculty. Some flexibility in length of rotation is acceptable. In most cases, the rotations will be completed during the first semester of study, but an extension into the second semester is possible. At the end of each rotation, the student and the faculty member will complete an evaluation form. After completing a minimum of three rotations, students will submit an ordered list of three advisors they would like to work with. The Biochemistry Graduate Committee will make the research advisor assignments.

Supervised Teaching

Two semesters of supervised teaching or documentation of the equivalent amount of teaching experience is required. Concurrent enrollment in BSC 5945/CHM 6940 supervised Teaching is required.

Completion of Candidacy Exam

The Candidacy Exam consists of two parts: 1) a written Qualifying Examination and 2) presentation of an Original Research Proposal followed b y a Preliminary Oral Exam. The written Qualifying Exam will be administered at the end of the third semester of study (excluding summers), by which time all core courses should have been completed. The exam will be designed primarily to test material mastered in core courses. After passing the written Qualifying Exam, the student will present and defend an original research proposal (on a topic not related to the student’s specific doctoral research project) and undergo an oral exam.

Presentation of Formal Proposal of the Dissertation Topic

Each student must present a public seminar on their proposed research. This is done in the context of a one-credit course (BSC 7961 or CHM 6936) for a letter grade.

Submission and Defense of Dissertation

All students must submit a dissertation based upon original research in biochemistry. After submission of the dissertation and completion of all other prescribed work, the candidate will give a public presentation of the completed research and be given a final oral examination by the Dissertation Committee.