Biochemistry Degree Requirements & Standards

The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry offers Masters and Doctoral programs leading to MS and PhD degrees in three distinct areas: Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacognosy. The aspects of the program that apply to all students are outlined below. More detailed descriptions of the requirements for all programs are available from the College of Graduate Studies.

Prerequisites for Admission

To be eligible for admission to any graduate program, you must hold at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college, or be currently enrolled in an undergraduate/first-professional degree program at the University and be fluent in both spoken and written English. In addition, the following classes are prerequisites for admission into the biochemistry program, including all tracks (M.S. Thesis, M.S. Non-Thesis, and Ph.D.). Each student must present transfer credit, earn advanced placement credit by examination (the Qualifying Exams) or obtain credit in the following:

2 semesters of Calculus 1 semester of Genetics
1 semester of Analytical Chemistry 1 semester of Literature of Chemistry
1 semester of English Composition 2 semesters of Biochemistry
1 semester of Biochemistry Laboratory 1 semester of Physical Chemistry
1 semester of Cell Biology
or Advanced Biochemistry
2 semesters of Organic Chemistry
(with laboratory)

Required Examinations

All entering graduate students, regardless of program, take a set of four entrance examinations that are designed to measure their chemistry background in order to ensure that students have the knowledge necessary to be successful in both the courses and research planned. Students may take any individual examination more than once, but they are required to pass the entire set of examinations within one year of matriculation.

In the second year, PhD students are expected to begin a series of comprehensive examinations designed to measure graduate level skills in Analytical Chemistry, Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry and Pharmacognosy. Candidates are expected to pass five of these examinations within one year.

Selection of a Research Advisor

Upon entering the graduate program, all students register for research rotations with two potential advisors. Upon completion of the rotation series, a student is eligible to select an advisor (the advisor usually is, but need not be, one of the rotation advisors). Descriptions of faculty and their research interests are found online in the Faculty & Directory. These descriptions will help you select a potential research advisors.

Once the advisor is selected, an Advisory Committee is formed, typically consisting of three or four faculty members with appropriate expertise, and is designed to assist the student in their research endeavors. With the aid of the research advisor and the Advisory Committee, you will write a one or two page research prospectus, outlining the proposed research program, which must be approved before you can begin the thesis research.

Thesis Dissertation and Final Defense

Upon completion of the research project that is necessary for the MS (thesis) and PhD degrees, you must write a thesis describing your research accomplishments, and successfully defend that thesis at a final oral examination before the members of the Advisory Committee.

MS Non-Thesis Option

Alternatively, you may elect to obtain a "non thesis" MS degree in Chemistry or Biochemistry. This option typically requires a program consisting primarily of coursework, as opposed to the research activities that form the foundation of the MS-thesis and PhD degrees previously discussed. In addition to coursework, the non-thesis option also requires a capstone library project in place of the thesis, which must be defended before the graduate faculty of the Department

Learning Outcomes

Each program at the University has developed student learning outcomes. Graduates of this program will achieve these learning outcomes.