Programs of Study

Biochemistry Option

The departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Clinical Lab Science and Biological Sciences have developed a program in biochemistry which results in the awarding of a Ph.D. in Chemistry. This program draws upon the special and diverse talents of these faculties, and provides chemistry graduate students with both in-breadth class work and in-depth thesis research. Emphasis is on the application of modern techniques and concepts of physical and chemical science to the solution of problems of current interest in biology and medicine.

Students may choose one of four concentrations in the Biochemistry Option:

  • Biochemistry/Biomaterials
  • Biotechnology/Bioprocessing
  • Cellular Biology/Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Chemistry/Medicinal Chemistry
Dissertation research can be conducted in any of the aforementioned departments or in an interdisciplinary setting.

Admission Requirements and Removal of Undergraduate Deficiencies Admission to the program requires demonstration of an acceptable B.S., B.A., or M.S. degree in chemistry, biology, biochemistry or other related science. Students will be expected to have completed two semesters each of general, organic and physical chemistry as well as introductory biology. Qualifying examinations will indicate deficiencies in any of these areas. Deficiencies must be removed by enrolling in the corresponding undergraduate course during the first year in the program. 

Academic Standards for Retention in the Biochemistry Program

The graduate student is expected to maintain an average of 3.0 or better in all his/her graduate-level courses. All other department requirements must also be met.

Degree Requirements

There are 45 credits required for the Ph.D. in Chemistry, Biochemistry Option. A total of 27 of these must be in formal courses while the remaining 18 will be accrued in Doctoral Dissertation (84.753). Of the 27 required hours of graduate course work, the Biochemistry Program requires that 15 hours are in the specific courses delineated below:

84.550   Biochemistry I    
84.551   Biochemistry II     
84.538   Biochemical Mechanisms 
84.560   Advanced Physical Biochemistry 
84.580   Advanced Analytical Biochemistry 

The remaining courses (a minimum of 12 hours) may be selected from approved graduate courses in the Biology, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, or Clinical Lab Sciences Departments. Course selection should be made in consultation with the advisor. Below is a list of suggested biology and chemistry courses.

84.514   Advanced Analytical Chemistry
84.526   Chromatography
84.527   Stereochemistry
84.532   Advanced Physical Chemistry
84.568   Structural Analysis
84.515   Chemical Literature
81.567   Recombinant DNA Techniques
81.569   Recombinant DNA Laboratory
81.576   Cell Culture and Hybridoma
81.578   Cell Culture an Hybridoma Laboratory
81.585   Eukaryotic Gene Expression
81.593   Immunobiology
97.511   Biopolymers


During each semester in residence all full-time students must register for a one-credit seminar course and attend one seminar each week, as required by the Chemistry Department. The student is required to present two one-hour presentations during his/her residence. 


A. Initiation of Research - Preceptor Selection Procedure

The dissertation research of each graduate student may be initiated at any time but not later than the end of the second semester in the program. The student is advised to make serious efforts, prior to the summer following his/her first entrance to the program, to initiate faculty research interviews and attempt to identify the area of his/her research interest and particular research group which may be suitable for pursuing his/her research goals.

B. Advisory Committee

Mandatory rotations through prospective research preceptors' laboratories during the first year of residency will aid the student in choosing a research advisor. After the student has chosen his/her research preceptor (during the second semester of residency), an Advisory Committee will be appointed to monitor the progress of the student's research at least twice a year. The Advisory Committee will be a permanent part of the student's examination committees. 


A. Comprehensive Examination

Please contact the biochemistry graduate coordinator concerning details about the comprehensive examination.

B. Oral Research Proposal

Prior to the end of the fourth semester of matriculation, the student will be required to present and defend, orally, a research proposal in an area of biochemistry related to but not identical to that of his/her thesis. A written copy of the proposed research must be distributed to the Examination Committee at least one week prior to the examination.

The Examination Committee will be composed of four faculty members chosen after consultation by the student with his/her preceptor. All members of the university community are welcome to attend these examinations. Failure to perform adequately in either the written proposal or the oral defense may result in the student being required to complete an M.S. degree. Continuation toward a Ph.D. degree will be judged on a case by case basis. 

Admission to Candidacy for the Doctorate

To be admitted to candidacy for the doctorate, a student must:

  • Complete all required courses with necessary grade point average.*
  • Pass the Comprehensive Examination.
  • Fulfill the language requirement (as outlined by the Chemistry Department).
  • Successfully present and defend the Oral Research Proposal.
  • Present 2 seminars.
  • Secure approval of his/her research preceptor and the biochemistry committee.

*There is an absolute minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) requirement of 3.0 for all graduate work. At the end of the first semester, if a student is found to be below the minimum GPA, a written warning will be issued. If the cumulative GPA is not raised to 3.0 or higher by the end of the second semester in residence, the student will automatically be dropped from the Ph.D. program but allowed to continue toward a master's degree in Biochemistry with the approval of the graduate committee. While completing the M.S., a candidate must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and maintain that GPA throughout the remainder of his or her career. Upon successful completion of the Master of Science degree, the student may reapply for admission to the doctoral program. Each case will be reviewed on an individual basis by the Graduate Committee. Students reentering the Ph.D. program will then satisfy all the requirements for the degree including passing the comprehensive examination, presentation of their research proposal, and completion of their research and dissertation defense. Seminar presentations and course work accomplished to complete the master's degree will, of course, be cumulative. 

When these requirements have been fulfilled, the Biochemistry Program Curriculum Committee will recommend that the graduate coordinator of the Department of Chemistry notify the Dean of the Graduate School to place the student on the list of candidates for the Ph.D. degree. Admission to candidacy in no way guarantees the granting of the degree. 

Successful performance of an original research project, completion of a written dissertation and subsequent successful public presentation and defense of the dissertation research will culminate in granting of the Ph.D. degree in Chemistry.