Timeline to Degree

The Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics (BMG) curriculum is designed to integrate class room instruction with research during years 1 and 2 with years 3 -5 devoted to independent research.

The area of research concentration is ultimately determined by the selection of a preceptor and laboratory. The time required to complete the degree program ranges from four to six years, with a typical student finishing in five years.

Download Timeline [PDF file]

Course Work

All BMG Ph.D. students are required to complete a minimum of 30 credit hours by the end of year 2 to be eligible for Exam I (Ph.D. qualifying exam) and to enter Master’s candidacy. 24 hours must be in class room instruction with a minimum of 17 hours in core BMG courses. This requirement is fulfilled by successfully completing the required core coursework, seminar, and lab rotations outlined for years 1 and 2. Original research (BIOC 619) credit does not count toward the 30 hour requirement.

Year 1 courses provide a solid foundation for Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics principles and applications (BIOC 645, 647, 611). The Department joins with other basic science departments within the School of Medicine in the Integrated Programs in Biomedical Sciences (IPIBS). The goal of this program is to provide an interdisciplinary approach to the biomedical sciences. (IPIBS) Course Requirements include cross-discipline methods survey and statistics (BIOC 610), Cell Biology (BIOC 667), and Research Ethics (BIOC 630).

Year 2 advanced courses provide literature-based discussions on key concepts in Molecular Biology and Genetics (BIOC 668) and protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions (BIOC680). A course on grantsmanship using a reiterative writing process for students learn how to prepare grant proposal (BIOC 603-01). Electives in Cancer Biology (BIOC 667), Molecular Toxicology (BIOC 661), and Next Generation Sequencing (BIOC 603-02) are available for advanced students in Year 2.

Presentation Skills- Requirements

Our philosophy is that developing strong communication skills is a critical aspect of graduate education training. All BMG Ph.D. students are required to attend and participate in journal club in years 1 & 2 and attend a formal workshop-based training on developing an effective seminar. Each student will give an annual presentation to the department, beginning in year 1 with presenting a brief 15 minute lab rotation report. In years 2 and 3 each student will give a literature-based seminar presentation to the department and years 3 and beyond a research conference on their own work.

Other Requirements

Pass Exam I (Ph.D. Qualifying Exam) and Exam II (Dissertation Research Proposal)

  • Exam I evaluates the student's assimilation of the fundamental principles of biochemistry and molecular genetics and their ability to interpret literature, independently develop a research plan, integrate material from the graduate curriculum, write clearly, organize a proposal, and orally defend their ideas. The format is an oral defense of a grant proposal that the student has written on a topic unrelated to their dissertation research.
  • Exam II has two components: a brief oral presentation to the department of the proposed dissertation research (Exam IIa) and a written pre-doctoral fellowship grant proposal on their dissertation research that is approved by the dissertation committee (Exam IIb). Exam IIb must be completed within 6 months of passing Exam I.


Our philosophy is that a complete graduate education should include experience in teaching. Students assist in teaching for ½ semester, usually in the graduate Advanced Biochemistry course (BIOC 645 & 647) or Methods course (BIOC 611), during their second year of study. Opportunities to gain greater teaching experience are available through the School of Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies (SIGS) and within the department upon request.

Checklist of requirements for a Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics

Successfully complete:

  1. all coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  2. a minimum of two laboratory rotations.
  3. serve as a teaching assistant for 1 semester.
  4. two seminar presentations.
  5. Exam I (Ph.D. qualifying exam).
  6. Exam IIa and IIb (dissertation proposal and committee meeting).
  7. annual research conferences with committee meetings in years 3 and beyond.
  8. a body of novel research (dissertation).
  9. publish at minimum one 1st author manuscript.
  10. write and publically defend a doctoral dissertation that is acceptable by the dissertation committee and School of Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies.