Program Guidelines

This page provides a brief overview of the structure of the program. Current students in need of more detailed information should see the program handbook.

Course Requirements

All students in the Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB) must meet curriculum requirements for graduation with a Ph.D. in biochemistry. See a list of the courses here.

  • Biochem 719: From Atoms to Molecules (3 credits)
  • Biochem/BMC 701: Professional Responsibility (1 credit)
  • Biochem 729.001: Biochemical Communication (2 credits)
  • Bmolchem 720: Experimental Design and Paradigms in Cellular Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (3 credits)
  • Biochem/Bmolchem Advanced Seminar
  • Breadth requirement: Students must complete a minimum of 2 additional graduate-level (600 or above or that carry the graduate attribute) didactic or laboratory courses in order to fulfill their breadth requirements. Each course must carry a minimum of 2 credits, and a minimum of 6 total credits is required. Courses must be chosen from at least 2 of the following categories: physical sciences, biological sciences, or quantitative sciences.
  • Students attend a 900-level seminar every semester until graduation, which cover in-depth a variety of current research topics


Students participate in 2 semesters of teaching in a laboratory or lecture course, usually by the second and third years of graduate school. This requirement acquaints graduate students with educational methods and provides important teaching experiences.

Thesis Committee

During the second semester, students assemble their faculty thesis committees and meet to determine overall curriculum. This committee will follow the progress of the student until his/her graduation, offering advice.

Students select faculty members they would like to have serve on their committee, in consultation with their advisor. The first thesis committee is convened prior to the start of the second year to consult on coursework and discuss the student’s research program. Annual progress meetings are held until the time of the Ph.D. thesis defense.

Preliminary Exam

Passing a preliminary exam is required for students to obtain dissertator status. Students complete the preliminary exam by the end of the their second year in the program. The student prepares a written research proposal based on their thesis project and modeled after an NIH grant application. The thesis proposal is the defended orally in front of their thesis committee.

Thesis Defense

Successful completion of a research program culminates in the written and oral presentation of the work and its defense to the thesis committee. Students generally reach this final stage in 5-6 years.

Typical timeline of a PhD in Biochemistry

Doctoral Minors

The Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB) does not require a minor; instead, we have a breadth requirement of at least six credits in at least two of the three breadth areas (biological, physical, and quantitative science). Students who have special interest and wish to pursue a minor must meet the minor requirements of that department/program. Examples of minor options pursued by some IPiB students are the following:

  • Quantitative Biology for students interested in biophysics, systems biology, bioinformatics or biostatistics. This interdisciplinary minor includes coursework in quantitative methods, biological science, and integration of quantitative biology.
  • Life Science Communication for students interested in the ethical, legal, and social implications of emerging technologies or the future.
  • Chemical Biology for students interested in using chemical tools to probe biological systems or understand the chemistry underlying biological processes. This minor can be created by combining Biochem 704: Chemical Biology, with additional courses in Chemistry or Biochemistry.
  • Biophysics. Students must take Chemistry/Biochemistry 665 (Physical Biochemistry, 4 credits) and Chemistry 668 (Biophysical Spectroscopy, 2-3 credits) and one or more other courses from the current core Biophysics Curriculum of core courses. These courses include Biochemistry 610 (Protein and Enzyme Structure), Biochemistry 612 (Prokaryotic Molecular Biology), Biochemistry 620 (Eukaryotic Molecular Biology), and Neuroscience 610 (Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience).