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/BMOLCHEM 701: Professional Responsibility (1 credit)
  • BIOCHEM 721: Biochemical Communication (2 credits)
  • BMOLCHEM 720: Experimental Design and Paradigms in Cellular Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (3 credits)
  • Biochemistry Colloquium (in first year)
  • Breadth requirement: Students must complete a minimum of 2 additional approved 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 enroll in a minimum of five 900-level seminars: one in their research area, one outside their research area, and two IPiB seminars.


Graduate students are required to teach for one semester (second year) and then have the option to either teach for a second semester (third year) or fulfill an equivalent (~60 hrs.) approved professional development plan. This allows students to gain valuable teaching experience in accordance with their professional goals, and the option to receive recognition for their professional development in ways that align more closely with their professional interests.

Thesis Committee

Before the start of their second year, students assemble their faculty thesis committees in consultation with their advisors and meet to determine overall curriculum. This committee will follow the progress of the student until their graduation, meeting annually and offering advice and guidance.

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

Student timeline from rotation to PhD

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 Sciences Communication for students interested in the ethical, legal, and social implications of emerging technologies or the future.
  • 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).