Biochemistry Program

3D structure of proteinThe Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry currently has seventeen faculty members and affiliate faculty members who participate in the Biochemistry program. Students may work with faculty members in Biochemistry or with faculty members in Chemistry who have biochemical interests.

This program provides rigorous graduate course work in biochemical and biophysical principles and techniques as well as in molecular biology, genomics and proteomics, and systems biology that will prepare students for their research. Graduate research focuses on fostering independence and expertise in answering cutting-edge biochemistry questions. Research programs fall into the general areas of biophysical chemistry, nucleic acid biochemistry, molecular biophysics, structural biology, bioorganic chemistry/chemical biology, and enzymes and molecular machines.

Graduate students in the Biochemistry program enjoy the benefits of being part of a close-knit and supportive community and still having the resources of a large research department and university available to them. The rigorous course work, mentorship, research and resources allow Biochemistry graduates to become successful in academic, industrial, and government careers in today’s hi-tech world of biochemistry and biotechnology.


Biochemistry Graduate Student Owen Becette on studies of RNA structure and dynamics.

Program Overview


Masters of Science in Biochemistry

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry accepts Masters students only in rare cases. Students have a maximum of 5 years to complete this degree, but typically, are able to complete all requirements in 2.5 years. Financial assistance is not generally available to M.S. students.

Degree Requirements

Biochemistry Masters students have two tracks that they can choose: Thesis or Non-Thesis.

Thesis Option

  • 30 credits of graduate coursework 
    • 24 credits of graduate coursework must be completed by the end of the fourth semester.
  • Out of the 30 total credits, 6 credits must be research (BCHM799)
  • Completion of a thesis based on the student's research
  • Presentation of one seminar, generally immediately before the final oral examination
  • A final oral examination by the student's advisory committee


Non-Thesis Option

  • 30 credits of graduate coursework
    • Biochemistry Core courses (BCHM 661, 662, 671, and 675) must be completed by the end  of the fourth semester
  • Out of the 30 total credits, 6 credits must be research (BCHM699)
  • A 20 page original scholarly paper must be submitted and approved by three faculty members


Detailed Information about the MS degree requirements can be found here.


PhD in Biochemistry

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry accepts PhD students each Fall. We do not offer Spring admissions. Students must advance to candidacy within 5 years of admission to the doctoral program. After advancing to candidacy, students have 4 years to complete and defend their dissertation. Admitted PhD students are offered a graduate assistantship in the form of a teaching assistantship during their first year of the program. After the first year, as long as students are in good standing, they will continue to receive funding from the department via a research or teaching assistantship.

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. in Biochemistry must include:

  • At least 21 credits of graduate coursework, with 19 credits completed by the end of the fourth semester with an overall GPA ≥ 3.0
  • 12 credits of Ph.D. research (BCHM 898 (pre-candidacy), BCHM 899 (post-candidacy)).
  • Oral defense of a written research proposal and demonstration of general knowledge of biochemistry as part of advancement to candidacy.
  • Presentation of a seminar on a topic that is different from the student’s dissertation research.
  • Independent preparation of a research aim in the area of student’s own research.
  • Preparation and oral defense of a publication-quality dissertation that advances the field. 


Detailed Information about the PhD requirements can be found here.