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Current Students


As a student in the Molecular Biology and Biological Chemistry Program you are responsible to complete the standard first year coursework and three (3) laboratory rotations before joining a thesis lab/department to complete your PhD.

Aside from your coursework and rotations, the Program Office sponsors many fun social events:

  • Bioscience Student Retreat (Late August before classes begin)
  • Annual Bioscience Symposium (Mid September/October)
  • Recruiting Events (January –March)
  • Semester Socials
  • Summer MB/BC Programs BBQ or Activity

Requirements for First-Year Students

Students begin in the Fall Semester and are in the Bioscience Programs for one (1) year

  • Students are responsible to complete the standard first year coursework and three (3) laboratory rotations
  • Students are assigned a faculty advisor for guidance on curriculum and lab rotations
  • Students receive financial support: Annual Fellowship / Living Stipend ($35,000 for the 2023-2024 academic year; expected to rise to $37,000 for the 2024-2025 academic year), full tuition waiver, and health insurance
  • See First-Year Information page for administrative details



Classes are organized into the Core Curriculum, Selectives, and Electives. Detailed information about Fall and Spring classes can be found here: Curriculum

Core Curriculum

Designed to provide a solid background in key areas

    • Molecular Biology: Nucleic Acid Metabolism, Gene Expression, Protein Structure and Function, Genetics, and Cell Biology 
    • Biological Chemistry: Nucleic Acid Biochemistry, Protein Structure and Function, Bioorganic, and Biophysical Chemistry
  • Designed to teach independent, critical thinking skills, and grant writing
  • Allow students more choice in first year coursework
  • Increase students’ exposure to disciplines
  • Critical Thinking in Research
  • Guided Proposal Preparation and Capstone Exam
  • Designed to fulfill the NIH-mandated requirement for training in scientific ethics
  • Case Studies in Research Ethics


  • Gives students the opportunity to self-select two (2) selectives courses that match their research interest and/or explore the range of disciplines and research emphasis areas.


  • Gives students the opportunity to self-select two (2) elective courses. These are didactic courses designed to help students gain proficiency in specialized areas of interest.


Laboratory Rotations

  • Students complete three (3) lab rotations with the purpose to select a thesis mentor and lab. They may choose from over 200 participating faculty in 11 different departments
  • Laboratory rotations are essential for identifying the appropriate thesis mentor and lab. In addition, laboratory rotations may provide students with exposure to areas of research they might not otherwise experience; familiarize the student with research in different groups and departments through research seminars; and help them develop contacts and learn experimental techniques that may prove helpful in subsequent thesis research
  • Students will participate in the Faculty Research Poster Sessions (FRIS), where they will be introduced to potential labs and rotation advisors to help make an informed decision about multiple options and future collaborations before beginning the three (3) required rotations
  • Students will choose a thesis advisor and lab at the end of Spring semester. A very low student to faculty ratio promotes a high level of student choice and an outstanding mentoring environment

Graduate Study in the Second Year and Beyond

After the first year, each student's education will be conducted under the policies of the participating department of the Thesis Advisor.

 Requirements include:

  • Admission to PhD degree candidacy after successfully completing the 1st year curriculum, capstone exam, and passing the departmental preliminary examination/advancement to candidacy
  • Admits the student to the PhD Program of Study
    • MB: Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Human Genetics, Microbiology and Immunology Division, Neurobiology, Nutrition and Integrative Physiology, or Oncological Sciences
    • BC: Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, Oncological Sciences, Molecular Pharmaceutics, or Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Advanced classes, often discussion courses centered around primary literature and focused on topics relevant to the thesis
  • Participation in departmental seminars and research-in-progress presentations
  • One semester of required teaching experience at the graduate or undergraduate level
  • Thesis Research Project and Dissertation Defense

In addition to other department activities in which they may participate, students will have leadership opportunities on program committees and organizing community events

Last Updated: 4/9/24