Graduate Program

SB3 Graduate Degree Requirements

Both the Master’s and Ph.D. degrees are offered with a concentration in Structural Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics (SB3). Master’s degrees may be earned under either of two plans. Plan A (Thesis Master’s) emphasizes research and Plan B (Non-thesis Master’s) requires comprehensive understanding of a more general character based on course work

All graduate students must follow the rules and regulations of the Graduate School as outlined in the Standards and Degree Requirements section of the Graduate Catalog , and are strongly encouraged to establish an Advisory Committee as soon as possible. Upon review of the student’s background and academic interests, the Advisory Committee may modify the requirements for obtaining a degree in Structural Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics.

Ph.D. Degree

The requirements for the Ph.D. degree with a concentration in SB3 conform to the requirements of the Graduate School as set forth in the Graduate Catalog.

The Graduate School requires a minimum of at least 30 credits of content course work beyond the baccalaureate (or its equivalent) or at least 15 credits of content course work beyond the master’s degree in the same or a closely-related field of study. The Plan of Study should be completed, signed by the student and advisory committee members, and submitted to the Graduate School for approval when 18 credits of course work have been completed.

In addition to the content course work and any required Related Area included in the Plan of Study, satisfactory completion of at least 15 credits of GRAD 6950 – Doctoral DissertationResearch or GRAD 6960 – Full-Time Doctoral Dissertation Research is required.

During their first semester, students are required to participate in the departmental rotation program (MCB 6000) and attend the Introduction to Faculty Research series (MCB 5899-002). By the end of the first year, students are expected to establish a committee consisting of a major advisor and two associate advisors. This advisory committee will be available to assist in course planning and provide guidance relevant to the prospectus exam. The student is expected meet with this committee yearly to keep them updated on scholarly activities.

Throughout the reminder of their graduate work, students will participate in the Departmental Graduate Seminar (MCB 5899-001) to present their research results annually. All SB3 graduate students are expected to participate in Graduate Biochemistry Seminar (MCB 5099-339) a weekly, student-led discussion of current topics and techniques. Laboratory group meetings and departmental events, such as the yearly MCB Retreat, provide students with additional opportunities to present their research findings.

1. General Course Requirements

Background course requirements:
An undergraduate or graduate biochemistry course or the equivalent is a prerequisite. Students with insufficient background in biochemistry are encouraged to take MCB 5001 (Biochemistry) or the corresponding course without a laboratory (MCB 5896-040) during their first semester.

Courses required for the major:
MCB 5012: Foundations of Structural Biochemistry
MCB 5013: Structure and Function of Biological Macromolecules

2. Preliminary Exam

Ph.D. students are required to pass a preliminary exam by the end of their third year in the program. A committee composed of three members of the student’s permanent committee plus two examiners will conduct the exam. If reexamination is required, this must be completed by the end of the semester following the original examination. Students must pass this preliminary exam two years before their Ph.D. thesis defense.
The exam comprises two parts:

Written Proposal:
Students must defend a thesis-related proposal. The proposal should be written in the general style of an NIH application including specific aims, background and research plan. The document should be a maximum of 12 pages, double spaced, 1 in. margins, including figures but not references. The major advisor may provide consultation, but the student must write the entire proposal. The proposal will be distributed to the members of the examining committee two weeks prior to the oral examination. Students should be prepared to defend in detail both the scope of the research and the proposed methodologies. The committee will evaluate the scientific content and clarity of writing in the proposal. No preliminary data from the student’s research are required for either the written proposal or oral presentation. This written document will serve as the student’s prospectus.

Oral Examination:
The candidate will present a short public seminar describing the proposal and answer questions from the general audience. Immediately following the seminar, a formal examination will be given that includes questions on the proposal and tests the candidate’s general knowledge of biochemistry, structural biology and biophysics. Members of the examining committee and any other faculty who wish to remain will administer this examination. The student must arrange for a formal announcement of the oral examination one week prior to the presentation and make available a written copy of the proposal in each MCB office and place and electronic version online.

3. Thesis

To complete the Ph.D. degree, the student must write a thesis based on his/her original research, following the specifications as described by the Graduate School and with guidance from his/her advisory committee. A presentation of the original research will be part of the examination. The committee must approve the thesis and final oral examination.

 

For a concise guide regarding the milestones and procedures please refer to the Milestones and Procedures document. This document also contains a check list with dates that you will find useful to keep on track during your tenure in MCB. This information applies to all MCB Ph.D. students who entered the Ph.D. program after December 2015.

Master’s Degree, Plan A and B

The requirements for the M.S. degree with a concentration in SB3 conform to the requirements of the Graduate School as set forth in the Graduate Catalog.

1. General Course Requirements

Background course requirements:
An undergraduate or graduate biochemistry course or the equivalent is expected. Students with insufficient background in biochemistry should take MCB 5001 (Biochemistry) (or its equivalent without a laboratory (MCB 5896-040) during their first semester.

Courses required for the major:
MCB 5012: Foundations of Structural Biochemistry
MCB 5013: Structure and Function of Biological Macromolecules

2. Plan A (Thesis Master’s)

Students should complete at least 15 credits of the courses described above, plus at least 9 credits of Grad 5950: Master’s Thesis Research. The student must complete and defend a Master’s-level thesis. Plan A Master’s students should formulate a committee consisting of a major advisor and two associate advisors during their first year to assist in course planning and research activities.

3. Plan B (Non-thesis Master’s)

Students must complete at least 24 credits of course work and pass an oral exit examination. A laboratory course or research credit (MCB 5895) is highly recommended. In addition to MCB 5012 and 5013, non-thesis master’s students are required to take four of the following classes:
MCB 5002: Biochemistry Laboratory
MCB 5008: Theory of Biophysical Techniques
MCB 5010: Biological Spectroscopy
MCB 5025: Structure and Function of Biological Membranes
MCB 5034: Human Metabolism and Disease
MCB 5076: Biomolecular NMR
MCB 5896-028: Macromolecular Machines

Students will be assigned an advisory committee upon entering the program consisting of three SB3 faculty members. Incoming students are encouraged to meet with their committee members to discuss course planning as soon as possible. An oral exit exam will be given to the student in their last semester in the program.