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5th Year Master's Degree Program

BMB 5th Year Master’s Degree Requirements

Year 1


minimum credits: 1

  • Biochem 596 1 credit

Begin paperwork for transfer of 500+ coursework if applicable. 


minimum credits: 14

  • Biochem 642 4 credits
  • Biochem 691A 1 credit
  • MCB 691A 1 credit
  • Biochem 596 2 credits
  • Biochem 599 5 credits
  • Journal Clubs or Electives 1-3 credits


minimum credits: 15

  • Biochem 623 4 credits
  • Biochem 691A 1 credit
  • MCB 691A 1 credit
  • Biochem 696 3 credits
  • Biochem 699 5 credits
  • Journal Clubs or Electives 1-3 credits

Year 2


  • Optional additional coursework
  • Master’s Thesis
  • Master’s Thesis Defense

BMB 5th Year Master's Degree Timeline

  • June: Register for 1 credit of Biochem 596. Prepare paperwork, if applicable, for transfer of up to 6 credits of courses numbered 500 or higher taken in the undergrad program, but not meeting any requirement of the B.S.
  • September:  Register for courses. Begin discussion with mentor of committee assignment and thesis topic and outline.
  • January:  Register for courses. Finalize Thesis Committee appointments.
  • Early February: Memo to Grad School concerning constitution of the Thesis Committee; approval by Grad School follows.
  • March 1st: Submit Thesis Outline signed by all Committee members and the Graduate Program Director.
  • August 1st: Schedule Master’s Thesis Defense to be held by August 15th. Memo to Grad School indicating the approval of the Master’s Thesis signed by Thesis Committee Chair and Graduate Program Director.
  • August 31st: (or last working day of August): submit completed Master’s Degree Eligibility Form and Master’s Thesis to Graduate Records Office.
  • September 1st:  Degree Awarded

The Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology offers a special Master’s of Science (M.S.) Program designed to enhance the scientific education of its B.S.-level students who have strong academic records and have been conducting research in a laboratory in this department.  Normally, the M.S. requirements are completed 15 months from receipt of the B.S.

The Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology admits/appoints only M.S. candidates.  Ph.D. candidates who wish to conduct their thesis research under the direction of faculty members in this department should enroll in one of the interdepartmental graduate programs on campus, e.g. Molecular and Cellular Biology, Plant Biology, or Neuroscience.

Basis of Admission to BMB M.S. Program

The goal of the M.S. Program is to provide additional scholarly training to qualified majors who have received their B.S. from this department.  Students from other departments and institutions are not admitted.  Laboratory research experience is a prerequisite for admission to the M.S. program, and thesis research projects are expected to develop from each student’s undergraduate independent research activity and are to be carried out with the same mentor.  Undergraduate majors interested in the M.S. Program should discuss it with their academic advisor in the sixth semester, if possible.  In most cases, an undergraduate research project can be extended or adapted to provide the basis for the M.S. project.

Application steps: Upon mutual agreement between the candidate and mentor, the candidate applies for admission to the M.S. program through the Graduate School.  This is usually done during the student’s 7th undergraduate semester.  All of the Graduate School regulations apply; it is up to the student to become familiar with the Grad School rules and regulations.   Applications for the BMB M.S. are accepted continuously.  Applicants are not required to take the GRE as part of the admissions process.  Application materials (including 3 letters of recommendation, with one from the mentor explicitly assuring that the student’s plan to work with them is agreeable to the faculty member) are reviewed and approved by a vote of the department’s Academic Affairs Committee.

Financial support

Financial support for BMB M.S. candidates is arranged individually by agreement between the student and his/her mentor and is not guaranteed by the department.  Stipends are considered Research Assistantships because they serve as remuneration for work in the research laboratory.

BMB M.S. Requirements

General information regarding Graduate School requirements for the M.S. degree can be found on the Graduate School website.  Students are required to check this site, and to track their progress in the program by consulting the Masters Degree Eligibility Form. They also offer a Master's Degree Checklist.

  • A minimum of 30 credits is required for the M.S. degree.
  • Of these, a minimum of 21 credits must be in the major field.
  • A minimum of 6 credits must be in 600 to 800 level courses.
  • More than half of the credits must have letter grades (not SATs).
  • The grade-point average must be 3.0 or above.
  • A maximum of 6 credits can come from Independent Study (596, 696, 796) courses.
  • A maximum of 10 thesis credits.

Specific BMB M.S. degree requirements

A maximum of 6 credits, graded B or better, earned in courses numbered 500 or higher prior to admission and which are certified to be in excess of the requirements for the B.S. degree, may be applied to the M.S. requirements. The student must submit these credits on the approval form, signed off by the Chief Undergraduate Advisor, Undergraduate Academic Dean, Commonwealth College (if applicable), and the Registrar’s Office; this should be done within the first semester of the M.S. program.

Departmental coursework requirements:  Biochem 642, 4 credits (Fall), and Biochem 623, 4 credits (Spring), both graded B or better; Biochem 691A and Molclbio 691 each semester.

A grade of F in any course will result in administrative withdrawal from the program.

The membership of the Thesis Committee must be submitted to and approved by the Graduate Dean. (3 members: 2 BMB Grad Faculty, and 1 Grad Faculty outside of BMB)

The Thesis Outline must be submitted no less than 4 months prior to the anticipated Thesis Defense Date.

The Thesis Defense Date must occur no later than 2 weeks prior to the anticipated Degree Date.

The Graduate School now requires electronic thesis submission; it is the student’s responsibility to meet this requirement.

Unless special circumstances warrant an exception, students must complete all requirements for the M.S. degree within 18 months of matriculation.

BMB does not have a language requirement.