5th Year Master's Degree Program


The Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology offers a Master’s of Science (M.S.) Program designed for B.S.-level students who have strong academic records and would like to continue conducting research in a laboratory in this department. The BMB M.S. requirements are usually completed 15 months from receipt of the B.S.

This department only admits/appoints M.S. candidates. Ph.D. candidates should enroll in one of the interdepartmental graduate programs on campus.

Basis of Admission to BMB M.S. Program

The goal of the BMB M.S. Program is to provide additional 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 students are expected to submit thesis research projects regarding their undergraduate independent research activity with the same mentor. Undergraduate majors interested in the M.S. Program should discuss it with their academic advisor in their 6th 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

Biochem 642, 4 credits (Fall), and Biochem 623, 4 credits (Spring), both graded B or better; Molclbio 691 and Molclbio 692 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.

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 within the first semester of the M.S. program.


Hannah & Nancy, Clerical Support
(413) 545-0352

Li-Jun Ma, Graduate Program Director
(413) 545-1205

Graduate School Contact Info