Chemical Biology Ph.D. Requirements

Last updated 08/08/2016

Year 1

  • Start coursework– the following three courses are recommended for the fall term:
  1. Biochem 704: Chemical Biology (Major course)
  2. Biophysical Concepts & Methods Course (Major course; Must complete at least one of the following seven courses for the maximum number of credits offered, if variable (e.g., 3 credits if offered for 2-3): Chem 606 (Brunold), 621 (Wright), 622 (Li), 627 (Coon), Chem 630 (cross-listed as CRB 630) (Ge), Chem 665 (Record/Cavagnero), 668 (Cavagnero)
  3. Other graduate courses in line with student interests should be taken to fulfill the minor coursework requirement. Students should consult closely with their faculty advisor in the fall/PI in the spring with regard to these courses.
  • Join a research group

    • Attend research overview talks given by chemistry faculty during the first few weeks of fall term.
    • Carry out three to four rotations prior to joining group in the fall.
    • Reminder, no one can join a research group before the November selection period.
  • Take the required Departmental Safety Course in January.
  • Assemble a faculty mentoring committee consisting of  the student's PI and at least two other faculty by end of summer.

Year 2

  • Thesis Preliminary Examination (Second-year Research Report): The written report is due by Jan. 31, and the oral defense should occur soon thereafter (no later than April 30). The written summary and oral presentation should outline the background, aims, preliminary results and planned experiments of the research that will be pursued. The faculty mentoring committee will evaluate the candidate (in a closed session). Students who do not pass this exam the first time must complete the requirement satisfactorily by August 31 of the second year.

Year 3

  • Original Research Proposal Examination

    • A one-page summary providing the context for the scientific problem and the Specific Aims of the research is due the third Thursday of November. The summaries will be evaluated by the full faculty at a lunch meeting thereafter and approved (or not). Students will be notified of the outcome ASAP.
    • The written proposal is due the Monday of exam week fall semester. The summary must be approved prior to the written proposal being accepted.
    • Oral defense (closed session) of the report with a single faculty panel will occur during the first weeks of January. Students will be notified of their defense date and time in late December.

Students who do not pass the original research proposal requirement in the fall round will have a second opportunity in the spring. In the spring round, the written proposal will be due on the Monday of the last week of classes; the summary will be due three Mondays prior.

Year 4

  • Fourth-Year Chemical Biology Seminar Day: Each fourth-year student presents a 20- to 30-minute formal talk on his/her research during an all-day symposium held in May.

Year ~5

  • Dissertation Defense: The written Ph.D. thesis must be submitted to the candidate’s committee at least one week prior to the oral defense date. Students who have not set a date for their dissertation defense by the end of their fifth year should meet with their committee members at least once annually until completion of the degree.

View general Department of Chemistry Ph.D. requirements.