Programs of Study in Biochemistry


Graduate degrees in biochemistry are earned through a combination of graded courses, oral and written examinations, and independent research. In consultation with faculty advisors and based on the student's academic background, individual programs are fashioned for each student.

Doctor of Philosophy

Specific degree requirements include the successful passage of a core of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology courses. In addition, advanced (400- and 500-level) elective courses in related areas, such as biophysics, cell and developmental biology, chemistry, microbiology, molecular and cellular biology, neuroscience, physics, physiology, and others, are chosen by students in consultation with their faculty advisor and vary with the research interest and background of the individual (see list for approved courses). Because the emphasis of this program is largely on training in research, elective course selection is defined on the basis of individual needs, enabling students to choose from the wide range of courses offered. There is no foreign language requirement for the Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry. Students are required to maintain a "B" average. In addition to courses, numerous seminars covering special topics in Biochemistry are offered.

Research seminars are an important facet of the intellectual climate in the Department and an integral part of the Ph.D. program. Seminars are given on a regular weekly schedule by graduate students, faculty, and visiting lecturers. Because teaching is considered an integral component of Ph.D. training, a minimum of one semester of teaching in lecture or laboratory courses is required. Students must complete a minimum of 96 hours of coursework and thesis research at the University of Illinois and pass written and oral examinations, including various forms of faculty review of a student's progress (graded coursework, student seminars on individual research, and so on).

At the end of the program leading to the Ph.D., each student presents the result of his/her research to an open meeting of faculty, students, and his/her supervisory committee. The doctoral dissertation is then submitted to the Graduate College to fulfill the requirements for the degree. Most students complete their Ph.D. training in 5–6 years.

Master of Science

(Note: We are not accepting MS applications at this time.)

Students may complete requirements for a Master's (M.S.) degree either by completing coursework or by performing research and writing a thesis. Financial support is not guaranteed for M.S. students, although appointment as a TA is sometimes possible. The department does not normally admit students directly into the M.S. program.

  • Course-work Master's degree: normally requires a minimum of one full-time year and involves 32 graded hours of course work. At least 12 of the required hours must be in 500-level courses, and 8 of these 12 hours must be in the major field. The course-work option allows students to increase their knowledge of biochemistry and prepare for Medical School, jobs in industry, etc.
  • Thesis Master's degree: normally requires a minimum of 2-3 years of full-time work, and a maximum of 12 of the 32 graded hours of course work may be thesis research (BIOC 599). The thesis option allows students to increase their knowledge of biochemistry and become involved with graduate-level research, as an alternative to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree.