Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics

The Ph.D. program in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics (MBB) focuses on interdisciplinary research and coursework and is flexible to fit your background and goals. MBB complements more traditional graduate programs in biology, chemistry and physics by offering an integrated, molecular-based approach. 

The department has state-of-the-art computer and laboratory equipment in which to conduct research, including facilities for X-ray scattering and imaging at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.


A minimum of 72 credit hours of instruction is required for the MBB Ph.D. program. Students should consult the Transfer Credit section for rules on how many credit hours may be transferred from another institution. Completion of an M.S. degree is not normally required for admission to the Ph.D. program. Students must complete 22 credit hours of core courses and at least three additional courses from the list of electives.

Each graduate student must take and pass the written Ph.D. qualifying examination in order to enter into candidacy for the doctorate. Each student, in addition, will be required to pass a comprehensive examination taken prior to performing the major portion of the dissertation research, and in any event, prior to the sixth semester of study and at least one year before oral defense of the thesis. The final examination for the Ph.D. degree consists of an oral presentation and defense of the dissertation.

The Ph.D. program is tailored to fit the student’s background and goals and is subject to approval by the department. The plan of study must include at least 36 credit hours in formal courses (exclusive of BIOL 591 and BIOL 691). All students will be required to take the following courses, or have equivalent background:

Required Courses (22)
BIOL 504Biochemistry3
BIOL 512Advanced Biochemistry3
BIOL 515Molecular Biology3
BIOL 544Molecular Biology of Cells3
BIOL 555Macromolecular Structure3
BIOL 595Biology Colloquium (four times)4
PHYS 410Molecular Biophysics3
MBB students, in consultation with their academic adviser, choose the remainder of their formal coursework from the following list of elective courses:
Elective Courses (14-26)
Select 14-26 credit hours14-26
Medical Microbiology3
Advanced Human Genetics3
Concepts of Cancer Biology3
Human Physiology3
Special Problems 11-3
Physical Biochemistry3
Any 500-level biology course
Ph.D. Research (24-36)
BIOL 691Research and Thesis PHD24-36

Minimum degree credits required: 72


Student may be approved for special problems as appropriate.

Other courses may be prescribed by the adviser/thesis committee according to the student’s individual needs. All research for the dissertation must be carried out under the direct supervision of a faculty research adviser who will also act as the candidate’s academic adviser.