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Students entering the PhD program in Biochemistry and Molecualr Biology have the opportunity to tailor their curriculum to take courses that enhance their educational goals. They are expected to take a combination of graduate level courses that include a first year laboratory research rotation course, seminar courses and topic based courses that have been divided into one hour modules. Currently, 34 hours of coursework plus 38 hours of research credit are required prior to completion of the PhD degree. Twenty hours of the coursework for all students includes:

  • 3 hours of Biophysical Chemistry (although, typically, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology students take 6 hours)
  • 8 hours of Research Techniques
  • 4 hours of Molecular or Cellular Biology (although, typically, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology students take 6-8 hrs)
  • 5 hours of Graduate Seminar

An additional 14 hours of coursework (for a total of 34 hours) is chosen from current course offerings in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and other departments across campus.

An example of a typical first year curriculum is shown below:

First semester (fall) courses:

  • BMB:5261 Research Techniques (laboratory rotations), 4 s.h.
  • BMB:5240 Biophysics and Advanced Biochemistry, 3 s.h.
  • BMED:5207 Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology, 3 s.h.
  • BMB:5282:0A01 Seminar, 2 s.h.

Second semester (spring) courses:

  • BMB:5261 Research Techniques (laboratory rotations), 4 s.h.
  • BMB:5282:A01 Seminar, 2 s.h.
  • BISC:5208 Practical Bioinformatics, 1 s.h.
  • MCB:6226 Cell Cycle Control, 1 s.h.
  • MPB:6227 Cell Fate Decisions 1 s.h.

All of the listed courses are taught at the graduate level. It is unlikely that a beginning student will have mastered this material. All of these courses are graded except BMB:7292 and the third seminar of BMB:5282, which are graded "Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory" (abbreviated S or U). Note that graduate students in PhD programs at The University of Iowa must maintain a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on all courses taken. For course descriptions, go to My UI, the University of Iowa's online catalog of courses.

Other Training

It is expected that students will continue to develop their speaking skills by participating in laboratory group meetings, the Tuesday noon workshop seminars, and in journal clubs. In addition, students are expected to attend weekly formal departmental seminars (in general held during the academic year) throughout their graduate career. These programs are an important aspect of a student's training; furthermore, they can be very useful for developing proposals for the Comprehensive Examination.

Laboratory Rotations and Assignment to a Research Laboratory

Graduate students rotate through three different laboratories during their first academic year, unless they have satisfied this requirement in part by previous equivalent research experience. The laboratory rotations are approximately ten weeks each. They are intended to help the student learn how to do research, to learn a wide range of experimental methods and techniques and to explore different areas of biochemical research.

The Second Year

In the second year, students take BMB:5282:A02 (Biochemistry Seminar) for 1 semester hour and 6 semester hours of electives. The electives can be chosen from courses listed for 1 semester hour (such as modular courses), or graduate courses offered by other departments that will enhance a student's capacity to complete their degree. The electives should be chosen in consultation with the student's research advisor and discussed with the department's Director of Graduate Studies