Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics

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The Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics (BMBB) graduate program is an interdisciplinary program that is supported by the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) and the Medical School of the University of Minnesota. The program provides a broad research-based education involving faculty from BMBB as well as many faculty members from several other departments in CBS, the Medical School, the College of Science and Engineering (CSE), the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences (CFANS), and the College of Veterinary Medicine. BMBB focuses on determining the molecular mechanisms that underlie basic biological functions using an integrated approach that encompasses biochemistry, chemistry, biophysics, genomics, molecular biology, proteomics, and structural biology. Special emphasis is placed on revealing how biological processes go awry in diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and AIDS. The program has four areas of emphasis: synthetic biology and biotechnology, molecular biology, metabolic and systems biology, and chemical and structural biology. All students are expected to demonstrate a minimum level of competence in these areas but will emphasize the area most related to their thesis project. While graduate training in a BMBB laboratory involves first-year coursework and associated preliminary examinations, the focal point for graduate education is thesis research. Laboratory-based exploration coupled with journal clubs, seminars, scientific meetings and retreats, career counseling and scientific ethics constitutes the major components of the program. Support for graduate education comes from a variety of sources but is augmented by several NIH and NSF-based training grants. PhD graduates from the University of Minnesota obtain full-time employment immediately after graduation or pursue advanced training in academic or corporate postdoctoral positions. Students pursuing the PhD are admitted to BMBB under the auspices of Molecular, Cellular and Structural Biology (MCSB), a first year program administered by BMBB and the Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics (MCDB&G) graduate programs. After the first year, students select either BMBB or MCDB&G to complete their degree.

  • 24 credits are required in the major.
  • 0 credits are required outside the major.
  • 24 thesis credits are required. 

This program may not be completed with a minor.

Use of 4xxx courses towards program requirements is not permitted.

A minimum GPA of 3,00 is required for students to remain in good standing.

Requirements for the doctoral degree include core coursework, thesis credits, and laboratory experiences taken by all students, as well as coursework in one of the four BMBB empahses listed below. To obtain a PhD degree, students must register for a minimum of 24 thesis credits (BIOC 8888). Upon completion of the 24 thesis-credit requirement, students are required to register every fall and spring, up through the term they are awarded the PhD, for 1 credit of advanced doctoral credits (BIOC 8444) in order to maintain full-time, active student status. Additional requirements for the PhD degree include seminar presentations, examinations, and teaching assignments. BIOC 8084 is a weekly student seminar on current literature and research, and students must register for 1 credit of BIOC 8084 each term until they have reached advanced doctoral status. Students must attend at least 50% of weekly meetings for BIOC 8084 and BIOC 8184, which is a departmental seminar involving prominent national and international scientists. Three examinations for the PhD degree include a written preliminary proposal (4th semester), preliminary oral exam (4th semester), and a final oral exam with thesis defense (typically year 5). Examinations will be conducted by the student's preliminary and graduate committees. Students are also required to complete two semesters of teaching, typically between years 2 to 4.

Biochemistry Core

To obtain a PhD in BMBB, all students must complete the biochemistry core coursework.

  • BIOC 8001 - Biochemistry: Structure, Catalysis, and Metabolism (3.0 cr)
  • BIOC 8002 - Molecular Biology and Regulation of Biological Processes (3.0 cr)
  • BIOC 8401 - Ethics, Public Policy, and Careers in Molecular and Cellular Biology (1.0 cr)
  • BIOC 8888 - Thesis Credit: Doctoral (1.0-24.0 cr)

Laboratory and Field Course

In August of the first year, all PhD BMBB students must register for this hands-on, intensive lab course which takes place at the Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories. This course will provide first-year students with exposure to a range of modern methods and model systems.

  • MCDG 8920 - Special Topics (1.0-4.0 cr)

Electives for Emphases

All students must complete 15 credits of coursework in one of the four BMBB empahses: synthetic biology and biotechnology, molecular biology, metabolic and systems biology, or chemical and structural biology. Courses from disciplines other than BMBB may be used to build an emphasis in consultation with the student's advisor.

Take 15 or more credit(s) from the following:

  • · BIOC 5352 - Biotechnology and Bioengineering for Biochemists (3.0 cr)
  • · BIOC 5361 - Microbial Genomics and Bioinformatics (3.0 cr)
  • · MICA 8002 - Structure, Function, and Genetics of Bacteria and Viruses (4.0 cr)
  • · GCD 8151 - Cell Structure and Function (3.0 cr)
  • · MICA 8003 - Immunity and Immunopathology (4.0 cr)
  • · MICA 8004 - Cellular and Cancer Biology (4.0 cr)
  • · GCD 8131 - Advanced Molecular Genetics and Genomics (3.0 cr)
  • · GCD 8008 - Mammalian Gene Transfer and Expression (2.0 cr)
  • · PUBH 6450 - Biostatistics I (4.0 cr)
  • · SCB 8181 - Stem Cell Biology (3.0 cr)
  • · STAT 5021 - Statistical Analysis (4.0 cr)
  • · MICA 8010 - Microbial Pathogenesis (3.0 cr)
  • · BIOC 5216 - Current Topics in Signal Transduction (3.0 cr)
  • · BIOC 5527 - Introduction to Modern Structural Biology (4.0 cr)
  • · BIOC 5528 - Spectroscopy and Kinetics (4.0 cr)
  • · CHEN 8754 - Systems Analysis of Biological Processes (3.0 cr)
  • · BIOC 5213 - Selected Topics in Molecular Biology (3.0 cr)
  • · BIOC 5444 - Muscle (3.0 cr)
  • · BIOC 5531 - Macromolecular Crystallography I: Fundamentals and Techniques (1.0 cr)
  • · BIOC 5532 - Macromolecular Crystallography II: Techniques and Applications (1.0 cr)
  • · CHEM 8011 - Mechanisms of Chemical Reactions (4.0 cr)
  • · CHEM 8021 - Computational Chemistry (4.0 cr)
  • · CHEM 8411 - Introduction to Chemical Biology (4.0 cr)
  • · CHEM 8412 - Chemical Biology of Enzymes (4.0 cr)
  • · CHEM 8735 - Bioinorganic Chemistry (4.0 cr)
  • · PHCL 5111 - Pharmacogenomics (3.0 cr)
  • · PUBH 7445 - Statistics for Human Genetics and Molecular Biology (3.0 cr)
  • · MICA 8013 - Translational Cancer Research (2.0 cr)
  • · GRAD 8101 - Teaching in Higher Education (3.0 cr)
  • · GRAD 8200 - Teaching and Learning Topics in Higher Education (1.0 cr)
  • · BIOC 5309 - Biocatalysis and Biodegradation (3.0 cr)
  • · BIOC 5351 - Protein Engineering (3.0 cr)
  • · CSCI 5461 - Functional Genomics, Systems Biology, and Bioinformatics (3.0 cr)
  • · GRAD 5102 - Preparation for University Teaching for Nonnative English Speakers (2.0 cr)


The program can accommodate for a variety of educational backgrounds. However, applications from students with an undergraduate degree in the biological, chemical, or physical sciences are encouraged.

The program can accommodate for a variety of educational backgrounds. However, applications from students with an advanced degree in the biological, chemical, or physical sciences are encouraged.

Other requirements to be completed before admission:

Recommended academic preparation includes one year each of calculus, organic chemistry, and basic biology, including biochemistry and genetics. For students of demonstrated ability, background deficiencies can be made up during the first year of graduate study. Successful applicants must have previous research experience in an academic or industrial setting in addition to any course-related laboratory experiences. It is important to demonstrate an aptitude for basic science research prior to embarking on a graduate career in this program.

Special Application Requirements:

Additionally, applicants must submit three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with their academic and research capabilities. A statement of interests and goals, a complete set of transcripts, and official scores from the General Test of the GRE are required. The GRE Subject Test in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, biology, or chemistry is strongly recommended, but not required. The deadline to submit a completed application is December 1. Completed files are reviewed between January and February. Graduate studies begin fall semester only. Related Ph.D. and M.S. Programs in BMBB: As a part of the BMBB program, graduate studies leading to a PhD degree may be pursued on the Duluth Campus. A PhD in BMBB may also be obtained through the Combined MD-PhD Program. Please visit the program website for more information ( Note: One cannot apply for admission to the master's degree in BMBB. Students are only admitted to the BMBB PhD program. Alternative, related master's degree programs that admit students are the Master of Biological Sciences (MBS) ( and the Master in Microbial Engineering (

Applicants must submit their test score(s) from the following:

  • GRE


  • Fellowships & Grants
  • Research & Teaching Assistantships
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