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Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Ph.D.

Minimum Totals for Graduation: 60 hours

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology (BCMB) at Central Michigan University is an interdepartmental program that provides advanced scientific training in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology. The program will provide students with an opportunity to develop the ability and skills necessary to conduct independent, primary research of professional quality.

Admission Requirements, Retention & Termination Standards

All applications must be sponsored by a participating faculty member who is willing to take you into their research program. The first step in your application should be to contact faculty members to arrange this sponsorship.

Preference will be given to applications received by February 1 in order to be considered for admission into the program the following fall semester. However, the BCMB program does offer rolling admissions and applications will be considered at any time.

Application materials must be submitted to the Graduate Student Services office and must include:

  • CMU Graduate Studies application,
  • official college transcripts,
  • official General GRE scores (The MCAT or similar tests for admission to professional school may substitute for the GRE),
  • a statement of purpose outlining your interest in the BCMB program, identifying the faculty sponsor with whom you've already been in contact, and describing your prior research experiences and how they will contribute to your future success,
  • CV/Resume
  • three letters of recommendation emailed directly to

Candidates are expected to hold a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) degree in biology, biochemistry, chemistry or a related area of science. International students must meet the requirements for regular admission to the College of Graduate Studies.

For English proficiency requirements see the CMU English Language Standards in the current Graduate Bulletin. Students admitted for a doctoral degree in BCMB must have a faculty mentor approved and financial support in the form of a teaching or research assistantship in place.

Students admitted for a doctoral degree in BCMB must have a faculty mentor approved, and the faculty member must provide a plan for financial support, which may include a teaching or research assistantship. Students may apply for a teaching assistantship through one of the participating academic departments (deadline February 1).

Although no specific undergraduate major is required, students enrolled in the program should have an adequate background in basic sciences including biology, chemistry, and mathematics. Normally, coursework should include the following topics:

General Chemistry (1 year)

Biochemistry (1 semester)

Pre-calculus (1 semester)

Cell or Molecular Biology (1 semester)

Organic Chemistry (1-2 semesters)

Genetics (1 semester)

Statistics (1 semester)

Under special circumstances, students who have not completed all these prerequisites may be admitted provided that any deficiencies are corrected at the beginning of their graduate studies.

A formal evaluation of each student's training will be carried out during the first semester of enrollment by the student's mentor. This evaluation will assess the strengths and limitations of each student's academic background and be used to determine the plan of study including coursework and professional activities. Students must form a dissertation committee within the first year of graduate work; this committee will include the faculty mentor plus three additional faculty members, one of whom is outside the student's immediate area of specialization. Student progress will be assessed at mandatory annual meetings between each student and the dissertation committee. A qualifying exam must be passed at the end of the second year. The exam will consist of a written proposal of the student's Ph.D. dissertation project, which will be defended orally in front of the student's committee. Students will have two opportunities to pass the qualifying exam; those who fail a second time will be terminated from the program. Each student will defend the final dissertation in a public presentation summarizing research results followed by an oral defense with the committee. The public presentation and defense of the dissertation will be judged and voted on by the committee and must be approved by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. All BCMB students will be encouraged to publish their results in scientific journals and to present their work at professional conferences. We anticipate that full-time students entering with a Bachelor's degree will complete the program in 5-6 years; those entering with a Master's degree may complete the program in less time.

Program Requirements

The BCMB Ph.D. is designed to be a research degree in which students are trained primarily by conducting research under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The program includes a set of core courses that will be augmented by elective courses in the student’s area of interest.

Successful completion of the Ph.D. requires a minimum of 60 hours of graduate work beyond the bachelor's degree. Up to 30 hours of relevant graduate work may be transferred for students entering with a master's degree in a related field. Each student's program of study will be developed in consultation with the faculty mentor and approved by the dissertation committee. Typically, students entering with a bachelor's degree will take 9-30 hours of disciplinary elective courses and 9-30 hours of special topics and directed research (and students entering with a relevant master's degree will take 3-8 hours of disciplinary electives and 3-8 hours of special topics and directed research, or more depending on transfer credits), in addition to the required core courses and the dissertation.

Required Courses (10-11 hours)

SCI 710Biomolecular Structure and Function-Proteins and Nucleic Acids


SCI 720Advances in Cell/Molecular Biology and Genetics


SCI 731Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Colloquium


SCI 740Research Ethics and Responsible Conduct of Research


Electives I (7-30 hours)

Select from the following in consultation with the student's advisor and committee:

SCI 770Careers in Biomedical Sciences


Biology: 500-700 level BIO courses

Chemistry: 500-600 level CHM courses

Mathematics and Statistics: 500-700 level MTH and STA courses

Other graduate-level courses recommended by the advisor and approved by the committee.

Electives II (3-30 hours)

SCI 750Directed Research in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology


SCI 791Special Topics in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology


Dissertation (12 hours)

SCI 899Doctoral Dissertation


Total: 60 semester hours