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BCB Graduate Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements for Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Cell Biology

Admission for graduate study in the Department of Biochemistry & Cell Biology (BCB)requires: (1) a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, chemical engineering, physics, or the equivalent; and (2) demonstrated quality and motivation as indicated by the student’s previous academic record, Graduate Record Examination scores, and recommendation letters.

Although the department offers an MA degree in biochemistry and cell biology, the program is designed for students who wish to pursue the Ph.D. degree. The most current version of the BCB Department Graduate Handbook  (pdf) provides a detailed description of the graduate program.  For general university requirements, view the Rice University General Announcements.

Most of the formal course studies will be completed in the first year of residence to allow the students to commence thesis research at the end of their second semester at Rice. During the first year, all graduate students will be advised by the Graduate Advisory Committee. This committee will determine the formal course program to be taken during the first year in residence. Students are required to have training in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. If students are missing formal training in these subjects, they are required to take the equivalent background courses during their first year. 

The corresponding courses at Rice include the following:

  • Bioc 301 Biochemistry (fall, prerequisite, does not count as a graduate level credit)
  • Bioc 341 Cell Biology (fall, prerequisite, does not count as a graduate level credit)

All Ph.D. students are required to take the following graduate courses:

  • Bioc 575 Introduction to Research
  • Bioc 581, 582 Graduate Research Seminars
  • Bioc 583 Molecular Interactions
  • Bioc 587 Research Design, Proposal Writing, and Professional Development
  • Bioc 588 Cellular Interactions
  • Univ 594 Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Bioc 599 Graduate Teaching in BCB
  • Bioc 701,702 Graduate Lab Research

Ph.D. students must also take 6 credit hours from the following advanced courses:

  • Bioc 525 Plant Molecular Genetics and Development
  • Bioc 530, 535 Graduate Laboratory Modules in Molecular Biophysics
  • Bioc 540 Metabolic Engineering
  • Bioc 544 Developmental Biology
  • Bioc 545 Advanced Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • Bioc 547 Experimental Biology and the Future of Medicine (3)
  • Bioc 550 Viruses and Infectious Diseases
  • Bioc 551 Molecular Biophysics I
  • Bioc 552 Molecular Biophysics II
  • Bioc 555 Computational Synthetic Biology
  • Bioc 560 Cancer Biology
  • Bioc 572 Bioinformatics: Networks
  • Bioc 580 Protein Engineering

Students also may take additional advanced level courses in the Biochemistry & Cell Biology Department and other select graduate courses in outside departments at Rice, Baylor College of Medicine, University of Houston, or University of Texas Health Science Center. Once the student selects a thesis advisor, the advisor may require additional specialized course work. Safety orien- tation will be provided during the first year.

Students should complete BIOC 583 and BIOC 587 in their first year, and they will be responsible for the content of those course programs in their admission to candidacy examinations (see below).

All second-year students are required to take two semesters of Bioc 599 (Graduate Teaching in Biochemistry & Cell Biology). In this course, students will gain experience in teaching by serving as discussion leaders and graders in sections of undergraduate courses during their second year of residence.

All students are required to attend Bioc 581 and 582 during all years of residency. Students are also required to attend all departmental seminars, beginning with their first semester of residence.

Safety and ethics presentations are provided for first-year students.

Evaluation of Progress in Graduate Study
The Graduate Advisory Committee evaluates each student’s undergraduate record and recommends coursework based on the requirements. Thesis advisors may require additional course work of a more specialized nature. Students must complete all additional courses before taking the admission to candidacy examination.

At the end of each semester, the department chair, in consultation with the faculty, reviews student performance in formal course work. Students must maintain at least a B average, perform satisfactorily in Bioc 701/702, and demonstrate outstanding motivation and potential for research. Thesis lab assignments are made based on student and faculty preferences following research rotations.

Evaluation after the first year includes:

  • Ongoing review of research progress by the thesis research advisor
  • A research progress review examination given each year by the student's Research Progress Review Committee
  • Presentation of research progress at least once a year after the first year until submission of a complete doctoral thesis
  • Submission of an admission to candidacy examination before the end of the student's sixth semester
  • Defense of the PhD thesis research and text in a final public seminar presentation and oral examination attended by the student's Thesis Committee

MA Program

All the above requirements and evaluation procedures apply to MA candidates with the following exceptions. The MA candidate is not required to complete 2 semesters of BIOC 599 Graduate Teaching.  The research progress review examination held during the MA student's second full year, which is identical in format to that for PhD students, replaces the admission to candidacy examination; no other preliminary examination is held before the final oral defense of the master's thesis. Students must maintain at least a B- grade point average. MA candidates must complete a thesis and make a public oral defense of their research work to their Thesis Committee and other interested parties.