Course Requirements


The Graduate School requires PhD students to complete a minimum of 32 graduate-level credits in order to obtain a PhD Degree. These 32 credits are fulfilled via core curriculum courses, an ethics course, seminar courses, 990 research credits, and specialty courses.
Core Curriculum
Currently, Biophysics has a core curriculum of five recommended courses. Students must complete at least three of the following five core courses:

  • Biochem 601, Protein and Enzyme Structure, 2 Credits
    • Protein structure and dynamics. Protein folding. Physical organic chemistry of enzymatic catalysis. Analysis of enzyme kinetics and receptor-ligand interactions. Enzymatic reaction mechanisms.
  • Biochem/Gen/Bact 612*, Prokaryotic Molecular Biology, 3 Credits
    • Molecular basis of bacterial physiology and genetics with emphasis on molecular mechanisms; topics include nucleic acid-protein interactions, transcription, translation, replication, recombination, regulation of gene expression.
  • Chem/Biochem 665, Biophysical Chemistry, 4 Credits
    • Equilibrium thermodynamics, chemical kinetics and transport properties, with emphasis on solution behavior and application to noncovalent interactions of biological macromolecules in solution.
  • Physiology 610, Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience, 4 Credits
    • Study of original papers leading to an understanding of the molecular basis of electrical activity in neurons. Topics include voltage-sensitive currents, molecular biology of neuronal receptors, synaptic transmission and sensory transduction.
  • Chem 668, Biophysical Spectroscopy, 2-3 Credits
    • Selected topics in Physical Chemistry

*Biochem 612 can be replaced with Biochem 620 Eukaryotic Molecular Biology (3 credits). However, students cannot take both courses.

New Curriculum

All students entering the program in Fall 2016 or later will be required to take four elected courses from those listed below, with no more than one from each column



Molecular Biology


Spectroscopy/ Microscopy

Physical Biochemistry

Biochem 601
Biochem 606
Biochem 625


Chem 661 (stat mech)
Math 606 or

Math 609

Biochem/Genet/ Bact 612
Biochem/CRB 620

Neuro/Physiol 610

Chem 668
BME 619

Chem/Biochem 665


Biochem 601: Protein and Enzyme Structure and Function
Biochem 606: Mathematical Methods for Structural Biology
Biochem 625: Coenzymes and Cofactors in Enzymology

Chem 661: Chemical and Statistical Thermodynamics
Math 606: Mathematical Methods for Structural Biology
Math 609: Mathematical Methods for Structural Biology

Biochem 612: Prokaryotic Molecular Biology
Biochem 620: Eukaryotic Molecular Biology

Neuro 610: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Chem 668: Biophysical Spectroscopy
BME 619: Microscopy of Life

Chem 665: Biophysical Chemistry

Ethics Course
All students are required to take an ethics course. It is recommended that students take this course in their first year.
Seminar Course
Every year, all students are required to attend the Biophysics seminar course, Chemistry 872. This course will discuss a variety of topics in biophysics.
990 Research Credits
These are the courses in which students will be conducting their independent research. First semester students will register for 990 research credits in the department of the Biophysics Program Chair, Meyer Jackson. Once a thesis lab is selected, these credits will be conducted in the Thesis Advisor’s home department. See the Course Registration section for more information.
Specialty Courses
To fulfill the remainder of required credits, students can take specialty courses. It is recommended to take courses in areas such as biotechnology, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, molecular biology, or physics. Students should consult with their Thesis Advisor about appropriate specialty courses to take pertaining to individual training goals.


The Graduate School requires that the overall grade point average (GPA) of non-research courses be 3.0 (B average) or better. In addition, the Biophysics Program requires a cumulative Biophysics GPA of 3.0 or better in the core, ethics, and specialty courses. Research and seminar course grades are not included in the Biophysics GPA.
Credits are not counted from courses in which a grade of C or below is obtained. In the event of an unsatisfactory grade, the student must repeat the course and obtain a grade of BC or better. Both the original and repeat grades will be averaged into the Biophysics GPA.  In certain circumstances a different course may be substituted to obtain the needed credits. If a course substitution is desired, the student must contact the Biophysics Office to request permission.