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

All students are required to take:

  • Chem 665, Biophysical Chemistry
  • Chem 668, Biophysical Spectroscopy

​Because Chem 668 is only offered every other year, students will be advised upon joining the program when they will need to take the course.

Additional Courses

In addition to the required classes, students must take at least two other classes from different categories in the following list:

  • Structure Courses:
    • ​Biochem 601: Protein and Enzyme Structure and Function
    • Math 606: Mathematical Methods for Structural Biology
    • Biochem 625: Mechanism of Action of Vitamins and Minerals
  • Modeling Courses:
    • Chem 661: Chemical and Statistical Thermodynamics
    • Math 609: Mathematical Methods for Systems Biology
  • Molecular Biology Courses:
    • ​Biochem 612: Prokaryotic Molecular Biology
    • Biochem 620: Eukaryotic Molecular Biology
  • Neuroscience Courses:
    • ​Physiology 610: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Spectroscopy/Microscopy Courses:
    • ​BME 619: Microscopy of Life

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

Students are required to participate in seminar courses for the duration of their studies. Initially, all students are required to enroll in Chem 872: Selected Topics in Macromolecular and Biophysical Chemistry for both fall and spring semesters. Once a student has successfully achieved dissertator status, they are eligible to enroll in alternative seminars with permission from the program.

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.

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 and thesis committee members 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 BC or below is obtained for the Biophysics core courses. In the event of an unsatisfactory grade, the student must repeat the course and obtain a grade of B or better.


Previous Curriculum Requirements

For students who enrolled prior to 2016, they 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.


All students entering the program in Fall 2016 are 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