Rice University
BioSciences at Rice

BCB Graduate Degree Requirements

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

Admission for graduate study in the Biochemistry & Cell Biology (BCB) Graduate Program 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 M.A. 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 Graduate Program Handbook  (pdf) provides a detailed description of the graduate program.  For general university requirements, view the Rice University General Announcements.

Most formal courses will be completed in the first year of residence to allow 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 Advising Committee. This committee will determine the courses 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 are 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)

Doctoral students have several required courses in their first year including at least two advanced electives, as listed in the program description of the general announcements (click here), under the graduate requirements tab. Select the menu item for the program of study for the M.A. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology to view the degree requirements. Graduate students may take additional advanced courses in the BioSciences Department and select graduate courses in other 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. 

All students are required to attend the graduate student research seminar during all years of residency. Students are also required to attend all BCB program seminars, beginning with their first semester of residence.

Safety and ethics training are provided during the first year.

Evaluation of Progress in Graduate Study
The Graduate Advising 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 the course requirements 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 Research Rotations, 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 in the graduate student research seminar 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 Ph.D. thesis research and text in a final public seminar presentation and oral examination attended by the student's Thesis Committee

M.A. Program

For a listing of the course requirements for the master's degree, refer to the current edition of the General Announcements (click here). On the General Announcements web page, click on the tab entitled "Graduate Requirements." Select the menu item for the program of study for the M.A. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Cell Biology to view the current degree requirements. The research progress review examination held during the M.A. student's second year, which is identical in format to that for Ph.D. 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. M.A. candidates must complete a thesis and make a public oral defense of their research work to their Thesis Committee and other interested parties.