The Ph.D. is required for careers in independent research in biochemistry and molecular biology. The Ph.D. most often is followed by one or more years of postdoctoral training in a specific area of research. Ph.D. degree holders in biochemistry and molecular biology may find positions in industry or government and, with some postdoctoral experience, may obtain faculty positions at the college or university level.

The application process is an online process. Application to this graduate program is facilitated through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (IGPBS). Detailed instructions on how to apply and the application deadlines are posted on the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences website

Admission requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution documented by submission of official transcript indicating the degree has been conferred before entering the program. Official transcripts from institutions attended post-baccalaureate are also required.
    Students with degrees from outside the U.S. may be subject to transcript evaluation indicating the degree is equivalent to a U.S. degree and meets the minimum cumulative GPA requirements.
  • A cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for the bachelor’s degree.
  • Applicants who are not native speakers of English, whether domestic or international, must demonstrate they meet the Minimum English Proficiency Requirement.
  • A background check is required during the admission process; it may affect the student's eligibility to enter the program.
  • An official copy of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score sent from Educational Testing Service (ETS) to University of Kansas Medical Center - ETS institutional code 6895.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Prerequisite coursework:
    • One year of general chemistry
    • One year of organic chemistry or one semester of organic chemistry and one semester of biochemistry
    • One year of biological sciences
    • One semester of calculus
    • One semester of physics
  • Research experience (beyond labs associated with lecture courses) is strongly suggested.
  • Interview - the most qualified applicants will receive an invitation for an interview.

Applicants will be assessed based on a combination of GPA, research experience, interview and GRE scores. Students not meeting the above requirements may be eligible for provisional admission.  After an applicant has been admitted, a program may defer an applicant's admission for one year after which time the applicant must submit a new application.

Admission requirements are subject to change. In most cases, use the catalog of the year student entered the program. Other years’ catalogs».

The program consists of coursework, research experience, and the successful completion of a doctoral dissertation. Dissertation research culminates in a final dissertation examination consisting of an oral presentation by the candidate and an examination by the faculty. Relevant prior graduate work is taken into consideration in setting up individual programs of study leading to the Ph.D.

Degree requirements:

  • Degree requirements are normally completed within 5-6 years of admission to the program although a maximum of 8 years is allowed.

  • Cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least a 3.0 for all KU graduate coursework.

  • Successful completion of the University’s Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement prior to the semester the Oral Comprehensive Examination is scheduled.

    • Successful completion of GSMC 857 BiographicsGSMC 852 Introduction to Biomedical Research I and GSMC 855 Introduction to Biomedical Research II (or equivalent) meets the Research Skills requirement.

    • Successful completion of GSMC 856 Introduction to Research Ethics (or equivalent) meets the Responsible Scholarship requirement.
  • Successful completion of the Residence Requirement prior to the semester the Oral Comprehensive Examination is scheduled. The requirement is met by enrollment in full-time status a minimum of two semesters.

  • Successful completion of the Oral Comprehensive Examination. This will comprise (i) a written grant proposal that conforms to the NIH R01 guidelines; and (ii) and oral examination that centers around material in the written proposal, as well as broader aspects of biochemistry and molecular biology.  The topic may be broadly related to the student’s research area, but hypotheses should be developed independently by the student.  Students are expected to complete the Oral Comprehensive Exam by the end of year 2.  Students are recognized as formal doctoral candidates after they have passed the comprehensive examination.

  • Successful completion of Post-Comprehensive Enrollment requirement.

  • Enrollment in a minimum of one (1) credit hour of BCHM 999 Doctoral Dissertation the semester the student will defend dissertation and graduate.

  • Successful completion of the Final Oral Examination (dissertation defense.)

  • Successful Dissertation Submission and Publication (according to Office of Graduate Studies policy.)

  • Successful completion of the following Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Science (IGPBS) courses (or their equivalent):
    GSMC 850Proteins and Metabolism2
    GSMC 851Molecular Genetics2
    GSMC 852Introduction to Biomedical Research I2
    GSMC 853Cellular Structure2
    GSMC 854Cell Communication2
    GSMC 855Introduction to Biomedical Research II2
    GSMC 856Introduction to Research Ethics1
    GSMC 857Biographics1
    GSMC 858Introduction to Faculty Research1
    GSMC 859Research Rotations1-4
  • As determined in consultation with the student's advisor, students who have not previously mastered undergraduate biochemistry will strengthen any areas of weakness by taking BCHM 850 Topics in Biochemistry.
  • Successful completion of the following Biochemistry core courses:
    BCHM 802Biochemistry Seminar1
    BCHM 808Methods for Analyzing Biomolecules3
    BCHM 862Biochemical Research-Literature Seminar1
    BCHM 890Research in Biochemistry1-15
    BCHM 922Advanced Molecular Genetics3
    BCHM 923Protein Structure and Function3
    BCHM 990Doctoral Research1-15
    BCHM 999Doctoral Dissertation1-15
  • Successful completion of additional elective coursework as determined in consultation with the student's advisor.  These electives may be substituted for a required course on a case-by-case basis.  Suggested elective courses include:
    BCHM 850Topics in Biochemistry1-3
    ANAT 868Advanced Developmental Biology2
    PATH 803Stem Cell Biology2

Students enrolled in the MD-PhD Physician Scientist Training Program should review the Degree Requirements section of this catalog for that program.

Degree requirements and course descriptions are subject to change. Any courses taken as an equivalent must be approved by the Graduate Director and the Office of Graduate Studies. In most cases, use the catalog of the year student entered the program.  Other years’ catalogs».


Typical Plan of Study

Year 1
GSMC 8502GSMC 8532GSMC 8591-4
GSMC 8512GSMC 8542May take an elective course from the student's chosen degree program in consultation with the student's advisor.1-3
GSMC 8522GSMC 8552 
GSMC 8561GSMC 8591-4 
GSMC 8571  
GSMC 8581  
GSMC 8591-4  
 10-13 7-10 2-7
Total Hours: 19-30
Year 2
BCHM 850 (if required by advisor)1-3BCHM 808 (or take Spring Year 3)3BCHM 9901-6
BCHM 8621BCHM 8621Optional electives1-6
BCHM 8901-6BCHM 8901-6 
BCHM 922 (or take Fall Year 3)3BCHM 923 (or take Spring Year 3)3 
Optional electives Optional electives1-6 
 Oral Comprehensive Exam is expected to be scheduled at the end of this semester.  
 6-13 9-19 2-12
Year 3
BCHM 8621BCHM 8021BCHM 9901-6
BCHM 922 (if not taken Fall Year 2)3BCHM 808 (if not taken Spring Year 2)3Optional electives1-6
BCHM 9901-6BCHM 923 (if not taken Spring Year 2)3 
Optional electives1-6BCHM 9901-6 
 Optional electives1-6 
 6-16 9-19 2-12
Year 4
BCHM 8621BCHM 8621BCHM 9901-6
BCHM 9901-6BCHM 9901-6Optional electives1-6
Optional electives1-6Optional electives1-6 
 3-13 3-13 2-12
Year 5
BCHM 8621BCHM 8621BCHM 990 or 999 (if preparing to defend dissertation)1
BCHM 9901BCHM 990 or 999 (if preparing to defend dissertation)1 
 Final Oral Exam (dissertation defense) scheduled in year 5 or 6 the semester approved by committee to defend and graduate.  
 2 2 1
Year 6
BCHM 8621BCHM 9991BCHM 9991
BCHM 9991  
 2 1 1
Total Hours: 51-138