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5.2 - Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Updated: 7/23/2024

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

College of Medicine

940 Stanton L. Young Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73190
(405) 271-2227

Julia Busik, PhD, Chair
Ann Louise Olson, PhD, Graduate Program Director

For a complete listing of the departmental graduate faculty visit this web site

Master of Science
Doctor of Philosophy

Specific areas include studying the molecular basis of genetic, bacterial, viral and parasitic diseases in projects that include control of gene expression, DNA replication and rearrangement, cell migration, signaling mechanisms, membrane biology and membrane trafficking pathways, structural biology and assembly of macromolecular complexes, and glycobiology.

Our research-intensive PhD program is designed to prepare students for successful careers as independent scientists in academic research, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, health/biomedical science management or teaching.

Our recently redesigned MS program is also research-based, along with coursework designed to provide enhanced education opportunities for students who wish to extend their knowledge, experience, and opportunities for advancement in research laboratories at universities, research institutes or biotechnology companies. The curriculum, separate from that of the PhD program, emphasizes understanding of research procedures as well as development of technical and problem-solving skills.

A baccalaureate degree and a 3.0 grade point average are required by the Graduate College. Applicants from foreign institutions whose primary language is not English must submit TOEFL scores.

A science-based undergraduate record including courses in chemistry (general and organic), biochemistry and/or molecular biology is expected.

Applications for the PhD or MS program may be submitted on-line at:  

Note: When filling out the application, please use Academic Plan Code 0429R or 0429M.

In addition to the Application Form and official transcript submitted to the Recruitment and Admissions Office, applicants must send the following to the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology:

  1. a copy of the application
  2. a copy of all transcripts
  3. a statement of why you wish to enter the MS program and which faculty laboratory(ies) you would like to work in
  4. three letters of recommendation from people familiar with your work
  5. GRE scores
  6. TOEFL scores if English is not your primary language

Applicants for the PhD program of the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology may also apply through the interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (GPiBS), which combines the expertise of six programs at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Microbiology & Immunology, Neuroscience, Pathology, and Physiology. The application procedure is described in the GPiBS section of the Bulletin. An application is filed with the Office of Recruitment and Admissions and is accompanied by official transcripts and results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and TOEFL for foreign applicants. Three letters of recommendation, from individuals who can address the candidate’s research potential and suitability for graduate school, are also required. Successful applicants complete the multidisciplinary GPiBS first year curriculum and enter the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology program in the summer of their first year.

Students complete at least 30 credit hours of study; 24 credit hours of coursework and at least 6 credit hours of research, under the direction of a faculty mentor, culminating in writing and defending a thesis.

The coursework includes a core biochemistry course, a course on techniques, instrumentation and experimental design, at least one advanced level course, a Current Issues course covering scientific ethics, report writing, regulatory issues, etc, and Journal Clubs. Students obtain practical experience in laboratory modules (5–8 weeks each) that will cover at least 5 different areas important in current biomedical research, such as molecular biology and informatics, protein purification and analysis, protein expression, immunology, cell culture and eukaryotic gene expression, and quantitative analysis. More specialized elective rotation topics include glycobiology, cell biology and virology, and biophysical methods such as mass spectrometry, calorimetry, Biacore, fluorescence spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction.

There is flexibility in the program to meet students' interests and aims, and the program for each student will be determined by the Advisory Committee in consultation with the student and mentor.

PhD students enroll in the common first-year Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (GPiBS) curriculum, which includes courses covering molecular, cellular, and systemic biology. Students complete three laboratory rotations with any of the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology mentoring faculty and participate in journal club and seminars. Students successfully completing the GPiBs curriculum and choosing a faculty mentor affiliated with Biochemistry & Molecular Biology will complete their research dissertation in the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology program. Students in the MD/PhD program are also admitted directly into the second year.

A candidate for the PhD degree must complete at least 90 credit hours of academic work, including the first year GPiBS courses. In the fall semester of the second year, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology students enroll in an advanced course on structure and dynamics of macromolecules. Six credit hours of advanced elective courses are also required. All graduate students enroll in Journal Clubs each Fall and Spring semester and participate in all departmental seminars. The remaining hours are Dissertation Research.

The successful completion of a qualifying examination is required for admission to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. It is taken after the student's satisfactory completion of the Core Curriculum, in the Spring of the second year. The exam format is for the student to write and orally defend a research proposal. The topic is chosen by the student and is separate from the student’s dissertation research. We view this exercise as a learning tool as well as an examination, and considerable guidance and feedback is given to students on how to prepare a focused, cohesive research proposal. The Graduate College rules for this examination are described elsewhere in this Bulletin, and details of the format are described in the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology handbook.

After passing the general examination the student is admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree by the Dean of the Graduate College. The student then prepares a prospectus consisting of a description of the research problem, stating overall goals and specific aims, a survey of the relevant literature, and a specific outline of the research plan. The prospectus should be completed and approved by the Doctoral Committee by fall of the third year. A dissertation must be presented and successfully defended. For further information consult the Doctoral section of this bulletin or the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology handbook.

The MS program of the department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology has been recently redesigned to provide enhanced education opportunities for students who wish to extend their knowledge, experience, and opportunities for advancement in research laboratories at universities, research institutes or biotechnology companies.

Our research-intensive PhD program prepares students for successful careers as independent scientists and team leaders in academic research, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, health and biomedical science management or teaching.

Current Courses:  Search BIOC prefix courses found online at

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