Show The Graduate Center Menu

Degree Requirements


Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is awarded for mastery of subject matters and demonstration of research ability. It is given to recognition of the candidate’s superior attainments and ability in his or her major field. A student must maintain high academic standards to retain matriculated status in the doctoral program. Normally, three or more years of full-time study and research beyond the bachelor’s degree are needed to complete the doctoral program. At least 60 credits of approved graduate work are required for the degree.

Students are required to complete core courses in general biochemistry (bioenergetics, enzymology, metabolism and molecular biology), bioorganic chemistry, and physical biochemistry. Also required are two advanced course in biology and advanced biochemistry topics. In addition, students must actively participate in biochemistry seminars for five semesters by making at least one oral presentation during each semester. Further course work inside or outside of the Ph.D. Program in Biochemistry is undertaken with the advice of the student’s mentor, doctoral dissertation committee and Executive Officer. Matriculated Graduate Center doctoral students may cross register for doctoral study among member institutions of the Interuniversity Doctoral Consortium. Permission of the Executive Officer is required.

In addition to the course requirements, the student is required to complete two qualifying examinations dealing with course and literature material, and to present a dissertation defense.

Qualifying Examinations

Each student must pass the First Level Examination - Part I and Part II - in order to continue in the Program. A student may take the examination only TWICE. Each part of the First Level Examination is a written examination testing the fundamental knowledge of biochemistry.

The First Level Examination - Part I - must be taken at the end of the first semester, usually in January. The First Level Examination - Part II - must be taken at the end of the second semester, usually in June. If a student fails or if the student misses the examination(s), the student may take the examination(s) before the start of the following academic year - usually in August.

To satisfactorily pass the First Level Examination, the student must pass the two parts of the First Level Examination as well as get a grade of "B" or better in both biochemistry core courses, Advanced Biochemistry I (BICM 71010) and Advanced Biochemistry II (BICM 71020).

The Second Examination in Biochemistry is in the form of a research proposal which the student must develop and then defend before the Doctoral Dissertation Committee by the end of his/her second year in the Program. The members of the Committee are selected by the student and his/her thesis advisor and approved by the Executive Officer.

The proposal should be based either on the student's planned thesis research or on a current problem in biochemistry. If the proposal is based on the planned thesis research, the student should be prepared to answer questions about other approaches that could be used to achieve the specific objectives.

The proposal should include the following sections:

  1. Abstract
  2. Hypothesis and Specific Aims
  3. Background and Significance: Concise presentation of the background which bears upon and leads to the specific aims.
  4. Experimental Design: Presentation of the experiments for each specific aim and discussion of the expected results including possible alternatives.
  5. Conclusion: Discussion of the expected results as they relate to the specific aims.
  6. Bibliography

1. A typed copy of the proposal should be in the hands of each committee member at least TWO weeks before the date of the examination. At the same time, a copy should be sent to the Biochemistry Program Office with your mentor's written approval.

2. Students should obtain an indication from all members of the committee that the research proposal is defensible BEFORE scheduling the defense of the research proposal.

3. The Second Examination may be held either at the campus or at the Graduate Center, but if any faculty member wants to have the examination at the Graduate Center, it should be scheduled there.

4. Notify the Biochemistry Program Office when you have set the date, time, and place of the examination. The Biochemistry Program Office will arrange for a room and notify the examination committee and the student.

5. The Committee Chairperson will submit the results of the examination to the Biochemistry Program Office as soon as possible after the examination using the Report of Second Examination form, currently available from the Biochemistry Program Office.

6. The Committee Chairperson will also notify the Biochemistry Program Office when any required corrections have been made (see Report of Second Examination form).

Dissertation Thesis

At the heart of the program leading to the Ph.D. is the dissertation requirement. The degree is viewed fundamentally as a research degree, and the student is expected to begin laboratory work toward the dissertation by the end of the first year in residence. To assist the student in the choice of a project and mentor, a laboratory rotation during his/her first year of residence is scheduled in which the student participates in the research efforts of several laboratories. This serves both to expose the student to a wide variety of biochemistry laboratory techniques and to give a detailed view of various research efforts in progress at CUNY.