PhD in Biochemistry

General Program Information

Post-bachelor’s and post-master’s PhD

Our PhD program is part of a PhD program called the Program in Biomedical Sciences (PiBS). This interdisciplinary, “umbrella” program incorporates didactic coursework and biomedical research to prepare our graduates for career advancement. Our Foundations in Biomedical Sciences (FiBS) and Professional Development & Mentoring curricula are integrated into this program. During the first year in the PiBS program, while taking classes, students rotate in a number of research laboratories, enabling the selection of a dissertation research laboratory. Students will join the program/department with which the mentor is affiliated and continue advanced studies towards candidacy.

The didactic coursework includes our FiBS core classes that incorporate principles of biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology and genetics. Additional course material includes laboratory techniques, statistics and advanced electives.

In addition to the biomedical science coursework mentioned above, our new Professional Development & Mentoring curriculum offers our graduate students opportunities to consider careers in a variety of sectors, including research and non-research careers in academia, biotechnology, government, or wherever they may choose to work after Boston University. Students enjoy a rich curriculum of professional development in areas outside of the traditional basic science classes. In this regard, there are credit-bearing courses as well as workshops, shadowing experiences, and internships, all part of our NIH-funded award called BU’s BEST (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training).

Our research relies on cutting-edge technologies and experimental systems to address the cellular and molecular mechanisms of biological processes, particularly those that relate broadly to human disease. Specific research themes within the department include Neuroscience & Aging; Signal Transduction & Cancer; Extracellular Matrix/Cellular Injury; Metabolism, Obesity/Diabetes; Proteomics & Glycomics; and Development. For more information on our research, please visit our website.

Students applying for acceptance into the PhD program should apply directly to PiBS. More information about the program and the application process can be found on our website.

Please return to our website frequently or contact us to learn more about our graduate programs and research discoveries.

Course Requirements

  • GMS FC 701, FC 702, FC 703, FC 704, FC 706 (Foundations in Biomedical Sciences Modules I, II, III, IV, and V)
  • GMS BI 854 Biochemistry Seminar
  • GMS BI 777 Techniques in Biochemistry, Cell & Molecular Biology
  • GMS MS 700 or GMS MS 570 Biostatistics
  • Advanced electives
  • Research credits

(See the course descriptions for more details.)

Note: Course requirements for post-MA PhD candidates are identical to those required for the PhD candidates except for the number of research credits.

Qualifying Examinations

Candidates for the PhD and MD/PhD degrees must pass both a written qualifying examination and an oral qualifying examination.

Thesis Advisory Committee and Thesis Defense

Upon completion of qualifying exams, PhD candidates present a research proposal to a five-member Thesis Advisory Committee. The committee is assembled at least once annually to discuss the progress of the accepted proposal. Once the Thesis Advisory Committee determines that the research work is complete, the student writes and defends the thesis.


Apply for this program online.

Candidates applying to the Program in Biomedical Sciences (PiBS) must have a strong background in the biological and physical sciences (a minimum of 28 credits or the equivalent).

Applicants will be asked to submit the following:

  • An official transcript of each college or university attended
  • A minimum of three letters of recommendation
  • A Personal Statement that describes qualifications for the intended educational objectives
  • Official results of the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

International applicants must also submit:

  • Official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for applicants whose native language is not English
  • International Student Data Form

Contact the Director of Graduate Studies for additional information.

Financial Support

Financial assistance in the form of tuition and health benefits, as well as a living stipend, is available to students in good standing in the PhD program.