About the Program
Our Master of Science program, which students may complete on a part-time or full-time basis, involves approximately two years of coursework and a research project performed under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Upon entering the program, students progress through the following timeline:
- Consult with faculty and the program director and choose an advisor
- Select a graduate advisory committee, who will assist in course and thesis planning
- Choose a thesis project by the end of the first semester
- Begin conducting supervised research in the advisor’s laboratory
- Upon completion of the research project, write and submit a thesis
- Pass a final exam in the form of an oral thesis defense, conducted by the graduate advisory committee
M.S. students take courses designed for graduate students with an emphasis on research design and experimentation. Students must amass at least 30 credit hours.
The following graduate courses are required, and constitute the core courses of the curriculum:
- BIOC 503Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
- BIOC 504Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
- BIOC 651Biochemistry Journal Club (each semester)
- BIOC 661Critical Thinking (two semesters)
- BIOC 690Biochemistry Seminar (each semester)
- IBMS 600Laboratory Safety
- IBMS 635Cellular Signaling
- OVPR 601/OVPR 602/OVPR 603Scientific Integrity/Responsible Scientific Discovery/Responsible Conduct of Research
- BIOC 697Directed Research in Biochemistry (each semester)
Students may supplement the core set of required courses with electives offered by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology or other departments. Electives may include, among others:
- ANAT 615Techniques in Neuroscience and Cell Biology
- BIOC 601Membranes and Lipids
- BIOC 605Molecular Biology
- HGEN 501Introduction to Human Genetics
- MICR 505Immunobiology
- MICR 605Prokaryotic Molecular Genetics
- MICR 607Techniques in Molecular Biology and Genetics
- MICR 653Advanced Molecular Genetics: Bioinformatics
- PHTX 691Special Topics in Pharmacology
Become biochemistry researchers
This program is designed to provide students with the skills required to advance to positions as bioscience researchers and trainers across a broad spectrum of positions. This provides a framework for the progressive development of a mastery of the current state of the subject matter of biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, an ability to synthesize this information and apply this foundation to the identification of key areas of investigation and experimentation in bioscience.
The program relates the above framework to the development of the ability to design, implement and interpret experimental approaches that address the questions identified. Students will also develop skills in the various means of communicating both the core of bioscience knowledge and the expression of experimental design, results and interpretation to a variety of potential audiences.
Candidates will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of competence in the ability to appraise, modify and/or create and implement experimental protocols and to design and develop experiments. The program will also foster growth and development in the following areas:
- Oral communication skills
- Written communication skills
- General knowledge of science
- Problem solving skills
Continuation to Ph.D.
Students who plan to eventually work towards a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology should apply directly to our Ph.D. program and forego the M.S. degree. Applicants who are unsure but desire experience in biomedical research before making the decision will be well served by our M.S. program.
Outstanding performance in our M.S. program can help students gain admittance to a doctoral program at VCU or elsewhere.
M.S. students wishing to gain admission to the Ph.D. program should contact the program director, Tomasz Kordula: firstname.lastname@example.org.