About the Program

Designed to prepare students for a research-oriented career in academia, government or the private sector, our doctorate program provides a background of courses designed to match the interests and needs of each student. Ph.D. students are expected to enroll as full-time graduate students.



Ph.D. students in our program take courses designed for graduate students with an emphasis on research design and experimentation. Students typically earn about 30 semester hour credits before taking the written examination. For students holding the M.D., D.D.S. or other professional degrees, successful completion of biochemistry and cell biology is equivalent to the BIOC 503-504 series.


Required Courses

  • ANAT 620Scientific Grantsmanship
  • 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)
  • BIOC 695Biochemistry Student Seminar (each semester)
  • IBMS 600Laboratory Safety
  • IBMS 620Laboratory/Clinical Rotations
  • IBMS 635Cellular Signaling
  • OVPR 601 or OVPR 603Scientific Integrity, Responsible Scientific Conduct or Responsible Conduct of Research
  • BIOC 697Directed Research in Biochemistry (each semester)

Recommended Courses

With guidance from their advisors and committees, students select courses from this panel. Ph.D. students must enroll full-time (minimum nine credit hours per semester) for stipend eligibility, and 60 credit hours are required for graduation. Most of this coursework should be taken during the first two years of the program, but some may be taken after the comprehensive exam. We encourage students to take additional courses that relate to their personal research project.

  • 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


Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive exam is comprised of two parts: a written examination consisting of a research proposal in the format of an NIH predoctoral fellowship, and an oral examination consisting of a defense of the proposal, completed within six months of receiving a passing score on the proposal.

Apply Now

The application to our program is available through the VCU School of Medicine’s Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal.

If you have any questions about the program or application requirements, please contact:

Tomasz Kordula, Ph.D.
Program Director