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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Learn about the PhD Degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at IU School of Medicine. Students enroll in the Biomedical Gateway (IBMG) Program.

PhD Degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology doctorate degree program at IU School of Medicine typically takes five years to complete. The program includes two years of course work and three years of conducting original research full-time, culminating in a PhD thesis. This program prepares graduates for careers in academic research and teaching or in the business and industry side of bioscience.

Students enroll in the Indiana University School of Medicine Biomedical Gateway (IBMG) Program and share a common first-year curriculum with other PhD students. At the end of the first year, students select a mentor and elective courses related to their chosen course of scientific study. Step-by-step application instructions are available on the Indiana Biomedical Gateway Program application page.


Successful applicants to the IU School of Medicine Biochemistry and Molecular Biology doctorate degree program have a strong background in the sciences with lab experience and grades of B or better in science-related coursework. The priority application deadline for fall semester admission to the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD program is December 1st.  The final deadline is January 1st.

Program Requirements

  • A minimum of 30 credit hours of didactic coursework
  • A minimum of 45 credit hours of research (B855)
  • A minimum of 90 credit hours consisting of required and elective courses
  • A scholarly thesis based on approved original research with oversight from a faculty mentor. Potential research topics include structural biology, signal transduction, drug development, regulation of gene expression, cancer biology and metabolic disorders.
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA and a B- or better in all PhD coursework

Biochemistry PhD students must take at least two (of the available eight) two-credit Biochemistry core courses (BIOC-B811, GRDM-G805, G807, G817, G848, G852, G825, G826), which are offered among spring electives for the Indiana Biomedical Gateway Program (IBGP) or in the fall. These may be taken in year one or later years.


  • GRDM-G715 Biomed I – Biomedical Science I – Biochemical Basis of Biological Processes*: 2 credits
  • GRDM-G716 Biomed II – Biomedical Science II – Molecular Biology and Genetics*: 2 credits
  • GRDM-G717 Biomed III – Biomedical Science III – Cellular Basis of Systems Biology*: 2 credits
  • GRDM-G505 Responsible Conduct of Research*: 1 credit
  • GRDM-G700 Translating Foundational Science to Contemporary Knowledge*: 1 credit
  • GRDM-G702 Entering Biomedical Science Research*: 1 credit
  • GRDM-G718 Research in Biomedical Science (first rotation): 2 credits

Biochemistry Core Electives

  • GRDM-G805 Diabetes and Obesity: 2 credits
  • GRDM-G825 Advanced Topics in Molecular Biology: 2 credits
  • GRDM-G826 Synthetic Biology and Biologics: 2 credits


Research Communication (one of the following)

  • COMM-C534 Distilling Your Message*: 1 credit
  • COMM-C533 Improvisation for Scientists*: 1 credit
  • ENG-W533 Science Writing for Public Readers*: 1 credit
  • GRDM-G507 Reagent Validation as a Means for Enhanced Research Reproducibility*: 1 credit
  • GRDM-G718 Research in Biomedical Science Rotations 2 and 3: 4 credits
  • Indiana Biomedical Gateway Program open enrollment electives

Biochemistry Core Electives

  • GRDM-G817 Molecular basis of cell structure and function: 2 credits
  • GRDM-G852 Concepts of cancer biology: 2 credits
  • GRDM-G807 Structural and chemical biology: 2 credits
  • GRDM-G848 Bioinformatics applications to proteomics and genomics: 2 credits

Biochemistry Course Descriptions

Fall- Total of 10 credit hours

  • GRDM-G855 Experimental Design and Research Biostatistics*: 1 credit
  • BIOC- B890 Seminar: 1 credit
  • Major course requirements: variable
  • Minor course requirements: variable
  • BIOC-B855 Research: variable

Spring- Total of 10 credit hours

  • BIOC-B803 Advanced Biochemistry: 1 credit
  • BIOC- B890 Seminar: 1 credit
  • Major course requirements: variable
  • Minor course requirements: variable
  • BIOC-B855 Research: variable

During years 3 through 5, the student will take didactic courses if needed to fulfill either requirements for the biochemistry major or their chosen minor. In year 3, the student will typically register for a total of 10 cr. hours each fall and spring, including 1 cr. hour of BIOC-B890. 4 credit hours of B890 are required before advancing to candidacy.  The student will advance to candidacy upon completion of both major and minor coursework and having reached a total of 30 or more didactic hours of coursework as well as successful defense of their thesis proposal which serves as the students qualifying examination.

Work will continue in the field of the candidate’s thesis. Emphasis will be on the ability to pursue research with relative independence and responsibility.

MD/PhD students are not required to take GRDM-G715-717 but are expected to perform lab rotations during summer breaks from medical school classes. MD/PhD students must take two or more of the two-credit Biochemistry core courses (GRDM-G805, G807, G817, G852, G825, G826, G848) along with other courses required of IBMG and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD students (GRDM-G505, G655, G855, BIOC-B803 and B890 [4x]).

In the spring of Year Two, PhD students prepare and defend a proposal for a topic of original research. Students are questioned on topics outside of their thesis work during their thesis proposal oral defense in B803. Passing of this defense with a grade of B/3.0 or better is required for advancement to doctoral candidacy.

After a laboratory for thesis research is chosen, an advisory committee consisting of at least three faculty from Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and one external faculty member is formed with the approval of the thesis advisor and departmental chairperson. Upon advancement to candidacy, a thesis research committee is similarly formed but may consist of different faculty.

 PhD students with eligibility to work in the U.S. receive a competitive annual stipend without a Teaching Assistant requirement ($29,000 for the 2020-2021 academic year) as well as tuition scholarships and health and dental insurance. Find additional financial aid information from the IUPUI Office of Student Financial Services.