Program Requirements

BMSE Core Curriculum

Ph.D. students in the program are required to demonstrate competency in the fundamental areas of molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics and bioengineering, normally by completing a total of 15 units of core module coursework, and by demonstrating a depth of knowledge in at least two advanced topics. Program students will elect an emphasis in either Biochemistry & Molecular Biology OR in Biophysics & Bioengineering. Core module courses in each emphasis are listed to the right in the first box.

Competency in the chosen emphasis is normally demonstrated by completion of 10 units of modular coursework from that emphasis with grades of B or better. Competency in the other emphasis is normally demonstrated by completion of 5 units of coursework from that emphasis with grades of B or better.

Additional Coursework

BMSE 592-BMSE Lab Rotations

2 or 4 units each quarter of first year of study only with faculty approval. Students in the BMSE program normally complete three one-quarter laboratory rotations during the first year of study and are encouraged to rotate through laboratories in more than a single academic department.

BMSE 595 - Advanced Topics Seminars

2 units; A critical review of research in selected areas available from participating faculty in the departments of Chemistry, MCDB, Materials, and Physics.

BMSE 596 - Directed Reading & Research

Variable unit credit for research performed in one's permanent research laboratory. Students are expected to begin research for their dissertation in the spring or summer following their first year in the program. Research directors may be selected from any of the faculty affiliated with the interdepartmental program or outside the program with prior approval.

BMSE 599 - Ph.D. Dissertation Preparation

Variable units & register for only after advancing to candidacy and typically in the last quarter enrolled as a doctoral candidate. Unit credit for writing the PhD dissertation.

Seminar Courses

BMSE 262 - Research Progress in BMSE

1 unit each quarter & required every quarter during entire academic study; Research presentations by advanced PhD students on research progress in BMSE & MCDB.

BMSE 265 - Seminar Discussion Group

1 unit each quarter & required for non-advanced graduate students; Review of literature of invited guest speakers for BMSE's weekly seminar series which is not an official seminar course.

Teaching Assistant Courses

All BMSE students are required to serve as a Teaching Assistant for at least two quarters during their entire course of study at UCSB.

MCDB 500 - Teaching Assistant Orientation

1 unit, Offered Fall quarter only; Register for only once prior to or concurrent with first TA assignment.

MCDB 501 - Practicum in Instruction

1-4 units; Credit for actual TA assignment; Register in quarter assigned a TAship; Units depend on teaching load (50% TAship = 4 units of MCDB 501 enrollment).

MCDB 502 - Teaching Assistant Training

1-2 units; Offered Fall & Winter quarters; Register for only once prior to or concurrent with first TA assignment. Group discussion of TA related issues and practical critique of TA teaching by other TA's.


In order to qualify for advancement to doctoral candidacy, students must complete all required core coursework and form a doctoral thesis committee. A doctoral thesis committee consists of a minimum three BMSE ladder faculty with the chosen research advisor serving as the Thesis Committee Chair. For the student's qualifying exam, the Faculty Graduate Advisor appoints an Exam Chair from within BMSE to replace the Thesis Committee Chair as the research advisor is not allowed to be present during the exam process.

The advancement to candidacy exam is normally taken towards the end of the second year of graduate study (spring or summer) and is based on the student's thesis research. The qualifying examination consists of a written research proposition followed by an oral defense of the proposition.

After advancement to candidacy, students are expected to present a formal seminar annually in BMSE 262 (Progress in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Seminar series), and are encouraged to meet annually with their thesis dissertation committee until completion. The final requirement for the Ph.D. degree is a written dissertation and its oral defense, which can be waived with approval, in lieu of a final program seminar.