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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Houston, Texas

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Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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Graduate Program

First year students

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology offers talented students an unparalleled opportunity to pursue research-intensive Ph.D. training in a collegial environment that encompasses an uncommon diversity of biomedical topics.

The BMB faculty form a close-knit community of interactive investigators with links to a dozen other departments and programs at BCM. They provide students with a range of scientific perspectives, a variety of educational experiences, and a multiplicity of cutting-edge research tools.


  • Tuition to the graduate school is covered for all BMB students
  • Students receive a stipend of $29,000 per year
  • Students who win outside fellowships receive an additional $3,000 Dean's Award
  • Medical insurance is covered for all students

Time Line

During the first year, students complete a flexible curriculum, tailored to meet their own educational interests and needs. For more information about available courses, please visit Core Curriculum.

At the same time, BMB students rotate through as many as five different laboratories to gain hands-on research experience and to help them choose a faculty mentor for their thesis research. The faculty mentor and thesis lab is selected by the end of the first year.

Second-year students write a research proposal for their thesis topic and defend it orally. This qualifying exam is designed to encourage students to think deeply about their thesis research from the very beginning, to speed up the transition from classroom to the lab bench.

Students conduct their thesis research under the supervision of their faculty mentor and a thesis advisory committee. Thesis projects normally take 3-5 years to complete—about the national average—and serve as the basis for high quality publications and for the Ph.D. dissertation.

Graduation Requirements

  • Complete 30 credit hours of required courses and electives
  • Pass the qualifying examination
  • Conduct an original research project
  • Submit and defend a doctoral dissertation

Departmental Activities

BMB Retreat: The Annual Research Conference, organized by the students, is held at a resort in nearby Galveston. Faculty and students present talks and posters with prizes for outstanding student presentations.

BMB Student Seminar Course: Students give seminars to other BMB students and faculty to learn how to organize and present their research and to handle research-related questions.

Friday Morning Chalk Talks: This informal series of talks by BMB faculty and advanced students provides a critical forum for interactive discussions of novel research ideas and the latest results.

Departmental Seminars: Distinguished scientists from around the world present their research and meet informally with students over lunch and after the seminar.

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