Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree / Master of Arts (MA) Degree / Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree in the field of Biochemistry and Cell Biology

Program Learning Outcomes for the BA/MA/PhD Accelerated Degree Program in the field of Biochemistry and Cell Biology 

Upon completing the Bachelor’s degree requirements for this program, students majoring in Biochemistry and Cell Biology will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of biology with particular emphasis on biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to apply the modern scientific method, including designing experiments and/or building mathematical models, and collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data using common statistical methods and software programs.
  3. Demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills, including an ability to communicate effectively and work with diverse groups, and the ability to interpret and communicate the results of original research.
  4. Locate primary scientific literature and demonstrate the ability to use critical thinking and problem solving skills to evaluate published and proposed research in the biological sciences and to apply these skills.
  5. Demonstrate understanding of the practice and culture of science, scientific ethics, and the relationship between science and society.
  6. Develop quantitative reasoning via the construction of models and/or the analysis of data.

Students completing the MA degree requirements will:

  1. Develop a knowledge of past and current research accomplishments and techniques in biochemistry and cell biology.
  2. Demonstrate problem solving and critical thinking skills.
  3. Demonstrate the effective written communication skills required for a thesis describing independent research and contributions to publishable research.
  4. Demonstrate the effective oral and visual communication skills necessary for articulating scientific findings and significance to diverse audiences.

Students completing the PhD degree requirements will:

  1. Develop a comprehensive knowledge of current and past research accomplishments and techniques in biochemistry and cell biology.
  2. Demonstrate independent problem solving and critical thinking skills.
  3. Demonstrate the effective written communication skills required for a thesis describing independent research and contributions to successful funding proposals and published research.
  4. Demonstrate the effective oral and visual communication skills necessary for articulating scientific findings and significance to diverse audiences.

Requirements for the BA-MA-PhD Accelerated Degree Program in the field of Biochemistry and Cell Biology

BA in Biochemistry and Cell Biology Requirements

All of the requirements for a BA in Biochemistry and Cell Biology are required for the BA-MA-PhD track. 

MA in Biochemistry and Cell Biology Requirements

The BA-MA-PhD Track Committee will advise students pursuing the BA-MA completion and will approve their formal course program during their final two years in the BA-MA program. Students who wish to pursue the BA-MA track must select the MA thesis advisor by the end of their second year, when they declare their major, to provide the opportunity to begin a project that will form the basis of the MA thesis.

Course requirements for the MA degree include:

Required Courses 1
BIOC 581GRADUATE SEMINAR IN BIOCHEMISTRY AND CELL BIOLOGY (4 semesters attendance, 1 presentation)1 credit hour per semester
or BIOC 582 GRADUATE SEMINAR IN BIOCHEMISTRY AND CELL BIOLOGY
BIOC 583MOLECULAR INTERACTIONS4
BIOC 587RESEARCH DESIGN, PROPOSAL WRITING, AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT3
BIOC 588CELLULAR INTERACTIONS4
UNIV 594RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH1
BIOC 800BIOCHEMISTRY & CELL BIOLOGY GRADUATE RESEARCHVariable credit hours
Elective Requirements
Select at least 6 credit hours from the set of 500-level advanced BIOC electives.6
Additional Coursework as Approved by Department
Total Credit Hours 1Minimum of 40

Footnotes and Additional Information 

Students will be responsible for the content of these courses in their MA defense (which also serves as the Admission to PhD Candidacy examination). 

Progress reviews with the MA thesis committee occur at the end of the junior year and the early spring of the senior year. The MA thesis will be submitted and public oral defense will occur in the summer following graduation at the end of the senior year with completion of the BA requirements. MA candidates continuing to the PhD must maintain a GPA ≥ 3.0, complete a thesis, and make a public oral defense that includes a private examination by their MA thesis committee. Students who complete the MA requirements with a GPA ≥ 2.67 but less than 3.0 must defend their thesis to complete the MA degree, but will not be admitted to the PhD program. 

PhD in Biochemistry and Cell Biology Requirements

The following are required for admission to the PhD portion of the BA-MA-PhD track: Successful completion of the MA thesis and oral defense, which will serve as the admission to candidacy examination for all PhD candidates in this program, a cumulative GPA ≥ 3.0 for the BA-MA degree courses, and a GRE Quantitative test score ≥ 80th percentile. Students who are in good academic standing in the BA-MA track and have passed their MA final oral examination may begin their doctoral studies the summer following graduation with the approval of their PhD mentor and the Department Chair. 

Course requirements for the completion of the PhD studies within the accelerated BA-MA-PhD program include all of the required courses taken during the MA studies and the following:

Required Courses
BIOC 581GRADUATE SEMINAR IN BIOCHEMISTRY AND CELL BIOLOGY (required in all semesters of residency) 1Minimum of 6 credit hours
or BIOC 582 GRADUATE SEMINAR IN BIOCHEMISTRY AND CELL BIOLOGY
BIOC 599GRADUATE TEACHING IN BIOCHEMISTRY AND CELL BIOLOGY 2Minimum of 2 credit hours
BIOC 800BIOCHEMISTRY & CELL BIOLOGY GRADUATE RESEARCH (minimum of 69 credit hours taken over 2 academic years and 1 summer) 3Variable credit hours
Total Credit Hours *Minimum of 75

Footnotes and Additional Information

Evaluation of Progress in the PhD Phase of the BA-MA-PhD Program

The Graduate Advisory Committee evaluates each student's record and recommends any further course work based on the requirements and on the interests of the student. Thesis advisors may require additional courses. At the end of each semester, the department chair, in consultation with the faculty, reviews student performance in the formal course work. Students must maintain at least a B grade average (GPA ≥ 3.0), perform satisfactorily in their research efforts, and demonstrate outstanding motivation and potential for research.

Evaluation during the PhD phase of the program includes: 

  • The MA thesis and its oral defense constitute the admission to candidacy examination
  • Ongoing review of research progress by the thesis advisor; satisfactory research progress will be indicated by a grade of "S" in BIOC 800 each semester 
  • A yearly research progress assessment by the student’s Research Progress Review Committee
  • Presentation of research progress at least once a year in seminar format (BIOC 581 or BIOC 582) starting in the first year of PhD study and continuing until submission of the doctoral thesis
  • Defense of the PhD thesis research and text in a final public seminar presentation and oral examination attended by the student’s Thesis Committee 

Policies for the BA/MA/PhD Accelerated Degree Program in the field of Biochemistry and Cell Biology

Biochemistry and Cell Biology Graduate Program Handbook

The General Announcements (GA) is the official Rice curriculum. As an additional resource for students, Biochemistry and Cell Biology publishes a graduate program handbook, which can be found here:
http://gradhandbooks.rice.edu/2017_18/Biochemistry_Cell%20Biology_Graduate_Handbook.pdf.

Admission

Qualified Rice University undergraduates can apply to enroll in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology BA-MA-PhD program track in the spring of their sophomore year. Students who are strong candidates for this program typically join a Rice research lab to start research on a project related to biochemistry or cell biology prior to applying. Upon acceptance, depending on course load, financial aid status, and other variables, program participants may then start taking required graduate course requirements at the same time as their upper-level undergraduate degree course requirements. Students pursuing this track should be aware that there could be financial aid implications, should the conversion of undergraduate coursework to that of graduate level reduce their earned undergraduate credit for any semester below that of full-time undergraduate status (12 hours). Advisors for the program can assist in this determination. 

Laboratory research performed in undergraduate and graduate research courses is presented as the MA thesis in the summer following graduation and provides the basis for the PhD thesis work. As a result, the graduate careers of these students will be accelerated by an anticipated 1-2 years, and such students may be able to obtain their PhD degrees approximately 3 years after obtaining their BA-MA degree. If circumstances require, students may stop at the BA or MA level if they meet all the requirements for the respective degrees. 

Criteria for selection include academic performance (GPA ≥ 3.5), motivation, previous research experience, and personal qualities. Enrollment is limited, and the Biochemistry and Cell Biology BA-MA-PhD Track Committee will select applicants for admission. 

For additional information, please see the BioSciences website: http://biosciences.rice.edu/.

Opportunities for the BA/MA/PhD Accelerated Degree Program in the field of Biochemistry and Cell Biology

Information about Student Resources, Attendance at Scientific Conferences, Internships, Graduate Student Awards, the Graduate Student Association, etc. can by found in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology Graduate Program Handbook:
http://gradhandbooks.rice.edu/2017_18/Biochemistry_Cell%20Biology_Graduate_Handbook.pdf.

For additional information, please see BioSciences website: http://biosciences.rice.edu/.