I. Contact Information
John Cushman, Ph.D., Graduate Program Director
University of Nevada, Reno
Department of Biochemistry, Mail Stop 0200
1664 North Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89557-0330
II. Brief Introduction
The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), offers a challenging and broad-based graduate program of research and course studies leading to the M.S. or Ph.D. in biochemistry. The aim of the graduate program is to train scientists for critical analysis and solution of biochemical problems at the molecular level. The diverse research areas represented by the faculty have the common theme of understanding the structures and roles of macromolecules in complex biological systems. Students benefit from exposure to faculty members appointed in both the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources (CABNR) and the School of Medicine as well as the Desert Research Institute. Faculty interests cover a wide range of disciplines in the biomedical sciences and life sciences. Each faculty member directs an active research program and is dedicated to training postdoctoral associates and doctoral- and master’s-level graduate students as well as undergraduate students.
III. Program Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes
The academic environment is lively and highly interactive, as represented by a series of diverse, interdisciplinary seminar programs sponsored in conjunction with other related departments. The program of study includes lecture courses, laboratory rotations, journal club presentations and discussion groups, a qualifying written and oral examination, thesis or dissertation research, and one or more semesters of teaching experience. First-year students take a core curriculum and gain research experience by rotating through student-selected research laboratories. Laboratory rotations facilitate the choice of a dissertation adviser. Doctoral or master’s research projects are selected by the student in consultation with a major dissertation or thesis adviser and an advisory committee. The requirements for the Ph.D. can generally be completed in four or five years. The program, which is designed to prepare students for careers in research and/or teaching, emphasizes a cooperative, personal working environment between students and members of the faculty.
Assessment information for the master’s and doctoral programs is available on the University Assessment site.
IV. Admission Requirements
Candidates for admission to the program must meet the Graduate School’s admission criteria, as well as certain additional requirements in chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology. Students who have not taken courses in molecular biology, molecular biophysics, or metabolic regulation, but who meet the remaining requirements, might be admitted to the program with the expectation that such remedial coursework will be completed within the first year of graduate study (see program requirements below). A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 or 3.0 is required for admission to the master’s or Ph.D. programs, respectively. A combined Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test score of 300 or greater is also required as part of the application. Interested students should submit copies of their official undergraduate and graduate school transcripts directly from the institutions previously attended to the University of Nevada, Reno. For students for whom English is their second language, a competitive TOEFL® examination score is also required for admission (computer based = 180 or iBT® internet based = 64) and eligibility for graduate assistantships (computer based = 213 or iBT® internet based = 79). Applicants who are applying must also submit GRE (and TOEFL) scores, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose as part of the online application process. All accepted students are automatically granted a graduate or teaching assistantship during the first year. To ensure full consideration, applications for fall admission should be completed by January 15. There is a $90 nonrefundable graduate program application fee.
a. Course Requirement
For the Ph.D. degree, a program of study with a minimum of 72 credits is required. The program of study must include a minimum of 34 credits in course work, to include 1 credit of comprehensive examination and up to 38 dissertation credits.
The curriculum includes a core of molecular genetics, cell biology, protein structure/function, biostatistics, and ethics courses and electives in biochemistry, functional genomics, bioinformatics and other life and physical sciences. Ph.D. degree candidates develop a program of study that satisfies the program requirements and is consistent with their interests in consultation with their advisor and graduate committee. Each student’s program of study must be approved by the Program Director. Students participate in a variety of mentoring and educational experiences, including first-year research rotations, seminars, colloquia, and a yearly interdisciplinary molecular biosciences program retreat. All degree candidates present a final seminar on their dissertation research and provide an oral defense of their work.
b. Elective Requirement
The courses included in the program of study for each Ph.D. candidate depend upon the student’s past experience, current interests, and future career goals. Courses must be selected in collaboration with the student’s research advisor and advisory committee. The student’s program of study must be approved by the Program Director.
VI. Total Units (72 units)
First year Ph.D. students are required to enroll in BCH 701 and 702 (Experimental Biochemistry) and rotate through a minimum of two different laboratories. Research rotations are arranged in consultation with individual faculty mentors working within any molecular biosciences discipline.
Up to 24 credits from a completed Master’s degree and up to 9 credits from graduate level coursework can be transferred with the exception of research dissertation and seminar credits, which must be performed in residence. For timely program progression, graduate students are encouraged to form their advisory committee within the first year and take their qualifying examination before the end of their second year in the program.