Master's Program in Biochemistry

The application deadline for Fall 2023 admission is April 15, 2023.

Master's Program

The Department of Biological Chemistry offers one-year Master's Programs designed to broadly train tomorrow’s leaders in biomedical sciences. Our trainees are well prepared for employment in industry, or matriculation into elite graduate or medical programs. Two tracks of study are offered, depending upon the goals and interests of the students. 

Master's Program in Biochemistry-Research Track:  This one-year (two-semester) program of didactic coursework in biochemistry includes an intensive research experience and a written thesis. This program is intended for individuals seeking to increase their skills and research experience for employment opportunities, or for application to highly competitive Ph.D. or medical professional degree programs. Research track students are encouraged to begin work in their mentor’s laboratory prior to the beginning of Fall term, particularly if they will be applying to graduate schools during the Master’s program.

The intensive research experience is a key feature of the research-track. Our faculty members conduct research at the cutting edge of modern biochemistry and molecular biology. Current areas of research include structural biology, protein biochemistry, enzyme reaction mechanisms, molecular genetics, signal transduction, neurobiology, cell and developmental biology, and bioinformatics. Students match with faculty research advisors after advisement by the directors and by mutual consent with the faculty, either before arrival on campus or immediately thereafter. The capstone of the research experience is the thesis dissertation. The thesis is expected to be a synthesis of scholarly background and discussion of the research project, in addition to an original experimental or theoretical contribution to the field. A committee composed of the research advisor and two additional graduate faculty members will evaluate the thesis. Upon their positive assessment, including any required modifications, the student will be eligible to be awarded the Master’s degree.

Master's Program in Biochemistry-Coursework Track: This one-year (two-semester) program of didactic coursework in biochemistry and related fields is designed for students who plan to attend medical, dental, veterinary, law, or other professional programs. Students on this track take two semesters of rigorous, graduate-level, coursework. In addition, students will conduct a mentored literature review in a selected area of interest, working one-on-one with a research faculty, and culminating in a scholarly review article. Students on this track are exposed to an impressive array of modern research topics and methodologies through seminar programs, a critical analysis course, and interactions with our faculty, and are well prepared to succeed in professional programs.

Explore our website and apply to the Master's Program in Biochemistry. Contact our Program Administrator Beth Goodwin (egoodwin@umich.edu) or our M.S. Program Directors Dr. Michael Uhler (muhler@umich.edu) or Dr. Debra Thompson (dathom@umich.edu) if you have additional questions.

Curriculum

Coursework in both tracks consists of required and elective components. To maintain academic standing, advance to the second semester of the program, and to be awarded the M.S. degree, a B- or better is required in all coursework. Students experiencing difficulty in any course should contact the Master's Program Directors early in the term and tutors can be identified to assist the M.S. students.

Admission and Application

Prerequisites

Completion of a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university (before matriculation into the master’s program)
GPA of 3.0 (minimum)
GREs are optional

Students should have taken an undergraduate biochemistry course and should have a passion for understanding life processes at a molecular level.

Financial Aid and Support

Students in the master’s program self-fund the costs associated with this program, including tuition, fees and health insurance. Tuition costs for the 2021–2022 academic year (two-terms) were approximately $25,000 for in-state students and $51,000 for out-of-state students. Information about the cost of attendance is available from the Financial Aid Department. Information about fellowship opportunities for master’s students is available from the Rackham Graduate School. Applications received by January 15th will be considered for these fellowships.

How To Apply

Applicants should submit the Rackham online application. In addition to the online application itself, college transcripts, academic and personal statements, and 3 letters of recommendation are required. GREs are optional. International applicants, whose native language is not English, are required to submit official TOEFL scores directly from ETS. The application deadline is April 15, but earlier application is advised starting in December or January.

-A scanned/electronic copy of the official transcript will be used for initial review by our admissions committee. You will be required to have your official transcript sent to the Rackham Graduate School only if you are recommended for admission.
-All applicants should report their Grade Point Average (GPA) on page 5 of the online application. The GPA should be reported using a standard U.S. four point scale. Applicants who attended an institution outside the United States should convert their international average grade point to a U.S. four point GPA (for instructions see "How to Convert Grades to a U.S. GPA")
 

Master's Graduate Curriculum

A typical credit load is 14-15 credits per term for a minimum total of 29 credits, including 4 cognate credits, and development and completion of a written research review (Course Track) or thesis (Research Track). 

A. Biological Chemistry Required Courses:

       BIOLCHEM 655* Molecules of Life: Protein Structure, Function & Dynamics (3 Cr, F)
         For most students with advanced standing in biochemistry (e.g. biochemistry UG degree)
OR BIOLCHEM 515 Introductory Biochemistry (4 Cr, F, W)*
        *With permission of MS Program Directors

BIOLCHEM 597 Critical Analysis (3 Cr, W)
BIOLCHEM 711 Graduate Seminar (1 Cr F/ 1 Cr W)
BIOLCHEM 712 Biological Chemistry Seminar Series (1 Cr F/ 1 Cr W)
BIOLCHEM 600 Independent Research (5-6 Cr F/ 5-6 Cr W)
PIBS 503 Research Responsibility & Ethics (1 Cr, F)

Research Track

BIOLCHEM 600 Independent Study (Master’s thesis research) (5-6 Cr, F; 5-6 Cr, W)
BIOLCHEM 601 Tools of a Scientist (2 Cr, F) (optional for 2021-22)

Course Track
BIOLCHEM 601 Tools of a Scientist (1-4 Cr, F)
BIOLCHEM 603 Literature Review and Analysis (1 Cr, F; 3 Cr, W)

B. Biological Chemistry Advanced Electives (2 Credits minimum):       
         Fall
         BIOLCHEM 650 Eukaryotic Gene Transcription (2 Cr, F)
         BIOLCHEM 690 Biochemical Regulatory Mechanisms (2 Cr, F)
         BIOLCHEM 713 Emerging Areas of Biochemistry (1 Cr, F)
         Winter
         BIOLCHEM 528 Biology and Chemistry of Enzymes (2 Cr, W)
         BIOLCHEM 602 Protein Crystallography (3 Cr, W)
         BIOLCHEM 640 Regulatory RNA and Control of Gene Expression (2 Cr, W)
         BIOLCHEM 673 Enzyme Kinetics (3 Cr, W)
         BIOLCHEM 675 Biochemistry and Cell Biology of Membranes and Organelles (2 Cr, W)        

C. Additional Electives* (3 credits minimum):       
         Fall
         BIOINF 527 Introduction to Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (4 Cr, F)
         BIOINF 528 Advanced Applications of Bioinformatics (3 Cr, F)
         BIOPHYS 520 Biophysical Chemistry I (Methods and Techniques) (3 Cr, F)
         BIOSTAT 501 Introduction to Biostatistics (4 Cr, F)
         BIOSTAT 521 Applied Biostatistics (4 Cr, F) [calculus prerequisite]
         CDB 530 Cell Biology (3 Cr, F)
         CDB 581 Developmental Genetics (3 Cr, F)
         HUMGEN 541 Molecular Genetics (3 Cr, F)
         PHYSIOL 502  Human Physiology (4 Cr, F)
         Winter
         BIOINF 524 Foundations in Bioinformatics & Systems Biology (3 Cr, W)  
         BIOPHYS 521 Biophysical Chemistry II (Theories) (3 Cr, W)
         CDB 550 Histology (4 Cr, W)
         CDB 582 Stem cells: Organogenesis to Regenerative Biology (3 Cr, W)
         CHEMBIO 502 Chemical Biology II  (3 Cr, W)
         MICRBIOL 504 Cellular Biotechnology (3 Cr, W)
         PATH 581 Tissue, Cellular and Molecular Basis of Disease (3 Cr, W)

**This is a partial list.  Consult your research mentor & academic advisor if you would like to take an elective course or courses not listed above.

Alumni

Click HERE for a directory of Biochem Alumni.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I apply directly to the Biological Chemistry Department?

         No. All applications must be made to the Rackham Graduate School. They have admissions criteria that must be met before we can consider an application, including the qualification of your undergraduate degree and your English fluency.

2. Is it important that I have taken biochemistry?

         Yes. Our one-year (two term) curriculum is very demanding and assumes that you have had strong undergraduate training in biochemistry. We look at your biochemistry grades specifically to determine if you are prepared sufficiently for our program.

3. Where do graduates of the MS program wind up?

         Our graduates go on to either graduate school, medical school, or research positions at universities or in industry. Our program has two tracks, the course track and the research track. Generally, most students thinking about medical school will take the course track and most students thinking about graduate school will take the research track, but this is not always the case. Some students change their career trajectory while in the program. Our MS administration is well-versed in key steps and resources for all these career pathways. Many of the skills you master in our MS program will be useful in any of these potential careers, including preparing a seminar, scientific writing, and designing experiments.

4. I have a 3.2 GPA. Do I have a chance of getting into the program?

         We dig a little deeper than just the GPA. If there were extenuating circumstances as to why grades were lower when first starting college or if the undergraduate experience was impacted by illness or injury, we take that into account.

5. What is the admissions committee looking for in the Academic Statement of Purpose and the Personal Statement?

         We are looking to see that you have the talent and passion to succeed in our program. Ours is a training program, so we don’t expect students to be perfect, but we don’t want to set them up to fail either. Some students learn that they need to speak up and present their ideas in our discussion coursework. Some learn to structure their writing in a way that is scientifically precise so that key concepts are accurately communicated. All students will face challenges that they will need to overcome. We support our students by helping them to overcome these challenges through individual counseling sessions. In the Academic Statement we are looking for the academic experiences that suggest you will do well in our courses and in understanding the research literature. In the personal statement, we are looking for your motivation for the MS degree and how you foresee it helping you achieve your career goals.

6. Does it help to look over the faculty research interests?

         Absolutely. If you are excited about the research of some of our faculty, mention it in your Academic Statement and why you are excited about it.

7. How can I find out more about the program?

         You can take a look at our current year’s MS handbook that gives courses (required and elective) as well as some of the deadlines for both our research track and course track students.

8. Is there financial aid available through the Biological Chemistry department?

         No. There is no financial aid available through the Biological Chemistry department. Most students will pay their tuition and housing costs for the entire year. Rarely (less than 5% of the time) we are able to secure supplementary funding from the Rackham Graduate School for our MS students.

9. What happens after I submit my application?

         We look over each application carefully. We interview roughly 25% of the applicants and make offers to those students that we are convinced will succeed in our program and will benefit from the training of the program. Offers of acceptance are usually sent out in early to late Spring.