Program Guidelines

This page provides a brief overview of the structure of the program. For a more detailed view, please see the Handbook.

Course Requirements

The Biophysics program has flexible course requirements that support the training and education of our interdisciplinary body of students. These include the core courses (Biophysical Chemistry and Biophysical Spectroscopy), the Biophysics seminar, Advanced Electives chose from different specialty areas, an Ethics course and optional Specialty courses

For more information, visit our Courses page.

Thesis Committee

The Thesis Committee is comprised of at least 5 members, including the Thesis Advisor.  The committee will help guide the student throughout their independent research until completion of their PhD Degree. The student and Thesis Advisor will choose four other faculty members to serve on the committee. At least one of the four additional members must be in a different department than the Thesis Advisor. Three of the five committee members must be trainers in the Biophysics Program. It is recommended that students form their Thesis Committee soon after beginning in their lab, but this should be done by the end of the spring semester of the student’s first year in the Biophysics Graduate Degree Program.

Preliminary Exam

The preliminary exam (prelim) exam is administered by the student thesis committee. It consists of a written research proposal and an oral defense. With the completion of the course requirements, passing the prelim promotes the student to dissertator status.

Thesis Defense

Successful completion of a research program culminates in the written and oral presentation of the work and its defense to the thesis committee. The average time to degree for a PhD in the Biophysics program is 5.2 years.

Doctoral Minors

The Biophysics program does not require a minor; however, many of our students have special interests and choose to pursue minors. Examples of minor options pursued by some Biophysics students include:

  • Quantitative Biology for students interested in biophysics, systems biology, bioinformatics or biostatistics. This interdisciplinary minor includes coursework in quantitative methods, biological science, and integration of quantitative biology.
  • Life Science Communication for students interested in the ethical, legal, and social implications of emerging technologies or the future.
  • Doctoral Business Minor for students who are interested in careers in biotechnology