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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Degree Sheet, Ph.D.


The course requirements are determined with the assistance and approval of the student’s advisory committee. A formal “Plan of Study,” including a minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate coursework and a minimum total of 90 credit hours, must be approved by the advisory committee and submitted to the OSU Graduate College before completing 28 credit hours of graduate study. The OSU Graduate College has established the following minimum requirements: 30 credit hours of graduate coursework; 15 credit hours of dissertation; and a total of 90 credit hours for the Ph.D. degree. Ph.D. students must maintain a B average for graduate coursework.  A grade of C in a single course will place the student on academic probation.


Course selection guidelines:

  • Required graduate courses: BIOC 5002, 5753, 5853, 5930, 6740. A grade of B or better is required in each 5000-6000 level course. The advisory committee can approve previous coursework or experience as meeting these requirements.
  • Four advanced graduate courses (6000-level) in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. For the combined advanced courses, a B average must be maintained.
  • Enroll twice in BIOC 6110.
  • Graduate courses in other fields of specialization can be taken as appropriate to the student’s dissertation research and interests.

Failure to meet examination deadlines will result in reduction or elimination of financial support provided to the student or dismissal from the graduate program, as deemed appropriate by the department head in consultation with the Graduate Program Committee and the dissertation advisor.

Ph.D. Preliminary Examination
In preparation for the Preliminary Examination, students will be given a reading list of review articles and primary publications covering 10 topics that represent areas in which a “well trained” biochemist and molecular biologist should have working knowledge. The reading list and subject areas will be provided to the students upon entering the graduate program. The reading list is extensive, but not all inclusive, and should serve as an introductory guide to the subject areas. Students are expected to be well-versed in each subject area and capable of demonstrating general knowledge of terms, concepts, and methodology as well as the ability to assimilate material from the primary literature. An oral examination will be administered to the student by an examination committee of three faculty members during the Fall semester of their second year after entering the graduate program. The oral examination will be approximately two (2) hours in length, and a decision of pass or fail will be determined by consensus of the examination committee. Students who fail the examination can petition the Graduate Program Committee to take a second exam of a similar format. If the petition is approved, re-testing must be completed no later than Spring Break of the following Spring semester. The student will receive a report from the chair of the committee detailing the basis of the committee’s decision, with a copy to remain in the student’s file. The student’s thesis advisor is excluded from the preliminary examination committee.

Ph.D. Candidacy Examination
Doctoral students will submit a document of intent for a written proposal in the area of their dissertation to their advisory committee by May 15th in their second year after entering the graduate program. The advisory committee will approve, or modify if necessary, the topic by May 30th. The student will then prepare a written proposal that closely follows guidelines from a federal granting agency (NIH, NSF, or USDA guidelines will be acceptable), subject to format approval by the student’s committee. The intent of the written proposal is to identify an important unanswered question within the dissertation topic area, and write a proposal that addresses this question using relevant experimental approaches. The length of the proposal should be approximately 20 pages, with text double-spaced and written in 12 pt Times font with one-inch margins. Figures and references are excluded from the page limit guidelines. The written proposal will be submitted to the graduate student’s advisory committee by August 1st. The committee will evaluate the quality of the written proposal and determine if the student can progress to the oral presentation portion of the candidacy examination.

Oral Presentation
In the Fall semester of their third year, students should enroll in BIOC 6110 (seminar) and present the proposal to members of the advisory committee in an open departmental seminar. An oral examination will be held immediately following the oral presentation and a decision of pass or fail will be determined by consensus of the examination committee. In addition to the material in the oral and written presentations, all other areas of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology are open for discussion and inquiry by the committee members. Students who fail the examination can petition the Graduate Program Committee to take a second exam of a similar format. If the petition is approved, re-testing must be completed within one month. Students failing the second examination will be asked to complete the requirements for the M.S. Program.

Final Oral Defense of Dissertation

Upon completion of research activities the candidate will prepare a written dissertation that will be evaluated by the student’s advisory committee. Students are recommended to consult and involve their advisory committee at early steps during preparation of the dissertation. Candidates will enroll in BIOC 6110 (seminar) and will give a final public presentation of their dissertation research followed by an oral defense of the dissertation to their advisory committee. The advisory committee is the final arbitrator in the success of the dissertation and its defense.