Ph.D. Program

Admission to the Program

Students may be admitted to the Ph.D. program through the UCLA ACCESS Program or through the Department of Biological Chemistry directly. Those students entering through the ACCESS Program, upon completing the first year ACCESS Program requirements, and who choose to carry out their Ph.D. dissertation research in the laboratory of a Biological Chemistry faculty member are normally admitted automatically into the departmental Ph.D. program.


Coursework - as of Fall 2010

1. M254A Concepts in Molecular Biosciences
2. M254B Concepts in Molecular Biosciences
3. M254C Concepts in Molecular Biosciences
4. M254D Concepts in Molecular Biosciences
5. Two additional didactic courses (4-6 units) from the list of ACCESS elective courses.* (Other 4-6 unit didactic courses can be substituted with the permission of the Graduate Advisor.)

6. CM234 Ethics and Accountability in Biomedical Research

7. Three Laboratory Rotations (not required of Direct Admit students)

For more information:
UCLA online catalog - course descriptions
ACCESS curriculum

Additional Requirements

8. Required attendance at Department retreat, years 2-4. Required presentation (poster/talk) at retreat in years 3 and 4.

9. During the second year, students will be required to present their data or give a  journal club presentation in a joint meeting with other labs.  The student’s faculty advisor and at least one other faculty member should be present.  They will be asked to provide a critique of the presentation to the student and they will submit a form for the student’s file.  Students should also participate in the preparation and discussion sessions for the Biological Chemistry Distinguished Lecture Series.

10. Selection of Doctoral Committee members and meeting to discuss research plans required by the end of the Spring quarter of the second year. (signed Department form required). Submit a written research description (four pages or less double-spaced), plus figures and references to committee members at least one week before meeting. The meeting consists of a 30 minute presentation and a discussion. 

11. Teaching Experience - Students are required to act as teaching assistants for a total of two quarters in their 2nd-4th years. Students accepted through ACCESS must teach at least once in a science department of the College of Let­ters and Science. The area chosen for the second teaching obligation depends on student interest and Department needs but can be in the Medical School lab course associated with the Human Biology and Disease course for medical students. Students admitted directly into the program can fulfill the TA requirement in the College. Both ACCESS and direct-admit students must fulfill two quarters of TAship in the 2nd-4th years. Most TA positions come from the College of Letters and Science, but BC students are advised to TA once in the Medical School  lab course run by Professor Eryn Ujita Lee. This gives graduate students exposure to clinical lab techniques and opportunities for interactions with medical students. The lab course meets for approximately 50-60 hours total over two quarters.

12. Written Qualifying Exam. A written research proposal (no more than 15 pages, double-spaced, plus figures and references) covering a hypothetical proposal unrelated to the thesis project. Due one week prior to the Oral Qualifying Exam.

13.Oral Qualifying Exam. Required by the end of the Fall quarter of the third year. The exam consists of an oral defense of the written proposal (item 10) before the Doctoral Committee.

14. Oral Exam Statement (to be read to the committee and the student by the co-chair prior to the exam)
The purpose of this statement is to ensure that the focus of the oral exam is to evaluate the student and to promote uniformity in the standard of oral exams.

  1. The thesis advisor serves on the thesis committee that administers the oral exam, but will not participate verbally unless asked direct questions by other committee members. This is an opportunity for the student to demonstrate his/her knowledge and for the thesis advisor to observe the student and identify deficiencies that should be addressed in the future.
  2. The committee will make an evaluation and final recommendation without the participation/influence of the mentor (unless asked).
  3. The thesis advisor will vote, however. Two “No” votes represent a failure to pass the oral exam.
  4. A Biological Chemistry faculty member, other than the thesis advisor, will serve as co-chair of the committee. The co-chair will be responsible for assuring that these guidelines are followed and for guiding the timing and progression of the exam.

15.Research update to Doctoral Committee members by the end of the Spring quarter of the third year. Can be satisfied by presentation at retreat, meetings with individual committee members, or a meeting of the full committee (signed Department form required).

16.Departmental Research Seminar on progress of the thesis work is required by the end of the Spring quarter of the fourth year. Meeting with Doctoral Committee following presentation to discuss progress and plans (signed Department form required),

17.Dissertation (Year 4 or 5)*.

18.Dissertation Seminar (Year 4 or 5)*.

*19. If the Dissertation is not completed in year 5 (and later) a meeting with the Doctoral Committee is required once per year to discuss progress and plans (signed Department form required).

Ph.D. Schedule

Year Fall Winter Spring Summer
1 rotation 1 rotation 2 rotation 3 select lab
  classes classes classes  
2   TA (any term)  
    literature seminar select committeeb  
      research meetingc  
      attend retreat  
3 qualifying examd TA (any term) attend retreat  
  (research update)   (poster or talk)  
    research update  
4   research seminare attend retreat  
      (poster or talk)  
5     meeting /dissertationf  

a if taken in first year, then replace with any approved didactic course in any term of year 2.

b chair (mentor) + two other BC, one outside [any 3 tenured]

c 30 minute presentation with discussion (< 1.5 hours total); committee members complete form for student file

d (< 2 hours) outside proposal/exam; conclude with research update/discussion

(proposal/exam may be postponed but the meeting and informal progress report should still take place)

e may substitute closed committee meeting (progress report) followed by rescheduled research seminar

f subsequent years follow same schedule until dissertation defense

Direct Admit Students: same requirements except no lab rotations

Student Affairs Officer will schedule all meetings

These requirements are subject to change without notice. For the most current requirements please contact the Department of Biological Chemistry Student Affairs Officer.

List of Graduate Courses

The Biological Chemistry Department at UCLA offers a variety of courses to the graduate student.

220A-220B-220C. Research Laboratory Rotations. (2 to 8 each))

M223. Membrane Molecular Biology. (4)

M234. Epigenetics, Reprogramming, and Stem Cells (4)

M237. Molecular and Cellular Foundations of Disease. (4)

251A-251B-251C. Seminar: Transcriptional Regulation. (2-2-2)

M254A Concepts in Molecular Biosciences (3)
M254B Concepts in Molecular Biosciences (3)
M254C Concepts in Molecular Biosciences (3)
M254D Concepts in Molecular Biosciences (3)

M255. Biological Catalysis. (4)

M263. Metabolism and Its Regulation. (4)

M266A-M266B-M266C. Seminar: Molecular Embryology. (2-2-2)

375. Teaching Apprentice Practicum. (1 to 4)

596. Directed Individual Study and Research. (2 to 12)

597. Preparation for Examinations. (2 to 4)

598. Preparation of M.S. Thesis. (4)

599. Research for and Preparation of Ph.D. Dissertation. (2 to 12)

updated February 9, 2012
2009 Department of Biological Chemistry. All Rights Reserved.