Apr 23, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
    
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology Major, PhD


The University of Tennessee Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology (BCMB) trains graduate students in the fundamentals of scientific research. The department provides an excellent graduate education with a highly diverse graduate population. The program offers: a) high-quality graduate coursework in the form of lectures, lab courses, and seminars; b) participation in high impact, fundamental research at the cutting edge of the molecular and cellular biological sciences; and c) diverse teaching opportunities with active mentoring to improve their teaching skills. The BCMB faculty is committed to fostering a strong mentoring environment for all of their students that will maximize their subsequent career opportunities in diverse career paths.

Research in BCMB covers scales from atomic to molecular to organismal and includes research on diverse experimental systems. The expertise of our faculty is varied and encompasses biochemistry, cell biology, biophysics, molecular genetics & biology, physiology and computational/mathematical biology. This diversity creates many opportunities for collaborations that span multiple disciplines. Go to the BCMB website for more information.

Campus Code


Knoxville Campus 

Admissions Standards/Procedures


  • Applicants for graduate study are expected to have a background equivalent to that required of undergraduate majors in this department. This includes knowledge of the basic principles of biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, and genetics and physiology. Requirements for admission are
    • One year of general biology or the equivalent.
    • A minimum of 8 credit hours of approved biology courses beyond the introductory level and including the subject areas of genetics, cell biology and physiology.
    • Two years of chemistry including one year of general chemistry and one year of introductory organic chemistry with laboratory.
    • At least one semester of biochemistry.
    • One year of calculus.
    • One year of physics.
    • Graduate Record Examination scores.
    • A minimum grade point average of 3.0 out of 4.0.
  • Otherwise superior students, deficient in one or more of the above requirements, may be admitted at the discretion of the department’s Graduate Admissions Committee.
  • More information see the BCMB graduate admissions webpage.

Academic Standards


Petitioning for a Master’s Degree:

Students who have passed the comprehensive examination in the PhD program and have completed at least 30 credit hours of approved course work for graduate credit, at least two-thirds of which must be at or above the 500-level, may petition the department for award of a master’s degree. The additional requirements for such a degree are:

  • Preparation of a research manuscript suitable for submission for publication in a major scientific journal and oral defense of that manuscript before an examining committee of three faculty members appointed by the head of the department, at least two of whom shall be members of the department or
  • Publication of at least one full-length paper in a major scientific journal as first author.

Credit Hours Required


  • 72 graduate credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree
  • 48 graduate credit hours beyond the master’s degree

Required Courses


Non-Course Requirements


  • Passing a comprehensive examination, taken before the end of the third year of study.
  • A dissertation reporting the results of original and significant research carried out during the term of candidacy.
  • Passing a final oral examination which will be concerned primarily with the student’s dissertation.