Jul 22, 2018  
USC Catalogue 2018-2019 
    
USC Catalogue 2018-2019

Molecular Biology (PhD)


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Application deadline: December 15

During the first year, students rotate through three laboratories before determining their permanent research adviser. Thereafter, students determine their programs of study and dissertations through discussion with their advisers, as well as their qualifying exam and dissertation committees.

Screening Procedure

Screening is done through BISC 502a  and BISC 502b . To advance beyond the second year, students must obtain at least a "B" (3.0) average in these two courses.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 24 of the 60 units required for the PhD degree must be in course work, exclusive of dissertation research. These units must include the core courses, BISC 502a  (4 units) and BISC 502b  (4 units) and BISC 544  (2 units), to be completed within the first year with no less than a "B" (3.0) in each class. Students are also required to take BISC 576  or BISC 444  in their second year. Participation in the research seminar series (BISC 542 ) is required for three semesters and encouraged for the student's entire graduate career. At some point during their degree, students take an additional 4- unit, 400- or 500-level course in consultation with their adviser.

Language Requirement

Students in the graduate program in molecular biology are not required to pass a foreign language examination.

Student Teaching

Since most graduates in biological sciences will spend some part of their careers in academic work, teaching experience is considered an important part of graduate training. Each graduate student in the program is therefore required to serve at least one semester as a teaching assistant in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Qualifying Examination

The examinations qualifying the student for candidacy for the PhD in molecular biology must be completed by the fifth semester. The first part of the exam is a written proposal based on the student's work. The second part is an oral examination. This exam consists of general questions and the presentation and defense of a proposition outlining the student's proposed research program.

Doctoral Dissertation

The dissertation is based on original, publishable and significant research conducted independently by the student under the guidance of the dissertation committee.

Defense of the Dissertation

Prior to graduating, students are required to orally defend their dissertation in a public seminar.

Required core courses (16 units)


Enroll in the four courses below and an additional 4-unit 400- or 500- level course, selected in consultation with an adviser.

Seminar course (3 units)


Enroll in BISC 542 for a minimum of 3 semesters.

Lab Rotation Requirement (6 units)


Enroll in BISC 504 in the fall and spring semesters of the first year.

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