Jan 28, 2020  
USC Catalogue 2017-2018 
USC Catalogue 2017-2018 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Molecular Biology (PhD)

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs, Minors and Certificates

Application deadline: December 15

During the first year, the student's program is under the direction of an initial qualifying exam committee composed of members of the committee on admissions to the program. Before the end of the second semester, a permanent qualifying exam committee, chaired by the student's research director, is established. Thereafter, the student's program of studies and dissertation is under the direction of the permanent qualifying exam committee and the dissertation committee.

Screening Procedure

In the third semester, the student's progress is discussed and evaluated by the qualifying exam committee. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine competence to continue graduate study, and to point out deficiencies to be remedied prior to the qualifying examination.

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), 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 four semesters and encouraged for the student's entire graduate career. In the fall semester of the second year, students will choose an additional 4- unit, 400- or 500-level course in consultation with their adviser. Other courses may be chosen, in consultation with the program chair, from graduate offerings of this and other departments.

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 two semesters 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 initiated in the second semester of the second year. The first part is written and consists of comprehensive questions covering the student's knowledge of prokaryotic and eukaryotic molecular biology and developmental biology or genomics. The second part is an oral examination. It consists of general questions and the presentation and defense of a proposition outlining a research program. The student can select a topic completely outside of their thesis topic. Alternatively, the student can select a topic using the same model system as their dissertation work, but a different research question, or a topic on the same research question, but using a different model system. While going outside their field is encouraged, students should not stray too far away from genetics, molecular and cell biology or biochemistry approaches. This examination sequence must be completed by the end of the fifth semester of the 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

The defense of the dissertation is either a defense oral or a final oral. In most cases a defense oral will suffice if approved by the dissertation committee.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs, Minors and Certificates