The Master of Science (M.S.) degree will be awarded after students have successfully completed the requirements specified in one of the two following plans:
Plan I: Thesis Option
Students may satisfy the degree requirements by completing at least 30 approved semester hours; satisfactorily completing the laboratory rotations and formal graduate level course requirements including seminars; enrolling in at least six semester hours of thesis courses; and completing and defending a thesis acceptable to the thesis committee. All students must be continuously enrolled full time until the degree requirements are completed.
Plan II: Non-Thesis Option
Students may satisfy the degree requirements by completing at least 36 approved semester of formal graduate level courses and seminars. All students must be continuously enrolled full time until the degree requirements are completed.
Major Professor and Thesis or Study Committee
- Selection of the Major Professor
Each student is required to select, by mutual agreement, a primary, secondary or jointly appointed member of the faculty of the Division of Biochemistry as a thesis advisor (major professor) who, with the thesis (MS Plan I) or study (MS Plan II) committee, will supervise the student’s graduate studies. This faculty member will chair the committee. A faculty advisor should be selected by the end of the first long semester (Fall or Spring) but in no case later than the end of the 2nd long semester of residence in the program.
The Chair of the student’s committee shall be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member with primary or secondary appointment or voting privileges in the Biochemistry Division of the Department of Biology and Biochemistry. A student may also choose a faculty member from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry who does not hold any appointment in the Division of Biochemistry provided that, as with any Biochemistry candidate, the student meets all the requirements of the Biochemistry graduate program, including those on committee composition, course work, and the biochemistry examinations.
- Selection Committee
In consultation with the major professor, the student shall select, by mutual agreement, faculty members to serve on the thesis or study committee. The committee should be chosen within the 30 day period following selection of the advisor, but in no case after the end of the 2nd long semester of residence. Failure to meet this requirement may result in dismissal from the program. The membership of this committee is subject to approval by the Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs, the Chair of the Department and Dean of the college. The major functions of this committee are to approve a program of studies for the student, to administer the necessary examinations, and to evaluate the student’s progress. In the event that a member of the committee leaves the University or is not available for an examination or thesis defense, the committee and student can recommend a suitable substitute. The appointment to committees of faculty members from other institutions as the outside member is encouraged.
- Composition of Committee
A Master’s thesis (Plan I) or study (Plan II) committee shall consist of at least three members. These shall include the major professor, one other member from the Division including emeritus faculty, and one member who shall be from outside the Division of Biochemistry. Research faculty may serve on the committee in addition to the core of three committee members who must be tenured or tenure-track faculty. For the purpose of establishing a thesis or study committee, a Biology and Biochemistry faculty member holding a secondary appointment in the Division of Biochemistry shall be considered to be from outside the Division. Further details on committee composition can be found here.
- Research Faculty
Research faculty with primary appointments in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry will be allowed to serve on thesis committees and participate in all committee activities. However, they will not be allowed to chair the committee or vote on questions regarding student progress. For purposes of committee structure, their Division affiliation will not be considered. No more than one research faculty member can serve on a thesis or dissertation committee.
Program of Studies
The student should prepare and submit a program of studies to the Graduate Advisor and his/her thesis or study committee within 60 days after choosing an advisor but in no case later than the end of the 2nd long semester of residence. Failure to do so may result in dismissal from the program. The program of studies must be approved at a meeting of the student’s thesis or study committee. Details about the composition of the Program of Studies can be found here.
MS Core Course Requirements
All students must fulfill the MS core course requirements as described below.
M.S. Plan I core requirement
16.0 Credit Hours
M.S. Plan II core requirement
20.0 Credit Hours
Course limitations for all graduate degrees in Biochemistry
For the purpose of fulfilling the above core course requirements, the following courses are NOT acceptable:
Graduate students are required to enroll in BCHS 6113: Graduate Biochemistry Seminar every long semester until they pass the oral qualifying examination. Thereafter, they are required to enroll in a seminar course at least once per academic year beginning with the long semester after the oral qualifying examination is passed. Any one credit hour seminar course offered by the Department of Biology and Biochemistry, subject to approval by the student’s Major Advisor, will meet this requirement.
- MS Plan I students should avoid enrolling in Master Thesis courses until the semester in which they will graduate. Instead, they should enroll in the appropriate number of Master Research hours needed to meet enrollment requirements.
- MS Plan II students may enroll in Special Problems to meet enrollment requirements.
In general, a maximum of 6 approved credit hours for the MS degree may be transferred from another institution with an acceptable academic ranking. The student must have received a grade of B or better in any course for which transfer credit is requested; the transferred course must not have been taken in the context of an earned degree and should not be older than 5 years by the time of graduation at UH. In addition, a Master’s degree with thesis can be used to waive up to 2 credit hours of non-BCHS elective courses.
Transfer credit will typically not be given for the required courses:
Coursework Performance Requirements
Per University regulations, graduate students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.00 in all course work attempted for graduate credit to be considered in good standing. Students not in good standing cannot receive a graduate degree, are ineligible for support as a Graduate Assistant (TA or RA), and will be ineligible for the Graduate Tuition Fellowship. Graduate students who receive grades of C+ or lower in 12 or more semester hours of course work attempted for graduate credit are ineligible for any advanced degree at this institution. Semester hours of “U” grades in S/U-graded courses apply toward the above 12 hour total.
(BCHS 6230 and BCHS 6231)
MS Plan I students are required to enroll in two laboratory rotation courses during their first year of study.
- The first rotation must be with a tenured or tenure track faculty member whose primary appointment is in the Biochemistry Division. The second rotation can be with any tenured or tenure track faculty member in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry.
The first rotation should begin at the beginning of the student’s first long semester in the program.
- The second rotation can also be done with tenured or tenure track faculty from other Departments that have a joint appointment in the Biochemistry Division.
The second rotation should be started no later than the first week of the student’s 2nd semester in the program and preferably beginning in the eighth week of the first semester.
- Rotations with research faculty will not satisfy the rotation course requirement.
- Each rotation course is to last seven weeks.
- The student will submit a short report describing the purpose and experimental findings at the end of each course. This report and the student’s participation will be evaluated by the faculty member with whom the laboratory rotation was conducted. The head of the laboratory where the rotation was done will then forward a grade to the instructor of record who will coordinate the course.
- Any exceptions to the rotation policy must be approved by the faculty member who is coordinating the course.
Courses Taken Outside the Department
Courses that do not promote the student’s academic development in Biology & Biochemistry, or do not contribute directly to the current research program of the student, will not count towards the student’s course requirements. Students who wish to take courses outside the Department need the approval of their thesis committee and the Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs in order to receive credit in their degree program. Students may not pursue another degree program concurrently with a MS in Biology and Biochemistry.
Students taking approved courses at other institutions need to notify the Graduate Advisor prior to the start of the semester in order for the appropriate paperwork to be processed in time by the Office of the University Registrar and the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies.
Each student is required to take a comprehensive written examination, which is intended to test mastery of the principles which underlie the biochemical sciences. The examination will be offered within three weeks of the end of the student’s second long semester. The examination will be prepared and administered by a member of the Division of Biochemistry core faculty designated by the Biochemistry Policy Leader. A grade of 70% or better will be considered passing. Students that fail the examination will be offered a single second chance. Depending on circumstances this may be a completely new examination or a selection of topics
Initial Research Meeting
Before the end of their second year in the program each student pursuing a MS Plan I degree will present their research plan and progress to their committee in detail. Based on the results of this meeting MS Plan I students will be advised as to what further progress is required before they can prepare and defend their thesis.
- General Considerations
Each student must submit and defend the thesis or report when it is in final form. Although any member of the University community may attend the final examination, the thesis or study committee has sole responsibility for deciding whether or not the examination is passed. In order for a student to pass the examination, an affirmative vote by the major professor and no more than one negative vote by other committee members must be recorded. If the committee includes a research faculty member he/she can participate in discussion but will not be allowed to vote.
- MS Plan I
The candidate must defend a thesis. The examination will emphasize research achievements. In addition, competence in the candidate’s field of research will be expected.
- MS Plan II
The candidate shall present and defend a formal report to the study committee. The candidate will critically evaluate and summarize a problem of biochemical interest and will be expected to be knowledgeable of contemporary methods and concepts in the biochemical sciences.