Ph.D. Degree

Specific Fields of Emphasis and Plans

The program offers a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in biophysics.

Time to Degree

It is expected that students should complete their thesis research and all degree requirements within 5 years from the time of entrance into the program.

Biophysics Laboratory

This is a two-quarter sequence involving laboratory rotations. All students will be expected to participate in four 5-week laboratory assignments designed to acquaint them with a variety of current research techniques. Estimated total units: 12.

Lecture Courses (16 units minimum)

  • Students will first make up deficiencies in the list of prerequisite courses required for admission to the program.
  • All students will take two lecture courses (Biophysics 200 A and B) examining the theory behind current laboratory techniques in biophysics. Lectures on specific techniques will be given by faculty members who use those methods in their own research.
  • The program assumes that students have one of three general backgrounds: physics, chemistry or biological science. Students will be expected to complete the complementary part of their education as outlined in the course requirements. The completion of these courses will normally take from one to two years, depending on the student's ability.
  • The student and graduate adviser will develop a course list in the fall quarter of the first year, which will be then submitted to the CEP for approval. CEP will consider any subsequent change in the course list, submitted by the adviser. The adviser and the CEP Committee shall evaluate the yearly performance of the student.

Research Adviser

During the fourth 5-week laboratory rotation, each student is expected to select a research adviser (also known as major professor), normally (but not necessarily) from one of his/her rotation advisers. Occasionally, a student may be asked to give a second choice. The group chair will consult with the selected faculty member(s) and student in making this arrangement to assure research and funding compatibility. The student will begin research in his/her research adviser's laboratory during the first week of the following quarter and funding will be arranged by the research adviser.

Mentoring Guidelines

Mentoring by faculty of graduate students is an integral part of the graduate student experience.

Download Mentoring Guidelines PDF

TA Requirement

One quarter of teaching experience is required in either a physical or biological sciences course.

Qualifying Examination

A qualifying examination will be given during or before the seventh quarter in residence according to the regulations of the office of Graduate Studies.

The procedure will ensure the constitution of an appropriate QE committee to examine fairly the candidate's breadth and depth of knowledge in biophysical principles, especially in the area of research specialization. All members of the Biophysics Graduate Group will participate as members of QE committees. The procedure can be found here


After passing the qualifying exam and being advanced to candidacy, the student must complete a Ph.D. dissertation. As a guide this should be composed of a body of work approximately equivalent to three research papers.

Dissertation Seminar

All students must present a Ph.D. dissertation research seminar before they file the dissertation with Graduate Studies.