all bio chem students standing in front of pond for  group photo
Biological Chemistry Master's Program

The U-M Medical School Department of Biological Chemistry offers one-year master's degrees designed to broadly train tomorrow’s leaders in biomedical sciences. 

Program Overview

Our trainees are well prepared for employment in industry or for matriculation into elite graduate or medical programs.  Two tracks of study are offered, depending upon the goals and interests of the students.

Master of Science (MS) in Biochemistry, Research Track

This one-year (two-semester) program of didactic coursework in biochemistry includes an intensive research experience and a written thesis. This program is intended for individuals seeking to increase their skills and research experience for employment opportunities, or for application to highly competitive PhD or medical professional degree programs. Research track students are encouraged to begin work in their research advisor’s laboratory prior to the beginning of Fall term, particularly if they will be applying to graduate schools during the program.

The intensive research experience is a key feature of the research track. Our faculty members conduct research at the cutting edge of modern biochemistry and molecular biology. Current areas of research include structural biology, protein biochemistry, enzyme reaction mechanisms, molecular genetics, signal transduction, neurobiology, cell and developmental biology, and bioinformatics. Students match with faculty research advisors after advisement by the directors and by mutual consent with the faculty, either before arrival on campus or immediately thereafter. The capstone of the research experience is the thesis dissertation. The thesis is expected to be a synthesis of scholarly background and discussion of the research project, in addition to an original experimental or theoretical contribution to the field. A committee composed of the research advisor and two additional faculty members evaluates the thesis. Upon their positive assessment, including any required modifications, the student is eligible to be awarded the master’s degree.

Master of Science (MS) in Biochemistry, Course Track

This one-year (two-semester) program of didactic coursework in biochemistry and related fields is designed for students who plan to enroll in medical, dental, veterinary, law, or other professional programs. Students on this track take two semesters of rigorous, graduate-level coursework. In addition, students conduct a mentored literature review in a selected area of interest, working one-on-one with a research faculty member, that culminates in a scholarly review article. Students on this track are exposed to an impressive array of modern research topics and methodologies through seminar programs, a critical analysis course, and interactions with our faculty, and are well prepared to succeed in professional programs.

How to Apply

Applicants should submit the Rackham Graduate School online application. In addition to the online application itself, college transcripts, academic and personal statements, and 3 letters of recommendation are required. GREs are optional. International applicants, whose native language is not English, are required to submit official TOEFL scores directly from ETS.

  • A scanned/electronic copy of the official transcript will be used for initial review by our admissions committee. You will be required to have your official transcript sent to the Rackham Graduate School only if you are recommended for admission.
  • All applicants should report their Grade Point Average (GPA) on page 5 of the online application. The GPA should be reported using a standard U.S. 4.0 scale. Applicants who attended an institution outside the United States should convert their international average grade point to a U.S. 4.0 scale GPA (for instructions see "How to Convert Grades to a U.S. GPA")

Learn more about the online application

Application Deadline

The application deadline is April 15, but earlier application is advised starting in December or January.

Application and Admission


  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university (before matriculation into the master’s degree program)
  • GPA of 3.0 (minimum)
  • GREs are optional

Students should have taken an undergraduate biochemistry course and should have a passion for understanding life processes at a molecular level.

Financial Aid and Support

Students in the master’s degree program self-fund the costs associated with this program, including tuition, fees, and health insurance. Tuition costs for the 2022–2023 academic year (two semesters) were approximately $26,000 for in-state students and $52,000 for out-of-state students. Information about the cost of attendance is available from the Financial Aid Office. Information about fellowship opportunities for master’s degree students is available from the Rackham Graduate School. Applications received by January 15th will be considered for these fellowships.


Coursework in both tracks consists of required and elective components. To maintain academic standing, advance to the second semester of the program, and be awarded the MS degree, a B- or better is required in all coursework. Students who are experiencing difficulty in any course should contact the master's program directors early in the semester, so tutors can be identified to assist them.

A typical credit load is 14-15 credits per semester for a minimum total of 29 credits, including 4 cognate credits, and development and completion of a written research review (Course Track) or thesis (Research Track). Detailed course descriptions and offerings can be found in the LSA Course Guide (search Credit Type: Graduate, and Subject: MED Biological Chemistry) and the LSA Graduate Course Catalog (search Department: MED Biological Chemistry).

  • BIOLCHEM 655 Molecules of Life: Protein Structure, Function & Dynamics (3 Cr, F; for most students with advanced standing in biochemistry, e.g., a biochemistry UG degree) OR BIOLCHEM 515 Introductory Biochemistry (4 Cr, F, W)
  • BIOLCHEM 597 Critical Analysis (3 Cr, W)
  • BIOLCHEM 711 Graduate Seminar (1 Cr, F/1 Cr, W)
  • BIOLCHEM 712 Biological Chemistry Seminar Series (1 Cr, F/1 Cr, W)
  • PIBS 503 Research Responsibility & Ethics (1 Cr, F)

Research Track

  • BIOLCHEM 600 Independent Study (MS thesis research) (5-6 Cr, F/5-6 Cr, W)
  • BIOLCHEM 601 Tools of a Scientist (2 Cr, F) (optional)

Course Track

  • BIOLCHEM 601 Tools of a Scientist (1-4 Cr, F)
  • BIOLCHEM 603 Literature Review and Analysis (1 Cr, F; 3 Cr, W)


  • BIOLCHEM 650 Eukaryotic Gene Transcription (2 Cr, F)
  • BIOLCHEM 690 Biochemical Regulatory Mechanisms (2 Cr, F)
  • BIOLCHEM 713 Emerging Areas of Biochemistry (1 Cr, F)


  • BIOLCHEM 528 Biology and Chemistry of Enzymes (2 Cr, W)
  • BIOLCHEM 602 Protein Crystallography (3 Cr, W)
  • BIOLCHEM 640 Regulatory RNA and Control of Gene Expression (2 Cr, W)
  • BIOLCHEM 673 Enzyme Kinetics (3 Cr, W)
  • BIOLCHEM 675 Biochemistry and Cell Biology of Membranes and Organelles (2 Cr, W)


  • BIOINF 527 Introduction to Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (4 Cr, F)
  • BIOINF 528 Advanced Applications of Bioinformatics (3 Cr, F)
  • BIOPHYS 520 Biophysical Chemistry I (Methods and Techniques) (3 Cr, F)
  • BIOSTAT 501 Introduction to Biostatistics (4 Cr, F)
  • BIOSTAT 521 Applied Biostatistics (4 Cr, F) [calculus prerequisite]
  • CDB 530 Cell Biology (3 Cr, F)
  • CDB 581 Developmental Genetics (3 Cr, F)
  • HUMGEN 545 Molecular, Cellular and Organismal Genetics (3 Cr, F)
  • PHYSIOL 502 Human Physiology (4 Cr, F)


  • BIOINF 524 Foundations in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology (3 Cr, W)
  • BIOPHYS 521 Biophysical Chemistry II (Theories) (3 Cr, W)
  • CDB 550 Histology (4 Cr, W)
  • CDB 582 Stem Cells: Organogenesis to Regenerative Biology (3 Cr, W)
  • CHEMBIO 502 Chemical Biology II (3 Cr, W)
  • MICRBIOL 504 Cellular Biotechnology (3 Cr, W)
  • PATH 581 Tissue, Cellular and Molecular Basis of Disease (3 Cr, W)

*This is a partial list. Consult your research mentor and academic advisor if you would like to take an elective course or courses not listed above.

2023-24 MS Student Handbook

Our student handbook is an in-depth guide detailing the master's program academic requirements, departmental events, student resources and more.

View the handbook
Current MS Students

Each academic year we welcome MS students who follow either the research track or the course track of training.

Meet our MS Students
Frequently Asked Questions

No. All applications must be made to the Rackham Graduate School. They have admissions criteria that must be met before we can consider an application, including the qualification of your undergraduate degree and your English fluency.

Yes. Our one-year (two semester) curriculum is very demanding and assumes that you have had strong undergraduate training in biochemistry. We look at your biochemistry grades specifically to determine if you are prepared sufficiently for our program.

Our graduates go on to either graduate school, medical school, or research positions at universities or in industry. Our program has two tracks, the course track and the research track. Generally, most students thinking about medical school will take the course track and most students thinking about graduate school will take the research track, but this is not always the case. Some students change their career trajectory while in the program. Our MS administration is well-versed in key steps and resources for all these career pathways. Many of the skills you master in our MS program will be useful in any of these potential careers, including preparing a seminar, scientific writing, and designing experiments.

We dig a little deeper than just the GPA. If there were extenuating circumstances as to why grades were lower when first starting college or if the undergraduate experience was impacted by illness or injury, we take that into account.

We want to see that you have the talent and passion to succeed in our program. Ours is a training program, so we don’t expect students to be perfect, but we don’t want to set them up to fail either. Some students learn that they need to speak up and present their ideas in our discussion coursework. Some learn to structure their writing in a way that is scientifically precise so that key concepts are accurately communicated. All students will face challenges that they will need to overcome. We support our students by helping them to overcome these challenges through individual counseling sessions. In the Academic Statement we are looking for the academic experiences that suggest you will do well in our courses and in understanding the research literature. In the personal statement, we are looking for your motivation for the MS degree and how you foresee it helping you achieve your career goals.

Absolutely. If you are excited about the research of some of our faculty, mention it in your Academic Statement and why you are excited about it.

You can review our current year’s MS student handbook that gives courses (required and elective) as well as some of the deadlines for both our research track and course track students.

No. There is no financial aid available through the Biological Chemistry department. Most students will pay their tuition and housing costs for the entire year. Only rarely (less than 5% of the time) are our MS students able to secure supplementary funding from the Rackham Graduate School.

We look over each application carefully. We interview roughly 25% of the applicants and make offers to those students that we are convinced will succeed in our program and will benefit from the training of the program. Offers of acceptance are usually sent out in early to late Spring.

group of ms alumni from bio chem
MS Program Alumni

Our Master’s Program welcomed its first students in 2013 and has been preparing trainees for biomedical careers and the pursuit of advanced degrees ever since.

MS Alumni List
Program Leadership
Beth Goodwin profile Beth Goodwin
Student Affairs Program Manager
Michael D. Uhler Michael Uhler, PhD
MS Program Director
Debra A. Thompson Debra Thompson, PhD
MS Program Director
Heather M. Giebink Heather Giebink, PhD
MS Program Director
two women standing in a laboratory using a computer Research Opportunities

Our interdisciplinary research into the molecular mechanisms of life offers a wide variety of investigative opportunities to students and fellows.

  • Explore Our Research
  • Nightlife downtown Ann Arbor Life in Ann Arbor

    We find a new reason to love Ann Arbor nearly every day — year-round outdoor activities, cultural experiences, a growing food scene, and a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere are just a few that come to mind. Explore all that Ann Arbor and our surrounding communities have to offer. 

  • Explore Ann Arbor