Requirements & Policies

This is an overview of requirements and policies. For detailed information about the Biophysics PhD program requirements, see the Graduate Studies Guide and the Graduate School Catalog.

Registration & Required Courses

Graduate students must maintain full-time registration during all Fall and Spring semesters until graduation. 

Students must earn a grade of B or higher in the following courses:

  • 2 semesters of BIPH698L: Biophysics Seminar 
  • 2 semesters of BIPH699: Biophysics Laboratory Rotation
  • BIPH704: Cell Biology from a Biophysical Perspective
  • CHEM684: Chemical Thermodynamics
  • CHEM687: Statistical Mechanics and Chemistry
  • Elective course of your choosing roughly related to your research area

Research Rotations

Students will complete 3 laboratory rotations during their first academic year. Rotations are 8-10 weeks each, with student presentations at the end of each rotation period. After starting the third rotation, you will be able to choose your summer research and a thesis mentor (advisor).

Advancing to Candidacy

Students are expected to advance to candidacy by the end of their sixth semester (third year). Requirements for advancing to candidacy are:

  • Completing all course requirements
  • Passing an oral qualifying exam at the PhD level
  • Joining a research group and collecting preliminary data
  • Preparing and presenting a research proposal
  • Submitting an application for admission to candidacy

Qualifying Exam

The Biophysics Qualifying Exam is taken in the late summer or early fall after the first year in the program when the student finds an advisor and chooses a field/area of research. This is a two-hour oral examination which emphasizes the student’s basic knowledge in a particular field and the material of relevant courses taken by students in their first year.

Research Proposal & Oral Presentation

Students are expected to complete the preliminary stage of their research and present a research proposal by the end of the sixth semester (third year). 

We do not stipulate the length or specific format, but the written proposal must have elements of a typical grant application: background and significance, problem statement, aims, preliminary data, and a research plan. 

The oral presentation is similar to that of the doctoral defense. Part 1 may be a public presentation, where the  student and advisor may choose to invite attendees in addition to the members of the Proposal Examining Committee. Part 2 will be open only to the Proposal Examining Committee. 

Proposal Examining Committee: At least 4 faculty, with at least 2 faculty from the Biophysics program (including the advisor). Ideally, this should be the same committee for the final PhD defense.

Application for Admission to Candidacy

It is the responsibility of the student to submit an Application for Admission to Candidacy when all the requirements for candidacy have been fulfilled. The application must be submitted to the graduate program for further action and transmission to the Graduate School and must be received by the 25th of the month in order to be effective the first day of the following month.

Dissertation & Defense

Candidates must earn at least 12 credits of BIPH899 (PhD Dissertation Research) and must prepare a written PhD dissertation, the format of which must follow the University of Maryland Thesis and Dissertation Style Guide. 

The policies and procedures for the oral dissertation examination (“defense”) are set by the Graduate School.