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Program Information

This section summarizes departmental policies. Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations that apply to all programs are found in the Graduate Studies calendar.


Graduate study in this department is on a full-time basis. Responsibility for the graduate program lies with the departmental Graduate Advisory Committee, chaired by the graduate coordinator. All members of the department are committed to ensuring that graduate study here is a rewarding and useful experience in preparation for a biochemistry-related career.

Scholarship support for graduate study in biochemistry & molecular biology comes from three major sources:

  1. Scholarships awarded by external research funded agencies. Application is made directly by the student in conjunction with the supervisor and supported by the department.
  2. Dalhousie University Killam scholarships and Faculty of Graduate Studies scholarships, for which application is made through the department.
  3. Scholarships derived from research grants by arrangement with the research supervisor.

Applicants are encouraged to make early contact with potential research supervisors, and if possible to visit the Department. A TOEFL score of at least 600 (paper-based); 100 (internet); 7.5 (IELTS) is necessary for those whose native language is not English. The TOEFL requirement may be waived if completion of the degree is at an institution where the language of instruction is English. New graduate students should contact the graduate coordinator as soon as possible after arriving in Halifax and register by the prescribed date in September.

Academic Program

A. General Background

The department accepts applicants with Honours degrees (or the equivalent) in biochemistry & molecular biology and also those with research-based training in related fields such as biology, chemistry and biomedical sciences.

B. Advanced Knowledge

Courses at the 5000 level (or equivalent examinations) provide a portion of the credits required for the MSc and PhD degree. Courses for each student are determined on an individual basis by the Graduate Advisory Committee in consultation with the supervisor and student.

C. Other Requirements

  1. Seminar Course (BIOC 5914-5915). This course may be waived for a student entering our PhD program with an MSc degree that contained a significant seminar component.
  2. Demonstrating. MSc students spend at least one term, and PhD students two terms, as a laboratory demonstrator as part of their training, and are appropriately remunerated.
  3. Departmental seminars. In the second term of the second year each student presents a departmental seminar describing and evaluating their own research. In addition, a PhD student presents a departmental seminar in the fourth year and, if warranted, before the thesis defence.
  4. The PhD program includes the preparation of a grant proposal, normally in the second term of the third year, on a topic related to, but distinct from, a student's own research. The proposal is pass-fail evaluated by a departmental committee, using written reviews and oral examination.

The department also participates in an interdisciplinary graduate program in Neuroscience.

E. Thesis Supervision

Research for the thesis is conducted under the guidance of a research supervisor, in whose laboratory the student works. A Thesis Supervisory Committee for each student provides additional expertise and advice to facilitate the research and the preparation of the thesis.

F. PhD Comprehensive Examination

For PhD students and those wishing to transfer from the MSc program to the PhD program, an oral PhD Comprehensive Examination is used to demonstrate that the student has a thorough understanding of the literature related to the research area, the objectives, the proposed methodology and the theoretical and practical aspects of the areas of biochemistry underlying the thesis research. This evaluation takes place after the student has been in the program for one year.

G. Thesis Preparation and Defence

An acceptable thesis describes an original contribution to knowledge made by a student while registered at Dalhousie University. The work should be of sufficient value to merit publication in a reputable scientific journal with a system of external review. The thesis is examined in a public oral defence.

Information last updated on 2017-11-10

Graduate Inquiries

Roisin McDevitt, Graduate Administrator
Dr. Jan Rainey, Graduate Coordinator
Dr. Barbara Karten, Associate Graduate Coordinator