M.S. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) Master of Science (MS) degree is offered to students at the Institute of Environmental Health by the Division of Environmental and Biomolecular Systems.

Upon completion of the program students will be equipped with:

  • Conceptual knowledge and in-depth understanding of biomolecular and biogeochemical systems in environmental and public health contexts.
  • Technical know-how in using systems thinking to solve biomolecular and biogeochemical problems in public and environmental health.
  • Enhanced capability and competitiveness in the development of a career related to biomolecular and biogeochemical systems, particularly in health and environmental fields.


The Biochemistry &Molecular Biology curriculum provides students the opportunity to explore the structure and function of macromolecules and their integration into biological and environmental processes. Leading-edge metallobiochemistry, structural biology, spectroscopy, proteomics, microbial genetics and genomics are applied to uncover the molecular details of enzyme mechanisms, signal transduction, and control of gene expression. Collaborations with Environmental Science &Engineering allow BMB students to engage in multidisciplinary research involving the application of molecular biology and genetics to ecological studies.

The curriculum is designed to ensure a common foundation of core concepts and skills, but also to allow considerable flexibility for customization to provide the optimal educational experience for each student. Core concepts and skills are taught through a series of three required core courses, with the remaining coursework consisting of advanced electives, readings groups, and special topics courses selected in consultation with the student's advisor.


The Biochemistry &Molecular Biology degree program offers two concentrations of study: Biochemistry &Molecular Biology and Environmental &Biomolecular Systems. 

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology is for students who wish to focus their graduate study on defining life processes at the molecular scale. Applications include enzyme and protein engineering, microbial engineering, and microbial cell factories.

Environmental & Biomolecular Systems is for students interested in a holistic view of the physical, chemical, and biological processes at the molecular, cellular and particle levels. Applications include bioremediation, assessing environmental health effects and multiscale biogeochemistry.


Over the course of one year of full-time study, students take courses for three academic terms (fall, winter, and spring), and conduct an internship in a lab, company, or agency for the fourth term (summer). Both non-thesis and thesis options of the Master of Science degree in Biochemistry &Molecular Biology are available. Thesis students conduct original research and should allow two to three years of full-time study for program completion.

The M.S. degree with thesis option requires a written thesis, composed of original research, and an oral defense. Most M.S. students are admitted to the non-thesis program, but some enter directly into thesis program. Non-thesis M.S. students can convert to a thesis track with advisor approval. Some M.S. students apply for, and are admitted to, the Ph.D. program while still a student in the M.S. program. Acceptance of a Ph.D. student relies upon funding and the successful identification of a faculty member with room for a student in their research program.

Most students accepted into the BMB M.S. program have Bachelors (or equivalent) degrees in the physical or biological sciences, engineering, or related disciplines (e.g., computer science). Prospective students with different backgrounds are encouraged to inquire, if they have professional or other experience that might provide adequate background.

M.S. students may be full time or part time. To matriculate, students should follow the instructions on the Admissions web page. Applications are considered year-round, but prospective M.S. students are encouraged to apply by May 15 for admission to start in the following Fall quarter. (International students should apply earlier to allow time processing visas.) Requirements for admission to this program include all the general requirements described on the Admissions web page