About the MS in Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine Program

The Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine Master of Science degree program seeks to provide rigorous theoretical and practical training in biochemistry and molecular medicine-related research. Students are expected to write and defend a thesis that describes research completed in our laboratories in the areas of inherited diseases, cancer, development, stem cells, drug discovery, epigenetics, structural biology and bioinformatics. A majority of our graduates have been successful in gaining admission to top PhD programs or internships/jobs in the biotech or pharmaceutical industry.

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Program Highlights

  • Our two-year program involves a rigorous curriculum that balances course work and mentored research on a thesis project.
  • Students attend research presentations by faculty members in their first semester and select an advisor advisor for their thesis research. The advisor will provide individual mentorship and guide the student in completing a thesis based on original research in the advisor’s laboratory.
  • Students are trained in scientific writing and they apply this knowledge to create a formal written thesis. Each student receives individual attention on this task from their major advisor and other thesis committee members.
  • Students have a choice of laboratories using state-of-the-art methods investigating cancer biology and therapeutics, inherited diseases, drug discovery, epigenetics, bioinformatics, stem cell biology and applications, development and structural biology for their thesis research.
  • Our program places a major emphasis on training students in independent and critical thinking, as well as developing exceptional problem-solving skills. Our unique instructional design enables students lacking a background in molecular biology to rapidly come up to speed while also challenging students with advanced knowledge. To ensure that students can get the most value from their courses, we provide video recordings of lectures, especially in the first semester when our foreign students are adjusting to English language instruction.
  • We also train our students in giving oral presentations of their research so that they can give an outstanding presentation to their thesis committee at the end of two years. This training also is extremely beneficial to students when they go on to interview for PhD programs or other employment opportunities.
  • Students present their research at a poster session in their second year at the Annual Departmental Research Retreat, held at a resort outside Los Angeles. This provides the students with critical training in the ability to answer questions from scientists with different research backgrounds and to think on their feet.
  • In addition, students have the opportunity to co-author publications describing their research.

Our Successes

We have welcomed into our program students from all over the world, including China, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Finland and Switzerland.

Our graduates have gone on to hold positions as staff members in research and development, technical support or sales divisions within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, faculty members in a university or research institute, research associates in academic research laboratories, physicians, pharmacists, patent attorneys and technical writers. Many of our graduates have also been admitted to PhD degree programs at USC or other highly ranked universities such as Caltech, Cornell, Duke, University of Oxford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Utah and University of Minnesota, to name a few.