PhD Program

PhD Program


The Ph.D. is a research degree and most of the students' time at Duke will be involved in pursuing their original research. A student's Ph.D. supervisory committee, coursework, and research are individually designed by the student in conjunction with a dissertation advisor.  A Master’s  Degree is not required for admission to the doctoral program, and all incoming students are accepted directly into the Ph.D. program. Students remain in residence during the summer.


Typically, most of the coursework requirements are met in the first year of study.  A one-semester teaching assistant requirement is generally completed during the Fall,  Sspring, or Summer semester of the second year.  Supervisory committee selection and the initial meeting (pre-prelim) are also completed during the second year.  A preliminary examination (Qualifying Exam) is normally taken during the Ffall term of the 3rd year; this exam is a requirement of the Graduate School for "Advancement to Candidacy", the process by which a student is officially deemed a candidate for a Ph.D. At this point, students will also begin to discuss their career plans and objectives with their research advisor and other faculty such as their newly appointed supervisory committees in preparation for creating a written individual development plan (IDP) document.  During the fourth year and subsequent years of graduate study in biochemistry, students are primarily responsible for conducting their research.  Students are required to meet with their dissertation supervisory committee on an annual basis. The student’s research outcomes are often reported in peer-reviewed scientific journals.  When advised by the supervisory committee, the candidate prepares  Ph.D. dissertation document, which is formally presented in public and defended before the student's dissertation supervisory committee.

Faculty Expectation for the Completion of a Successful Ph.D. Degree: To earn the Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry at Duke University, the Faculty of the Department of Biochemistry expects each graduate student to produce an independent body of original, high-quality scientific work. Though circumstances vary, this work will result in authorship on typically two peer-reviewed publications, including at least one on which the student is first author, prior to or soon after graduation.


Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR):

 Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training is a formal requirement of the Ph.D. degree in every department and program of study at Duke. This reflects our expectation that every doctoral candidate will be well qualified to address the growing ethical challenges that arise when teaching or conducting research.  All matriculating Ph.D. students in the Basic Medical Sciences at Duke University are required to complete 18 hours in RCR training.  To accomplish this, each Ph.D. student must attend RCR Orientation, a post-orientation weekend retreat on RCR at the Duke University Marine Laboratory in the coastal town of Beaufort, North Carolina (known at Duke as the "Beaufort Retreat").  Students should also attend at least 2 hours of an “elective” RCR Forum on a variable topic selected by the student, and attend the new 4-hour required 3rd year training to meet the number of training hours required.  Transcript Credit: Completion of the RCR requirement will be monitored by the Graduate School and documented on each student's university transcript.  Each Ph.D. student can ‘add up’ his/her RCR credit hours by reviewing their official transcript or Academic History in ACES.  For more information about RCR, visit the Graduate School site