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California State University, Long Beach
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Graduate Programs

Master of Science in Biochemistry (code CHEMMS02)


1. Acceptance as a graduate student by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry;

2. A bachelor's degree with a major in chemistry or biochemistry or one of the biological sciences. Students with majors in other areas may be considered for admission at the discretion of the Graduate Adviser. Prerequisite courses include CHEM 251, 320A,B or 322A,B, 377A,B, 441A,B, 443; MATH 122, 123; PHYS 100A,B or their equivalents and courses in general biology and cell/molecular biology. A student deficient in any of these courses must complete the course(s) as a graduate student.

3. Entering graduate students are required to take a placement examination in biochemistry at the beginning of the first semester of the MS program. A second placement examination in either organic chemistry or physical chemistry must be taken by the beginning of the second semester. Any student failing to pass a placement examination, is required to complete an appropriate course recommended by the Graduate Studies Committee with a minimum grade of "B" or better. Usually the recommended courses are:

  • CHEM 320A and/or CHEM 320B if the subject is organic chemistry.
  • CHEM (371A or 377A) and/or (371B or 377B) if the subject is physical chemistry.
  • CHEM 441A and/or 441B if the subject is biochemistry.

Under some circumstances, with the approval of the Graduate Adviser, students may take both placement examinations at the beginning of the first semester.

4. The placement examinations are usually given on the Monday and Tuesday of the week preceding the first day of instruction. The Graduate Studies Committee evaluates the examination results and recommends appropriate courses to correct any deficiencies in chemistry. The Biochemistry Graduate Advisor will meet with the student at this time to prepare a tentative degree program.

5. Entering students are required to select a research advisor within eight weeks following the first day of instruction. At this time the student and the advisor will select two additional faculty members to serve on the Thesis Committee. In consultation with the Graduate Adviser, the Thesis Committee will meet before the end of the eleventh week of the semester and plan a course of study consistent with the student's thesis research. The research adviser and/or the Thesis Committee will require the student to take the second placement examinations (in organic or physical chemistry). A student who fails this examination is required to enroll in an appropriate course recommended by the Graduate Studies Committee.

6. Each student shall prepare a thesis proposal in collaboration with the research advisor, stating the specific topic of the research and its significance, the specific objectives of the research, and the methods to be used. The student must obtain approval of the thesis proposal and must make a public presentation of the proposal by the end of the second semester in the MS program. Any major change in direction during the course of the research shall be subject to the approval of the Thesis Committee.

Advancement to Candidacy

The regulations governing each student's master's degree are those in effect at the time of the student's advancement to candidacy. The Department recommends advancement to candidacy after the graduate student has:

  • 1. Either passed all the required placement examinations including those recommended by the Thesis Committee or achieved a grade of B or better in courses recommended by the Graduate Studies Committee for correcting the deficiencies;
  • 2. Satisfactorily complete at least 6 units of courses on the proposed Graduate Program;
  • 3. While in residence as a graduate student at this University, earned at least a 3.0 ("B") average in all upper division and graduate work, a 3.0 average in all CHEM courses, and a 3.0 average in all courses on the graduate program.
  • 4. Fulfilled the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR);
  • 5. Obtained approval of a graduate degree program by the Thesis Committee, the Graduate Adviser, the Department Chair (in consultation with the Graduate Studies Committee), and the College's Associate Dean.

The criteria above should be met by the beginning of the third semester of graduate study. Deficient students may continue at the discretion of the Department Graduate Studies Committee.


  • 1. Advancement to candidacy;
  • 2. Complete a minimum of 30 units including:
    • A. Take a minimum of nine units in chemistry lecture courses in the 500 series (excluding CHEM 595);
    • B. Take CHEM 595 Colloquium for a total of 2 or 3 units
    • C. Take both of the following:
      • CHEM 660 Seminar in Chemistry (1,1)
      • CHEM 698 Research and Thesis (4-6)
    • D. The following two courses may be used to complete the 30-unit requirement, but only to the maximum indicated:
      • CHEM 695 Directed Reading (1)
      • CHEM 697 Directed Research (1-6)
    • E. The following courses taken either prior to or during the course of this program:
      • 1) CHEM 451 Instrumental Methods of Analysis (4) (or the equivalent)
      • 2) at least one senior or graduate level course in cell/molecular biology or a related area.
        • Credit earned in these courses may be included in the student's official program at the discretion of the Graduate Advisor.
    • F. Additional 400- and 500-level science courses (excluding CHEM 595 and courses used to remove deficiencies) as recommended by the Thesis Committee and approved by the Graduate Advisor and the College's Associate Dean.
    • Changes in the above pattern of course requirements may be made only at the discretion of the Graduate Studies Committee and the Graduate Advisor subject to approval by the College's Associate Dean.
  • 3. Completion of a written thesis, of publication quality, acceptable to the members of the Thesis Committee and a public presentation of the thesis research. The public presentation must be completed before the thesis is signed by the committee members.
  • 4. A record of regular attendance at departmental seminars, poster sessions, thesis proposal presentations and thesis defenses.
  • 5. While not a requirement for the degree, students in the MS program normally gain experience teaching laboratory sections of Chemistry courses, as preparation for professionally related teaching activities in their future careers.