Student Backgrounds

PMB students come from a range of undergraduate disciplines, including biology, genetics, chemistry, physics, engineering, and math. Ideally, applicants will have taken biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, physics, biochemistry or molecular biology, and calculus. Applicants lacking one or more of these courses often take additional courses or tutorials to fill in any deficiencies.


Biophysics draws from physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and computer science. Our curriculum is correspondingly broad but also rigorous. Five required courses form the core of the PMB curriculum.

Fall Year 1

  • Introduction to Computing (4 weeks)
  • Physical Chemistry of Biological Macromolecules
  • Proteins and Nucleic Acids 1

Spring Year 1

  • Biophysics Laboratory Modules
  • Proteins and Nucleic Acids 2

In addition, students take one required elective in their second year, based on their interests and thesis topic. Students have the option to take more than one such elective. The biophysics laboratory modules train students in the methods of biophysics using direct hand-on experiments using state-of-the-art instrumentation. The Proteins and Nucleic Acids courses expose students to the current scientific literature, emphasizing critical reading, writing, and oral presentation.

Additional Training

Integrity is essential to scientific research. To teach PMB students how to conduct research responsibly, trainees participate in regular workshops to discuss key issues such as proper representation and archiving of data, mentorship, collaboration, and publication.

Although not a formal part of the curriculum, students are provided guidance and mentorship related to career development throughout their graduate education. This includes evaluations, workshops, and extensive opportunities for internships both on and off campus. These resources position graduating PMB students to obtain competitive positions in research, education, policy, and industry.