Biochemistry Department

Graduate Program, Department of Biochemistry 

Our mandate is to conduct outstanding research while maintaining exceptional training of graduate students. The Department of Biochemistry offers M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs which emphasize laboratory research, in a wide variety of areas. The graduate programs are overseen by the Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC) and the Graduate Program Director.

 Financial Commitment

  • All students receive a stipend paid from the supervisor’s grant and/or student scholarships. It is the responsibility of the student to seek alternate sources of funding through scholarships from the University and external granting agencies.
  • The supervisor is responsible for providing sufficient resources for the student’s research project.
  • Policies on funding of research‐related activities such as attending conferences subject to availability of funds should be discussed between the supervisor and student.
  • Students may request an unpaid medical or parenting/familial leave of absence on a term‐by‐term basis for up to one year, and requiring a medical certificate. (Graduate Studies Handbook section 10.6)

Research Progress

  • The student’s Research Advisory Committee (RAC) consists of the supervisor and two other faculty members with appropriate expertise to evaluate progress, established within the first semester of study.
  • The student must arrange RAC meetings at least once each year, and submit the evaluation reports signed by the student and RAC members to the Student Affairs Officer of Biochemistry.
  • If a grade is “conditional”, the RAC will indicate conditions required for a “satisfactory” grade. If a grade is “unsatisfactory”, the student may be asked to leave the program. A second “unsatisfactory” grade will be grounds for withdrawal. (Graduate Studies Handbook section 6.14)
  • RAC approval is required to submit the M.Sc. thesis, and to present the Junior and Senior Seminars

Courses and Seminars

  • Course requirements are described in the Biochemistry Graduate Handbook, and additional courses may be required by the GAC. Course selections must be approved by the supervisor and the GAC.
  • It is recommended that courses should be completed within the first two semesters if possible.
  • A passing grade is B– or 65%. A failure in two required courses will be grounds for withdrawal. (Graduate Studies Handbook section 6.14)
  • The Biochemistry Department guarantees a quality education in research. All students are required to attend all seminars in the unified series hosted by the Department, the Goodman Cancer Centre and the Complex Traits Group, including Junior and Senior Seminars, as recorded by signed attendance sheets. A minimum attendance at 70% of seminars yearly is required to pass course BIOC 696, receive fellowships and any letters of recommendation from the Department
  • All new students are required to attend Research Integrity workshops

Timeline and Comprehensive Examinations  

  • Residency requirements, time limitations and expected times to completion are documented in the Biochemistry Graduate Handbook and on the attached Timeline Chart
  • Degrees must be completed before the end of M.Sc. year 3, and Ph.D. year 7. Registration beyond time limitation will not be allowed
  • M.Sc. students may transfer (fast‐track) to the Ph.D. program in their second year. Transfer requires permission of the supervisor, completion of required courses, and a “Strong” grade in the Research Seminar I (Junior) presented to and evaluated by the Department in the student’s third semester. A “Weak” grade will require a second evaluation by the GAC
  • Ph.D. students must pass the Ph.D. Thesis Proposal oral examination in their fifth semester, evaluated by the GAC. The examination may be taken a second time if not passed, but a second “Fail” grade will be grounds for withdrawal, with the possibility of submitting a M.Sc. thesis instead
  • Ph.D. students must pass the Research Seminar II (Senior) presented to and evaluated by the Department, around 6 months before submission of the thesis

Research Expectations and Environment

1.     The supervisor is responsible for communicating to the student the objectives and expectations of the research project, and other aspects of the research environment. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Operational expectations, including working hours, frequency of student‐supervisor meetings, group meetings, reports, record keeping, contribution to general duties, assistance from and to other personnel/students
  • Required attendance at journal clubs, workshops and seminars, aside from official requirements of the Biochemistry Graduate Program
  • Policies on authorship, within the norms of the discipline and University policies on research ethics and intellectual property
  • Policies on review of written work; extent of supervisor involvement with the student’s presentations, Comprehensive and Thesis preparation; and time‐frame for return of comments by the supervisor

2.     A supervisor may not terminate supervision or payment of any stipend without just cause, documented due process, reasonable notice, and permission of the Graduate Program Director, GAC or Chair.

3.     The student is fully responsible for progress towards the research objectives, and is expected to make every effort in this regard, experimentally, and in understanding of the relevant literature and concepts.


Training Programs