grad-biophysics

Students are not admitted into the Biophysics Program for a terminal master's degree. However, a master's degree is officially offered. For more information, see the Biophysics Handbook.

The doctor of philosophy degree with a major in biophysics is an interdepartmental offering under the supervision of the biophysics program committee. The biophysics degree is intended for those who wish to emphasize physical principles and methods in solving biological problems. By necessity, the interdisciplinary nature of biophysics generates interaction among, and expands the boundaries of, traditional areas of science. Persons with strong training in biophysics can be expected to be major innovators and contributors in research and applied technology. Biophysics graduates pursue careers in academic, industrial, and government research, and in teaching and administration.

The biophysics program consists of 44 faculty members from 14 departments that span four colleges within the university. State-of-the-art facilities are available within the biophysics program for research in x-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic-resonance spectroscopy, electron resonance spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, microscopy and imaging, and computational chemistry. Graduate students in biophysics can choose from an expansive range of research topics including, but not limited to, biomolecular structure and function interactions, protein engineering and biotechnology, virus structure and function, enzyme catalysis and kinetics, membranes, neurochemistry, and electrophysiology.

The program is flexible in its formal course requirements and emphasizes excellence in research. The candidate is encouraged to begin research as quickly as possible, since it is research experience that brings focus and meaning to classroom studies, and research progress that empowers critical judgment and self-confidence for independent work. To enhance self-confidence, students are expected to participate in weekly seminars and to present a seminar.

Financial assistance is available to support qualified graduate students throughout their graduate studies. Types of graduate appointments that may be awarded include research assistantships, fellowships, and traineeships. The stipends awarded provide financial support to students during their graduate work, permitting them to devote their efforts to coursework and research. In recognition of the leadership provided by scientists and researchers at University of Wisconsin–Madison, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have funded a predoctoral training grant in molecular biophysics for the past consecutive 20 years.

This master’s program is offered for work leading to the Ph.D. Students may not apply directly for the master’s, and should instead see the admissions information for the Ph.D.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

MODE OF INSTRUCTION

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS

Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (https://registrar.wisc.edu/course-guide/).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Any grade of BC or lower will not count toward the Biophysics core course requirement. If a student receives a BC or lower, the student must repeat the course in order to receive a higher grade. The student may also substitute to course for an alternate core course with approval from the Biophysics Steering Committee.
Assessments and Examinations Students take two rounds of exams in order to achieve dissertator status. At the end of students' second year, they are required to take their written preliminary exam. Once this exam is passed, students must take their preliminary exam by the end of their third year.
Language Requirements No language requirements.

Required Courses

Students must take the same courses as are required for the biophysics Ph.D.:

Required by the time oral prelim is taken:
BIOCHEM/​CHEM  665 Biophysical Chemistry4
CHEM 668 Biophysical Spectroscopy 12-3
Students must take at least 2 additional classes from different categories from the following list of classes (alternative classes may be substituted with approval from the Biophysics Program Steering Committee):
Structure
Protein and Enzyme Structure and Function
Mathematical Methods for Structural Biology
Mechanisms of Action of Vitamins and Minerals
Modeling
Chemical and Statistical Thermodynamics
Mathematical Methods for Systems Biology
Molecular Biology
Prokaryotic Molecular Biology
Eukaryotic Molecular Biology
Neuroscience
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Spectroscopy/Microscopy
Microscopy of Life
Additional Courses
BIOCHEM 729 Advanced Topics (Ethics) 21-3
CHEM/​BIOCHEM  872 Selected Topics in Macromolecular and Biophysical Chemistry 31-3
990 Seminar 4

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned more than two years prior to admission to the doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements. No admissions are made into the master's program.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Coursework earned more than two years prior to admission to the doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements. No admissions are made into the master's program.

Probation

If students fall below the 3.00 GPA program requirement or have incomplete grades, the biophysics program follows the Graduate School's policy of satisfactory/unsatisfactory progress. This could result in academic probation or suspension.

ADVISOR / COMMITTEE

All students are required to have an advisor by the end of their first semester in the program. Thesis committees must be formed prior to their preliminary exam. The committee consists of at least four other faculty members and the student's advisor. After gaining dissertator status, students are required to hold yearly progress report meetings with their committee until graduation.

CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED

15 credits

Time Constraints

Master's degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Other

Fall semester enrollment only. First semester, program-sponsored lab rotations lead to thesis lab selection and research assistantship through the thesis advisor. 

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

1. Articulates, critiques, or elaborates the theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry or schools of practice in the field of study.

2. Identifies sources and assembles evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of study.

3. Understands the primary field of study in a historical, social or global context.

4. Selects and/or utilizes the most appropriate methodologies and practices.

5. Evaluates or synthesizes information pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of study.

6. Communicates clearly in ways appropriate to the field of study.

7. Recognizes and applies principles of ethical conduct.

Faculty: 

Chair: Professor Meyer Jackson (Neuroscience Department) Website

Paul Ahlquist (Oncology) Website

Tom Brunold (Chemistry) Website

Judith Burstyn (Chemistry) Website

Sam Butcher (Biochemistry) Website

Silvia Cavangerno (Chemistry) Website

Baron Chanda (Neuroscience) Website

Ed Chapman (Neuroscience) Website

Gheorghe Craciun (Mathematics) Website

Cindy Czajkowski (Neuroscience) Website

Katrina Forest (Bacteriology) Website

Brian Fox (Biochemistry) Website

Sam Gellman (Chemistry) Website

Pupa Gilbert (Physics)

Randy Goldsmith (Chemistry) Website

Jeff Hardin (Zoology) Website

Katie Henzler-Wildman (Biochemistry) Website

Hazel Holden (Biochemistry) Website

Aaron Hoskins (Biochemistry) Website

Mathew Jones (Neuroscience) Website

Jim Keck (Biomolecular Chemistry) Website

Bob Landick (Biochemistry) Website

John Markley (Biochemistry) Website

Megan McClean (Biomedical Engineering) Website

Matthew Merrins (Biomolecular Chemistry)

Julie Mitchell (Mathematics) Website

Regina Murphy (Chemical and Biological Engineering) Website

Vatsan Raman (Biochemistry) Website

Ivan Rayment (Biochemistry) Website

Tom Record (Biochemistry) Website

Gail Robertson (Neuroscience) Website

Phil Romero (Biochemistry) Website

Kris Saha (Biomedical Engineering) Website

David Schwartz (Chemistry) Website

Alessandro Senes (Biochemistry) Website

Nate Sherer (Oncology) Website

Melissa Skala (Biomedical Engineering) Website

Lloyd Smith (Chemistry) Website

Daniel van der Weide (Electrical and Computer Engineering) Website

Reid Van Lehn (Chemical and Biological Engineering) Website

Ophelia Venturelli (Biochemistry) Website

Doug Weibel (Biochemistry) Website

James Weisshaar (Chemistry) Website

Yongna Xing (Oncology): Website

John Yin (Chemical and Biological Engineering) Website