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Graduate Studies Calendar 2022-2023 Program Descriptions Medicine, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology MDBC
Medicine, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology MDBC
Contact Information

Location: Health Sciences Centre, Room G341A
Program number: 403.220.5712
Fax: 403.210.8109
Email address:
Web page URL:  

1. Degrees and Specializations Offered

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Master of Science (MSc), thesis-based


  • Bioinformatics
2. Admission Requirements

All master’s thesis and doctoral students are considered full-time. In exceptional circumstances part-time status may be considered and must be approved by the Graduate Program Director.

In addition to Faculties of Graduate Studies and Medicine requirements, the program requires:

a) Qualifications

Master of Science:

  • Four-year BSc degree or equivalent;
  • A minimum admission grade point average of 3.30 (on the University of Calgary four-point system; equivalent to a "B+") based on the last two years of the undergraduate degree consisting of a minimum of 60 units.
  • A minimum 3.30 grade point average is also required in courses relevant to the proposed field of study.

Doctor of Philosophy:

  • MSc degree, or relevant Master’s degree, recognized by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, or transfer from MSc program, or, in exceptional cases, four year BSc degree or equivalent.
  • A minimum admission grade point average of 3.30 (on the University of Calgary four-point system; equivalent to a "B+") based on the last two years of the undergraduate degree consisting of a minimum of 60 units and any master’s course work if applicable.
  • A minimum 3.30 grade point average is also required in courses relevant to the proposed field of study.

b) English Language Proficiency

See Medicine Programs.

c) Immunizations

See Medicine Programs.

d) Additional Requirements:

  • Master’s applicants are required to arrange for the submission of two reference letters and doctoral applicants are required to arrange for the submission of three reference letters. References must follow the guidelines posted on the program’s website for prospective students. 
  • A current curriculum vitae.
  • Students must have confirmed a faculty member willing to supervise their studies. 
  • Endorsement by the Graduate Program Director that the applicant is acceptable and that adequate supervision in the proposed program is available.

Meeting the minimum admission criteria above does not guarantee acceptance into the program. Applications will be ranked according to academic excellence, prior research experience and commitment to the study of biochemistry and molecular biology.

4. Advanced Credit

Applicants must make requests for advanced academic credit as part of the admission process. Credit will not be given for academic course work taken as part of another completed degree/diploma or for courses taken to bring the applicant's grade point average to a required level for admission. Any credit to be given for courses completed will be included in the letter of offer for admission to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

5. Program/Course Requirements

Master of Science

The minimum academic course requirement is normally 6 units, which is met by:

Doctor of Philosophy

The minimum academic course requirement is normally 9 units, which is met by:

Exceptions require the approval of the Graduate Program Director.

Flexible Grade Option (CG Grade)

Students admitted to the graduate programs in the Cumming School of Medicine will not be allowed to request the Flexible Grade Option (CG Grade) for any course that is applicable to their degree; or apply any course awarded a grade of CG towards their graduation requirements.

Students may not choose the CG grade for a course taken extra to load.

The use of the CG grade will affect students' eligibility for internal awards.

6. Additional Requirements

Each student is required to participate regularly in journal club and work-in-progress seminar programs organized by the Department, Institute or Research Group to which the student and supervisor belong. The student will present at least one journal club seminar and one work-in-progress presentation per year.

Research Integrity Day and Sex and Gender Training Module

See Medicine Programs.

7. Credit for Undergraduate Courses

Credit may be given for courses taken below the 600 level. At least one half of a graduate student's course work must be at the 600 level or higher. Students may receive credit for completing a course numbered 500-599 providing that the course is recommended by the supervisory committee and approval is received by the Graduate Program Director.

8. Time Limit

Completion times follow the Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations (see Time Limits):

  • Maximum completion time for a thesis-based master’s program is four years. Expected completion time is two and a half years.
  • Maximum completion time for a doctoral program is six years. Expected completion time is five years.
9. Supervisory Assignments

Students typically apply for admission into the program after identification of a supervisor. As an alternative, the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Program has an optional rotation program that may last up to six months. This allows the graduate student and the potential supervisor time to learn more about each other’s research interests and available research projects. The student will spend two months in each laboratory of up to three faculty members. After the rotation program, the student will select a permanent supervisor. Alternatively, a student may begin the program with a permanent supervisor, if such arrangements have been made prior to arrival.

Supervisory committees, required for both master's and doctoral students, are established based upon the needs of the student and the expertise of the committee members, following discussions between the students and the supervisor and approved by the Graduate Program Director. A supervisory committee, consisting of supervisor and co-supervisor (if applicable), plus two additional members, must be in place no later than 3 months after the appointment of the permanent supervisor.

10. Research Proposal Requirements

All MSc and PhD students must defend a written research proposal to their supervisory committee. For MSc students, this document must be submitted within 12 months after initial registration in the program. For additional information about the PhD research proposal, refer to:

11. Required Examinations


To enter into candidacy, students must: (1) successfully complete all required courses, (2) attend Research Integrity Day (3) have their thesis proposal approved at a proposal evaluation meeting, and (4) successfully complete a Field of Study oral examination. Specific details of the examination format and other candidacy requirements can be found at:

Thesis Examination

All students in thesis-based programs (MSc and PhD) must successfully pass the Final Thesis Oral Examination. The examination will consist of a public seminar followed by an open oral examination. In addition to FGS regulations for Thesis Examinations, the program has the following requirements:

Scheduling of the Examination
All members of the Supervisory Committee must have reviewed the student’s research, including a relevant written sample of the materials related to the thesis, before an examination can be scheduled.

Composition of the Examination Committee
For MSc thesis examinations, the examination committee will consist of the student’s supervisory committee (which includes the supervisor) plus an Internal/External Examiner, who may be internal to the student’s home program. For a doctoral thesis examination, the examination committee will consist of the supervisory committee, an internal/external examiner (who may be internal to the student’s home program), PLUS an external examiner who is external to the University of Calgary. The external examiner must be approved by the MDBC program director and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

12. Financial Assistance

See Medicine Programs.