BMSB Program Overview

Welcome! Our program offers a long-standing tradition of excellence in research and PhD student training. It is well-suited for students interested in biological systems and molecules, particularly those who seek a detailed, mechanistic understanding of biological and biochemical phenomena. ​​

A major strength of our program is the quality of its faculty and students. Biochemistry research at UCLA is currently ranked 12th best in the world based on the U.S. News and World Report ranking of Best Global Universities, while our chemistry-related research is ranked 7th

Our faculty’s cutting-edge research programs span the broad areas of biochemistry and molecular biology, covering both traditional and modern disciplines. UCLA offers a highly interdisciplinary environment as many of our faculty work collaboratively with research groups in the medical school and chemistry.

We are part of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. For students with a more chemical research focus you may be interested in our Chemistry PhD Program.

Research Focused:

  • Research is our main focus in the BMSB program
  • Many research projects are done in collaboration with our colleagues in the David Geffen School of Medicine and other campus science departments
  • Two connected Biochemistry research buildings include faculty in Chemistry and the School of Medicine


Small Student Group:

  • Approximately 12 students join our program each year
  • With 22 faculty members, it’s easy for students to get into the lab of their choice
  • Small, elite program means students learn from their classmates
  • Strong support services; we are always available for advice


Rotation System:

  • First-year students work in three labs and then choose a permanent lab
  • Students have the opportunity to work with senior researchers in several different labs
  • A paid summer rotation is available to students before their first year



  • Research-based entry course with only members of the cohort
  • Minimal courses with options for more in other departments such as Medicine or Chemistry
  • Written qualifying exam on research as part of a research writing course
  • Oral qualifying exam in second year (no cumulative exam)
  • Three quarters of teaching biochemistry discussions or labs, minimum


Research Seminar Schedule:



  • Guaranteed stipend plus all fees and insurance paid
  • Guaranteed for all years in graduate school
  • Most students attend scientific conferences for free


Housing and Transportation:

  • Many students choose to live in graduate student housing in nearby Westwood Village
  • Walk to coffee shops, cafes, movie theaters and all shopping
  • UCLA BruinCard fare discounts for local buses - no car needed

UCLA Neighborhood:

  • Safe, upscale, lively
  • Brentwood and Santa Monica to the west
  • Beverly Hills, and then West Hollywood to the east
  • Bel-Air north and Westwood south

Westside Life: