PhD guidelines

December 1999 - The ASBMB Council, upon the recommendation of the Society's Human Resources Committee, endorsed the "Standards for the Ph.D. in the Molecular Biosciences," developed by the International Union for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Read the IUBMB Standards

            Resolution of Support for IUBMB Standards for Attaining a Ph.D. in the Molecular Biosciences

The Council of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has reviewed the "Standards for the Ph.D. Degree in the Molecular Biosciences", recently published by the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

The standards are an updated version of standards first promulgated in 1989. In addition to the standards themselves, the document addresses a variety of topics associated with earning a Ph.D. degree in the molecular biosciences. These include integrity in science; the role of formal graduate courses; the responsibilities of the principal supervisor, of other academics, and of the candidate; funding and duration of doctoral training; and the thesis itself.

The standards emphasize flexibility, to allow for differing programs at different institutions. They also take a behavioral approach. The new standards are aimed more at making sure that however a candidate gets to the Ph.D., he or she will be able to function at a professional and appropriate level of competence. The speed of innovation and change in the modern biomolecular sciences works against proscriptive standards focused on lists of specific required courses, length of thesis, and so on.

At the same time (and for much the same reasons), the standards make no recommendations regarding any sort of accreditation scheme for Ph.D. programs in the biomolecular sciences.

The Council wishes to state its support for IUBMB document, and the proposed standards.  The Standards are listed below.

            IUBMB Standards for the Ph.D. Degree in the Molecular Biosciences

1. The candidate should demonstrate a general knowledge of physics, chemistry, biology and cell biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, the particular Molecular Bioscience, and a detailed knowledge of his or her area of research.

2. The candidate should be familiar with the research literature of the particular Bioscience and should have the ability to keep abreast of major developments and to acquire a working background in any area.

3. The candidate should demonstrate skill in the recognition of meaningful problems and questions for research in the particular Bioscience.

            4. The candidate should possess technical skill in laboratory manipulation.

            5. The candidate should demonstrate that oral, written, and visual communication skills have been acquired.

            6. The candidate should demonstrate skill in designing experimental protocols and in conducting productive self-directed research.