This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2024-2025 VCU Bulletin. Courses that expose students to cutting-edge content and transformative learning may be added and notification of additional program approvals may be received prior to finalization. General education program content is also subject to change. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

Program goal

Chemical biology presents a framework for the modern approach to studying the complexities of biological processes. It is already a leading focal point for research in the 21st century, integrating concepts and information from the molecular to the cellular level. This interdisciplinary degree program has participants from the departments of Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology within the College of Humanities and Sciences and the schools of Medicine and Pharmacy.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate expertise (breadth and depth) in chemical biology 
  2. Demonstrate appropriate ability to design and conduct experimental research
  3. Demonstrate ability to analyze data critically and to design experiments independently 
  4. Develop competency in the responsible conduct of research
  5. Develop effective oral and written communication skills

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Apply online today.

Admission requirements

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
Ph.D. Fall Mar 15 GRE
Spring Nov 15

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, the following requirements represent the minimum acceptable standards for admission.

  1. Students must present a satisfactory GPA score of a minimum of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale; satisfactory GRE scores (must be less than five years old); a written statement of the candidate’s goals; and three letters of recommendation.
  2. Students are required to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with 30 semester credit hours in chemistry or biology. These credit hours should consist of at least two semesters of organic chemistry and a biology course in cell biology, molecular biology or genetics. A physical chemistry course is desirable.
  3. If applicants have outstanding potential but lack specific requirements, they may be accepted as provisional. Provisionally accepted students must complete all conditions within one year of enrollment.

Graduate students in the program may receive financial support via teaching or research assistantships or fellowships available from the “home” department. No part-time students are accepted at this time.

Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students are required to complete course work in core and elective courses and to conduct significant research.

  1. Credit hour requirements: Students in the Ph.D. in Chemical Biology program are required to earn a minimum of 72 graduate-level credit hours beyond the baccalaureate. At least one-half of the credit hours presented for graduation must be at the 600 level or higher.
  2. Other requirements: Upon completion of their course work, students will complete their dissertation requirements, which will typically consist of a written and oral dissertation proposal, research and literature seminars, and both a written and oral dissertation defense.

Curriculum requirements

Course Title Hours
Courses 1
CHEB 601Chemical Biology I3
CHEB 602Chemical Biology II3
CHEB 690Research Seminars in Chemical Biology (credit hours variable) 2variable
or CHEB 690 Research Seminars in Chemical Biology
CHEB 697Chemical Biology Research Rotations (credit hours variable) 3variable
CHEM 693Chemistry Perspectives and Ethics 41
CHEM 697Directed Research (credit hours variable) 5variable
Select four of the following: 611
BIOC 500- and 600-level courses
Molecular Biology
BIOL 500- and 600-level courses
Biological Complexity
Bioinformatic Technologies
Advances in Cell Signaling
Plant and Animal Cell Biology
CHEM 500- and 600-level courses
Advanced Organic Chemistry I
Introduction to Spectroscopic Methods in Organic Chemistry
Advanced Organic Chemistry II
Advanced Spectroscopic Methods in Organic Chemistry
LFSC 500- and 600-level courses
Biological Complexity
Bioinformatic Technologies
MEDC 500- and 600-level courses
PHTX 500- and 600-level courses

At least 18 credit hours of didactic course work must be completed.


Students are expected to participate in their home department's seminar program.


Students are expected to enroll in CHEB 697 or directed research (one credit minimum) every spring and fall semester.


Students are expected to enroll in CHEM 693 within their first year of matriculation. Other courses may be used to satisfy this requirement in research conduct and ethics in consultation with the graduate program director.


Students may also enroll in CHEB 697 or PHIS 697 for directed research credit hours.


The list of recommended electives includes some typical courses taken in this concentration, but there is flexibility in designing a program of study in consultation with the adviser and graduate program director.

The minimum total of graduate credit hours required for this degree is 72.

Nicholas Farrell, Ph.D.
Professor and graduate program director
(804) 828-6320

Additional contact
Indika U. Arachchige, Ph.D.
Associate professor and chair of graduate admissions
(804) 828-6855

Program website: