Biochemistry M.S. Assessment Plan

Mission Statement

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is committed to being recognized nationally and internationally at the forefront of molecular bioscience research and education and providing the region, state, and national workforce with outstanding graduates with superior knowledge, analytical research skills and abilities to investigate the molecular basis of living systems. As part of this mission, we offer a M.S. degree program biochemistry and molecular biology that serves as the terminal degree for preparing professionals for the workforce as biochemists and molecular biologists in the public, private and government sectors or prepares them to continue in a Ph.D. program in preparation for a research career. The curriculum places an emphasis on developing the skills to conduct independent scientific research, and to expand technical, analytical, critical thinking and problem solving skills in the molecular biosciences. Graduates will be prepared to start successful careers and assume leadership positions in the animal, insect, plant and biomedical research and biotechnology industries.

Program Outcomes

1.  Students will exhibit timely progression through the M.S. program.  

Student Performance Indicators

  • After two semesters in the program, each student, in cooperation with their graduate advisor, will perform the following indicators:
  • Select a thesis topic.
  • Enroll in recommended coursework providing background and information to conduct research in molecular biosciences.
  • Select their committee and hold a meeting to solicit committee input and approval of program of study and thesis topic.
  • Write a thesis proposal describing the research they plan to conduct and the timetable they plan to follow.

Assessment Method

  • Annual progress report, due each May 15, will be reviewed by student's graduate committee to determine what coursework has been completed, whether the student has formed a committee and written their thesis proposal.
  • A copy of the thesis proposal will be filed with the graduate program director.
  • Report will also include an assessment by the advisor as to the student's progress that year.

2.  Graduates will be prepared for employment as professionals in appropriate scientific disciplines.

Student Performance Indicators

  • Students will report employment in biochemistry and molecular biology or related fields that require technical expertise acquired during the M.S. degree.

Assessment Method

  • A structured exit interview will be performed to gather employment statistics by the graduate program director and departmental personnel.

Student Learning Outcomes

1.  Students will be able to demonstrate an advanced level of competency in the general fields of biochemistry and molecular biology and in the specialized subject area of their research.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Students will write and defend a thesis that demonstrates the student's competency in both general and subject areas.
  • Students will defend the thesis in an oral exam that demonstrates the student's competency in both general and subject areas.
Assessment Method
  • Each thesis will be reviewed and approved by the thesis committee. Assessment of the student's competency in both general and subject areas will be reflected in the quality of their written thesis and a grade of pass or fail will be given.
  • The oral exam will be assessed by the student's committee and a grade of pass or fail will be assigned.

2.  Students will be able to demonstrate competence in oral and written communication skills including the ability to write and present independent research, write research grant proposals and journal articles suitable for publication, and the ability to read and critically evaluate relevant scientific literature in biochemistry and molecular biology.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Students will present orally their thesis research proposal to their committee members.
  • Students will give a public presentation summarizing the results of their M.S. thesis research and its significance as part of their final thesis defense.
  • Students will present their research results at local, regional, national, and international professional scientific meetings.
  • Students will submit a written M.S. thesis proposal
  • Students will submit a M.S. Thesis.
  • Students will give two oral presentations on various topics at the graduate seminar series during the first and second years in the program.
  • Students will submit research grants within their areas of specialization to professional organizations and granting agencies to aid in funding their research and travel to meetings.
Assessment Method
  • The M.S. thesis committee members will assess the student's proposal presentation and provide feedback to the student.
  • The M.S. committee members and audience will evaluate and provide feedback to the student following their public presentation.
  • Graduate director will keep statistics on the numbers of talks and poster presentations given by M.S. students at professional scientific meetings as reported by students in their annual progress reports.
  • The Ph.D. committee members will read and evaluate the written M.S. thesis proposal and provide feedback to the student.
  • The M.S. thesis advisor and committee members will read, evaluate, and edit drafts of thesis chapters and provide feedback of each draft and give their approval/disapproval.
  • Instructor and audience of the graduate seminar course provides feedback and evaluation of their oral presentation skills.
  • Graduate director will keep statistics on the number of grant proposals submitted by M.S. students each year as reported by the students in their annual progress reports.

3. Students will be able to demonstrate the ability to complete laboratory-based research in their field of study, including the mastery of common and specialized techniques and instrumentation used in performing biochemical and molecular biology experimentation, the testing of a hypothesis or answering scientific questions formulated independently or in conjunction with the advisor and committee members.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Completion of M.S. thesis in a timely manner.
  • Students complete M.S. thesis.
  • Acceptance of manuscripts for publication in competitive peer-reviewed journals.
Assessment Method
  • Program director will track the time to degree completion for all M.S. students in the program.
  • Faculty advisor and committee approve/disapprove M.S. thesis.
  • Graduate director will keep statistics on the number of publications submitted by M.S. students each year as reported by the students in their annual progress reports.