line drawing of a molecule


MSc & PhD

Within a diverse and inclusive cluster of faculty and students, the Department of Biochemistry is a leader in its field. Dedicated to training the next generation of scientists and leaders, our students are supported by world-renowned faculty who make significant research contributions in key areas - from signal transduction and regulation, to molecular medicine, to gene expression and development, and everything in between.

Our students are engaged in research training that focuses on cutting-edge problems in areas such as proteomics and bioinformatics, biomolecular structure and function, and drug discovery. Our facilities are world class and continually updated to modern standards, including state-of-the-art instruments for nuclear magnetic resonance, mass spectrometry, light and electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography and high-speed computation. Our rotation system is a key feature of our training that allows newly admitted students to experience 3 different labs before deciding on a "best fit" thesis lab. This allows students to explore the breadth and depth of the research conducted and find the ideal learning environment to succeed.

Our Programs

In addition to completing a thesis, students take 1.5 FCE*:

  • BCH 2020Y (Seminar Course in Biochemistry, 1.0 FCE),
  • BCH 2101H (Scientific Skills for Biochemists, 0.25 FCE) and one
  • Elective (0.25 FCE). 

Students successfully finish this program in 2 years.

In addition to conducting independent and original research that will form their
thesis, students complete 2.0 FCE:

  • BCH2020Y (Seminar Course in Biochemistry, 1.0 FCE);
  • BCH2101H (Scientific Skills for Biochemists, 0.25 FCE);**
  • 0.75 FCE in electives.

Typically, students successfully complete this program in 6 years.

Alumni Profile

April Pawluk

April Pawluck, PhD

My name is April Pawluk and I completed my doctoral studies under the supervision of Professor Alan Davidson. I then continued my research into the mechanisms of CRISPR-Cas systems as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Berkeley.

I fulfilled my long-time dream of being a scientific journal editor with the publication Cell in 2017. Rising to the position of Senior Editor over 4 years, I handled hundreds of submitted manuscripts across the biological sciences, mediating the peer review process and making decisions about which papers to publish.

I used my perspective as a journal editor to help scientists write better grants and papers – first at Harvard’s Microbiome Center and then at the Arc Institute, a nonprofit organization, whose mission is to accelerate scientific progress, understand the root causes of disease, and narrow the gap between discoveries and impact on patients. In my spare time, I do freelance scientific editing with a group of former journal editors at Life Science Editors and I lead workshops on scientific writing and publishing.

Potential Career Paths

In 2016, the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) tracked the career outcomes of 10,000 PhD students who graduated from the University of Toronto between 2000 to 2015. The data below is from 136 biochemistry PhD graduates.


Some examples of the positions our biochemistry graduates held included:

  • Post-doctoral Fellow
  • Assistant Professor
  • Research Associate
  • Associate Professor
  • Research Scientist


Some examples of employers for whom our biochemistry graduates worked included:

  • The Hospital for Sick Children
  • The University of Toronto
  • Sanofi Pasteur
  • University Health Network
  • Harvard University

The chart below shows a breakdown of the various sectors in which our biochemistry PhD graduates worked at the time the survey occurred.

Main Employment Sectors of Biochemistry PhD Graduates

Chart data

Post-Secondary Education Private Sector Public Sector Charitable Sector Individual Sector
62 43 24 6 1

By the Numbers

Number of current MSc & PhD students.
Percentage of MSc students who transfer to the PhD program.
Average class size.

Department of Biochemistry

Learn more about our programs in biochemistry.

*Full course equivalent. A typical 0.5 FCE is over one term (13 weeks), meeting 1-2 times per week. A typical 1.0 FCE is over two terms (26 weeks), meeting 1-2 times per week.

** In the event the student has completed this course, the student will need to take another course that should be approved by the Graduate Coordinator.