4+1 Master’s Program

Dartmouth offers a 4+1 program to provide our undergraduate students an opportunity to acquire a broader and deeper education in modern techniques of biophysical chemistry. With integration of the courses and a substantial effort in the independent research carried out during the senior year, the MS can be obtained in one year directly after completing the AB at Dartmouth.

Summary for this new program:

Objective and Overview


Participating Faculty: Robert S. Cantor, Computational biophysics of cell membranes, protein-lipid interactions, ion channel kinetics, anesthetic mechanisms; F. Jon Kull, Protein crystallography, molecular motors, cellular transport mechanisms, enzyme mechanisms; transcription factors; bacterial virulence; cholera; Dale F. Mierke, Biophysical chemistry, high resolution NMR, peptide/compound library screening, structure-based drug-design; Ekaterina Pletneva, Biophysical and bioinorganic chemistry, heme proteins, fluorescence studies of protein conformational dynamics, redox chemistry; Michael J. Ragusa, protein crystallography, small angle X-ray scattering, autophagy, vesicle biogenesis, protein degradation; Dean Wilcox, Thermodynamics of metal-protein interactions, metalloenzymes, nitric oxide biochemistry.

Prerequisite Courses: Students wishing to enter the program must demonstrate proficiency in each of the following areas: biochemistry, chemistry, calculus and physics. Such proficiency will normally be demonstrated by completing the following Dartmouth College courses with at least a B grade prior to entering the Master’s Program: Mathematics 8 (or equivalent), Physics 13-14 (or 15-16, or by permission 3-4), Chemistry 51-52 (or equivalent), Chemistry 41 (or by permission Biology 40), Chemistry 40 or 75, and Chemistry 76.
Additionally, it is anticipated that the student will begin an independent research project with one of the participating faculty no later than the summer before senior year. An interim evaluation will be made after each term and continuation within the Master’s Program will be recommended for those students whose work demonstrates the capacity for satisfactory independent research.
Admission: Students must apply for admission to the program no later than May 1 of their junior year, although interested students are strongly encouraged to contact the Program Director (Mierke) earlier for advice on prerequisites, and on the scheduling of required courses for the degree. Having explored research opportunities with members of the faculty listed above, the applicant is expected to reach an agreement on a specific project with one of the faculty. The program Admissions Committee (Cantor, Kull, Mierke) will be responsible for reviewing applications and making offers of admission, to be completed by June 30.
A complete application includes:

  1. A current transcript.
  2. Anticipated schedule of courses for senior and fifth year.
  3. The name of the research advisor and a brief description of the research project, including a timeline of research effort.

Specific Requirements for the Master’s in Biophysical Chemistry are as follows:

  1. Course Distribution Requirements: In addition to the prerequisite courses described above, each student must pass the following courses, either prior to beginning the Master’s Program or as part of the coursework required for the program: Chemistry 42, Chemistry 67, and at least one of the offerings of Chemistry 161 (161.1, 161.2, 161.3, 161.4, 161.5).
  2. Required Course Credits: During the Master’s Program, each student must pass with a grade of P or better at least eight courses from the offerings in biophysical chemistry. Two terms of Graduate Research Colloquium and up to four courses in graduate-level research may count in the eight-course total. Note: Courses taken as an undergraduate can fulfill the “Course Distribution Requirements” described above, but do not count toward the eight courses required for the Master’s degree.
  3. Competency Requirement: The student must demonstrate competency in the fundamentals of a biophysical chemistry methodology, including X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy/FRET, experimental characterization of binding processes, or biomolecular computer simulations. This requirement will be satisfied by successful defense of the topic in an oral examination and must be completed before the end of winter term.
  4. Thesis Requirement: The student must complete a satisfactory thesis based on independent-original research. The thesis must be approved by three program members and successfully defended in an oral examination.