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Molecular & Cellular Biology: Graduate Programs

Program Description
Faculty in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology do research on the fundamental biological processes that are common to all life on Earth. Much of this research involves the use of model systems, allowing researchers to ask fundamental questions about cancer, neurobiology, developmental processes, evolutionary biology, gene expression, cell signaling, genetic networks and systems biology, and teaching and learning in biology.
Accelerated Master’s Program
The Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology offers an Accelerated Master’s program for excelling MCB undergraduates who wish to extend their studies. Students who are accepted into this program as juniors take graduate-level courses during their senior undergraduate year and one subsequent academic year. The students continue research in the labs of MCB faculty and joint appointees, producing a master’s thesis.
PhD Programs
Faculty members in the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and Molecular and Cellular Biology offer a joint doctoral graduate program (BMCB) that provides students with broader training and a wider choice of research laboratories to choose for their dissertations. There are currently over 70 faculty members in the BMCB Graduate Program, including faculty representing 19 departments or interdisciplinary programs in addition to MCB and CBC. Applicants to either Biochemistry or Molecular and Cellular Biology are considered jointly by the BMCB committee. Students enroll in one of three tracks (Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology, or Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology) and receive their doctorate from the department(s) based on the tracks they choose. Most of the admitted BMCB graduate students are provided funding through fellowships, training grants, or research and teaching assistantships.
The BMCB PhD program is designed to give students a broad introduction to the molecular and cellular processes that underlie life. From this introduction, students narrow their interests, choosing research projects that give them the training to pursue job opportunities in academia, industry, or a diverse array of less traditional fields. Qualified students with a BS degree or a master’s degree are accepted into the PhD program. The PhD degree consists of 36 units of coursework plus 9 units of minor coursework, written and oral comprehensive exams, and a doctoral dissertation that is defended in a departmental forum.
The Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology also offers a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Students in this program do research with Molecular and Cell Biology primary faculty or joint appointees, primarily on biology education research projects.

Skill objectives for graduate students in all the MCB PhD programs are:

·   Read and critique literature in many disciplines of biology
·   Verbally present their research at an appropriate level for various target audiences (general public, scientist but not specialist, and disciplinary colleagues)
·   Express themselves clearly and succinctly in writing about both their research and other topics, especially writing manuscripts for peer-reviewed publications
·   Develop a clear understanding of the broad and specific aims of research projects
·   Acquire the technical skills to carry out original research
·   Become independent researchers that are able to evaluate data from their research studies and to design relevant subsequent experiments


Expected Learning Outcomes: 

Program Completion

Objective:     To have students complete the Ph.D. within five years. 
Measures:     The percentage of students completing the Ph.D. degree in five years; the
number of years required for all students to complete the Ph.D. degree,
and the percentage of students who never complete the degree.



Knowledge of Subject Matter and Quality of Research

Objective:    To provide students with broad training in molecular and cellular biology through courses and
                  laboratory experience.
Measures:    Course grades in required courses, performance on the comprehensive examination (written
                  and oral), and evaluation of the dissertation and defense will be monitored. 


Objective:    Ph.D. students should publish a few peer-reviewed journal articles based on their dissertation
Measure:     Monitor number of publications published or in press at the time of the defense. Monitor number
                 of publications published one year following the defense.

Placement and Subsequent Success

Objective:   Ph.D. graduates in Molecular and Cellular Biology will obtain:
a)      postdoctoral research positions in academics, industry, or
b)      teaching positions at colleges or universities;
c)      jobs in private or public sectors; and
d)      additional educational training in medicine, law or business.
Measures:   Placement record of Ph.D. graduates.
Objective:   Ph.D. graduates who stay in academics are encouraged to obtain their own postdoctoral
                 fellowship grants.
Measure:     Every five years, determine the percentage of Ph.D. graduates entering postdoctoral positions
                 in academics who obtain their own funding.


Objective:   To provide financial support necessary for students to graduate in a timely fashion. 
Measure:     Evaluation of graduate assistantship stipends, teaching assistantships, fellowships, research
                 support, and summer support.  Compare stipend levels with other comparable graduate programs
                 every three years.
Objective:    To provide travel funds for Ph.D. students to make presentations at scientific meetings at least
                  once during their time in the program.
Measure:     Evaluate funds available for this support and number of students who request this support.

Objective:    To provide funds for students to do “mini sabbaticals” in other labs, industry, or government, or
                  to take prestigious courses (for example, courses at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods
Measure:      Evaluate funds available for this support and number of students who request this support.
Objective:    To provide technical infrastructure and support staff necessary for students to graduate in a
                  timely fashion.
Measure:     External evaluation of departmental and university facilities including libraries, classrooms,
                  laboratories, computer accessibility and support.

Student Experiences and Satisfaction

Objective:    To offer a Ph.D. program that meets the needs of our graduate students.
Measure:     Exit survey with graduate student around the time of the defense.



Assessment Activities: 

Regular or Recurring Activities

Last Modified: 02/27/2005

Updated date: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 10:21