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Course of Study

Course Requirements

 The MCB Graduate Program offers a unique multidisciplinary course of study leading to the Ph.D. degree. It provides students with the opportunity to select an academic program in one of three specializations: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology or Cellular and Developmental Biology or Immunology and Pathology.

During the first year all students participate in several core courses that serve to build a scholastic foundation for further study. The core courses include Graduate Biochemistry (3 credits), Biomembranes (1 credit), Molecular Genetics (3 credits), and Cell Biology (4 credits). During the first year the MCB graduate students perform four required laboratory research rotations, each with an average length of ten weeks. The students also attend an Invited Faculty Seminar Series during both semesters and receive training to critically evaluate original research articles in a Journal Club in the second, third and fourth semesters. They also gain experience as Teaching Assistants (starting in their second semester).

Students can select an area of specialization at the time of enrollment, or they can decide on a course of study during their first year.

  1. The program of study in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology includes a course in Physical Biochemistry and any of a number of electives. Training emphasizes biochemical and structural approaches to solve biological problems.
  2. The program of study in Cellular and Developmental Biology includes a course in Developmental Biology and any of a number of electives. Emphasis is placed on the control mechanisms that define and regulate growing and developing systems.
  3. The program of study in Immunology and Pathology includes courses in Immunology and Medical Pathology. This area of specialization emphasizes the cellular and molecular basis of human disease to foster a bridge between basic and clinical research. Each of the specializations enhances knowledge within the field to ensure our graduates are well equipped for a successful career in research.

Graduate Course Offerings

Current course information is available via the Graduate Bulletin

Required MCB Core Graduate Courses:

1st semester               

MCB 520         Graduate Biochemistry                                                          (3 credits)

MCB 517         Biomembranes                                                                             (1 credit)

MCB 503         Molecular Genetics                                                                    (3 credits)

MCB 509         Laboratory Rotations                                                                (up to 6 credits)

MCB 601         Colloquium in Molecular and Cellular Biology           (1 credit)                   

2nd semester            

MCB 656         Cell Biology                                                                                      (4 credits)

MCB 532         Student Journal Club                                                               (1 credit)

MCB 510         Laboratory Rotations                                                              (up to 6 credits)

BIO 600           Teaching Practicum                                                                  (0 credits)

MCB 602         Colloquium in Molecular and Cellular Biology        (1 credit)

3rd semester              

MCB 531         Student Journal Club                                                             (1 credit)

BIO 600           Teaching Practicum                                                                (0 credit)

MCB 599         Dissertation Research                                                         (up to 7 credits)

MCB 601         Colloquium in Molecular and Cellular Biology     (1 credit)

GRD 500          Ethics Course                                                                           (0 credit)                         

4th semester              

MCB 532         Student Journal Club                                                           (1 credit)

MCB 599         Dissertation Research                                                        (up to 7 credits)

MCB 602         Colloquium in Molecular and Cellular Biology    (1 credit)                       

3rd year and beyond              

MCB 603/604  Student Seminar                                                               (1 credit)

MCB 599/699  Dissertation Research                                                  (up to 7 credits)

MCB 601/602  Colloquium in Molecular and Cellular Biology (1 credit)

  • Ethics  ( GRD 500)* Discussions of ethical practices in bioscience research.

This course must be repeated after 4 years.

Required Courses in Area of Specialization


1- Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

BSB 512           Structural Biology and Spectroscopy                     (2 credits)


2- Cellular and Developmental Biology

MCB 657         Developmental Biology                                                  (3 credits)


3- Cellular and Molecular Pathology

HBP 533          Graduate Immunology                                                  (3 credits)

HBP 531          General Pathology                                                           (3 credits)

HBP 691          Pathology Journal Club                                               (1 credit, Fall Semester years 3-5)

* Electives for the specializations include, but are not limited to:

BCD 657          Developmental Biology                                              (3 credits, Fall)

BGE 510          Graduate Genetics                                                        (3 credits, Fall)

BSB 512           Structural Biology and Spectroscopy              (2 credits, Spring)

MCB 529         Organelle Development                                           (3 credits, Fall, alternate years)

MCB 537         Physiology and Biochemistry of the Cell Cycle  (3 credits, Fall)

HBH 655          Neuropharmacology                                                   (3 credits, Spring, alternate years)

HBM 640         Molecular Mechanisms of Microbial Pathogenesis   (3 credits, Fall)

HBP 531          General Pathology                                                        (3 credits, Spring)

HBP 533          Graduate Immunology                                               (3 credits, Spring)

HBY 553          Signal Transduction                                                      (3 credits, Spring, alternate years)                         

Students are also strongly encouraged to enroll in their third semester in a 1 credit course that introduces basic concepts in computing such as basics of database searches, structural predictions, and modeling dynamic interactions.


  Teaching Assistant (TA)

Graduate students are also required to complete two semesters as teaching assistants. This experience provides an opportunity to develop crucial presentation skills and refine teaching techniques that students will need in their future careers.



Not all electives are given every year. 

  • Molecular & Cellular Biology and Cellular & Developmental Biology areas of specialization: One elective is required.  Cellular & Molecular Pathology specialization:  No elective required.


    Examples of Elective Course

  • This is a list of approved electives. Not every elective is available every year. Other electives may be taken to satisfy track requirements, but students must obtain approval from the MCB Executive Committee BEFOREregistering for the course

    AMS 533          Numerical Methods and Algorithms in Computational Biology

    AMS 535          Intro to Comp Structural Bio & Drug Design, 3 credits, Fall

    AMS 536          Molecular Modeling of Biological Molecules Spring

    AMS 537          Dynamical Models of Gene Regulation and Biological Pattern

    BCD 657           Principles of Development     

    BGE 510           Graduate Genetics

    BME 534          Functional Genomics, 3 credits, Fall

    BSB 512           Structural Biology and Spectroscopy

    BSB 580           Advanced Structural Biology 2 credits

    CHE 541           Biomolecular Structure and Analysis 3 credits, Fall

    CHE 542           Chemical Biology 3 credits, Spring

    CHE 543           Chemical Applications in Biology, Fall

    CHE 530           Physical Chemistry of Macromolecules, 3 credits, Spring

    CHE 524           Magnetic Resonance, 3 credits, Spring

    HBH 632          Molecular Interact, 1 credit, Spring

    MCB 555          BIG Data

    HBH 655          Neuropharmacology

    HBM 640         Molecular Mechanisms of Microbial Pathogenesis

    HBP 533           Graduate Immunology

    HBY 511          Biophysical Chemistry 3 credits

    MAR 581       Next Generation Sequencing Applications in Functional Genomics

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