Molecular and Cellular Biology

Study mode:Full-time Languages: English Duration:
Foreign:$ 51.1k / 1 Academic year(s) Deadline: Dec 1, 2021
StudyQA ranking:283

Photos of university / #umass

The Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) Program provides graduate training in virtually all aspects of biological sciences. The program serves as an umbrella program that builds close ties among its ~100 faculty members in various departments, fostering a collaborative environment that encourages interdisciplinary research.

Research falls broadly into three areas based on faculty interests — Biological Chemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Cellular and Developmental Biology, and Biomedicine. In many cases, faculty research overlaps these interdisciplinary areas.

Most students admitted to the MCB program have obtained a bachelor's degree in basic sciences (biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics or mathematics). Students interested in a career in life-sciences research in various aspects of biomedicine are encouraged to apply. All qualified applicants may apply to the Ph.D. program; only students from the Five College consortium are eligible to apply for the fast-track M.S. degree program.

Year One:

The first semester includes a Lab Rotation and the core course Advanced Molecular Biology. First-year students also work as Teaching Assistant (TAs) to fulfill the MCB requirement of two semesters of teaching experience. All MCB graduate students sign up for the MCB Seminar, held weekly during both semesters.

During the winter session between semesters, first-year students finish their first lab rotation and prepare a poster on the results of their work. The poster is presented during the second semester as an MCB Colloquium.

In the second semester, first-year students begin their second rotations and take two core courses: Advanced Biochemistry and Advanced Cellular Biology. Most students work as TAs in this semester. First-year students also take part in a journal club, a requirement for all subsequent semesters.

The summer of the first year marks the transition to full-time research. Students and rotation mentors self-select for the students' laboratory research "home" in which the students' dissertation research will be performed.

Year Two:

In the first semester of the second year, students are free to choose one or more elective courses to fulfill the MCB requirement of three non-core electives. Second-year students also present the results of their second rotations in an oral presentation during the MCB colloquium series.

Second-year students submit an abstract detailing a proposed research plan of their own design as part of the oral exam requirement. As of the Spring, 2009 semester, the written comprehensive exam is combined with the oral exam. Most students choose not to take any courses in the second semester so that they can concentrate on preparing for their oral exams, which are held during the second semester.

Year Three:

In the third year, students typically fulfill any remaining advanced electives requirements. At the beginning of the first semester, most students submit their choices for a Ph.D. dissertation committee.

In the second semester, third-year students join the more senior MCB graduate students to present a poster at the MCB retreat describing dissertation research accomplished in the past year.

In the summer of the third year, students are expected to write and present a prospectus of proposed work to the dissertation committee.

Years Four and Five:

In the fourth and fifth years in the program, students focus on full-time research lab work directed toward completion of their dissertations. When the student, adviser, and dissertation committee agree that the dissertation research is complete, students will write the dissertation, defend it in front of the committee, and then give a dissertation defense seminar for the whole MCB community.


All courses carry 3 credits unless otherwise specified.

  • 641 Advanced Cellular Biology
  • 642 Advanced Molecular Biology
  • 696 Independent Study
  • 698 Master’s Project
  • 699 Master’s Thesis
  • 899 Doctoral Dissertation

Program-related Courses

  • ANIMLSCI 585 Animal & Environmental Toxicology
  • ANIMLSCI 697K Advanced Immunology
  • BIOCHEM 642 Advanced Molecular Biology
  • BIOCHEM 697K Plant Molecular Cell Biology
  • BIOLOGY 559 Cellular & Molecular Biology II
  • BIOLOGY 791C Writing for Scientists
  • BIOLOGY 891PB Topics in Plant Biology Research
  • CHEM-ENG 680 Fundamentals of Cellular Engineering
  • CHEMISTRY 552 Spectroscopic Identification of Organic Compounds
  • CHEMISTRY 584 Advanced Physical Chemistry
  • CHEMISTRY 627 Biomolecular Structure
  • CHEMISTRY 650 Metals in Biology
  • CHEMISTRY 778 Spectroscopy Theory
  • CHEMISTRY 791L Bioanalytical Chemistry
  • KINESIOLOGY 697MM Molecular Motors and Cell Motility
  • SCH-MGT 797B Technology Management: Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • MICROBIO 565 Lab in Molecular Genetics
  • MOLCLBIO 692/NEUROS&B 891C Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Neuroscience
  • PLNTSOIL 590C Comparative Genomics: The History, Present and Future
  • PLNTSOIL 597A Phyto/Bioremediation
  • POLYMER SCI 797CC Colloidal and Interfacial Phenomena
  • POLYMER SCI 797NN Introduction to Scientific Teaching
  • POLYMER SCI 897A Polymer Dynamics
  • POLYMER SCI 897M Colloidal and Macro Interface 
  • POLYMER SCI 897T Well Defined Macromolecular Architecture
  • A completed Application Form.
  • A $75 application fee. This fee cannot be waived or deferred.
  • International Student Sponsor Statement is required of all international students.
  • One official transcript from all colleges/universities attended, undergraduate and graduate, where (nine) 9 or more credits were taken are required. If they are not mailed directly from the college/university, they should be enclosed in sealed envelopes signed by the college/university.  If the official transcripts and/or degree certificate(s) are not in English, notarized English language translations in duplicate must accompany them. Do not list colleges/universities where (eight) 8 or fewer credits were taken.
  • Letters of recommendation (academic references) from two (2) professors or instructors who have taught you in courses in the field you are applying to here. After submission of the electronic application, we will send an email to each referee giving them instructions on how to electronically deliver the recommendation to the Graduate School. All recommendations will be considered confidential unless the applicant doesn't waive his/her right of access.
  • Scores from the following standard examinations:
    • GRE (Graduate Record Examination)-General Test required by nearly all graduate programs - (refer to Degrees and Programs Offered)
    • GRE SUBJECT TEST (not a universal requirement-refer to the Programspage for those programs requiring a Subject Test)
    • GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test)-for graduate applicants to Management, Hospitality & Tourism Management, and Sport Management

    • English Language Test: Either TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), or IELTS (International English Language Testing System)-only the academic version of test is accepted, or PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English)


All accepted Ph.D. candidates are fully supported for the duration of their study. Students are eligible for teaching and research assistantships that include tuition, curriculum fee, health insurance, dental coverage, and an annual stipend (Current annual stipend of $23,670.40). Once a dissertation lab is selected, students are supported by research assistantships or fellowships. All students are required to serve as teaching assistants, generally during their first year.

Similar programs:
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Foreign:$ 29.8k / 1 Academic year(s)
Deadline: Dec 1, 2021 StudyQA ranking: 365
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Local:$ 30.8k / 1 Academic year(s) Foreign:$ 49.7k / 1 Academic year(s)
  StudyQA ranking: 1898
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Local:$ 20.8k / 1 Academic year(s) Foreign:$ 20.8k / 1 Academic year(s)
Deadline: Dec 1, 2021 StudyQA ranking: 818
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Local:$ 48.9k / 1 Academic year(s) Foreign:$ 48.9k / 1 Academic year(s)
Deadline: Dec 1, 2021 StudyQA ranking: 174