Molecular and Cellular Biology Program

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Deadline: Dec 15, 2024
101 place StudyQA ranking:7855 Duration:6 years

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Dartmouth MCB consists of approximately 186 students and 73 faculty members whose research spans a wide range of topics including biophysics and structural biology, biotechnology, cancer biology, cell biology, circadian biology, computational and quantitative biology, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, genetics, genomics and proteomics, immunology, microbiology, molecular pathogenesis and host-microbe interactions, neuroscience, plant molecular biology, regulation of gene expression, and signal transduction and cellular metabolism. Each student works closely with a thesis advisor and has the opportunity to interact daily with other members of the program. Research rotations during the first year provide students the opportunity to explore diverse research interests and then make an informed decision when selecting a thesis lab. Graduate student "research in progress" seminars are held on a weekly basis providing both an opportunity to learn about each other's research and to obtain feedback from faculty and students. Informal interactions among program students and faculty take place during weekly get-togethers, journal clubs and annual retreats. The MCB program also offers joint degree programs with Geisel School of Medicine (M.D./Ph.D.) and Tuck School of Business (M.B.A./Ph.D.).

During the first year in the program, MCB students are required to perform three research rotations in the labs of three different faculty members. Each rotation lasts approximately three months, covering the periods: September-November, December-February, and March-May. The choice of labs for rotation is based primarily on the interests of the students.

After the rotations are completed, students will select a thesis lab from among their three research rotation labs. During the second year, MCB students present their research to the MCB community once a year. Research-in-progress (RIPs) seminars give students experience presenting to a diverse audience, provides the opportunity for feedback from faculty and fellow students, and keeps the MCB community informed about the work going on in colleagues labs. During the Fall, Winter and Spring terms of the first year, MCB students are required to take a three-term core course that gives a broad overview of biochemistry, molecular biology, and cell biology. This course sequence is team taught by faculty members specializing in these areas. In addition to the three-term core course, students are required to successfully complete three advanced elective courses selected from a broad list of MCB approved elective courses. Elective coursework is typically completed during the first three years in the graduate program. Students will also complete an approved ethics course as part of the program requirements. Students are required to participate in a Journal Club during each year of their graduate education. Journal Clubs are informal seminars which allow students the opportunity to read, analyze, present and discuss papers from the primary literature. Each student has the choice of which Journal Club to attend. There are several existing Journal Clubs which meet during Fall, Winter and Spring terms:

  • The Nature and Practice of Science
  • Actin Cytoskeleton
  • Structural Biology
  • Cancer Biology
  • Building a Career in Science
  • Cell Biology
  • Mechanisms in Evolution and Development
  • Immunology
  • Microbial Ecology and Environmental Biology
  • Molecular Pathogenesis
  • Developmental Genetics
  • Genes and Cells
  • Plant Molecular Genetics
  • Computational Biology
  • Chromatin Structure

Students normally choose a thesis advisor for thesis research at the end of the first year and after they have completed three research rotations. These arrangements are made by mutual agreement of the student, and the thesis advisor, with the approval of the Graduate Committee.

All graduate students in the MCB program are required to gain experience in teaching. To fulfill this requirement, students serve as teaching assistants for one term, usually in the second year of graduate study. The teaching experience is considered an important part of graduate education and includes instruction from faculty on how to organize and present a lecture. Teaching normally involves supervising laboratory and discussion sections as well as grading lab reports and exams. 

Each student must pass a qualifying examination to be advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. The qualifying exam has two components: a written research proposal and an oral defense which focuses on the written proposal. The format of the written exam is similar to a postdoctoral fellowship grant application to give the student practical experience in scientific writing.

 In the second year, students establish a thesis advisory committee. Research progress is monitored by meetings with this committee at least once a year. When the student, thesis advisor, and thesis advisory committee agree that the thesis is near completion, the student begins compiling and writing the thesis. For many students at this stage, thesis research has already resulted in publication in peer reviewed journals. After submission of the thesis and a public presentation, the student defends the thesis before an examination committee.  

  • Application Essay describing your scientific interests, research experience and career goals.
  • Official College transcripts (undergraduate and graduate, if applicable). Scans of official transcripts will be accepted. Upload scans to application program.
  • It is typical that entering graduate students will have had at least one year each of physics, and mathematics (calculus) and two years of biology and chemistry (general and organic). Students with degrees in physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics are encouraged to apply.
  • Three letters of recommendation. We encourage applicants to provide at least one recommendation letter from a mentor or supervisor who has known the applicant in a research capacity.
  • Application fee of $75 U.S. payable to Dartmouth College by credit card. We will not defer or waive application fees.
  • All support materials must be received by the application deadline to be considered. 
  • The MCB Program conducts in-person interviews with prospective students on campus over three interview weekends. Those applicants outside the U.S. are interviewed by video conference or telephone by members of the Graduate Committee.

All MCB students receive a stipend of $27,720 ($28,220 for students who have passed their qualifying exams), a Dartmouth Fellowship that provides a full tuition scholarship, and a prepaid health insurance plan. Stipends for future years will be adjusted for inflation and are contingent upon satisfactory performance in studies. We do not require certification of your financial situation. If admitted to the program you will need sufficient funds to come to the U.S. and then support yourself for one month until the first stipend check which is on October 1.

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