Degree Requirement Details

Laboratory Research Rotations and Thesis Lab Selection

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. All MCB students will fulfill the MCB program requirements as noted below.

Journal Clubs

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:

  • Actin Cytoskeleton  BIOC 259

  • Advances in Biotechnology ENGG 260

  • Bioinorganic Chemistry  CHEM 263

  • Biological Rhythms  GENE 260

  • Biomass Energy Systems  ENGG 261

  • Cancer Biology and Genetics  GENE 261

  • Cancer Mechanisms and Therapeutics  CANB 261

  • Cell Biology  BIOL 263

  • Communicating Science (one-time, one-term journal club)  BIOL 300

  • Computational Biology  QBS 270

  • Genes and Gene Products  BIOL 268

  • Immunology  MICR 264

  • Lipid Biology and Neurodegeneration  BIOC 262

  • Microbial Ecology/Environmental Microbiology  BIOL 265

  • Molecular Pathogenesis  MICR 265

  • Neurobiology  BIOL 274

  • Phosphorylation Signaling BIOC 261

  • Plant Molecular Genetics  BIOL 269

  • Quantitative Approaches to Microbial Systems  MICR 263

  • Structural Biology  BIOC 260

  • Topics in Applied Computer Science  COSC 200

Teaching Experience

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.

Thesis Seminar and Defense

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. On average, students complete their doctoral training in about five and a half years.