First-Year Students


First Year Advisor

All 1st year students are assigned a faculty advisor who is a member of the MCB Graduate Committee.  In September, preceding the start of the Fall term, entering students will meet individually with their advisor.  The purpose of this initial meeting is to inform the students of program expectations and regulations and to begin the process of selection of laboratories for research rotations, courses, etc.

Approved Ethics Course

In Fall term, MCB 1st year students will enroll in MICR 700 (Responsible & Ethical Conduct of Research) and are required to attend all sessions.  This course is taught by MCB faculty in two offerings for the Fall term. 

Fall, Winter, Spring

Core Courses

The core course runs through the first three terms of the first year; Fall, Winter, and Spring. In the Fall and Winter terms, students will enroll in one core course as instructed. The Spring term is comprised of short modules from which a student will select three. The Spring term is split into three sections with modules assigned to each section.

Research in Progress Colloquium

Required of all Year One students for the first three terms. First year students are required to attend 60% of the RIPs offered during this time period. Requirement: Sign in at each RIP session attended. Year One students enroll in BIOL 271 in the Spring term to receive a grade for this three-term Colloquium.

Research Rotations

Email the MCB Office the list of 3-4 faculty with whom you have met regarding possible research rotation.

Rotation assignments are made by the MCB Graduate Committee. Assignments will be announced by the MCB office via email.


  • Fall term: September - November
  • Winter term: December - February
  • Spring term: March - May


Thesis Advisor

Starting in May, 1st year students may begin talks with each of their research rotation faculty advisors to confirm a thesis lab. They will then submit the name of their proposed thesis advisor to the MCB Office by the deadline for approval of the Graduate Committee. Final matches will be announced by the MCB Office via email. Once the assignments are announced, the student and new thesis advisor will be asked to sign a letter of agreement supplied by the MCB Office. Thesis work begins on June 1.

Teaching Assistant (TA) Assignments (BIOL 169)

In June of the first year, 1st year students will receive a list of undergraduate courses requiring teaching assistants for the next academic year. Email the MCB Office with a list (in order of preference) of the courses you would like to TA and include the term they are taught (some courses are offered more than once per year). Submit the list to the MCB Office prior to the deadline. Teaching Assistant assignments are made by the MCB Graduate Committee in consultation with the Biological Sciences faculty. Assignments will be announced by the MCB Office via email.

Summer Term Enrollment

Students are required to register for a minimum of 3 course credits every term. Since journal clubs do not meet during the summer term, students will need to adjust the Graduate Research course to meet the 3 credits, i.e. #197 = 1 credit, #198 = 2 credits, #199 = 3 credits. The program designation will be determined by the program of each student's thesis advisor (BIOC, BIOL, CANB, GENE, MICR). During the term a student is TA'ing, he/she will enroll in BIOL 169.