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Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Sciences Ph.D.

All students must meet the Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree


The CMB program trains students to:

  • Become scholars in their field
  • Conduct hypothesis-based research in an ethically responsible manner
  • Think independently, creatively, and critically
  • Effectively communicate as teachers, researchers, and scholars

The curriculum of the Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Sciences program is designed to give students fundamental and applied skills to prepare them for future positions in scientific research and related fields. The core curriculum includes course work in biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, ethics, and data analysis and presentation. Students also enhance their writing skills through a grant-writing course and improve their presentation skills through participation in the CMB seminar series. Students are provided with at least two opportunities to serve as teaching assistants typically in undergraduate laboratory-based courses.

During the first year, CMB students complete three research rotations with potential advisors, while taking the required core course work in Cell Biology,  Biochemistry, and Data Analysis & Presentation. Students generally fulfill their core course and comprehensive exam requirements in year two. In addition to core courses, students are expected to enhance their training through advanced courses in one of the following areas:

  • Biochemistry, Structural Biology and Biophysics
  • Genetics, Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology and Immunology
  • Molecular Physiology and Pharmacology

Specific Requirements

Requirements for Admission to Graduate Studies for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Competitive applicants typically have evidence of strong course preparation, an undergraduate GPA of 3.00 or better, and 60th percentile or greater on the general Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Foreign applicants to the CMB Program are required to have a satisfactory score on either the TOEFL (100 or higher) or the IELTS (7.0 or better). Experience in laboratory research is recommended.

Minimum Degree Requirements

Completion of course and research credits totaling 75 credits is required for the Ph.D. Maintaining a GPA of 3.00 or better in core courses and advanced electives is required.

Required core courses for all CMB students:

BIOC 301General Biochemistry3
BIOC 302General Biochemistry3
CLBI 301Cell Biology3
MPBP/BIOC 325Data Analysis&Presentation I2
MPBP/BIOC 326Data Analysis&Presentation II2
Genetics Requirement:
MMG 211Prokaryotic Molecular Genetics3
or MMG 312 Eukaryotic Molecular Genetics
or PATH 395 Special Topics
or MMG 333 Genetics and Genomics
Ethics Requirement:
NSCI 327Resp Conduct in Biomed Rsch1

Students must also complete the required courses in their area of concentration before completion of their degree.  Students must complete a minimum of twenty research credits (CLBI 491) and thirty course credits, and an additional twenty-five course or research credits. Once students have earned 75 credits, they register for continuous registration GRAD 901GRAD 902 or GRAD 903, as appropriate.

Additional program requirements include service as a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) twice during the first two years, weekly attendance at the CMB seminar series, annual presentation of research progress within the CMB seminar program starting in the second year, and annual meetings with the student’s dissertation studies committee beginning in the second year.

Advanced Concentration Courses

Biochemistry, Structural Biology & Biophysics
BIOC 370Physical Biochemistry3
or MPBP 323 Biophysical Techniques
BIOC 351Proteins I: Structure&Function3
or BIOC 352 Protein: Nucleic Acid Interact
or MMG 352 Protein:Nucleic Acid Interact
or BIOC 353 Proteins II: Enzymology
Genetics, Cell & Molecular Biology (choose two)
Methods in Bioinformatics
Eukaryotic Molecular Genetics
Molecular Control of the Cell
Microbiology & Immunobiology
MMG 320Cellular Microbiology4
SURG 301Immunity and Host Defense3
Physiology & Pharmacology
MPBP 301Human Physiology & Pharm I4
MPBP 302Human Physiology & Pharm II4

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination is a tool to evaluate the progress of each student and ensure that they are prepared to proceed toward the doctorate degree.  All parts of the qualifying examination will be evaluated in a manner to avoid bias and maintain uniformity of assessment. The examination will determine whether the candidate:

  1. Has acquired an adequate academic background through required course work and electives
  2. Can analyze and interpret data and scientific ideas
  3. Can apply logical thought to synthesize diverse facts and concepts
  4. Understands and meets the intellectual demands of the degree program

The comprehensive examination is structured to provide assessment in two  formats,  oral and  written. The two  phases of the exam occur at distinct times during training and both  must be satisfactorily completed to advance to doctoral candidacy.

Phase I is an oral examination that tests students on their ability to synthesize and integrate scientific knowledge learned from first-year laboratory rotations and core courses.  The oral exam is scheduled after the student's first year. Phase II is a written grant proposal based on the student's thesis research project that is completed by the end of the student's second year.   The Phase II  exam will provide the student with a detailed plan for conducting their dissertation research.  The comprehensive exam is organized and conducted by the CMB Education Committee.

Requirements for Advancement to Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Maintain a 3.00 GPA in designated first and second year courses and successful completion of the comprehensive exam, as outlined in the CMB Program Handbook.