Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Degree Programs 

Molecular and Cellular Biology

Program Overview

The Molecular and Cellular Biology program (MCB) applies the techniques of molecular and cellular biology to advance the understanding of basic biological sciences. The doctoral program broadly trains students to think about science in a rigorous and critical manner. Since scientific methods, equipment, and knowledge are changing rapidly, students learn to focus on important issues in an evolving research environment. The program is appropriate for students interested in future careers in research and teaching in academia as well as biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

Twelve departments across three schools have faculty members actively pursuing research in molecular and cellular biology. They include Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Biological Structure, Biology, Environmental Health, Genome Sciences, Immunology, Microbiology, Pathobiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, and Physiology and Biophysics.

At the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC), the divisions of basic sciences and molecular medicine participate in the joint Molecular and Cellular Biology graduate program. Shared FHCRC facilities are available for electron microscopy, flow cytometry, tissue culture, and image analysis. A biotechnology center for DNA and protein synthesis and sequencing, animal facilities, a biological production facility that focuses on monoclonal antibody production, extensive libraries, and a biocomputing center provide further support.

MCB has relationships with the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) as well as Seattle Biomed, thus allowing MCB students access to laboratories conducting research using a systems approach to biology or a global focus on infectious disease.

Faculty Interests

Over 250 faculty members from the UW, the FHCRC, the ISB, and Seattle Biomed research molecular and cellular biology and are skilled in training graduate students. Faculty research interests include cancer biology; genetics: genomics and evolution; microbiology, infection, and immunity; molecular structure and computational biology; and neuroscience.

Graduate Program

Graduate Program Coordinator
T466 Health Sciences, Box 357275
(206) 543-0253

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements

  1. Baccalaureate or advanced degree by the time of matriculation; degrees emphasizing biology, physical or natural sciences, and mathematics preferred.
  2. GRE scores. General Test. A Subject Test (e.g., biology, biochemistry, chemistry) is not required but recommended.
  3. Letters of recommendation
  4. Statement of purpose
  5. Personal resume

Degree Requirements

90 credits

  1. Credit Requirements: 21 graded credits of coursework with 9 credits of the CONJ series and 12 credits of graded elective courses. MSTP students receiving a PhD through the MCB program must have 18 graded credits, and should petition MCB directors to accept medical school courses in lieu of the remaining 3 credits.
  2. First Year: Complete most course requirements, select a permanent adviser, and establish a doctoral Supervisory Committee. A typical first-year class schedule includes six five-week modules of the MCB conjoint series, three lab rotations, three quarters of literature review and one or more graded elective classes. Following the third rotation, students generally pursue research.
  3. Second Year: Form doctoral Supervisory Committee by the end of December, define doctoral projects, take additional elective courses, participate as teaching assistant for a minimum of one quarter, complete either a second academic teaching assistantship or an alternative education experience, and hold first committee meeting.
  4. Third Year and Beyond: Complete the general examination. Focus on dissertation research. Final examination and dissertation.

Financial Aid

The MCB Program provides a stipend plus tuition and health benefits for the first year of study. Then students choose a doctoral committee, and subsequent years of support are provided by the department of the committee chair. Students maintaining satisfactory academic progress receive funding for the duration of their graduate training.