Molecular & Cell Biology Graduate Program

Tharun Sundaresan, Ph.D.
Director of MCB Graduate Program
Phone: (301) 295-9324

Rachel Cox, Ph.D.
Director of MCB Recruitment & Admissions
Phone: (301) 295-9791

Frank Shewmaker, Ph.D.
Assistant Director of MCB Recruitment & Admissions
Phone: (301) 295-3527

Tina Finley
Administrative Officer, MCB Graduate Program
Phone (301) 295-3642
FAX (301) 295-1996


USU Courtyard

MCB: Education

The Molecular and Cell Biology Ph.D. Program requires applicants to satisfy all University requirements for admission. Each applicant must complete a baccalaureate degree from an accredited academic institution before matriculation at USU. Strong undergraduate training in an area of science is required. Undergraduate experience must be in an appropriate scientific discipline [e.g. biology, biochemistry, chemistry, microbiology]. Required courses include college level chemistry (including organic chemistry), physics and mathematics.

Applicants must arrange for official transcripts of all prior college level courses they have taken, and their results on the Graduate Record Examination (taken within the previous two years) to be sent to the Office of Graduate Education. In addition, students may elect to submit in support of their application scores obtained on a Graduate Record Advanced Examination in one or more of the subject areas listed above. Applicants must also arrange for three letters of recommendation from persons who are familiar with their academic work to be sent to USUHS.

Students transferring into the Molecular and Cell Biology Program from other institutions may, with the approval of the USUHS Graduate Education Committee and the Molecular and Cell Biology Executive Committee, transfer academic credit to meet the Molecular and Cell Biology and Graduate Program requirements.

Student interviews are conducted by invitation of the MCB Recruitment and Admissions Committee. Most interviews are conducted during the Graduate Student Open House held late February, early March. This affords invited students the opportunity to visit the University, tour the facilities, meet other applicants, and students in the MCB and other graduate programs. Interviews are scheduled with faculty whose interests are most likely to correspond to those of the applicants. Students request to meet with a specific member of the faculty are almost always accommodated. For those applicants unable to attend the Open House, individual interviews may be arranged for other times. In addition, in those cases where a personal interview cannot be arranged, telephone interviews can be conducted at the discretion of the Recruitment and Admissions Committee.

First year students are required to take the following courses:

  • Graduate Biochemistry
  • Fundamentals of Immunology
  • Fundamentals of Bacterial Physiology and Genetics
  • Computers in Biomedical Research
  • Techniques in Cellular and Molecular Cell Biology
  • Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Genetics
  • Cell Biology
  • Journal Club
  • MCB Seminar
  • Introduction to Research

During their first summer students are required to complete at least two research rotations in laboratories of their choice. Upon completion of these rotations students may choose a thesis advisor (in whose laboratory and under whose guidance they will perform their dissertation research project and prepare the written thesis dissertation leading to the degree of doctor of philosophy), or elect to perform an additional rotation(s).

The second year of study is composed of a combination of laboratory research and elective courses. Electives include advanced, literature-based courses in:

  • Virology
  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Signal transduction
  • Cancer Biology
  • Molecular and neuroendocrinology

Participation in the Journal Club and Seminar Series, featuring speakers chosen as leaders in their fields from throughout the country is required for all students throughout their entire time in the program.