General Course Requirements for the PhD in Molecular Biology and Genetics  (MBG)

The PhD In Molecular Biology and Genetics is a challenging, research-intensive graduate program which prepares students for careers in academia or industry and emphasizes eukaryotic molecular and cellular biology with applications in genetics and molecular medicine.  Doctoral candidates receive intensive laboratory training, working closely with faculty on projects at the forefront of biomedical research.  The first year is spent taking the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences core curriculum and completing laboratory rotations to sample the research environment in laboratories of potential interest to them.  The core curriculum provides students with a solid foundation in the areas of molecular and cellular biology and genetics.  By the end of the first year, students begin thesis research, completing additional coursework tailored to their background and area of research in their second year.  Students also participate in the Center’s seminar series that covers the breadth of research areas in current molecular biology, molecular medicine, and genetics.

90 credit hours in didactic and laboratory course work is required.

10 credit hours in Biomedical Molecular Biology (IBS 7010) and Biomedical Cell Biology (IBS 7020) (see below)

4 credit hours of IBS Systems Biology (see below) or appropriate credit hours transferred from a Master of Science degree

1 credit hour in Integrity in Science (BMS 6010) 

13 credit hours of major course work designated for the MBG degree (see below)

32 credit hours of other courses, including Research Training in Molecular Biology and Genetics (MBG 7460) and Pre-Doctoral Candidacy Research (MBG 9990)

30 credit hours of Doctoral Candidate Status (MBG 9991, 9992, 9993, 9994) 

Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences (IBS).

All PhD students in the  School of Medicine   must complete 15 credit hours of IBS curriculum, including 2 IBS foundational courses worth 10 credits, 2 IBS Systems Biology courses worth 4 credi ts and 1 class on Integrity in Science worth 1 credit.
IBS 7010 Biomedical Molecular Biology (Cr.5) 
IBS 7020 Biomedical Cellular Biology (Cr.5) 

IBS Systems Biology Curriculum, including: 
IBS 7030 Functional Genomics (Cr.2); 
IBS 7810 Systems Neuroscience (Cr.2); 
IBS 7040 Cardiovascular, Renal and Respiratory Systems (Cr.2); 
IBS 7050 Biomedical Neurobiology (Cr.2); 
IBS 7060 Biomedical Endocrine and Reproductive Systems (Cr.2);
IBS 7080 Biomedical Gastrointestinal Systems and Nutrition (Cr.2); 
IBS 7090 Biomedical Immunology (Cr.2).

BMS 6010 Integrity in Science (Cr.1)

Molecular Biology and Genetics (MBG) Course Requirements  

During their first 2 years, MBG students enroll in 13 hours of the following core courses. Students who have chosen to concentrate in  Bioinformatics and  Computational Biology   or  Neuroscience  must also take additional courses (see below). 

MBG 7030 Functional Genomics and Systems Biology (IBS 7030) (Cr. 2)
MBG 7600 Advanced Human Genetics (Cr.4)
MBG 7050 Eukaryotic Genomics and Bioinformatics (Cr.2)
MBG 7091 Scientific Communication II (Cr.2)
MBG 8680 Advanced Topics Mini-Courses (Cr.3)

Concentrations - Students are not required to choose a concentration. Students that do choose a concentration must complete the following additional courses. 
Concentration in Bioinformatics and  Computational Biology   (8 credit hours)

MBG 7301 (CSC 7301) Bioinformatics I Programming Lab (Cr.1)
MBG 7401 (CSC 7400) Bioinformatics II (Cr.4)

Concentration in Neuroscience (7 credit hours) 
MBG 7810 Systems Neuroscience (IBS 7810) (Cr.2)
MBG 8000 Molecular Biology of Neurological Diseases (Cr.2)
MBG 8100 Developmental Neurobiology (Cr.3)

Timeline for Required Coursework. 

MBG students register for 10 credit hours in the Fall, 10 credit hours in the Winter and 2 credit hours in the Spring/Summer terms.

Year 1

Fall:  IBS 7010 (Cr.5), IBS 7020 (Cr.5)

Winter:  MBG 7030 (Cr.2), MBG 7600 (Cr.4), IBS Systems Biology including MBG 7810 for the Neuroscience Concentration (Cr.2), MBG 7460 (Cr.2)

Spring/Summer:  MBG 7050 (Cr.2)

Year 2

Fall:  MBG 8000 for the Neuroscience Concentration (Cr.2), CSC 7300 (Cr.3) and CSC 7301 (Cr.1) for the Bioinformatics and  Computational Biology  Concentration; MBG 8680 (up to Cr.3); MBG 7460 (to complete 10 Cr.)

Winter:  MBG 7091 (Cr.2); MBG 8680 (up to Cr.3); MBG 8100 for the Neuroscience Concentration (Cr.3); CSC 7400 (Cr.4) for the Bioinformatics and  Computational Biology  Concentration; MBG 7460 (to complete 10 Cr.)

Spring/Summer:  BMS 6010 (Cr.1); MBG 7460 (Cr.1)

Years 3 and 4

Students complete their written and oral Qualifying Examinations and are admitted to PhD candidacy. Students submit the written portion of the Qualifying Examination as a fpredoctoral fellowship application. Students submit their Ph.D. Prospectus to the Graduate School and register for 30 consecutive hours of Doctoral Candidate Status (MBG 9991-9994).

Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to retain their IBS Graduate Research Assistantship. A grade of B- in a required course is considered passing. A grade of C+ or lower in any required course is considered failing. More than two C grades in general course work will be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.

MBG 7460, Research Training and Laboratory Rotations

During the Fall and Winter terms of their first year students are required to complete three laboratory rotations. The goal of these rotations is to select a PhD advisor, develop working relationships with different faculty that will serve on milestone committees and learn scientific techniques. Students receive a grade for each rotation. The overall grade will be the average of the three rotation grades and will be credited to MBG 7460 in the Winter term. Correcting for holidays and Spring break, each rotation is approximately 10 weeks long. Rotation 1 begins on September 5 and ends on November 11. Rotation 2 begins on November 14 and continues through February 10. Rotation 3 runs from February 13 through April 27. 

Students are supported by Graduate Research Assistantships, which means that there are no teaching requirements. Students are therefore expected to spend the maximum amount of  time  in the lab, as determined by the faculty member. Near the end of each rotation students will write and submit a report on their research to the faculty member of the laboratory they are rotating in and the Graduate Director. Students also give a 10-minute oral presentation on each rotation in the Research Conference series. 

At the end of the third rotation all students will communicate their choice of PhD training laboratory to the respective faculty member and to the Graduate Director. All student-faculty matches must be approved by a vote of the  CMMG  faculty. 

Financial Support

IBS Graduate Research Assistantships provide 100% financial support for the first two years and 50% support for year 3. Support for 50% of year 3 and all of year 4 and beyond is the responsibility of the student and advisor.

CMMG  Seminars and Research Conferences

Students are required to attend all  CMMG  seminars and Research Conferences for the duration of their studies. Excuses in advance of an absence must be reported to the Graduate Director. 

Each student will be required to give one presentation each year in the Research Conference series beginning in the second year. No course credit is given for these presentations. Students must invite the members of their dissertation committee to attend their presentation, and must schedule a committee meeting to follow shortly after the presentation. The outcome of this meeting is reported to the Graduate Director using the dissertation meeting report form. 

Timeline For Advancing to PhD Candidacy

The official rules of the Graduate School for Candidate Status are: “Candidacy is reached after the Plan of Work has been approved, the final Qualifying Examination has been passed, approximately 50 credit hours have been completed, and the dissertation committee has been named.” 

In the Winter term of year 2 students take Scientific Communication II (MBG 7091). The scientific proposal written for MBG 7091 is to be based upon the student’s dissertation research and be written in NIH grant format. This class assignment will serve as the written Qualifying Examination, and must be approved by a committee composed of the student’s advisor and two other members of the  CMMG  faculty and be defended as the oral portion of the Qualifying Examination. Students are required to submit their written Qualifying Examination to an outside funding agency as a fellowship application.

After passing the Qualifying Examination the student attains PhD Candidate Status by converting the written Qualifying Examination into the Dissertation Prospectus and choosing a dissertation committee. The dissertation committee is composed of the Qualifying Examination committee plus one additional member from outside of the CMMG . 

After advancing to Candidate Status, students are required to enroll for 4 successive Fall/Winter terms as Candidate Status in MBG 9991, 9992, 9993, 9994. If the dissertation is not completed after 4 terms the student will enroll in Maintenance Status, MBG 9995. 


Required courses:
















IBS 7010*


Biomedical Molecular Biology





IBS 7020*


Biomedical Cell Biology





IBS 7030-90

Biomedical Systems Biology





MBG 7600*

Advanced Human Genetics





MBG 8680*

Computer Applications in MBG





MBG 7091*

Scientific Communication II





MBG 7460

Research Training



Every term



MBG 9991, 9992, 9993, 9994  Candidate Status**




BMS 6010*

Integrity in Science






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