Skip to Content

Search: {{$root.lsaSearchQuery.q}}, Page {{$}}


1. Why should I apply to MCDB?

The MCDB department offers the most unique breadth of research opportunities at UM --from microbes, to plants, to invertebrate and vertebrate animals-- in a cohesive department with exceptional core faculty. A unit this size is able to provide a supportive and nurturing atmosphere. Interactions with other students and faculty in the department provide frequent and informal collaborations. With few and flexible course requirements, students have a greater opportunity to learn a wide diversity of topics and a unique range in life science research than may be the case in larger programs..

2. How is the PIBS program related to the MCDB department?

MCDB is one of the 14 units in the Program in Biological Sciences (PIBS). Most of the graduate students in MCDB apply directly to the MCDB program. These are typically students interested in the ongoing research in MCDB laboratories. The MCDB department's active faculty members explore a range of biological issues in biochemistry, cell biology, development, microbiology, neurobiology, endocrinology, structural biology, and plant molecular biology.  PIBS students often have a broader interest in pursuing rotations both within MCDB and in other units. After the first year, all students affiliate with a home department and there is no difference between these student cohorts. Each year MCDB enrolls 12-18 Ph.D. students and 6-8 MS students. MCDB has a total of 100 graduate students including ~80 PhD and ~20 MS students. In addition, MCDB labs mentor another 30-40 Ph.D. students who are part of one of the other 14 units in the PIBS program but chose to join an MCDB lab for their dissertation research.

3. If accepted into the Ph.D. program how will I pay for it?

All of our Ph.D. students are fully funded until they are awarded their degrees.  Financial support provides a yearly stipend, and covers the cost of tuition, health care and dental insurance for the student, spouse and dependents.

4. What are the teaching opportunities?

All Ph.D. students teach two semesters as part of the Ph.D. requirements.

5. When do I choose my research laboratory?

Students perform at least two laboratory rotations. Many undertake three or four rotations prior to selecting a research mentor. Most students rotate for an entire semester during the fall term. In the winter term, many students schedule full semester rotations; others schedule half-semester rotations. Half-semester rotations must be approved by the relevant faculty members. Domestic students are allowed to begin rotations during the summer.

6. When will I select my research mentor?

The earliest date for students to make a laboratory decision is March 15th of their first year. It is a mutual agreement between student and research mentor. Many students prefer to do additional rotations in the spring and/or summer to allow for a broader research experience prior to committing to a dissertation project.

7. What is the typical duration of doctoral training?

The average time to degree completion is 5.5 years

8. What is the typical duration of doctoral training?

Immediately after graduation:

  • 62% of graduates pursue Postdoctoral training/fellowships
  • 18% use their degrees for careers including consulting, patent law, grant administration education administration and other professional activities.
  • 15% work directly for companies in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries after graduation.
  • 3% are hired as tenure track faculty members.