Prospective students

BMBB offers a world-renowned educational experience in the heart of a thriving metropolitan area. Learn more about the program by exploring this website.

About the program

A typical BMBB cohort consists of ~12 students. At any given time, there are ~60 students in the program.

BMBB students may select one of four program divisions:

  • Chemical & structural biology
  • Metabolic & systems biology
  • Molecular biology
  • Synthetic biology & biotechnology

Most students complete a Ph.D. in five years by completing:

  • Coursework during years one and two
  • Original research during years two through five
  • Two teaching assistantships during years two through four
  • Ongoing participation in seminars and colloquia

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Degree options

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is the cornerstone of the BMBB program. See curriculum for more information. BMBB does not offer a free-standing M.S. degree.

Students may combine a Ph.D. with a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) through the M.D./Ph.D. program:

  • Students admitted to both BMBB and the Medical School can earn an M.D./Ph.D. through a specialized curriculum that integrates and facilitates exceptional training in both medicine and research.

Students may add a Masters of Science (M.S.) degree in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology to their Ph.D:

  • Students may collaborate with faculty in the college of Computer Science and Engineering to earn this lucrative M.S. without significantly extending required coursework


Please visit ClassInfo for available courses and degree requirements for the complete curriculum.

All students admitted to BMBB begin their first year in the Molecular, Cellular and Structural Biology (MCSB) program. This joint program between BMBB and Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics (MCDB&G) enables each incoming graduate student to explore both programs simultaneously, decipher individual strengths and interests, and select the program that best suits his or her career goals by the end of the year.

During this first year, faculty from both programs offer advanced coursework in genetics, biochemistry, and molecular, cell, and developmental biology. Students concurrently rotate through three faculty labs, each seven weeks long and acquaint themselves with the phenomenal facilities, technologies, and intellects on campus. This is how they begin the creative work of kindling ideas for their own novel research.

BMBB continually advances not only research know-how, but also the skill sets essential to scientific discourse. To begin with, by the end of their second year all students complete Written and Oral Preliminary Examinations in the style of an original fellowship proposal with feedback from their Graduate Committee. That means writing and re-writing proposals until they stand out—an absolutely critical competency. Students often use the products of this process to apply for fellowships and other funding opportunities.

By the end of year two, students finish their coursework and dive into research—but that doesn’t mean they are consigned to life only in lab. Students are also required to attend and lead seminars and journal groups, teach classes, and present their ideas to the community. By continually engaging with peers and Principal Investigators at the forefront of emerging fields, BMBB graduates hit the job market fully equipped to pursue their passions and succeed.


Departmental Seminars

Seminars and/or symposia are offered every week to help students and faculty keep pace with the rapid accumulation of new knowledge and techniques in modern biological research. Students are encouraged to meet with visiting scientists, and in some cases take responsibility for inviting and hosting the speakers.

Student Seminars

Beginning in the second year, BMBB students present at least one formal seminar per year on their own research. All faculty and students attend each week’s seminar, creating accountability towards thesis research for the entire graduate community.

Journal Clubs

Weekly journal clubs provide critical in-depth explorations of recent scientific literature for both faculty and students. All students are expected to participate regularly in at least one journal club.


Over 80 faculty members hold appointments in colleges across the University including:

  • The College of Biological Sciences
  • The Medical School
  • The College of Science and Engineering
  • The College of Agriculture

Faculty research interests include:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • AIDS

Financial support

All students receive an annual stipend ($32,000 as of Fall 2022). Top applicants may be awarded additional first-year fellowships from the department. BMBB students have also won nationally competitive pre-doctoral fellowships from:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • American Heart Association (AHA)