Prospective students

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

The program is committed to providing equal access to educational opportunities for students and scholars with various economic disadvantages, disabilities, special talents, leadership qualities and for those who come from various ethnic and racial backgrounds. A diverse student body enriches graduate education by providing a multiplicity of views and perspectives that enhance research, teaching and the development of new knowledge. We recognize the mission, policies, and practices exhibited by the University of Minnesota Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action and the Office of the Vice President and Vice Provost for Equity and Diversity.

About the program

A typical MCDB&G class consists of ~10 students. At any given time, there are ~50 students in the program. The application deadline is December 1st. Please see the admissions website to apply.

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 MCDB&G program. See curriculum for more information. MCDB&G does not offer a freestanding M.S. degree in research, only a Ph.D. degree. 

Students may combine a Ph.D. or a Master of Science (M.S.) degree with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree, or Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree through the following joint degree programs:

  • J.D./M.S. or J.D./Ph.D.
    Students admitted to both MCDB&G and the Law School may earn a J.D. and either an M.S. or Ph.D. (depending on career objectives) in less time, with more academic support, and potentially more financial assistance. This unique program cannot be found anywhere else in the nation.
  • M.D./Ph.D.
    Students admitted to both MCDB&G 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.

MCDB&G PhD/Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Master's

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. 


Over 70 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:

  • Human Genetic Diseases
  • Cancer Therapeutics & Gene Therapy
  • Neurodegeneration & Aging
  • Computational Biology & Bioinformatics
  • Advanced Genetics & Genomics
  • Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine
  • Developmental Birth Defects & Sex Determination
  • Muscular Dystrophy & Neuromuscular Diseases


All students admitted to MCDB&G begin their first year in the Molecular, Cellular and Structural Biology (MCSB) program. This joint program between MCDB&G and Biochemistry, Molecular Biology & Biophysics (BMBB) 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. The MCDB&G curriculum also incorporates instruction in areas of rapid advancement, particularly in Computational Biology and Genomics. The curriculum comprises courses in Cellular Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Advanced Molecular Genetics and Genomics, Cell Biology and Development, Computational Genomics, and Computer Programming in Biology. Elective courses provide an education tailored for each student depending on the chosen thesis research in areas such as Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, Human Genetic Diseases, Muscle Diseases, Cancer and Gene Therapy, Genome Engineering, Neurodegeneration and Aging.

Students rotate through three faculty labs 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.

MCDB&G continually advances not only research know-how, but also the skill sets essential to scientific discourse. To begin with, all students complete a unique Grant Writing course at the end of year one. That means writing and re-writing proposals until they stand out—an absolutely critical competency. Students often use the products of this course 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, MDCB&G graduates hit the job market fully equipped to pursue their passions and succeed.

Financial support

All students receive an annual stipend of $34,000 (as of fall 2023). Tuition and student fees are paid by the advisor. Top applicants may be awarded additional first-year fellowships from the department. MCDB&G students have also won nationally competitive pre-doctoral fellowships from:

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


Departmental Seminars

Approximately 20 seminars and/or symposia are typically offered each 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, MCDB&G 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. 

Student resources