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The Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program stresses solving fundamental problems of biology through cellular and molecular approaches.

The flexible program of study is designed to provide excellent training and research opportunities individually tailored to each student's needs. A well-qualified student can usually complete the doctoral degree program in five to six years.

Financial Support

During your first academic year in the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program (September 2020-May 2021), you will be fully supported through an ICMB Fellowship, which includes an annual stipend of $32,500 (as of fall 2020), full tuition and fees, and health insurance. Additional support for students in the CMB Program may come from a combination of research assistantships, teaching appointments, University Fellowships and CMB Endowments.

After the first year, financial support is coordinated with the permanent laboratory and students are employed as graduate research assistants or as teaching assistants. Continuing students are also eligible for a wide array of competitive fellowships that are awarded on the basis of teaching performance or academic excellence. Funding for travel to professional conferences is also available.

Program Outline

1. Three lab rotations during the first academic year. The rotations provide students the opportunity to explore different research interests prior to the selection of a Ph.D. supervisor. 

2.Coursework. All students are required to take 4 core courses during their first year and then additional graduate level coursework specific to their CMB Track.

3. ICMB Seminar Series: Students should attend the seminars held weekly. These seminars give students the opportunity to participate in discussions with faculty and peers about various topics and research problems.

4. Teaching. In the fall or spring of the second year, students are required to fulfill a one long-semester teaching assistant requirement.  A TA Training Workshop is offered annually and must be completed prior to the first TA-ship.

5. Qualifying Exam. To be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree, the student must complete preliminary examination in the spring of the second year. The exam consists of a presentation and defense of a National Institutes of Health grant proposal based off of the student's research. A Grant Writing and Presentation Skills course is required in the fall of the second year to help the student prepare for the qualifying exam.

6. Track specific requirements. All CMB students join a specific CMB track at the start of their second year. Each track has specific course requirements that must be fulfilled. Requirements vary, and tracks typically require 1-2 additional elective requirements.

7. Annual retreat. The Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology hosts an annual retreat in the Texas Hill Country. The three-day event is an exciting opportunity for faculty, post-docs, and graduate students to meet and discuss science in an informal setting.

8. Conduct independent, original research under the direction of a faculty member; the results of this research constitute the dissertation.

Additional Information

Prospective students are encouraged to review the Program Requirements and Timeline and CMB Graduate Student Handbook for detailed information about the doctoral degree program.


If you have any questions please check our FAQs or feel free to contact the Admissions Coordinator.