Molecular Biosciences Doctoral Programs

Molecular Biosciences is an interdisciplinary group of faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students who perform cutting edge research across a wide range of areas, including biochemistry, biophysics, structural biology, bioinformatics, cancer biology, genetics, genomics, immunology, microbiology, virology, neurobiology, molecular, cellular and developmental biology. Our researchers investigate fundamental biological and biomedical problems on all levels, from molecules to cells to organisms. Our research labs collaborate to solve complex questions using a range of approaches, and make use of the world-class core facilities at KU. The Department of Molecular Biosciences at the University of Kansas is an excellent environment for research and graduate training in biology.

The department offers Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Biochemistry and Biophysics, in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB), and in Microbiology. General information about the department, our faculty and students, and alumni of our graduate programs can be found on our website. Detailed information about admission to our graduate program, curricula, and financial support is also available.

Note that the various B.A. and B.S. undergraduate degree programs in biology are listed at the Biology Undergraduate Programs page.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Graduate Admission

The Department of Molecular Biosciences recognizes the importance of investing in the careers of future biomedical scientists. We welcome graduate students into our vibrant scientific community, where they have the opportunity to become outstanding researchers and prepare for an exciting future in science. 

All students seeking a graduate degree must submit a formal application to the Molecular Biosciences graduate program. Full information on the application process, and a link to apply online can be found on our website. Application materials for the Molecular Biosciences graduate program include:

  1. An application form and fee;
  2. 1 official copy of all academic transcripts (international students must also provide a translated copy);
  3. A CV or résumé (1 to 2 pages);
  4. Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores - General Exam;
  5. 3 letters of recommendation;
  6. A description of your research interests and professional goals (1 to 2 pages); and
  7. International applicants are required to have a Minimum iBT SPEAKING score of 22 AND all parts scores at least 20; or IELTS SPEAKING score of 8.  Scores should be no older than 2 years.

Applications should be received by December 15 are reviewed by the Molecular Biosciences Graduate Admissions Committee. Applications are evaluated based on several criteria, including GPA, GRE scores, strength of recommendation letters, previous research experience, and the fit of the applicant's career goals with our educational program. Students will be informed of admissions decisions as soon as possible, generally before mid-March.

All supporting documentation should be uploaded online when you apply. If this is not possible, please send documentation to:

John Connolly
Graduate Program Coordinator
The University of Kansas
Department of Molecular Biosciences
Haworth Hall
1200 Sunnyside Ave., Room 2034
Lawrence, KS 66045-7566

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Biochemistry and Biophysics

General Requirements for All Ph.D. Students

All general requirements must be fulfilled. Refer to each discipline for specific course requirements. General requirements include

  1. At least 3 individual laboratory rotations during the first two semesters of graduate study;
  2. Enrollment every semester in BIOL 701 Topics in: Molecular Biosciences Seminar;
  3. Completion of the following courses: BIOL 804 Scientific Integrity: Molecular Biosciences, BIOL 807 Graduate Molecular Biosciences, and BIOL 818 Techniques in Molecular Biosciences;
  4. A Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement (satisfied by completion of BIOL 818) and a Responsible Scholarship requirement (satisfied by BIOL 804);
  5. A minimum of 2 semesters of graduate teaching;
  6. A graduate committee established before the beginning of the fall semester of the second year;
  7. A minimum of 1 annual graduate committee meeting;
  8. A written preliminary examination in the form of a research proposal completed by the end of the spring semester of the second year of graduate study (BIOL 925);
  9. A comprehensive oral examination held no later than October 1 of the fall semester of the third year of graduate study (successful completion of the comprehensive oral examination admits the student to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree);
  10. A dissertation based on original research presented to the dissertation examination committee for evaluation and presented and defended in a formal public lecture; and
  11. Completion of the degree in 7 years.

Note: Contact your department or program for more information about research skills and responsible scholarship, and the current requirements for doctoral students. Current policies on Doctoral Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship are listed in the KU Policy Library.

First-year Curriculum for All Students

First-year courses include:

BIOL 701Topics in: _____ (Molecular Biosciences Seminar. Enrollment required every semester)1-3
BIOL 804Scientific Integrity: Molecular Biosciences1
BIOL 807Graduate Molecular Biosciences6
BIOL 818Techniques in Molecular Biosciences2
BIOL 985Advanced Study (fall and spring semester)1-10

Specific Ph.D. Requirements: Biochemistry and Biophysics

BIOL 750Advanced Biochemistry3
BIOL 901Graduate Seminar in Biochemistry and Biophysics (one semester)1
BIOL 918Modern Biochemical and Biophysical Methods4
BIOL 952Introduction to Molecular Modeling3

The graduate committee may recommend that additional courses be taken.

Microbiology

General Requirements for All Ph.D. Students

All general requirements must be fulfilled. Refer to each discipline for specific course requirements. General requirements include

  1. At least 3 individual laboratory rotations during the first two semesters of graduate study;
  2. Enrollment every semester in BIOL 701 Topics in: Molecular Biosciences Seminar;
  3. Completion of the following courses: BIOL 804 Scientific Integrity: Molecular Biosciences, BIOL 807 Graduate Molecular Biosciences, and BIOL 818 Techniques in Molecular Biosciences;
  4. A Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement (satisfied by completion of BIOL 818) and a Responsible Scholarship requirement (satisfied by BIOL 804);
  5. A minimum of 2 semesters of graduate teaching;
  6. A graduate committee established before the beginning of the fall semester of the second year;
  7. A minimum of 1 annual graduate committee meeting;
  8. A written preliminary examination in the form of a research proposal completed by the end of the spring semester of the second year of graduate study (BIOL 925);
  9. A comprehensive oral examination held no later than October 1 of the fall semester of the third year of graduate study (successful completion of the comprehensive oral examination admits the student to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree);
  10. A dissertation based on original research presented to the dissertation examination committee for evaluation and presented and defended in a formal public lecture; and
  11. Completion of the degree in 7 years.

Note: Contact your department or program for more information about research skills and responsible scholarship, and the current requirements for doctoral students. Current policies on Doctoral Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship are listed in the KU Policy Library.

First-year Curriculum for All Students

First-year courses include:

BIOL 701Topics in: _____ (Molecular Biosciences Seminar. Enrollment required every semester)1-3
BIOL 804Scientific Integrity: Molecular Biosciences1
BIOL 807Graduate Molecular Biosciences6
BIOL 818Techniques in Molecular Biosciences2
BIOL 985Advanced Study (fall and spring semester)1-10

Specific Ph.D. Requirements: Microbiology

Select at least four of the following five graduate courses:
Advanced Molecular and Cellular Immunology
Mechanisms of Host-Parasite Relationships
Advanced Bacterial Physiology
Advanced Molecular Virology
Advanced Molecular Genetics

The graduate committee may recommend that additional courses be taken.

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

General Requirements for All Ph.D. Students

All general requirements must be fulfilled. Refer to each discipline for specific course requirements. General requirements include

  1. At least 3 individual laboratory rotations during the first two semesters of graduate study;
  2. Enrollment every semester in BIOL 701 Topics in: Molecular Biosciences Seminar;
  3. Completion of the following courses: BIOL 804 Scientific Integrity: Molecular Biosciences, BIOL 807 Graduate Molecular Biosciences, and BIOL 818 Techniques in Molecular Biosciences;
  4. A Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement (satisfied by completion of BIOL 818) and a Responsible Scholarship requirement (satisfied by BIOL 804);
  5. A minimum of 2 semesters of graduate teaching;
  6. A graduate committee established before the beginning of the fall semester of the second year;
  7. A minimum of 1 annual graduate committee meeting;
  8. A written preliminary examination in the form of a research proposal completed by the end of the spring semester of the second year of graduate study (BIOL 925);
  9. A comprehensive oral examination held no later than October 1 of the fall semester of the third year of graduate study (successful completion of the comprehensive oral examination admits the student to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree);
  10. A dissertation based on original research presented to the dissertation examination committee for evaluation and presented and defended in a formal public lecture; and
  11. Completion of the degree in 7 years.

Note: Contact your department or program for more information about research skills and responsible scholarship, and the current requirements for doctoral students. Current policies on Doctoral Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship are listed in the KU Policy Library.

First-year Curriculum for All Students

First-year courses include:

BIOL 701Topics in: _____ (Molecular Biosciences Seminar. Enrollment required every semester)1-3
BIOL 804Scientific Integrity: Molecular Biosciences1
BIOL 807Graduate Molecular Biosciences6
BIOL 818Techniques in Molecular Biosciences2
BIOL 985Advanced Study (fall and spring semester)1-10

Specific Ph.D. Requirements: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

In addition to those courses listed above, all MCDB PhD students are required to take a minimum of three (3) graduate-level courses (numbered 600 and above) that are collectively worth a minimum of nine (9) credits. All such classes must be completed by the end of the second year of graduate study. A number of acceptable classes are offered each year.  Please see the graduate handbook for an up-to-date list of possible courses.