Section VIII: Doctoral Degree - General Information

All requirements in Section VII (Doctoral Degree Programs) of the Graduate School Handbook also apply to candidates for MCDB Doctoral Degrees.

MCDB graduate study emphasizes an integrative approach to the discipline, encompassing the molecular, cellular, and organismic levels of organization.  Following successful completion of the program, students are prepared to pursue research as an independent investigator.  Doctoral students undergo training in a core of courses in molecular biology, cell biology, developmental biology, and biochemistry.  Elective courses are also required.  A typical graduate program begins with a course-intensive first year of study, followed by some additional coursework in the second year.  Students must complete the doctoral candidacy examination by the end of the second year.  Students also actively participate in a seminar program.  Additional studies are focused on research and preparation of the doctoral dissertation.  For further information, see Appendix A.2.

Research areas are determined by faculty research programs.  Faculty research interests are listed on their web pages that can be accessed directly or through the MCDB web site. 


Doctoral students must complete a minimum of 80 semester credits in graduate level courses.  This includes the core courses, elective courses, and thesis research.


To be eligible for the Ph.D. Candidacy Examination, MCDB students must complete the core course program listed below.  It is not necessary to complete elective courses before taking the exam.  Students are expected to complete the Candidacy Examination by the end of their second year of study.  For information about the nature of the exam, see Section VIII-A.


Students normally complete core courses during their first year.  For additional information see Appendix A1.

  • Molecular Genetics/Biochemistry 5701DNA Transactions and Gene Regulation (Autumn Semester, 4 credits)
  • Molecular Genetics 5705Advances in Cell Biology (Spring Semester, 2 credits) 
  • Molecular Genetics 5715Developmental Genetics (Spring Semester, 2 credits) 
  • Biochemistry/Molecular & Cellular Biochemistry 6761:  Macromolecular Structure and Function (Autumn Semester, 3 credits)


Students must take at least three (3) elective courses, totaling at least six (6) credit hours, from an extensive list of courses in molecular genetics, cell biology, developmental biology, microbiology, immunology, biochemistry, and related areas.  Only letter-graded courses can be approved electives; courses graded S/U cannot meet the elective requirement.  A list of approved electives can be found in Appendix B.  Students may petition the Graduate Studies Committee for approval of other courses not found on this list.  The petition should include a brief rationale for taking the course, signed by the student and the student's advisor, as well as the course syllabus.

Once students have selected a thesis advisor, selection of elective courses should be made with the knowledge and approval of the advisor. 

Students who have taken any of the required or elective courses prior to enrolling in the MCDB graduate program (for example as OSU undergraduates), or their equivalents at other universities, may petition the Graduate Studies Committee to have specific course requirements waived.


International students may also be responsible for ESL course requirements as determined by the post-admission placement examination.  International students may also be responsible for Spoken English course requirements for teaching certification.


Students are required to participate in student seminar in years one through three.  They also attend the Molecular Life Sciences Seminar Series co-sponsored by MCDB and the Ohio State Biochemistry Program (OSBP).  Additional information can be found in Appendix D.


Required in Autumn Semester of the first year, this weekly series provides useful information about advisor selection, fellowship opportunities, time management, career opportunities, presentation strategies, and peer review.  It also includes extensive training in ethics and responsible conduct of research.


Most students perform three half-semester (7-week) lab rotations before selecting a research advisor during Spring Semester in the first year.  For further information see Section VII.



rev:  10.24.17