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Molecular & Cellular Biology Concentration with Plant Biology M.S.

With the M.S. in Plant Biology


All new students should first consult the Memo of Understanding for details of the MS in MCB.

A student may change advisers, but only after approval of the current and potential adviser and the Graduate Chair. If a student leaves his or her adviser, for whatever reason, he or she must find another Plant Biology MCB adviser within four weeks or before the start of the following semester.

An unadvised student cannot remain in the graduate program beyond this time limit.

Degree Requirements for the M.S. with a Concentration in Molecular and Cellular Biology

A minimum of 20 graded hours of coursework at the graduate level, with at least 10 credit hours in PBIO, and excluding seminar, supervised study, colloquium, and research. Courses will be determined by the student and the adviser and approved by the Master’s Advisory Committee.

Successful completion of:

  • Biochemistry (CHEM 5901 or CHEM 5890)
  • Biological Research and Science Ethics (PBIO 5170)

One course in:

  • MCB 7200 Molecular Biology (3)
  • MCB 7300 Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory (3)
  • PBIO 5310 Cell Biology or MCB 7600 Advanced Cell Biology (3)

Courses that are recommended:

  • PBIO 5010 Lab in Cell and Molecular Plant Physiology (Lab CaMPP) (2) PBIO 5150 Statistical Methods in Plant Biology (4)
  • PBIO 5160 Problem Solving with Bioinformatics Tools (3) PBIO 5180 Writing in the Life Sciences (3)
  • PBIO 8700 Biostatistics II (3)

A minimum of 10 hours of research (PBIO 6940).

Successful completion of two semesters of MCB 7410 (Seminar in MCB) each year.

A student must maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in the MCB concentration and to graduate. If a student receives a grade of C+ or lower in more than two courses, he or she will be terminated from the MCB concentration.

  • The student should inform his or her adviser and the Graduate Chair (PBIO & MCB) before withdrawing from a course because it may impact departmental support.

Completion of a research thesis with the intent of publication in a peer-reviewed journal and successfully defend the thesis orally.

Master’s Advisory Committee and Proposal

The Master’s Thesis Advisory Committee will contain four faculty members: the adviser (as chair) and at least one additional member from the home department. At least three committee members must be faculty in Molecular and Cellular Biology, and at least one committee member must be outside the student’s home department.

No later than the end of the second semester (excluding summers), the thesis committee must approve the research proposal by signing the PBIO Proposal Defense Form. The form should be presented to the Plant Biology Graduate Chair along with a hard copy of the proposal.

If the research project changes substantively (i.e., hypothesis or experimental design), the student must submit an updated proposal and seek approval of the committee.

M.S. (MCB Concentration) Written Comprehensive Examination

Must be completed before the end of the third academic semester.

  • Failure to take the exam on time will likely result in termination of funding and/or dismissal from the program.
  • An examination may be repeated no more than one time. Retakes must be completed by end on fourth semester. Failure to pass all examination after any second attempts will result in termination in the MCB program.

Eligibility to take the Comprehensive Examination:

  • An approved research proposal.
  • Good academic standing.

The Master’s Advisory Committee will provide the questions for the exam.

  • The student should contact his or her examiners the semester before the exam to discuss expectations, exam format, and to receive reading assignments.
  • The student will be notified in writing the results within one week of the exam.