Molecular and Cell Biology

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Molecular and Cell Biology offers a program of graduate study leading to the PhD in molecular and cell biology. This program provides advanced training in the research methods and concepts of the study of the molecular structures and processes of cellular life. The training is intellectually focused, but at the same time offers an unusually wide range of opportunities for varied disciplinary specialization.

The teaching and research activities of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) concern the molecular structures and processes of cellular life and their roles in the function, reproduction, and development of living organisms.

This agenda covers a broad range of specialized disciplines, including biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, structural biology, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, cell biology, developmental biology, tumor biology, microbiology, immunology, molecular medicine, and neurobiology.

The types of living organisms from which the departmental faculty draws its working materials are as diverse as its disciplinary specializations, ranging from viruses and microbes through plants, roundworms, annelids, arthropods, and mollusks to fish, amphibia, and mammals.

The faculty is organized into five divisions: Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology; Cell Biology, Development, and Physiology; Genetics, Genomics, Evolution, and Development; Immunology and Molecular Medicine; and Molecular Therapeutics.

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Admission to the University

*GRE score submission is not required for application to the MCB program.

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application and steps to take to apply can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

Where to apply?

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

  • Normative time to advancement is 2 years
  • Normative time in candidacy is 3.5 years
  • Total normative time is 5.5 years

Course Requirement by Year in Program

  • 1st Year
    • MCB 200A & 200B
    • MCB 291 A & 291B
    • MCB 293A
    • MCB 293C & 293D
    • Two advanced topics courses
  • 2nd Year
    • MCB 375
    • MCB 292
  • 3rd Year
    • MCB 380
    • MCB 292
    • MCB 290
  • 4th Year and Beyond
    • MCB 292
    • MCB 290
    • MCB 293R

Other Requirements

  • 1st-author or co-1st-author publication
  • Individual Development Plan (IDP) in 1st, 3rd, and 5th years
  • Annual thesis committee meetings after advancement to candidacy (3rd year and beyond)


MCELLBI 200AFundamentals of Molecular and Cell Biology3
MCELLBI 200BFundamentals of Molecular and Cell Biology3
MCELLBI 291AIntroduction to Research2-12
MCELLBI 291BIntroduction to Research2-12
MCELLBI 293AResearch Seminar2
MCELLBI 293CResponsible Conduct in Research1
MCELLBI 293DRigor and Reproducibility in Research1
MCELLBI 293RResponsible Conduct of Research Refresher1
MCELLBI 375Pedagogy for MCB Graduate Student Instructors2
MCELLBI 380Teaching of Molecular and Cell Biology (2 courses)1-2
Two MCELLBI advanced topics electives6-8
MCELLBI 290Graduate Seminar (3)1
MCELLBI 292Research3-12


Molecular and Cell Biology

Contact Information

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

497 Weill Hall

Phone: 510-643-3406

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Department Co-Chair

Rebecca Heald, PhD

311A Weill Hall

Phone: 510-643-5493

Department Co-Chair

Matt Welch, PhD

301A Weill Hall

Phone: 510-643-9019

Head Graduate Advisor

Ellen Lumpkin, PhD

351D Weill Hall

Phone: 510-664-5199

Graduate Advising

Graduate Affairs Office

299 Weill Hall

Phone: 510-642-5252

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