PhD Curriculum Requirements for MCDB

Ph.D. candidates majoring in MCDB must take at least 72 graduate credits.  These 72 credits include the core course requirements (below) and applicable research credits earned.  Credits taken during a student's M.S. program in MCDB at Iowa State University may count towards their Ph.D. in MCDB.

Additional coursework for both Ph.D. and M.S. degrees may be selected by the student in consultation with his/her Program of Study (POS) Committee to meet departmental requirements and to satisfactorily prepare the student for their research project.

Graduate credits of B or better earned at another institution may be transferred at the discretion of the POS Committee and with the approval of the MCDB Program and the ISU Graduate College.

Additional information relating to credits required for graduate degrees can be found in the ISU Graduate College Handbook


MCDB PhD Core Curriculum requirements include:

Two semester sequence of Biochemistry (either BBMB404/405 or 500-level sequence)

BBMB 404 Biochemisry I 3 credits Fall
BBMB 405 Biochemistry II 3 credits Spring
Students with a biochemistry background can elect to take the 500-level sequence
BBMB 504 Amino Acids and Proteins 2 credits Fall
BBMB 505 Bioenergetics and Metabolism 2 credits Fall
BBMB 506 Membrane Biochemistry 2 credits Spring
BBMB 507 Biochemistry of Nucleic Acids 2 credits Spring

All PhD students must take one course from each of the following areas: A) Cellular Biology, B) Developmental Biology, and C) Molecular Biology.

A) Cellular Biology Course Options
GDCB 528 Advances in Molecular Cell Biology 3 credits Alt. Fall, Even Years
BMS 575 Cell Biology 3 credits Fall
BBMB 645 Molecular Signaling 2 credits Alt. Spring, Odd Years
GDCB 545 Plant Molecular, Cell, & Developmental Biology*See Footnote 3 credits Alt. Fall, Odd Years


B) Developmental Biology Course Options
GDCB 533 Advances in Developmental Biology 3 credits Alt. Fall, Odd Years
GDCB 545 Plant Molecular, Cell, & Developmental Biology*See Footnote 3 credits Alt. Fall, Odd Years
C) Molecular Biology Course Options
MICRO 502 Microbial Genetics & Genomics 3 credits Alt. Fall, Even Years
GDCB 511 Molecular Genetics 3 credits Spring
VMPM 608 Molecular Virology 3 credits Alt. Fall, Even Years
BBMB 676 Biochemistry of Gene Expression in Eucaryotes 2 credits Alt. Spring, Even Years
GDCB 545 Plant Molecular, Cell, & Developmental Biology*See Footnote 3 credits

Alt. Fall,
Odd Years

*Footnote: GDCB 545 - Plant Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology may be used to fulfill any one of the required component areas.  This course may only be used once.


In addition to the above course requirements, MCDB graduate students are required to take:

    1. Two semesters of research seminar every year.

        One of these seminars MUST be MCDB 698, Seminar in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. In seminar, students will make journal and research presentations and attend MCDB seminars. Subject to approval by the POS committee, acceptable alternatives to fulfill the second seminar requirement include 1) a "for credit" research seminar series offered by the student's home department, 2) a workshop comprised of a research seminar series, or 3) another ISU research seminar series.   


    2. One credit hour of ethics training. 


Possible Ethics Courses Include
GRST 565 Responsible Conduct of Research in Science & Engineering 1 credit Fall & Spring
V PTH 554 Ethics in Scientific Research & Writing 1 credit Alt. Spring, Even Years

Not required, but highly recommended for MCDB graduate students:

BCB 544 Introduction to Bioinformatics 4 credits Fall

Non-native English speakers must pass the English Requirement as established by the university.  Depending on the results of this exam additional courses may be required to meet English proficiency standards. 

MCDB graduate students need to teach one semester as part of their training for an advanced degree.   Students whose first language is not English must take and pass the Oral English Certification Test (OECT) to be eligible to teach.