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MS Curriculum Requirements for MCDB

Students seeking an M.S. degree must take a total of 30 credits, with not less than 22 credits earned at ISU.  M.S. students must complete the same core curriculum as doctoral students but need to complete only two of the three components in molecular biology, cell biology, or developmental biology.

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 MS 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 MS students must take one course from two 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
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.

Fall semester students will enroll in 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, typically chosen from one of the following departments: Agronomy,  Animal Science; Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology; Biomedical Sciences; Chemistry; Chemical & Biological Engineering; Ecology, Evolution, & Organismal Biology; Entomology; Food Science & Human Nutrition; Genetics, Development & Cell Biology; Horticulture; Kinesiology; Physics & Astronomy; Plant Pathology; Veterinary Microbiology & Preventive Medicine; and Veterinary Pathology.  (Options 2 and 3 are subject to approval by the POS committee).   

Spring semester register for MCDB 698, Seminar in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. In seminar, students will make journal and research presentations and attend MCDB seminars. Three semesters of MCDB 698 are required. Beyond this requirement, students must enroll in additional semesters of MCDB 698 or enroll in seminar series as described above for fall semesters.

    2. One credit hour of ethics training. 

Ethic Course
GRST 565 Responsible Conduct of Research in Science & Engineering 1 credit Fall & Spring


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.