Prospective Students

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) is an interdisciplinary major that allows graduate students to explore and discover the mechanisms of life processes.  We offer a wide range of graduate research opportunities in plant, animal, and microbial systems at the cellular and molecular levels.  The collaborative research efforts of over 70 (and growing) faculty, in fifteen cooperating departments, provides an outstanding environment for graduate education and intellectual development.

Prospective students are admitted by the MCDB program following receipt of a complete application and after review by the MCDB Admissions Committee.  Students are admitted in one of two ways: 1) via participation in research rotations with several faculty of interest before deciding on a major professor and laboratory, or 2) by direct admission into a specific lab and department.  Ph.D. students typically enter via rotation and M.S. students typically enter via a direct admit.  Current ISU graduate students may be admitted as a co-major or minor with MCDB.

After completing a balanced program of classroom study with a major body of independent research that contributes to significant new knowledge in the life sciences, the student is awarded a doctor of philosophy or master of science degree in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the MCDB program are highly qualified researchers with a solid foundation in molecular, cellular and developmental biological sciences.  Moreover, they have the ability to think and perform research independently.  This breadth and depth of training provides graduates with a wide field of post-graduate career opportunities.  Many of our doctoral graduates choose research and/or teaching careers at major universities, medical schools, or small colleges.  Other graduates choose positions in agricultural or pharmaceutical companies, or government laboratories.

Admission Requirements

Applicants are expected to have an undergraduate or advanced degree in one of the basic or applied life sciences.  Before entering the MCDB program, prospective students should have a strong background in the biological sciences, typically including:

  • Biological sciences, two years
  • Organic Chemistry, one year
  • Physics, one year
  • Mathematics, through one year of calculus

Applicants may be admitted without one or more of the above requirements if, in the judgment of the MCDB Admissions Committee, any deficiency can be remedied by additional courses within the graduate program.

As this is a research-based graduate program, prior research experience is highly encouraged for any prospective student. 

The MCDB program also requires the submission of official GRE general exam scores showing both raw scores and percentiles for each of the three categories of the exam: verbal, quantitative and analytical writing.  GRE subject tests in biology or biochemistry are to the applicant's advantage, though not required. 

The TOEFL or IELTS exam is required of non-native English speakers that have not obtained a degree from a United States college or university.  The English proficiency minimum for these exams are as follows:

TOEFL Paper (PBT) 580
TOEFL Internet (iBT) 85
IELTS 7.0