Photobar-Academic Programs

Department of Biological Sciences

Academic Programs

The Department of Biological Sciences has academic programs for both graduate and undergraduate students in Biology and Biochemistry.

An Undergraduate Education in Biology is an excellent foundation for careers in the following:

  • Allied health (Veterinary Medicine, Opthalmology, etc.)
  • Ph.D. programs ranging from Biotechnology, Drug Development, Biochemistry, Physiology, and Environmental Sciences
  • STEM K-12 Education

Experiences include the following:

  • Opportunities to work in faculty research labs
  • Laboratory courses which integrate on-going research into a hands-on curriculum
  • Seminars and lectures from visiting scientists
  • Study abroad programs

Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Research Program l PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology l MS in Molecular and Cellular Biology l MA in Molecular and Cellular Biology l

Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Research Program

The graduate program in Molecular and Cellular Biology prepares students for careers in modern biological research. The diverse faculty ensures broad training that includes coursework and research experience in:

  • Molecular biology of prokaryotes and eukaryotes
  • Biochemistry and structural biology
  • Advanced cell biology
  • Epigenetic regulation of gene expression
  • Genetics and molecular biology of model organisms and human pathogens
  • Virology and cancer biology
  • Mechanisms of aging and senescence
  • Molecular and cellular biology of parasites
  • Biogenesis and function of intestinal microvilli
  • Structure and dynamics of nucleotide binding and membrane proteins

The graduate program offers three degree options: Ph.D., M.S., and M.A. In addition, a new 5-year combined B.S.-M.S. program offers undergraduates an accelerated path to a career in research.

Advantages of graduate research at SMU:

  • Our faculty are nationally recognized for their research. Faculty members serve on National Institutes of Health Study Section review panels and are funded by the NIH. In addition, faculty serve on review panels for the National Science Foundation and receive funding from the NSF. Journal publications in the last five years include Nature, Science, Molecular Cell, Oncogene, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Vaccine, Genetics, PNAS, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Methods in Enzymology and Biochemistry.
  • New, modern research facility. The Biology Department is located in the new Dedman Life Sciences facility on the SMU campus, adjacent to Fondren Science Library, and the closely affiliated Departments of Chemistry and Computer Science.
  • Didactic lectures, scientific discourse and active research. The MCB program places great emphasis on training independent scientists. Students are taught in small groups to cover the breadth of modern biology, yet maintaining adequate time to follow up on areas of more specific interest to their own research.
  • Supportive, collegial environment. Frequent interactions and open lines of communication are central to the success of a research department. From the first day onward, students meet with each faculty member the first week to 'break the ice' and foster long-term, scientific relationships. Lab rotations during the first semester introduce students to the research topics and techniques employed in various labs ensuring that students make well informed decisions as to the lab in which they will pursue their thesis project.
  • Financial Support. The Department of Biological Sciences offers numerous tuition scholarships, teaching assistantships and faculty research assistantships.

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PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology

A research-intensive program typically requiring four to five years to complete that includes:

  • 60 credit hours
  • Two year full-time residency
  • Passing a qualifying examination
  • Complete a research program
  • Writing and defending a monograph detailing proposed research
Admission Requirements
  • 3.00 Grade Point Average and/or 1200 GRE
  • Score for the Biology, or the Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology subject test is encouraged
  • 6 hours of calculus or statistics
  • 16 hours of chemistry including 8 hours of organic chemistry
  • 4 or more hours of advanced credit in biology

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MS in Molecular and Cellular Biology

Directed at research oriented students, typically requiring two years to complete, that includes:

  • 30 semester hours (1 year of full-time enrollment) and a research project
  • Preparation, presentation and defense of a research proposal
  • Admission Requirements identical to PhD program listed above.

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MA in Molecular and Cellular Biology

Program designed for students seeking more instruction in Molecular and Cell Biology for professional or secondary school.

  • Typically completed in 18-24 months
  • 36 semester hours required (1 year of full-time enrollment required)
  • Research program equivalent to three semester hours in lieu of a thesis

Application Process

Application to the MCB Graduate program is done ONLINE through the Graduate Studies Office of Dedman College at SMU. Specific questions about the MCB graduate program should be directed to Professor Pia Vogel, in the Department of Biology (pvogel@smu.edu). General admission requirements including the following:

  • 3.00 Grade Point Average and/or 1200 GRE Score for the Biology, or the Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology subject test is encouraged
  • 6 hours of calculus or statistics
  • 16 hours of chemistry including 8 hours of organic chemistry
  • 4 or more hours of advanced credit in biology
  • International applicants where English is not the primary language MUST take the TOEFL test.

Applicant Review Criteria

  • Undergraduate record; GPA in relevant coursework GRE scores, including the Biology, or the Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology subject test.
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Demonstrated laboratory experience strongly encouraged.

High quality applicants that fulfill most or all of the above criteria are then invited to visit and interview at the Department of Biology. Students are notified of their acceptance typically around mid April.

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