Photobar-Academic Programs

Academic Programs

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:

  • Healthcare
  • 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

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
  • Advance 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
  • Neuronal development and RNA processing
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Structure and dynamics of nucleotide binding and membrane proteins

The graduate program offers three degree options: PhD, MS, and MA.  A five-year combined BS-MS program also is offered.

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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, our faculty serve as reviewers for several national and private granting agencies, and have published their research in leading journals, including: 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.
  • Modern Research Facilities.The Biological Sciences Department is located in the Dedman Life Sciences Building on the SMU campus, adjacent to Fondren Science Library, and the closely affiliated Departments of Chemistry and Computer Science.The department has state-of-the-art equipment, including two confocal microscopes, a flow cytometer, shared cell tissue culture facilities and qRT-PCR instrumentation.
  • Didactic lectures, scientific discourse and active research.The MCB program places great emphasis on training independent scientists.Students are taught to cover the breadth of modern molecular biology, yet maintain adequate time to follow up on areas of more specific interest in 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 at the end of the second year
  • Complete a research program
  • Writing and defending a monograph detailing proposed research

Admission Requirements

  • 3.00 Cumulative Grade Point Average and a combined GRE score of at least 300
  • 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 specifically designed for students seeking more instruction in Molecular and Cell Biology for professional or secondary school, including health professional (e.g. medical, or veterinary) schools.

  • Typically completed in 18-24 months
  • 30 semester hours required (1 year of full-time enrollment required)
  • Research program equivalent to three semester hours in lieu of a thesis
  • Admission requirements identical to PhD program listed above

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Application Process

Application to the MCB Graduate Program is done ONLINE through the SMU Office of Research and Graduate Studies.  Specific questions about the MCB graduate program should be directed to Professor Robert Harrod, Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Biological Sciences (rharrod@smu.edu).  General admission requirements include the following:

  • 3.00 Cumulative Grade Point Average and a combined GRE score of at least 300; and 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

Complete applications are reviewed by the Graduate Committee in late January – early February.  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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