UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Division of Mathematical, Life, and Physical Sciences
Life Sciences & Technology Building, Rm. 3308
Telephone: (805) 893-3512
Undergraduate Information (805) 893-5191
Graduate Information (805) 893-8499
Undergraduate e-mail: mcdb-ugrad@lifesci.ucsb.edu
Graduate e-mail: mcdb-gradadv@lifesci.ucsb.edu
Website: lifesci.ucsb.edu/MCDB
Department Chair:  Frederick Dahlquist

Graduate Program

Graduate-level research in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) spans a wide range of topics including biochemistry, cell biology, cell physiology, developmental biology, gene regulation, genetics, immunology, microbiology, molecular marine biology, neuro­biology, pharmacology, plant molecular biology, plant physiology, and virology. The department offers graduate studies leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. Candidates for graduate degrees must meet university degree requirements found in the chapter, “Graduate Education at UCSB,” as well as departmental requirements.


In addition to fulfilling university requirements for admission to graduate status described in the chapter “Graduate Education at UCSB,” the applicant will normally hold a bachelor’s degree in biology or a biological specialty area (such as biochemistry, cell and developmental biology, microbiology, molecular biology, physiology, or genetics). Undergraduate class work should include one year each of general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, calculus, and physics. Upper-division courses should include biochemistry, genetics, and additional specialized electives relevant to preparation for graduate work in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology.

The general test (verbal, quantitative, and writing) of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required of all applicants. One of the three following subject tests is encouraged, but not required: biochemistry, cell and molecular biology; biology; or chemistry. A GRE subject test is not required but may be submitted if desired to strengthen an application.

Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Exceptions to this requirement will be considered for those students who have completed 2 years as an undergraduate or graduate at an institution whose primary language of instruction is English. The minimum score for consideration is 550 Paper-Based Test (PBT), 80 Internet-Based Test (IBT) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Overall Band score of 7 or higher (if applicable). Tests must be taken within two years of application to UCSB.

The deadline for applications is usually in early to mid December. See the MCDB website for the exact date and further details about admissions and the program: https://www.mcdb.ucsb.edu/grad. Further details on admission to the MCDB graduate programs can be seen on the website at lifesci.ucsb.edu/MCDB.

Master of Science—Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (Requirements - PDF)

Master of Science—Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology - Emphasis in Pharmacology and Biotechnology (Requirements - PDF)

Doctor of Philosophy—Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (Requirements - PDF)

Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Biomolecular Science and Engineering

For details, see catalog entry under Biomolecular Science and Engineering.

Optional Interdisciplinary Emphases

Students pursuing a doctoral degree in MCDB may petition to add the following Optional Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Emphases: Bioengineering.

Requirement sheets for each emphasis may be found on this page.