Program Description

Our highly collaborative graduate programs provide support for domestic and international students from a variety of educational and ethnic backgrounds. It is designed to provide world-class training in both the classroom and research laboratory to prepare students for the next stage of their careers. We offer Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in Biochemistry & Biophysics, Microbiology or Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology.

Overview and Timeline

Cohort-based courses

All incoming students to the Molecular Biosciences Graduate Program have a common first-semester curriculum consisting of research seminars (BIOL 701) and a courses in molecular biosciences (BIOL 807), ethics and research integrity (BIOL 804), and introduction to laboratory techniques (BIOL 818).


During the first year students will complete three, 9 week laboratory rotations that involve participation in a defined research project in different laboratories.  The primary goal is to identify an advisor for your dissertation. But rotations also provide an opportunity to discover a range of new, exciting research questions, learn new techniques from a range of fields, and find out what kind of lab environment best suits you.

After your first year, you, your advisor, and your dissertation committee will meet to discuss your coursework for the second year. This coursework will be a specialized curriculum to aid you in your dissertation research. Advanced courses are available in a variety of contemporary topics.

At the end of your second year, you will take a comprehensive oral examination. In order to be admitted for Doctoral Candidacy, students must pass this examination. The exam includes two parts 1) oral defense of an original research proposal and 2) and oral examination of general knowledge in your field of study.

In addition to aggressively pursuing your research goals in the laboratory, you will continue to participate in Journal and Research Clubs. You will attend regional, national and international meetings in the specialized area of your research. You will write papers for publication in peer reviewed journals, and your dissertation.

A Ph.D. degree is awarded upon successful completion of an oral defense of your dissertation work. This defense includes presentation of a public seminar that describes your original scientific investigations, and demonstration of the ability to complete creative and significant research at a private examination conducted by your dissertation committee.

Graduate students in Molecular Biosciences have an opportunity to choose from a large number of laboratories performing state of the art research in a wide variety of research disciplines.  To learn more, use the list below to select a research area that interests you.

All entering graduate students in the Department of Molecular Biosciences who are making satisfactory progress towards the degree will receive an annual stipend $25,081 either from a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) or a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA). Tuition will be provided by the University or by the student's mentor. The stipend is reviewed annually in comparison with competitive institutions and the cost of living in Lawrence, Kansas. Once doctoral students pass their qualifying examination, the stipend of the GRA will increase to $26,081.


Competitive Fellowships that provide support for Graduate Study are available for outstanding student.  For more information, please visit the websites for the individual programs:

Health Insurance

The University will pay 75% of your health insurance.

The department does not require that students first earn a Master's Degree before they seek the PhD. Thus, the department does not award many Master's Degrees and these are only available by special arrangement. Students interested in pursuing the Master's Degree should interact with the Director of Graduate Studies or a potential mentor to explore the possibilities before submitting an application. Information regarding the Master's Degree Program can be found on the Graduate School Program Profiles page.

The advisor serves as a mentor to provide support and direction for the performance of the dissertation research project.  They also assist in choosing a dissertation committee from the Department faculty.  This committee observes student’s progress through the program and offers advice and guidance when needed.  The committee also serves as the examining committee for oral examinations for candidacy to the PhD program.