Ph.D. Admissions into MCDB

Read why one student chose MCDB (Rackham blog post)

There are three paths to admission to Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology.

Application to the MCDB Department

The majority of students apply directly to the MCDB department (MCDB general). These students conduct at least 2 research rotations in MCDB laboratories and typically choose a thesis laboratory by the end of their second semester. This application pathway is open to both domestic and international students.

To apply to the MCDB department, follow the directions for applications on the Rackham Admissions site.

Application to Study in a Specific MCDB Laboratory

On occasion, students apply to MCDB because they are interested in thesis work with a specific MCDB faculty member (lab specific), rather than conducting research rotations. Students interested in this option must have made arrangements with the thesis laboratory before applying to the Ph.D. program and must have demonstrated research experience consistent with their designated lab. To apply for admission under this option, follow the guidelines for the MCDB department. Additionally, a letter from the future thesis advisor stating a willingness to accept the student directly into his/her lab is required and should be submitted to the MCDB Graduate Coordinator Mary Carr. Mail to: Mary Carr, MCDB Department, 1121A Kraus Natural Science Bldg., 830 N. University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; ( by January 5th. 

Note that students must choose, prior to applying to the MCDB program, whether to be considered as a candidate for the MCDB department or to a specific laboratory. Under no circumstances will applicants be allowed to switch their application type.

Application Through the PIBS Program

The Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS) is an umbrella program for 13 departments and programs. PIBS students initially affiliate with one program but are free to explore research opportunities in any of the PIBS groups. Students are required to do at least 2 research rotations and typically join a laboratory and department/program by the end of their second semester.

Students apply to PIBS through the Rackham Graduate School and are asked to select 3 Ph.D. program/department choices, in rank order. Students most interested in working with faculty affiliated with the MCDB department should select MCDB as their first choice as it is assumed that students are most interested in their top choice and admissions decisions are made accordingly. For specific guidelines, refer to the PIBS website How to Apply page.

 Note: Only US citizens and permanent residents may apply to MCDB through the PIBS program. International students interested in MCDB should apply directly to the MCDB program.