The Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS) is an umbrella program of the University of Michigan that coordinates the admission, acceptance, and first year training of graduate students in several departments and programs. After research rotations are completed, all PIBS students formally associate with one department or program. The department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) is a member of the PIBS program. Ph.D. students in MCDB are admitted either through the PIBS program or directly through MCDB.
What is the difference between MCDB, CDB, and CMB?
The Departments of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) and Cellular and Developmental Biology (CDB) are independent academic departments housed in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) and Medical School, respectively. The Cell and Molecular Biology Program is an NIH-sponsored training program. Faculty mentors in CMB come from a wide variety of departments, including several from MCDB.
To decide which unit is most appropriate for you, it is best to visit the specific web sites:
There are 3 ways to apply to MCDB. Which one is best for me?
Most students are unsure of their specific research interest and benefit greatly from research rotations. Because of the breadth of the MCDB faculty, most students find that the rotation choices within the MCDB department are more than sufficient and therefore, apply to the MCDB general path. Some students enjoy the wider options available to them through the PIBS program, which allows research rotations and final affiliations with faculty in different departments. Students that are applying to MCDB because of interest in a single faculty member and have extensive independent research experience may find the MCDB specific path attractive.
MCDB lab specific
Number of rotations
|At least 2||At least 2||None|
Choice of rotation lab
|All PIBS affiliated labs||MCDB labs only||N/A|
Specific admission requirements
|US citizen or permanent resident||None||At least 1 year of research experience in prospective area and willingness of MCDB faculty member to serve as a sponsor|
Who makes the admissions decisions?
In the Department of MCDB, there is an Admissions Committee that evaluates all applicants and makes admissions recommendations, which must be approved by the Chair of the department. For applications to the MCDB department (general and specific), files are evaluated by the MCDB Admission Committee. For PIBS applicants, files are evaluated by the Admission Committees from the 3 departments or groups listed by the student on their application.
How are applicants evaluated?
All admission decisions, including those concerning students applying for direct admission, are recommended by the Admissions Committee with final approval determined by the Department Chair. For all doctoral program applicants, grades, educational background, GREs, TOEFL (if required) letters of recommendation, and research experience are considered.
For students applying to study in a specific MCDB laboratory, the following are also considered:
- Evidence that the student is applying to the MCDB doctoral program because of their strong commitment to a specific laboratory. The applicant is expected to have significant research experience and previous interest consistent with the prospective doctoral thesis advisor. Ideally, the applicant will have an M.S. degree (with research) or other research experience beyond undergraduate studies.
- The student and prospective doctoral thesis advisor must agree, prior to the submission of the application, that the specific admission path is appropriate. The prospective doctoral thesis advisor must submit a letter addressed to the Graduate Coordinator stating a desire to train the prospective student and a description of the proposed mechanism to fund the student. This letter will be included with the student's application. The student must state in their application that they wish to be considered as a specific admission student.
- Priority will be given to students applying to faculty mentors with few or no MCDB graduate students.
Are students interviewed as part of the admission process?
Yes. Students that are living in the United States and deemed qualified by the Admissions Committee are invited to come to the University of Michigan to talk with prospective research mentors, Admissions Committee members, and current Ph.D. students. International students are typically interviewed by telephone although we often send faculty members to China to interview students in person.
Can I arrange my own visit to the University of Michigan?
We strongly discourage students from making their own travel plans to visit U-M prior to hearing from the Admissions Committee, particularly in January-March. Faculty members are quite busy hosting and interviewing students during this period.
What are the departmental and institutional GRE codes?
The institutional code is 1839. The department code is 0203.
Can I move directly from the Masters Program into the Ph.D. program?
No. All Ph.D applications must go through the same application process and review.