Molecular and Cellular Biology, MS

COVID-19 information

Fall 2021 update  |  FAQ page  |  Novel coronavirus updates

ASU's molecular and cellular biology master’s program is focused on understanding the fundamental molecular events at the core of all life. You’ll develop skills in contemporary scientific approaches and techniques that are used in this life sciences field.

As a student in this interdisciplinary program, you’ll have the flexibility to tailor your studies to meet your personal professional goals. Also, you’ll experience a diverse range of research and training opportunities focused on a multidisciplinary approach that extends beyond the traditional boundaries of biological research.

Our program is unique in that our participating faculty and researchers come from departments, colleges, centers and institutes across Arizona State University, as well as from partner institutions in greater Phoenix. You’ll have opportunities to work with faculty from Mayo Clinic, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Translational Genomics Research Institute, and the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix and from ASU, ranked No. 1 in innovation, ahead of Stanford and MIT.

Graduates from our program apply their skills in a variety of settings such as the biotechnology industry, teaching or as entrepreneurs. This program is also well-suited for students who want to pursue medical school, evaluate research options, or begin a PhD program.

3 core courses
100+ faculty
2 years to degree

Degree Overview

The Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology is comprised of three core courses, electives, participation in our colloquium and the completion of a thesis featuring your original research. Your electives may be chosen from a wide variety of areas, which will allow you to pursue your specific research interests in biology, biochemistry, bioengineering, evolution, microbiology, and molecular and cellular biology.

How to apply

The Molecular and Cellular Biology Master's program admits one group of students annually to start their program the following August. Before applying, we encourage you to read our Tips for Applying.

To apply, follow the Apply Now link.
You will be asked to:

  • review university standards, degree program timelines and application requirements
  • complete graduate admission application
  • send official transcripts
  • send language tests (international students only)
  • complete the academic record form
  • submit a non-refundable application fee

Application Deadline
Applications are accepted Sept. 1 - Dec. 15. There is no guarantee that applications received after Dec. 15 will be reviewed.

In January, the top applicants will be invited to a recruitment event scheduled in mid- to late-February. We will notify you of your admissions status by April 15. 

Desired qualifications:

  • research experience 
  • undergraduate GPA minimum 3.0 (on 4.0 scale)
  • international students: TOEFL score of 100, or IELTS score of 6.5

All graduate students in this program will participate in cutting-edge research alongside award-winning faculty members who are leaders in their respective fields.

The MCB program has taught me to think critically and prepared me for a future in research.

—Alissa Lynch current MCB student


This program requires 30 credits. MCB 501 must be taken every semester. Exactly 6 of the 30 credits will be thesis credits. Your final defense consists of a public seminar immediately followed by a private discussion with your dissertation committee. 


Credit Hours

Core courses


Other requirements


Electives or Research




Total hours required


Courses and electives

You will work with your supervisory committee to develop an individualized plan of study and choose the electives that suit your specific research area. You are required to take MCB 555 and 556, as well as participate in colloquium MCB 501. You will conduct original research, and develop and defend your thesis. Your electives can be chosen from a variety of graduate programs including biochemistry, biology, evolution, microbiology, biomedical engineering, and molecular and cellular biology.

  • MCB 555 Advanced Molecular and Cellular Science: All semester modules
  • MCB 556 Advanced Molecular and Cellular Biology II
  • BIO 543 Molecular Genetics and Genomics
  • BIO 610 Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) in Life Sciences
  • MCB 501 Seminar: Molecular and Cellular Biology Colloquium (Taken every semester)


  • BIO 611 Topics Resp Conduct Research: Emerging Technologies Life Science
  • MCB 590 Reading and Conference
  • MCB 591 Topic Seminar
  • MCB 791 Seminar: Molecular Virology Journal Club
  • MIC 598 Advanced Immunology
  • MIC 598 Bacterial Diversity and Systematics
  • MIC 598 Bacterial Pathogenesis
  • MIC 598 Bioinformatic Analysis of High-throughput DNA Data
  • MIC 598 General Virology
  • MIC 598 Geomicrobiology
  • MIC 598 Immunology: Molecular & Cellular Foundations
  • MIC 598 Microbial Ecology and Evolution
  • MIC 598 Novel Models for Host-Microbe Interactions
  • MIC 598 Special Topics: Advanced Immunology
  • MIC 598 Special Topics: Immun: Molecular and Cell Foundations
  • MIC 598 Viromics
  • MIC 791 Seminar: Virology Journal Club


  • MCB 592

MCB 501 Molecular and Cellular Biology Colloquium. Weekly seminar series that includes students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty and visiting speakers. Registration and attendance are required each semester.

MCB 555 Advanced Molecular and Cellular Biology: (6) Intensive lecture- and literature-based studies in membrane biology, neurobiology, signal transduction, bioimaging and molecular-based disease.

BIO 610 Introduction to Research Ethics (1) All MCB graduate students must attend an Ethics in Research class during the first or second year. This 10-week course meets once a week for 75 minutes. It introduces the ethical and regulatory issues in the nine core areas of responsible conduct of research, as defined by the National Institutes of Health.

MCB 556 Advanced Molecular and Cellular Biology (3) Lecture- and literature-based studies in gene regulation, developmental genetics, protein structure and function, and microbiology and immunology.

Interdisciplinary participants
Participating faculty members and researchers come from many departments, colleges, centers and institutes across the university, including:

In addition to Arizona State University, some faculty members are based at partner institutions in greater Phoenix, including: