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Pathways Master's Program Overview

An outstanding opportunity to train with researchers and faculty in a supportive environment to gain the academic foundation needed to successfully apply for a Ph.D. program. Fully funded for two years.

The Pathways Program is looking for students graduating with a Bachelor's degree who:

  • Have demonstrated academic excellence in biology or a related field and would benefit from further research and course experience prior to beginning a Ph.D. program
  • Are U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or undocumented students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA)

And meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Come from an educational, cultural or geographic background that is underrepresented in graduate study in their discipline in the United States or at the University of Michigan;
  • Have demonstrated a sustained commitment to diversity in the academic, professional, or civic realm through their work experience, volunteer engagement, or leadership of student or community organizations. By commitment to diversity, we mean efforts in the U.S. to reduce social, educational or economic disparities based on race, ethnicity or gender, or to improve race relations in the U.S.;
  • Have experienced financial hardship as a result of family economic circumstances;
  • Are first-generation U.S. citizens or are the first generation in their families to graduate from a four-year college.

Why join the Pathways Master's program?

This two-year research thesis-based program provides the training through research and courses necessary to succeed in a top-flight Ph.D. program.  

Become part of an exciting research community at the University of Michigan!

  • Gain essential laboratory research experience as training for a Ph.D. program.
  • Gain a solid foundation in coursework related to molecular biology, cellular biology, biochemistry, genetics, and developmental biology.
  • Complete a focused research project with a supportive mentor.
  • Interact with graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty through one-on-one meetings, group meetings, classes, seminars, research symposia, and departmental retreats.
  • Develop teaching skills and experience, with extensive training and support.
  • Participate in research and career development workshops on topics including career options, applying to a Ph.D. program, presentation skills, grant writing, and research ethics.
  • Benefit from the mentoring and support of a faculty program director and staff committed to your academic success.

Beyond the Pathways Program

Successful Transitions to PhD Programs
Students who complete the Pathways Master's program will have performed research in a faculty member's lab and will have made important connections with at least two additional faculty members who served on the student's thesis committee. This places each pathways graduate in an excellent position for letters of recommendation and a successful transition into a Ph.D. program. We help students prepare their application materials for both our Ph.D. program and those of our peer institutions. We monitor the progress of our students regardless of where they go next and offer them continued advice on their career path. 


The Pathways Program is a fully funded Master's program. Students in good standing receive a stipend, tuition support, and health care for two years at rates determined by University policies. Support is available for three or four incoming students each academic year.

A Good Foundation for Other Careers 

One major advantage of the Pathways Master's degree relative to other non-degree-granting programs is that in addition to providing students with an excellent educational foundation for transition into and completion of a Ph.D., it also provides graduates with a stand alone degree that will be valuable in the job market for research positions in industry, government, and teaching at the high school or college level. This feature places our students in an excellent position for a fulfilling career if a student chooses to enter the workforce after graduation.

Why Study Biology at the University of Michigan?

The University of Michigan is a world-renowned academic institution, and the MCDB program is itself one of the top-ranked graduate programs in its disciplines in the country. Graduates from our departmental Masters and Ph.D. programs have moved onto high-level jobs in academia and industry with great success. Furthermore, Ann Arbor provides an exceptionally comfortable environment, with tremendous entertainment and cultural resources both within town and in nearby communities.

Correspondence and Information

For specific inquiries regarding eligibility or content of the Pathways Master's program, please contact the MCDB Graduate Coordinator or the Pathways Program Director.

Graduate Coordinator
Mary Carr

Pathways Master's Program Director
Gyorgyi Csankovszki,  Professor