1. Why should I apply to MCDB?
The MCDB department offers a unique breadth of research opportunities --from microbes, to plants, to animals-- in a cohesive department with a small core faculty. A unit this size is able to provide a supportive and nurturing atmosphere. Interactions with other students as well as with faculty in the department provide frequent and informal collaborations. With few and flexible course requirements, students have a greater opportunity to be exposed to a wide diversity of topics and a unique range in life science research than may be the case in larger programs.
2. How is the PIBS program related to the MCDB department?
MCDB is one of the 14 units in the Program in Biological Sciences (PIBS) <https://medicine.umich.edu/medschool/education/phd-programs/about-pibs>. Most of the graduate students in MCDB apply directly to the MCDB program. These are typically students interested in the research underway in MCDB laboratories. The MCDB department's active faculty members explore a range of biological issues in biochemistry, cell biology, development, microbiology, neurobiology, endocrinology, structural biology, and plant molecular biology. PIBS students often have a broader interest in pursuing rotations both within MCDB and in other units. After the first year, all students affiliate with a home department and there is no difference between these student cohorts.
3. If accepted into the Ph.D. program how will I pay for it?
All of our Ph.D. students are fully funded until they are awarded their degrees. Financial support provides a yearly stipend, and covers the cost of tuition, and health care and dental insurance for the student, spouse and dependents.
4. What are the teaching opportunities?
All Ph.D. students teach two semesters as part of the Ph.D. requirements.
5. When do I choose my research laboratory?
Students perform at least two laboratory rotations. Many undertake three or four rotations prior to selecting a research mentor. Most students rotate for an entire semester during the fall term. In the winter term, many students schedule full semester rotations; others schedule half-semester rotations. Half-semester rotations must be approved by the relevant faculty members.
6. When will I select my research mentor?
The earliest date for students to make a laboratory decision is April 15th of their first year. It is a mutual agreement between student and research mentor and must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. Many students prefer to do additional rotations in the spring and/or summer to allow for a broader research experience prior to committing to a thesis project.
7. What is the typical duration of doctoral training?
Doctoral students typically graduate in 4-6 years.