MCDB Master's Degree

Foundation Building

MCDB offers a Masters degree in order to meet the recognized need for M.A. level graduates with an MCDB emphasis, and specifically to prepare students for positions in the biotechnology industry. MCDB offers two M.A. programs: an M.A. by Thesis (Plan 1), emphasizing independent research training, and an M.A. by Exam (Plan 2), emphasizing coursework and broader academic training. Students will choose which plan to follow, with the expectation that all M.A. students will be enrolled full-time, and register for at least 12 units each quarter. Often, students on the Plan 2 track can complete the degree in one year with careful planning. Students pursuing Plan 1 should consult with faculty in advance in order to identify an advisor. The normative time to degree in Plan 1 is 2 years. See the MCDB Graduate Handbook for more details.

Course Requirements

Seminar Courses

MCDB Graduate students are required to register each quarter for department seminars: MCDB 260/262/263.

MCDB-CORE Graduate Curriculum
Course Number Course Name Quarter Units
BMSE 205A Biochemical Techniques Fall 1
MCDB 229 Protein Biochemistry Fall 2
MCDB 235 Experimental Strategies in Molecular Genetics Fall 1
MCDB 220A Chromosomes and Cell Cycle Winter 2
MCDB 220B The Cytoskeleton Winter 2
MCDB 220C From RNA to Membranes Winter 2
MCDB 230 Gene Regulation Winter 2
MCDB 223 Signal Transduction Spring 2
MCDB 225 Development Spring 2
Teaching Assistant Courses

To qualify for a TAship, students must complete the following courses.

Course Number Course Name Quarter Year Units
MCDB 500 Campus Orientation Fall 1 1
MCDB 501 Practicum in Instruction N/A N/A 1-4
MCDB 502 Teaching Techniques Fall 1 1-2

Select Plan I or Plan II Graduate Student Plans

Plan I: Thesis

A minimum of 30 units and a thesis are required; at least 16 units must be in the 200 and 500 series, excluding 597, 598 and TA courses (500, 501, 502). No more than half the graduate-level units (14 units) may be MCDB 596. Courses outside the department may be substituted upon written approval of the MCDB Graduate Faculty Advisor. No unit credit is allowed for the thesis. The student should form a thesis committee (3 members, 2 of which, including the adviser, must be in MCDB) by the end of year 1. A final seminar presenting the thesis work is required.

Plan II: Comprehensive Examination

A minimum of 36 units; at least 30 units must be in the 200 and 500 series, excluding 597, 598 and TA courses (500, 501, 502). No more than half the graduate-level units (6 units) may be MCDB 596. Courses outside the department may be substituted upon written approval of the MCDB Graduate Faculty Advisor. Successful completion of the MCDB courses for the MA degree are considered equivalent to a comprehensive examination.