Curricular Overview

The mission of the MCB Graduate Program is to train new scientists to probe the mechanistic basis of fundamental biological processes within the context of an ever-changing knowledge base, and to effectively disseminate discoveries to the scientific and broader global communities. The ultimate goal of advanced study in experimental biology is specialization, but the MCB Program balances this focus with multidisciplinary training, equipping students to pursue issues central to basic biology and human health without approach-imposed limitations. This comprehensive perspective sets the MCB Program apart from the eight other discipline-specific graduate training programs at Brown, providing a unique opportunity for students to erase the boundaries between fields.

In pursuit of this mission, the MCB Program strives to evolve and incorporate new disciplines into the more traditional approaches to life sciences research. Through the integration of didactic courses, mentored research experiences, and opportunities for career development across the entire training period, MCB students develop a strong foundation of knowledge and a repertoire of skills on which they can continue to build as new challenges and questions arise.

Most didactic coursework is completed during the first three semesters in the program. MCB students can select individualized training tracks including a general MCB track and specialized tracks in genomics, mathematical modeling of biological systems, or Molecular Biology of Aging.

First-year MCB students conduct at least three research rotations before selecting a thesis research laboratory during the first summer in the program.  The PhD Qualifying Examination, based on a written presentation and oral defense of the thesis project, is held at the end of the fourth semester in the program.

Throughout the program, MCB students participate in a variety of activities that enhance scientific knowledge, professional skills, and career networking including journal clubs, formal research presentations, and seminar series. Brown University also provides a variety of Professional Development opportunities available to MCB students.

MCB students typically receive the PhD within six years of matriculating in the program. Most MCB Graduate Program alumni go on to post-doctoral research followed by a research-based career.