Molecular and Cellular Biology, MS

At a Glance: program details

Do you want to understand the fundamental molecular events at the core of all life? Choose from a diverse range of research and training opportunities, gain skills in contemporary techniques and enjoy the opportunity to tailor the program around your research and career interests.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: MS Molecular and Cellular Biology

The MS program in molecular and cellular biology encourages interdisciplinary, innovative research, allowing students to choose from a diverse range of research and training opportunities. Students gain skills in contemporary approaches used in molecular and cellular biology.

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. See courses and electives below for more information. 

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.

Program Faculty

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:

Application and admission information

Applications open September 1 for admission in Fall of the following year. The application deadline is December 1. We accept applications for Fall semesters only. We cannot guarantee that applications received after the December 1 deadline will be considered for admission.

All applicants must apply by filling out ASU's Graduate Admissions application. All application materials must be submitted through the application or to Graduate Admissions directly. Please do not mail or email any documents to the School of Life Sciences. 

Required materials and information include the following:

  • 1-2 page personal statement
  • An up to date CV or resume
  • The names of relevant SOLS faculty you have been in touch with who you might be interested in being supervised by
  • Unofficial transcripts and English proficiency test scores (if applicable)
  • The names and emails of at least 3 recommenders to write you letters of recommendation

Following the December 1 deadline, faculty will begin reviewing applications. Applicants should monitor their My ASU priority tasks to ensure there are no missing materials in their application. Admission decisions will begin in March, and applicants typically receive final decisions by April 1.

Minimum requirements for admission include the following:

  • Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • International applicants must satisfy university minimum requirements for English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo, PTE). There are other ways to demonstrate English proficiency beyond the tests, so please refer to ASU's English proficiency webpage to review how you might satisfy requirements.

Desired qualifications typically seen in competitive candidates:

Please note that the GRE is not required.

There is a unique process for eligible ASU undergraduate students to apply to an accelerated BS/MS program in the School of Life Sciences, involving a two-phase application process students initiate when they have about 75 credit hours of their bachelor's completed. Please see details about accelerated BS/MS programs and our application process by reviewing the Accelerated Bachelor's and Master's of Science webpage.

In the School of Life Sciences, there is no funding guarantee for students admitted to a master's degree. If admitted, master's students are able to request teaching assistant positions each semester. However, positions may only be assigned on a first come, first serve basis pending position availability. Research assistant positions are uncommon for master's students but ultimately depend on the student's faculty research supervisor. Teaching and research assistant positions for master's students come with a salary for the semester assigned, but do not include tuition or health insurance assistance.

Given the lack of position guarantee, master's students should ensure they understand the tuition costs they will be responsible for. Tuition varies depending on a student's residency status. To review anticipated tuition costs, please utilize ASU's tuition estimator.

Degree Requirements

Curriculum Plan Options

  • 30 credit hours and a thesis

Required Core (6 credit hours)
MCB 555 Advanced Molecular and Cellular Sciences (3)
MCB 556 Advanced Molecular and Cellular Biology II (3)

Electives or Research (10 credit hours)

Other Requirements (8 credit hours)
BIO 543 Molecular Genetics and Genomics (3)
BIO 610 Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research in Life Sciences (1)
MCB 501 Seminar: Molecular and Cellular Biology Colloquium (4)

Culminating Experience (6 credit hours)
MCB 599 Thesis (6)

Additional Curriculum Information
Students are required to take MCB 501 each semester they are registered. If a student is registered for more or fewer than four semesters, the research hours and MCB 501 hours may be adjusted accordingly to reach 30 credit hours.

Students should see the academic unit for a complete list of approved electives.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in the biological sciences, biochemistry or a closely related field from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

Applicants must submit the following:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. academic record form
  4. personal statement
  5. curriculum vitae or resume
  6. three letters of recommendation
  7. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of their current residency.

Research experience is a desired qualification.

Flexible Degree Options

Accelerated program options

This program allows students to obtain both a bachelor's and master's degree in as little as five years.
It is offered as an accelerated bachelor's and master's degree with:

BS - Microbiology

Are you fascinated by the incredible way the tiniest organisms can impact our lives? Are you eager to make a difference in science, health and medicine? Dive in and explore the wonders of microbiology, and set yourself up for success in your future career.

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BS - Neuroscience

Discover how the brain and nervous system function to produce behavior, cognition and emotion. Work alongside award-winning faculty in labs at the leading edge of neuroscience research. Spanning four foundational areas of neuroscience, this program will guide you toward a career in health and research-related fields.

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BS - Biological Sciences

Are you captivated by the variety and wonder of life? Are you curious about how organisms grow, interact and affect each other? Build a strong foundation of knowledge, critical thinking skills and key lab techniques that will launch your career in science, health care and research.

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BS - Biological Sciences (Genetics, Cell and Developmental Biology)

Are you fascinated by how genes can affect change in organisms at the cellular level? Are you curious about how genetic information is organized and transmitted across generations? Experience the excitement of scientific discovery and gain the critical thinking skills and key lab techniques that will launch your career.

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BS - Biological Sciences (Conservation Biology and Ecology)

Are you concerned about environmental challenges such as climate change and habitat destruction? Are you curious about how organisms interact with one another and their physical surroundings? Dive in and apply a biological approach combined with human perspective to develop a deep understanding of the complex problems threatening our world.

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BS - Biological Sciences (Biology and Society)

How does science shape the way we understand our world? Explore the social context of science while developing the skills needed to navigate the ethical complexities of scientific discovery. Discover how policy decisions are shaped by biological research, and investigate the significance of the sciences in understanding our complex world.

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BS - Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology

Are you fascinated by the interplay between biology and technology? Are you eager to make a difference through groundbreaking research? Dive in and explore the rapidly expanding field of biotechnology.

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BS - Biological Sciences (Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior)

Are you fascinated by animal behavior? Are you interested in making scientific discoveries at the laboratory bench and in the field? Dive in and build the strong foundation you need to launch your career in neuroscience, health care, veterinary medicine or biomedical research.

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BS - Biological Sciences (Biomedical Sciences)

Are you passionate about health care and biomedical research? Are you eager to experience groundbreaking research and understand the process of scientific discovery? Build a strong pre-health foundation of knowledge, critical thinking skills and key lab techniques that will give you a valuable edge in your career.

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Acceptance to the graduate program requires a separate application. During their junior year, eligible students will be advised by their academic departments to apply.

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Career Opportunities

Those who have earned a master's degree in molecular and cellular biology are prepared for academic careers at every level, from community colleges to research universities. Their skills and knowledge are also valuable for careers in federal and state agencies, in industry and in nongovernmental organizations.

Career examples include:

  • instructors at community colleges
  • researchers and technicians in government labs and nonprofit organizations
  • science teachers in elementary and high schools
  • scientists and bioinformaticians in academic, private and industrial labs

Program Contact Information

If you have questions related to admission, please click here to request information and an admission specialist will reach out to you directly. For questions regarding faculty or courses, please use the contact information below.