Graduate Bulletin

Molecular Biology/Genetics, Ph.D.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadline:

Fall: January 15                            [December 15 for international applicants]

Applications are evaluated as they are received throughout the year. Students are brought in for interviews in Febuary and March.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 2

From Whom: Letters should be submitted from College/University faculty or Industrial supervisors who can make a learned assessment of the research ability and potential, as well as, of the academic record of the candidate.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

Applicants must complete an advanced biology course and at least 1 year of Chemistry or Biochemistry.

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:


Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A degree in biology, biochemistry, or chemistry is appropriate for admission.

Statement of Goals:

The statement of goals should address the following issues: your interest in the Molecular Biology and Genetics Program, research experience, academic background and achievements, research interests, and future career goals. The Statement should not exceed 2 pages.

Standardized Test Scores:

The GRE is required. 50-75% on quantitative and analytical 50-75% on verbal

The GRE Subject Exam is required. Biochemistry; Cell and Molecular Biology; Biology; or Chemistry.

Minimum TOEFL score or range of scores needed to be accepted: 620 on the paper-based test or 260 on the computer-based test.


The top 20% of the applicant pool will be invited to the Fels Institute to interview with three faculty members. The applicants will then meet with current students following the faculty interviews.


A resume is required.

Advanced Standing:

Students who enter the program with an M.S. or advanced credits from a similar graduate program may be considered for advanced standing. The Academic Standards Committee recommends advanced standing on a case-by-case basis as the applicant's record is reviewed. The maximum number of advanced standing credits awarded is 28.

Test Waivers:

Students who have earned an advanced degree in Biology, Biochemistry or Chemistry may waive, upon review by the Admissions committee, requirements concerning undergraduate coursework.

Program Requirements

Campus Location:

Health Sciences

Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

Students are required to complete the degree program through classes offered before 4:30 p.m.

General Program Requirements:

Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Master's: 30

Required Courses:

The Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics participates in the "Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences" described on the School of Medicine Graduate Studies Website.  The program requires Ph.D. and M.S. students to take a defined set of courses over the first two years:

-2 courses from the "Foundations of Biosciences Series" of the Interdisciplinary Program, comprising either a basic or advanced Biochemistry course, and a course on Molecular and Cell Biology.

-2 courses comprising Scientific Communication and Scientific Integrity.

-2 courses from the "Integrated Biosciences Series" from the following list:

Molecular Approaches to Research

Principles of Physiology

Principles of Pharmacology

Principles of Organ Pathology

Principles of Genetics

Principles of Development

Cancer Biology

Host-Pathogen Interactions

Cell Structure and Function

Proteins and Enzymes


In addition, all students will take the following required courses offered by the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics :



MOL 501, 503, 504, 505, 506, 560, 605

Students must earn: 2 credits for three 12-week research rotations to be completed in the first year; 6 research credits following elevation to Ph.D. candidacy; and a combination of required and elective courses as needed to fulfill the 30 credit coursework requirement.

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: No language examination is required.

Culminating Events:

Preliminary Examination:

The purpose of the preliminary examination is to demonstrate critical and interpretive knowledge and creativity by developing and defending an original research proposal. The examination evaluates the student's ability to critically interpret data, formulate a hypothesis-driven research proposal and defend the experimental approach and significance of the prepared research proposal. The proposal is a 12.5 page document developed from an area distinct from the area of the student's dissertation research. The proposal should be hypothesis-driven, and specifically supported by at least two publications that provide the preliminary data. The proposal includes an Abstract, Specific Aims, Background and Significance, Preliminary Data, Research Design and Methods and Literature Cited sections. The format is the same as NIH proposals and a template will be provided. Methodological details are not the primary concern, rather the focus should be on the overall strategy and feasibility.

The preliminary examination consists of the preparation of a 12.5 page outside research proposal and its defense before the Preliminary Examination Committee. The subject matter for the proposal is chosen by the student and approved by the Committee and the Program Director. There is no limit on the subject other than it must be distinct from the area of the student's dissertation research.

The preliminary examination should be completed before the end of the fifth semester.

The student selects a topic for his or her outside research proposal. The topic must be distinct from the area of the dissertation research. The topic is approved by the Examination Committee and the Program Director. The examination committee that will evaluate the outside research proposal is composed of the two members of the Dissertation Advisory Committee and an additional member from the Molecular Biology program. The Research Advisor does not participate in the defense of the Outside Research Proposal to the Examining Committee. The Research Advisor is expected to provide both advice and constructive criticism as the student devises a suitable experimental strategy for testing the hypothesis. However, at no time prior to submission of the proposal to the Department should members of the Examining Committee be shown a written copy or be solicited for advice.

The Examination Committee will evaluate both the written proposal and the oral presentation. Each member votes to pass or fail the student. In order to pass, a majority of the committee members must agree that the exam has been satisfactorily completed.

The Examination Committee evaluates both the document and the oral presentation. At the completion of the exam a pass/fail vote is taken in executive session and the decision is reached by a majority vote. If the Committee has more than 3 members, a tie vote will be considered a fail.

The Preliminary Examination is completed during the student's third year in the fifth semester. The outside research proposal document must be submitted to the Department no later than September 15 of the fifth semester. If this date falls on a weekend then the proposal deadline is Monday. The defense of the outside research proposal must be scheduled and completed no later than the end of October and no earlier than 2 weeks after the submission deadline.


The Dissertation Advising Committee is formed to oversee the student's doctoral research and is initially comprised of at least three Graduate Faculty members who are resident in the Molecular Biology Program. The Chair of the Advisory committee is usually the Research Advisor. Committee composition must be approved by the Academic Standards Committee and the Program Director. The Chair is responsible for overseeing and guiding the student's progress, coordinating the responses of the Committee members, and informing the student of his or her academic progress. The Committee must meet at least once every six months to review the progress of the student's research.

The Dissertation Examining Committee evaluates the student's dissertation and oral defense. This committee determines if the dissertation is acceptable and if the student passes the final examination. This committee is comprised of the Doctoral Advising Committee and at least two additional members. One additional graduate faculty member from the Molecular Biology program is added for the preliminary examination and proposal for elevation to Ph.D. candidacy. A fifth member from outside the Molecular Biology program should be identified during the semester in which the defense is scheduled. It is strongly encouraged that the outside examiner be from an Institution other than Temple University.

If a student needs to change a member of a committee, the new member must be approved by the Academic Standards Committee and the Program Director. The new member will be registered with the Graduate Secretary and the Graduate School.

The Doctoral Dissertation is an original empirical study that makes a significant contribution to the field. It should expand the existing knowledge and demonstrate the student's knowledge of both research methods and a mastery of his or her primary area of interest. Dissertations should be rigorously investigated, uphold the ethics and standards of the field, demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the primary area of interest and the broader field, and be prepared for publication in a professional journal.

The dissertation proposal is a brief 5-page overview of the student's plan to execute the dissertation research project. The proposal places the project within the context of the field by including a review of the literature. This review should also clearly indicate the novelty and significance of the proposed studies. A short description of the student's preliminary results supporting the student's hypothesis is also provided. The experimental section of the proposal should include the aims of the proposed experiments, a description of the expected findings, how the results will be analyzed, and any alternative approaches that have been considered. Permission to write the proposal is granted following the completion of the Preliminary Examination. The proposal is reviewed and approved by the Advisory Committee before the end of the fifth semester. The approved proposal is then submitted to the Graduate School.

The Committee will evaluate the student's ability to express verbally his or her research question, methodological approach, primary findings, and implications. The Committee will vote to pass or fail the dissertation and the defense at the conclusion of the public presentation.

It is the student's responsiblity to schedule the defense. All Examination Committee members must have a copy of the dissertation in its final form at least 2 weeks before the defense.

The student has the responsibility to announce the date, time and place of the defense. A notice should be given to each faculty member in the Department and posted in each of the four basic science buildings on the health science campus (OMS, MRB, Kresge, and AHB). The Graduate School also receives the announcement of the defense. The defense announcements should be posted and delivered at least 10 working days before the defense.


Program Contact Information:

Department Information

Graduate Program in Molecular Biology/Genetics

Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology

Temple University School of Medicine

3307 North Broad Street

Philadelphia, PA 19140


Department Contacts:


Catherine Nimchuk


Program Coordinator:

Catherine Nimchuk


Graduate Chairpersons:

Scott K. Shore

Xavier Graña


E. Premkumar Reddy, Ph.D.


About the Program

The Ph.D. program in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the School of Medicine is an interdisplinary program directed by the faculty of the Fels Institute. The program is designed to prepare aspiring scientists for independent research careers in molecular biology with a special emphasis on molecular oncology.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 7 years

Campus Location:

Health Sciences

Students are required to complete the degree program through classes offered before 4:30 p.m.

Department Information:

Graduate Program in Molecular Biology/Genetics

Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology

Temple University School of Medicine

3307 North Broad Street

Philadelphia, PA 19140



Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Areas of Specialization:

Faculty members specialize in molecular signaling as it regulates cell growth, differentiation and survival; developmental biology and genetics.

Job Placement:

The program is designed to prepare aspiring scientists for independent research careers for employment in academia, government and industry.


Not applicable.

Interdisciplinary Study:

The graduate program is an interdisciplinary program directed by the Fels Institute with participation of scientists from other departments including: biochemistry. microbiology and immunology, pathology, and cell biology.

Study Abroad:



Not applicable.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

Non-matriculated students are permitted to take any of the following courses offered by the program MOL 501,503,504,505, and 560.

Financing Opportunities

Our students receive a stipend and tuition remission during their first year in the program. The students are not obligated to do any tasks other than required coursework, satisfactorily complete three 12-week research rotations and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0. The stipend in subsequent years is provided by the thesis research advisor as a Research Assistantship from extramural funding sources. During the second year, the student will complete coursework while devoting time to their research project; in subsequent years, their entire effort will be on their thesis research project, which will be used in their dissertation.


January 2006