Graduate Bulletin

Molecular Biology/Genetics, Ph.D.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines
Application Deadline:

Fall: January 15

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

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 2

From Whom: Letters should be submitted from college/university faculty or industry supervisors who can make a learned assessment of the research ability, potential, and 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, which should not exceed two pages in length, should include your interest in the Molecular Biology and Genetics Program at Temple; your research experience; your academic background and achievements; your research interests; and your future career goals.

Standardized Test Scores:

The GRE is required. Scores are expected to be in the 50th to 75th percentile for the quantitative, verbal, and analytical sections.

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

Minimum TOEFL score needed to be accepted: 620 paper-based, 260 computer-based, or 105 internet-based.


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.


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
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" at the Temple University School of Medicine.  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:


      Cancer Biology

      Cell Structure and Function

      Host-Pathogen Interactions

      Molecular Approaches to Research

      Principles of Development

      Principles of Genetics

      Principles of Organ Pathology

      Principles of Pharmacology

      Principles of Physiology

      Proteins and Enzymes

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


MICRO 9312

MOL 5451, 8401, 8402, 8451, 940, 9410, 9420

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

View all COURSE OFFERINGS in Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, and Molecular Biology and Genetics.

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: No language examination is required.

Culminating Events:

Preliminary Examination:

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 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 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 is provided. Methodological details are not the primary concern; rather, the focus should be on the overall strategy and feasibility.

The Preliminary Examination Committee that evaluates the outside research proposal is composed of the two members of the Doctoral 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 Preliminary Examination 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 Preliminary Examination Committee be shown a written copy or be solicited for advice.

The Preliminary Examination Committee evaluates both the written proposal 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 three members, a tie vote will be considered a fail. In order to pass, a majority of the committee members must agree that the exam has been satisfactorily completed.

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, 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 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 Doctoral Advisory Committee before the end of the fifth semester. The approved proposal is then submitted to the Graduate School.


The doctoral dissertation is an original empirical study that makes a significant contribution to the field. It should expand the existing database and demonstrate the student's knowledge of both research methods and a mastery of her/his 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 Doctoral Advisory 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 Doctoral 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 her/his 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. It is comprised of the Doctoral Advisory 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 must be registered with the Graduate Secretary and the Graduate School.

The Dissertation Examining Committee evaluates the student's ability to express verbally her/his research question, methodological approach, primary findings, and implications. This committee votes to pass or fail the dissertation and the defense at the conclusion of the public presentation.

All Dissertation Examining 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 Sciences 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

Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

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


Interdisciplinary Study:

The graduate program is an interdisciplinary program directed by the Fels Institute with participation of scientists from other departments, including Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Microbiology and Immunology, and Pathology.


Not applicable.

Study Abroad:



Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Areas of Specialization:

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

Non-Degree Student Policy:

Non-matriculated students are permitted to take select courses offered by the program.  Contact the department for details.

Financing Opportunities

Our students receive a stipend and tuition remission during their first year in the program. Students are not obligated to do any tasks.  They must, however, undertake 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, students complete coursework while devoting time to a research project; in subsequent years, their entire effort will be on their thesis research project, which will be used for their dissertation.

Updated 6.1.07