MCB students must take a total of 18 graded credits throughout their years of study. They must be 500-level courses. You may end up taking more than 18 graded credits (and you probably will).

Important things to remember when designing your MCB curriculum:

  • Some courses may still be under development or not currently offered because there is an instructor vacancy to fill.
  • Some courses are offered every other year, or during even/odd years.
  • Some courses have limited enrollment so register early to avoid getting shut out.
  • Remember to pace yourself! Spread your graded courses throughout Year 1 & 2. Aim for 9-12 credits by the end of Spring quarter in Year 1.
  • Make the most of your time – look for classes at the institution where you are rotating. Avoid having a class in the morning and in the afternoon on the same day.
  • When enrolling for elective classes, do so before the start of the quarter. Low enrollment numbers can cause instructors to cancel classes for lack of interest. If you wait until the last minute to enroll, there might not be any class to take.
  • Always check the UW Time Schedule for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding when a course is currently being offered.

You must get at least a 2.7 for a class to count for your graduate credit. You must stay above a 3.0 average in good standing with MCB & the Graduate School.

The following courses are mandatory for all MCB students.

MCB 514 – MCB Tutorial

This course aims to help first year graduate students in the MCB graduate program jump start their graduate career. First year graduate students will identify and practice skills associated with a productive, engaging and timely PhD. Major topics include: a) learning how to navigate graduate school and become successful as a graduate student; b) increasing effectiveness in reading the literature and presenting papers to a broad scientific audience; and c) learning how to assemble and effectively deploy a mentorship team to productively advance the career of choice. First year MCB students must engage in discussions about graduate school challenges, scientific discovery and discourse, and career development.
Offered AUT, 2 credits, weeks 1-10

MCB 515 – MCB Literature Review

This course aims to help first year graduate students in the MCB graduate program develop skills to present research and engage an audience. First year graduate students will present recent research findings from the literature and elicit discussion from their first year colleagues. The topic leaders will interact with faculty experts to fill gaps in knowledge and stimulate discussion. All students are expected to read the presented literature and participate in topical discussions.
Offered WIN, 0.5 credits, weeks 1-10

MCB 516 – MCB Grant Development

This course aims to help first year graduate students in the MCB graduate program develop skills to write and review grants. First year graduate students will write an NIH NRSA style proposal on their research and work with their first year colleagues to edit and hone the proposal. The course will culminate in an NIH-style study section process to review and critique the proposals.
Offered SPR, 2.0 credits, weeks 1-10

MCB 580 – MCB Teaching Practicum

All MCB students are required to complete 2 TAships during the Second and Third Year. Students complete either 2 academic TAships or 1 academic TAship and 1 community outreach TAship. The MCB Office will register students for MCB 580 in the quarter they complete an academic TAship or in the quarter after they complete a community outreach TAship.
Offered AUT/WIN/SPR/SUM, 2.0 credits, weeks 1-10

MCB 599 – MCB Research in Molecular & Cellular Biology

Laboratory rotations with MCB Faculty. Students carry out individual research projects and participate in journal club and lab meetings. Students present oral and written reports of their research project at the end of each quarter.
Offered AUT/WIN/SPR/SUM, 0.0 credits, weeks 1-10

MCB 600 – MCB Independent Study/Research

Before passing the General Exam register for 1.0-10.0 variable credits. Register with Faculty Code (available from the MCB Office).
Offered AUT/WIN/SPR/SUM, variable credits, weeks 1-10

MCB 800 – MCB Doctoral Dissertation

After passing the General Exam, register for 1.0-10.0 variable credits. Register with Faculty Code (available from the MCB Office).
Offered AUT/WIN/SPR/SUM, variable credits, weeks 1-10

The following courses are highly recommended for MCB students to take to further develop their professional skills.

GM/PD Courses Document Download (PDF)

CENV 500 – Communicating Science to the Public Effectively

Whether you’re looking to give an unforgettable job talk, change a policymaker’s mind, or finally get your family to understand your research, the Engage course is a great professional development opportunity and learning experience. This is a discussion-based course for graduate students in the sciences that focuses on effective techniques for communicating science, with an emphasis on sharing your science with non-specialists. At the end of the quarter, each student will present a 20 minute public talk on their graduate research to be delivered during the 2024 Engage: The Science Speaker Series at Town Hall Seattle. In this course, students will:
• Develop and practice analogies to distill their research
• Perfect their elevator pitches
• Practice storytelling, audience consideration, and cultural competency
• Play improv games to leverage improvisation as a public speaking tool
• Engage in weekly readings and discussions
• Hear from guest speakers on science communication
Note: Space is limited in this course and it often fills quickly, with an extensive waitlist. An application process and expectation agreement must be completed by the student to be considered for the course. Please reach out to the instructor for more information.
Offered WIN, 3.0 credits, Will be offered in Winter 2024

MCB 512 – Scientific Speaking Seminar

A crucial part of a scientific career is the ability to effectively deliver a research seminar. This course will focus on all aspects of giving a seminar and teach students how to introduce the research topic, how to make clear and effective slides, and how to explain methods and data in a clear manner. Students will prepare their own research seminar throughout the course. Each week they will practice a part of it and receive feedback from other students and the instructors. By the end of the course, students will have an entire seminar about their thesis project prepared. The course will also give examples of good and bad seminars and help students learn how to communicate with non-scientists about their research.
Offered WIN, 1.5 credits, Weeks 1-5, Offered in odd-numbered years, Will be offered in WIN 2025

MCB 543 – Logic Constructs and Methodologies of Biological Research

This course surveys the logic and methods of scientific practice from historical, practical, and sociological points of view. Topics covered include how the philosophy of science influences experimental approaches, how the demarcation between science and pseudoscience has evolved, how common cognitive biases lead to errors in judgement and interpretation, and how sociological factors impact scientific progress. After completing the course, students should understand and interface differently with science they encounter, papers they read, and their own projects.
Offered SPR, 3.0 credits, Weeks 1-10, Will be offered in SPR 2024

MCB 560 – MCB Biotechnology Externship

This externship program provides MCB students with the opportunity to gain firsthand research experience in biotechnology companies in the Puget Sound area. Applications are available in the early spring and reviewed by the Externship Program Director. Applications are submitted to participating companies to find a suitable match. This externship is only available during the summer between Year 1 and Year 2 to students who have completed 3 rotations and identified a dissertation laboratory. Students are supported by MCB for the summer quarter.
Offered SUM, 2.0 credits, Weeks 1-10

PBIO 519 – Membrane and Muscle Biophysics Seminar

This course will allow graduate students to learn presentation tools to improve their skills. Students will attend scientific seminars given by Postdoctoral Fellows from the Departments of Physiology and Biophysics and Pharmacology, presenting their current research on cell membrane function, cell physiology, and muscle contraction. A discussion session will follow each seminar with emphasis on two aspects; the first will be a scientific discussion to identify the scientific question, experimental approaches, and conclusions of the research; the second will focus on the presentation techniques. Credit/no-credit only.
Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor.
Offered SPR, 1.0 credits, Weeks 1-10

UCONJ 510 – Introductory Laboratory Based Biostatistics

Introduces methods of data description and statistical inference for experiments. Covers principles of design and analysis of experiments; descriptive statistics; comparison of group means and proportions; linear regression; and correlation. Emphasizes examples from laboratory-based biomedical sciences, and provides demonstrations using standard statistical programs.
Offered SUM – A-Term only, 2.0 credits

The following two courses are only available to students who have already passed their General Exam.

MCB 508 – MCB Science Teaching

Covers the theory and methods of high-level student-centered instruction for diverse college students. Covers active learning and mentored teaching, evaluation design and implementation, fostering of instructor-student relationships, course design and foundational principles of the learning sciences. Students will later apply this material as an Instructor of Record of their own course in an undergraduate department at UW. Credit/no-credit only.
Note: Students submit an application in the spring of their third year to be admitted to the course in fall of their fourth year.
Offered AUT, 2.0 credits, Weeks 1-10

MCB 509 – MCB Science Teaching

Practical opportunity for students interested in high-level teaching methods for diverse populations of students. Students will apply teaching skills as Instructor of Record of their own course in an undergraduate department at UW. Credit/no-credit only.
Prerequisite(s): MCB 508.
Note: Students submit an application in the spring of their third year, take the theory and methods course (MCB 508) in fall of their fourth year, and then co-teach a course either winter or spring of their fourth year.
Offered WIN/SPR, 2.0 credits, Weeks 1-10

Working with Datasets

As a graduate student, you will likely encounter and work with a large dataset. Classes that include computational work, such MCB 536 (Tools for Computational Biology) for example, may be of interest to students. We encourage you to review the foundational and elective courses under the Computational Biology Area of Interest Suggested Curriculum for more computational course suggestions.

Area of Interest Suggested Curriculum

Each Area of Interest has a set of suggested courses. These are meant to guide you in choosing classes, they are not requirements. We highly encourage you to take the Foundational courses in your Area(s) of Interest. Electives are more specialized and often cross between Areas of Interest. View the various Area of Interest pages for more information.