First Year Breakdown

In your first year as an MCB student you will:

  • Carry out 3 lab rotations
  • Participate in the MCB Tutorial course (first-year course)
  • Take elective courses
  • Select Teaching Assistantships
  • Select your permanent lab after rotations
  • Take summer biomedical research integrity seminar series
  • Establish WA Residency

Quarterly Milestones

Across all quarters (Autumn, Winter, Spring), you will:

  • Complete a rotation – Register for MCB 599: Introduction to Research in Molecular & Cellular Biology (variable credits: 2-9, Entry code: MCB Office); Conduct research project and participate in journal club/rotation lab meetings
  • Participate in MCB Tutorial (MCB 514/515/516) – See table below for specific course numbers for each quarter (non-graded credits: 2). The MCB Tutorial courses are mandatory courses under MCB Curriculum.
  • Take elective courses – 3-5 graded credits recommended (Review Area of Interest Suggested Course listings)
  • Attend MCB program & departmental activities

Every quarters credit total should be 13 (except Summer).

The following are quarter-specific tasks and milestones:

Quarter Task/Milestone
Autumn Register for MCB 514: Molecular and Cellular Biology Tutorial – Oral Presentation with Entry Code from MCB Office
Autumn Attend and present at Rotation Talks (Monday and Tuesday of Finals week)
Winter Register for MCB 515: Molecular and Cellular Biology Tutorial – Literature Review with Entry Code from MCB Office
Winter Attend and present at Rotation Talks (Monday and Tuesday of Finals week)
Spring Register for MCB 516: Molecular and Cellular Biology Tutorial – Grant Development with Entry Code from MCB Office
Spring Select Teaching Assistantships (by April)
Spring Select permanent lab (by June 1)
Spring Prepare rotation research poster
Spring Attend and present rotation research poster at Spring Poster Session (Tuesday of Finals week)
Summer Register for MCB 600: Independent Study or Research (variable credits: 2) with Entry Code from MCB Office


Register for UNCONJ 510: Introductory Laboratory Based Biostatistics (graded credits: 2) with Entry Code from School of Medicine

Summer Quarter credit total: 2

Summer Begin Biomedical Research Integrity Seminar Series: Attend 8 hours of training by end of Year 2
Summer Biotechnology Externship [Optional]

MCB students may join a permanent lab after 3 rotations. A fourth rotation is possible but must be approved by the MCB Directors. Most students select a lab after 3 rotations.

Selecting a thesis advisor is an important decision. Your thesis advisor will be the chair of your Supervisory Committee, and you will conduct research in your advisor’s lab for the next 4 to 5 years. Once you have agreed to join a lab, you, your faculty advisor and your faculty advisor’s Department Chair or Division Head must sign an MCB contract, stipulating financial support for you during your thesis research. Graduate students are also encouraged to find their own funding, either through training grants or fellowships.

After joining a permanent lab, you will form a thesis committee. The committee will help guide your graduate research, help you pass your General Exam, and provide feedback that will allow you to successfully defend your thesis.

A mentoring guide for students is available through the UW Graduate School.

Mentoring Guide