2024 MCDB Graduate Admissions

The Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology graduate program offers an intensive cross-disciplinary foundation in biological science which allows students the flexibility to choose their own path of inquiry with an emphasis on individual research. More than 30 faculty members offer expertise in microbiology and immunology, plant biology, biochemistry and biomaterials, neuroscience, genetics and genomics, cell biology, biomedical sciences, developmental and stem cell biology, and systems and quantitative biology.

 Research Training Areas

Important Dates

PhD Deadline: Dec. 4, 2023
MS Deadline: March (TBA), 2024

Biochemistry & Biomaterials

Biomolecular materials in marine organisms which provide insights for understanding adaptation in marine organisms and provide bio-inspired innovations in technology.

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Biomedical Sciences

Molecular disease mechanisms, diagnostic approaches and biomarkers, pharmacological interventions and novel drug design, disease therapies.

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Cell Biology

Cytoskeleton dynamics, membrane trafficking, protein / lipid glycosylation, cell adhesion / migration, cell signaling, apoptosis, stem cells, tumorigenesis / cancer metastasis, organelle biogenesis, pathogen-host interaction.

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Developmental & Stem Cell

Molecular and cellular mechanisms of development; adult and embryonic stem cell biology, engineering, and regenerative medicine.

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Genetics & Genomics

Gene and genome organization, function, and evolution in plants, animals and microbes.

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Microbiology & Immunology

Mechanisms of gene expression and function in microorganisms, host protective responses to infection by microbial and viral pathogens, and the molecular basis of pathogenesis and microbial disease processes.

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Development of the Nervous System; Sensory signaling; Animal Behavior; Neurodegenerative Diseases; Stem Cell Biology and Engineering; Ion Channel Biophysics; Intracellular Protein Trafficking; Neuronal Cytoskeleton.

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Plant Biology

Plant development, plant-microbe interactions, secondary metabolism.

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Systems & Quantitative

Systems biology derives the fundamental principles underlying complex biological processes.

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The MCDB Department is particularly interested in providing educational opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds and from groups that are underrepresented in the biological sciences, as well as military veterans and students with disabilities. If you would like to talk with a current student about their experiences as an underrepresented student within the program, please contact the MCDB Graduate Program Diversity Advocate who will connect you. Please also check out the resources link for more information.


The MCDB PhD program is designed to provide a solid intellectual foundation that prepares students for pursuing the PhD and for a variety of careers. A rigorous core course series in year 1 includes a Proposal Writing course. The core is complemented by a paired journal club and seminar speaker series that exposes students to a breadth of literature and approaches across the sub disciplines and provides the opportunity for meetings with visiting researchers.

 How to Apply

Visit the MCDB graduate program website for more information, application requirements and process.


The campus's character, physical beauty and location near a historic city with a diverse cultural life and commitment to preserving the environment all provide the setting for an academic community known internationally for its excellence and innovation. A member of the Association of American Universities, this vibrant, energetic campus ranks with Harvard, Stanford and UC Berkeley among the leading institutions of higher learning in the U.S. and Canada. Students know it as a friendly, welcoming place where their professors take the time to help them learn. The quality of faculty members testifies to the strength of UCSB's academic programs and the quantity and quality of its research.