The Graduate Programs in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB) seek to recruit diverse, self-motivated students with a natural curiosity for scientific inquiry. Please visit the MCDB Departmental website to learn more about the program and importantly, specific information to include in your Statement of Purpose and your Personal History and Diversity Statement.

The MCDB graduate program provides rigorous, individualized graduate research training that emphasizes innovative research leading to the Masters and Doctoral degrees. The programs are designed to provide a solid foundation in current knowledge while allowing students the flexibility to choose their own path of inquiry. Modern molecular and cellular biological research moves at a rapid pace that requires novel ideas, scientific interaction and new experimental approaches. The MCDB program provides multiple opportunities to gain expertise in diverse fields of research, in addition to lab rotations and courses that are completed in the first year of study. A full schedule of weekly seminars by invited speakers and annual research retreat form the framework for scientific interactions. Students participate in weekly research seminars presented by postdoctoral fellows and advanced graduate students. Individual faculty members also organize special topics seminars that focus on important research problems in their own disciplines. A full-range of state-of-the-art facilities are available, including digital imaging and microscopy instrumentation, DNA sequencing, RNAseq, and computer analysis laboratories, in addition to biochemical and biophysical instrumentation, including mass spectrometry, CD, and X-Ray crystallography facilities.

Research in MCDB spans a broad range of topics in biomedical science including: bacterial pathogenesis, biochemistry, cell biology, cell physiology, developmental biology, gene regulation, genetics, immunology and allorecognition, microbiology, molecular marine biology, neurobiology, pharmacology, plant molecular biology and physiology, and virology. The faculty in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology engage in transdisciplinary research, and have earned numerous distinctions and awards, including election to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and receipt of Keck, Searle, NSF CAREER, NIH Pioneer, and NIH Merit Awards.

Mailing Address

Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
University of California, Santa Barbara
Life Sciences Building, Room 3314
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9625

Degree icon Degrees Offered

Address iconDeadlines

Fall Only: 

  • PHD: December 5, 2023 (by 11:59 PM PST)
  • MS: February 27, 2024 (by 11:59 PM PST)

Requirements Icon


  • Online application:
  • Statement of Purpose, Personal History and Diversity Statement, and Resume or CV (submitted in the online application)
  • Three Letters of Recommendation (submitted online)
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended (submitted online)
  • English Language Exam Scores (if applicable): TOEFL Internet-Based Test (IBT) total score of 80, or TOEFL Paper-Based Test (PBT) total score of 550, or IELTS Overall Band score of 7, or Duolingo English Test total score of 120, or higher
  • Final/Official transcripts will be required for all applicants who are admitted and have indicated their intent to enroll at UC Santa Barbara by submitting a Statement of Intent to Register (SIR). UC Santa Barbara reserves the right to require official transcripts at any time during the admissions process, and rescind any offer of admission made if discrepancies between uploaded and official transcript(s) are found.

MS Emphasis in Pharmacology and Biotechnology