Ph.D. in Molecular Biology

Students in the Molecular Biology Ph.D. program receive broad training in how biological systems function at the level of nucleic acids and proteins, cells and development, and genetically diverse populations and species. During their first year, students take a core curriculum that lays the foundation for more advanced study in the field, while also rotating through three labs of their choosing. At the end of the first year, students determine their long-term research advisor, with whom they will conduct more specialized dissertation work. Students have access to more than 40 potential faculty mentors with diverse expertise and research programs.



Entry into the Molecular Biology Ph.D. program is competitive and requires a bachelor's degree (or equivalent) in a related subject from an accredited four-year college, sitting the Graduate Record Examinations (subject test is not required), sending all official college/university transcripts, and submitting three letters of recommendation. Additional application instructions and details are provided in the links below.

Applications and all supporting materials must be received no later than December 15th for full consideration.

Click here for domestic student application instructions.

Click here for international student application instructions.


Program of Study

The Molecular Biology Ph.D. program procedures for the 2014-2015 year can be found here.

Additional details will be provided in the Molecular and Computational Biology Program Handbook, which is distributed to all first-year students.


Financial Aid

It is the policy of the Molecular and Computational Biology Graduate Program to provide financial support for all students throughout their graduate career. Each admitted student is guaranteed a minimum of five years of support. Students receive a stipend, up to 12 units of tuition remission each academic semester, and health and dental insurance awards.

Click here for additional funding information.



The Molecular and Computational Biology program has a fantastic set of faculty, students, and staff to assist you throughout your degree program.


Career Paths

The Molecular and Computational Biology Graduate Program produces high quality students with the tools to enter a variety of career fields. Recent graduates hold positions in academic and research institutions, corporations, non profit companies, government organizations, and a variety of other fields.

Click here to view the various career paths of graduates from the program.


Just Beginning

Sara Keeble, First Year Molecular Biology Graduate Student

"Coming from a small town in Montana, I had no idea what to expect from Los Angeles. I found an incredibly friendly, positive, and welcoming environment.  The unique combination of computational and molecular biology under the same roof generates massive potential for cutting-edge research.  All of these factors helped me secure a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, which is a huge step forward in my career as a scientist.  I feel very lucky to be starting my graduate career in such an amazing department."




In the Middle

Taehyun Ryu, Third Year Molecular Biology Graduate Student

"Since my first visit during interview weekend, I knew this is where I wanted to pursue my career as a scientist. The students are very energized, the faculty is approachable and encouraging, the community is very collaborative.  We often hold joint lab meetings, which encourages discussion about your own work and that of your peers. I also appreciate that the students in molecular biology and in computational biology work closely to solve issues from various angles.  I am about to submit my first paper to Nature Cell Biology, after only two years."




Matthew Taylor, Fourth Year Molecular Biology Graduate Student

"When I got to USC, I was shocked at how open, approachable, and integrated the faculty were. Whenever I have a question about my work, there’s someone I can talk to and get a unique perspective to attack my problem, ranging from molecular biology to computational issues that have no obvious solution.  This integrated approach scored me a first authored paper in PLoS Genetics, and I know it will pay off when job hunting.  And living in LA is easy - I moved from Atlanta and quickly fell in love with the city."




 Jordan Eboreime, Fifth Year Molecular Biology Graduate Student

"I love it here at USC. Molecular and Computational Biology is full of professors who want to see their students succeed and are eager to collaborate.  Also, it is comforting that our professors and USC have funds to support their graduate students; being supported for 5 years has allowed me to do more research as well as attend scientific conferences. I know as I move forward that the Molecular and Computational Biology program at USC will continue to prepare me for my future career as a successful scientist."





Just Finished

Joseph Dunham, Recently Defended Molecular Biology Graduate Student

"Having recently defended my thesis, it is with great pleasure to recognize that the Department of Molecular and Computational Biology at USC contains world-class research across a vast range of topics, including evolutionary, developmental, cellular, systems, crystallography, and computational biology.  During my time in the department, I specifically collaborated with seven different faculty, which resulted in 12 published and another 16 manuscripts in preparation.  Due to the collaborative spirit of the department, one of these is a Nature publication.  I am currently pursuing my own entrepreneurial endeavors and founded my own biotech company."




  • Department of Biological Sciences
  • University of Southern California
  • Allan Hancock Foundation Building
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0371