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Department Information

The graduate program in Molecular and Cellular Biology prepares students for careers in modern biological research. The diverse faculty ensures broad training that includes coursework and research experience in:

  • Molecular biology of prokaryotes and eukaryotes
  • Biochemistry and structural biology
  • Advance cell biology
  • Epigenetic regulation of gene expression
  • Genetics and molecular biology of model organisms and human pathogens
  • Virology and cancer biology
  • Mechanisms of aging and senescence
  • Neuronal development and RNA processing
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Structure and dynamics of nucleotide binding and membrane proteins

The graduate program offers three degree options: Ph.D., M.S., and M.A. A five-year combined B.S.-M.S. program is also offered to current SMU undergraduates.

Program Features

Advantages of graduate research at SMU:

  • Our faculty are nationally recognized for their research. Faculty members serve on National Institutes of Health Study Section review panels and are funded by the NIH. In addition, our faculty serve as reviewers for several national and private granting agencies, and have published their research in leading journals, including: Nature, Science, Molecular Cell, Oncogene, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Vaccine, Genetics, PNAS, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Methods in Enzymology and Biochemistry.

  • Modern Research Facilities: The Biological Sciences Department is located in the Dedman Life Sciences Building on the SMU campus, adjacent to Fondren Science Library, and the closely affiliated Departments of Chemistry and Computer Science. The department has state-of-the-art equipment, including two confocal microscopes, a flow cytometer, shared cell tissue culture facilities and qRT-PCR instrumentation.

  • Financial Support: The Department of Biological Sciences offers numerous tuition scholarships, teaching assistantships, and faculty research assistantships.

Degrees Offered

Explore Our Graduate Programs

Southern Methodist University Facilities

The Molecular and Cellular Biology graduate research program is well equipped to support graduate-level research. The labs along with these Centers enable graduate students to gain practical experience in state-of-the-art data acquisition.

Center for Drug Discovery, Design, and Delivery

Center for Drug Discovery, Design, and Delivery


The Center for Drug Discovery, Design and Delivery (CD4) at Southern Methodist University's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences has a novel multi-disciplinary focus for scientific research targeting medically important problems in human health.

Using innovative approaches, CD4’s mission is to potentiate the development of new therapeutics, their delivery methods as well as the translation of these new therapeutics to clinical studies. Training new generations of biomedical researchers in state-of-the-art techniques completes the overall mission of the Center.

Center for Scientific Computation

Center for Scientific Computation


The mission of the Center for Scientific Computation at Southern Methodist University is to stimulate interdisciplinary education and research in simulation-based engineering and science.

We are motivated by the fact that computer simulation has become an essential component of research in most disciplines in engineering and science, and that advances in computing, networking, and data storage technologies are likely to accelerate this trend. At the same time, it is recognized that our nation's position of dominance in this area can no longer be taken for granted. Thus we believe that the education of the next generation of computational scientists and engineers is an urgent challenge which SMU must accept.

Admission Requirements

  • 3.00 Cumulative Grade Point Average and a combined GRE score of at least 300

  • Score for the Biology, or the Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology subject test is encouraged

  • 6 hours of calculus or statistics

  • 16 hours of chemistry including 8 hours of organic chemistry

  • 4 or more hours of advanced credit in biology
  • 3.00 Cumulative Grade Point Average and a combined GRE score of at least 300

  • Score for the Biology, or the Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology subject test is encouraged

  • 6 hours of calculus or statistics

  • 16 hours of chemistry including 8 hours of organic chemistry

  • 4 or more hours of advanced credit in biology

Deadlines for Admission

For graduate Molecular and Cellular Biology programs:

  • Priority deadline for Fall admission to the Ph.D. program is January 15th.
  • Final deadline for Fall admission to the Master's program is May 1st.

Departmental Assistantships

All applications to be considered for department assistantships must be completed by the priority deadline of January 15. Applications received after the January 15 priority deadline will be considered for any unfilled openings.



A Guide to Choosing, Applying for, and Thriving in a Ph.D. Program



Degree Requirements

Directed at research-oriented students, typically requiring two years to complete, that includes:
  • 30 semester hours (1 year of full-time enrollment) and a research project

  • Preparation, presentation, and defense of a research proposal


This program is particularly well-suited for pre-health professional undergraduates who want to use a gap year to increase their overall competitiveness by obtaining an advanced graduate M.A. degree.
  • Typically completed in 12-24 months

  • 30 semester hours required (1 year of full-time enrollment required)

  • Research program equivalent to three semester hours in lieu of a thesis


A research-intensive program typically requiring four to five years to complete that includes:

  • 60 credit hours
  • Two-year full-time residency
  • Passing a qualifying examination at the end of the second year
  • Complete a research program
  • Writing and defending a monograph detailing proposed research

Student Spotlight


Lauren Ammerman
Ph.D., Biology

Hometown: Houston, Texas

What is your research area?
In Silico Drug Discovery and Molecular Dynamics

What is something cool about your field?
I use incredibly powerful computers to explore open questions in biology, and to discover molecules that may one day treat cancer.

What is the best thing you've done as a graduate student at SMU so far?
SMU has a state-of-the-art supercomputer: ManeFrame II. I get to use this computer to solve complex and computationally-intensive problems everyday. I've also enjoyed getting to collaborate with other talented researchers here at SMU.

What is your favorite thing to do in Dallas?
Shakespeare in the Park! Incredible performances in a beautiful park.

What do you wish you'd known before starting graduate schools?
Do not be afraid to ask smart people dumb questions (Thanks Alie Ward and Ologies!). Also, continuously remind yourself that you cannot know everything, and that's OK. Instead, you can collaborate with other experts and create something good together.

What is your favorite leisure activity?
Video games, cooking, and movies at Alamo Drafthouse.


Do not hesitate to contact your program of interest with any questions you might have!



Want to learn more about SMU’s graduate programs in Molecular and Cellular Biology?

Contact us today, we will be in touch!