Guidelines for Graduate and MSTP students in the Department of Cell Biology

Welcome to the Department of Cell Biology. This is a brief summary of departmental policies, including school-wide policies that are detailed in the Graduate Division Academic Policies and Guidelines (

Departmental activities

Graduate and MSTP students in Cell Biology participate in a variety of departmental activities. There is a required departmental journal club series in which students present and discuss original articles. The department meets every Friday for a work-in-progress (WIP) seminar in which post-doctoral fellows and graduate students describe the progress of their current research and discuss future directions. The department also hosts a bi-weekly seminar program of invited outside speakers, with opportunities for students and postdocs to meet the speaker for discussion. Students are urged to take full advantage of the WIP and outside seminars from our department and others in the school. An off-site departmental retreat is held at intervals. Student attendance and involvement are strongly encouraged.

Course requirements

All students are required by the school to complete courses in the Responsible Conduct of Research, and Quantitative Skills for the Biomedical Researcher I and II. All PhD students must successfully complete the first-year course on becoming a scientist. Graduate course credit hour requirements are determined by the school guidelines. The Department of Cell Biology strongly recommends completion of the following graduate courses to fulfill these requirements: Biochemistry, Molecular Genetics, Gene Expression: Beyond the Double Helix, Molecular Cell Biology, and/or Stem Cells, Development and Disease

Student advisory committee

Student advisory committee (SAC) meetings are required each year starting in year 2, and every 6 months starting in year 4. Students are strongly encouraged to have the first SAC meeting in the fall/winter of year 2. SACs follow the rules and format specified by the Graduate Program. Committees should include 3 faculty (or more) in addition to the thesis advisor, at least one of whom should be a senior faculty member with mentoring experience (Associate Professor or above). The members of the committee are selected based on the project and the required expertise and are adjusted as needed if the project changes. It is recommended to include a member of the Department of Cell Biology. The Chair is chosen by the student in consultation with the mentor, with the goal of retaining the Chair throughout the student’s thesis work to provide continuity. There is not a strict requirement that members or Chair are from the Department of Cell Biology.

Thesis Defense Committee

The thesis defense committee follows the rules and format specified by the Graduate Program. Two members must hold a primary or secondary appointment in the Department of Cell Biology. An outside member is strongly encouraged although not required.

You can also find out more about the department on our web page at:

Please feel free to contact Dr. Kielian (Director of Graduate Studies in Cell Biology) with any questions about graduate training in the Cell Biology Department, including rotations, advisory committee meetings, coursework questions or problems, qualifying exam, mentoring, etc.