For over 150 years, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been known around the world for its innovative, impactful, and collaborative research and educational programs. The School of Molecular & Cellular Biology, which includes the Departments of Biochemistry, Cell & Developmental Biology, Microbiology, and Molecular & Integrative Physiology, is at the forefront of life-changing research and education.

PhD students are an integral part of the university's and school’s traditions of excellence. Our accomplished faculty pride themselves on being accessible to their students, which creates a strong environment for mentoring. After graduating from Illinois, our PhD students become faculty at top academic research universities and leaders in industry, including pharmaceutical companies, national laboratories, and clinics.

Program overview

During your first year as a PhD student in MCB, you will rotate among three different laboratories to explore your interests. In December of your first year, you will choose a research adviser and laboratory and join a departmental graduate program. We have more than 65 active research labs that recruit PhD students.

Each department has specific degree requirements, such as successful passage of core relevant courses and advanced elective courses in related areas. Faculty and graduate students from the departments and school interact daily via courses, seminars, and other activities.

PhD program information by department

Additional PhD programs

MCB is also home to the Center for Biophysics and Quantitative Biology, which offers a graduate program in biophysics. In addition, the school is affiliated with the campus-wide Neuroscience PhD Program. Both programs have significant MCB faculty participation. Interested students should apply directly to those programs.

We are the lifeblood of biomedical research at the University of Illinois.



Finding solutions to the complex challenges facing society today requires multi-investigator and cross-disciplinary endeavors. MCB researchers are propelling breakthroughs in foundational and translational research. Faculty and students are uncovering insights into neurological and metabolic disorders, such as epilepsy and diabetes. They are at the forefront of diagnosing and treating cancer and combatting infectious diseases like the novel coronavirus and influenza.


Financial Support

PhD students receive financial support through fellowships, traineeships, or graduate assistantships, all of which provide a generous stipend as well as a full tuition and partial fee waiver. Departments guarantee financial support to students as long as they make satisfactory progress toward their degree. Several fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis to outstanding applicants. Students may also be eligible to participate in training grants associated with their graduate program.

Fellowship information from Illinois Graduate College  School and department fellowships & awards

Applying to the PhD program

Applicants interested in one or more of the departmental PhD programs in the School of MCB (Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology, Microbiology, or Molecular and Integrative Physiology) will apply to the Molecular and Cellular Biology PhD Program. Admission to the MCB PhD program requires a bachelor's degree in biological or physical sciences.

MCB is also affiliated with two robust interdisciplinary graduate-degree programs: the Center for Biophysics and Quantitative Biology and the Neuroscience PhD Program. Both programs have significant MCB faculty participation. Interested students should apply directly to those programs.

Deadlines & how to apply  Attend a recruiting event

Supportive & Collaborative

MCB and the campus community


From iconic green spaces like the Quad and historic buildings like the Illini Union, the University of Illinois is an inspiring place. We’re home to vibrant arts, tech, and healthcare communities and a diverse dining and nightlife scene.

The School of MCB is a close-knit group of scholars. We gather regularly for scholarship and social activities, which creates an environment rich for collaboration and innovation.

Meet our PhD students  Explore Champaign-Urbana  Resources for graduate students

Among public universities in international student and scholar enrollment
miles south of Chicago
Below the national average for cost of living (Forbes)

Contact us


Lori Raetzman, Associate Director, MCB PhD Programs
Shawna M. Smith, MCB Graduate Program Coordinator

B103 Chemical and Life Sciences Lab, MC-110
601 South Goodwin Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801-3709