The Molecular & Cell Biology Graduate Program

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Application Deadlines:

2019-2020 academic year

The deadline for Ph.D. applications is 12/1/18

The M.S. application deadline is rolling through 5/1/19

Frequently Asked Questions - Master's Degree

The following is a list of questions that we have received over the years. The questions and answers are divided into 3 categories: financial questions, questions related to the application process and program requirements questions.

Please contact  the Division of Science Graduate Affairs Office at if you need further information than is available here.

  • Financial FAQs
  • Application FAQs
  • Program Requirement FAQs

Is financial aid available?
The program itself does not provide financial aid to students, but need-based financial aid may be available through the graduate school. For information contact: Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at (781) 736-3410 or visit their website.

Are scholarships, teaching assistantships, or research assistantships available?
The Biology Department does not provide stipends or merit-based scholarships to Master’s student in MCB. Teaching assistantships are typically reserved for second year PhD students or students who have previously taken the course in question.

The department does not explicitly provide research assistantships to students, but it is possible for students to arrange employment in research labs themselves. However, there is a research component to the program that may be fulfilled by laboratory work, which must be unpaid. 

It is not recommended that applicants contact faculty members in advance of admission regarding lab work or employment.

How much is tuition at Brandeis?

To determine the total cost of the program and to see the current tuition rates, please explore the graduate school’s cost of attendance calculator.

Full-time students will pay the full-time tuition for one year at Brandeis University. Full-time Master’s students who continue past one year will pay the “Extended Master’s Fee” in each additional semester. Part-time students pay per course.

How do I apply?
Prospective students can apply online at the Brandeis University GSAS website.

What is the application fee?
The application fee is $75 for on-line applicants. More information is available (including information pertaining to application fee waiver requests).

What are the GRE requirements?
GREs are not required.

What are the TOEFL requirements?
International applicants whose native language is not English or who have not graduated from an  English-speaking institution within an English-speaking country must submit results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing Service (IELTS), or Pearson Test of English (PTE-Academic). Test scores should not be more than two years old. Waiver and exemptions from this must be approved by the graduate school.

While the department will consider these scores within the context of the entire application, the graduate school does have strict exam score requirements. This information, as well as the extended policies for this requirement, is available.

Do I need to submit official test scores and transcripts?
Applicants should submit unofficial transcripts with their application. Official copies of your transcripts are only required if you are admitted and decide to enroll in the program. More information about transcript submission is available.

We will consider applications with just unofficial self-reported test scores, but applicants should make arrangements for official scores to be sent as soon as possible. The admissions committee may require official test scores before an admissions decision is made. We strongly encourage applicants to include self-reported test scores when submitting their applications, as the admissions committee will not consider applications without them and it may take several weeks for official test scores to be sent, received, and processed. When submitting unofficial GRE scores, please make sure to include the GRE percentile scores. Due to variability between GRE tests and the recent change in the GRE scoring practice, the admissions committee relies primarily on GRE percentile scores rather than raw scores.

When can I apply?
The MCB Master’s program accepts applications on a rolling basis for Fall and Spring semesters.

Fall applications will be considered on a rolling basis until May 1st; application review begins on January 15th. Please note that the application may be closed earlier if the desired cohort size is reached prior to May 1. As we cannot predict when we will complete the admission cycle each year, applicants are advised to submit applications as early as possible.

Spring applicants must complete their applications by November 15th (domestic applicants) and October 15th (international applicants).

I am an international student; how do I obtain a visa?
The graduate school will coordinate all aspects of your visa with the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO), once accepted into the program. More information about requirements for international students are available. More information for international students can be found on ISSO’s website.

I applied to the PhD program but was denied, can I be considered for the MS program?
Applicants have the option to choose to be considered for the MS if denied to the PhD. If you would like to do this, please contact the Division of Science Graduate Affairs Office at scigradoffice @ or by calling 781-736-2300.

Will attending Brandeis as a MS student guarantee me a spot as a PhD student?
A spot in the PhD program is not guaranteed for Master’s students. Brandeis MS students who wish to transfer to the PhD program must formally apply to the PhD program. The PhD admissions committees will consider such applications within the context of the entire applicant pool. However, should a MS student be accepted into the PhD program, they will be allowed to transfer any eligible (i.e. those that meet the program requirements and specifications) courses towards their PhD course requirements. The year spent as an MS student will count towards their three-year-minimum residency for the PhD program.

Do I need to contact anyone in the department before applying to the MS program?
Applicants do not need to contact anyone in the department prior to applying.

It is not recommended that applicants contact faculty members in advance of admission regarding lab work or employment. Faculty members cannot accept graduate students into their labs prior to acceptance into the program and rarely accept students before the start of classes.

If you have any questions about the program or about the application process, please contact the Division of Science Graduate Affairs Office at scigradoffice @ or 781-736-2300.

How long does it take to get a Master's degree?
The minimum residency requirement is one year and the program is designed to be completed in one year as a full-time student. Some students, particularly those who wish to have an extended research experience or complete a MS thesis, have been allowed to complete the program in longer than one year. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Can I attend the Master’s program as a part-time student?
Yes, the MCB MS program can be completed part-time. Part-time students must enroll in fewer than 12 credits per semester. Applicants may apply as a part-time student or may change their status to part-time at a later date, with approval by the program chair.

What are the course requirements for a Master's degree in MCB?
Students are required to take six graduate level courses, usually three per semester, and pass with a B- or higher. These courses must be “graduate-level” (i.e. 100 or higher) and be listed or cross-listed in the MCB program section of the Brandeis Bulletin. Exceptions to this must be approved by the graduate committee. The six courses must include Biol 101a and Biol 100b. In addition, all students must enroll in and attend the Graduate Student Research Seminars (Biol 350), a Journal Club (typically Biol 305), and Responsible Conduct of Research (Cont 300b).

Please see the MCB MS graduate handbook or the University Bulletin for detailed information.

What are the research requirements?
All MCB MS students must complete at least one semester of a research component. This can be satisfied through either an approved Project Lab course, through the Master’s Research Lab (Biol 296) in the lab of at least one faculty member, through the Master’s Thesis (Biol 299), or (with approval of the chair) through Readings in Molecular and Cell Biology (Biol 298)

Please see the MCB MS graduate handbook or the University Bulletin for detailed information.

How do I choose a research lab?
Master’s students are not guaranteed a spot in a research lab. Those that wish to complete their research requirement through independent lab work are responsible for arranging a rotation with a faculty member themself. To aid in this process, the Life Sciences programs hold a “faculty bazaar” during orientation. This is a three-night series of short research presentations (with dinner) designed to acquaint students with research opportunities at Brandeis. We cannot, however, guarantee that every faculty member that speaks during the faculty bazaar has space for a Master’s rotation student. Faculty are available by appointment at the end of that week, and students who are interested in a particular lab should discuss rotations with faculty during that window.

It is not recommended that applicants contact faculty members in advance of admission or before the start of class regarding lab work. Faculty members cannot accept graduate students into their labs prior to acceptance into the program and rarely accept students before the start of classes.

What is the process for completing a MS thesis?
Master's students who have carried out independent research have the option of completing a Master's thesis, typically after taking either project lab or (as is more common) at least one semester of master's research lab (Biol296). It is the responsibility of the students to find a research advisor for the thesis work and submission of a Master's thesis requires mutual agreement between the student, advisor, and program chair. Students that wish to complete a Master's thesis should indicate this interest to their faculty advisor at the beginning of their Master's research lab work. The mutual agreement that a thesis will be written is typically reached at the middle or end of the previous Biol296 research, usually after substantial progress has been made on the research project. Students who complete a Master's thesis generally extend their time in the program to 1.5 or 2 years residency. A student who plans to register for Biol299 in the following semester must notify the program chair and the biology office of their intention no later than Nov. 1st for a Spring semester thesis and March 1st for a Fall semester thesis.



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