Molecular and Cell Biology

The molecular and cell biology (MCB) major is intended for students with interests in molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, microbiology, or genetics, including subsequent careers in research and biotechnology.


To review graduation requirements for the major, please refer to the Undergraduate Catalog and the Major Requirements Worksheet for your catalog year. To look up your catalog year and keep track of graduation requirements, review your Academic Requirements Report in Student Admin. Catalog year is found at the top of your Academic Requirements Report.

Students can earn a BS degree in this major.

Major Requirements

Students must complete at least 24 credits of 2000-level or higher courses in MCB, of which at least nine credits must be at the 3000 level or above. The 24 credits must include courses from the major requirements below.

­­­­­­­­­­­Notes: A maximum of three credits from among MCB 3189, 3899, 3989, and 4989 may count toward the 24-credit requirement. For breadth of study in biology, it is recommended that students take PNB 2250 and EEB 2244 or 2245.

Introductory Biology Course

Complete BIOL 1107. Principles of Biology I (4 credits)

MCB Core Courses (Group 1)

Complete all of the following courses:

  • MCB 2210. Cell Biology (3 credits) or MCB 2215. Honors Cell Biology (3 credits)
  • MCB 2410. Genetics (3 credits) or MCB 2400. Human Genetics (3 credits)
  • MCB 2610. Fundamentals of Microbiology (4 credits)
  • MCB 2000. Introduction to Biochemistry (4 credits) or MCB 3010. Biochemistry (5 credits)

Organic Chemistry (Group 2)

Complete both of the following courses:

  • CHEM 2443. Organic Chemistry I (3 credits)
  • CHEM 2444. Organic Chemistry II (3 credits)

Laboratory Requirement (Group 3)

Complete at least one of the following laboratory courses:

  • MCB 2225. Cell Biology Laboratory (4 credits)
  • MCB 2612. Microbe Hunters – Crowdsourcing Antibiotic Discovery (4 credits)
  • MCB 3189. Clinical Research Lab (3 credits)*
  • MCB 3220. Developmental Biology Lab (4 credits)
  • MCB 3413. Concepts of Genetic Analysis (3 credits)
  • MCB 3633. Pathogenic Microbiology (4 credits)
  • MCB 3989. Introduction to Research (3 credits)*
  • MCB 4026W. Advanced Biochemistry Lab (4 credits)
  • MCB 4624. Experiments in Bacterial Genetics (3 credits)
  • MCB 4989. Introduction to Honors Research (3 credits)*

*Three total credits required. Courses may be repeated, but only 3 credits of either course may count toward the 24 credits of required MCB courses.

Writing in the Major

Complete at least one of the following:

  • MCB 3022W. Human Disease (3 credits)
  • MCB 3602W. Introduction to Bioinformatic Tools for Microbial Genome Annotation (1 credits)
  • MCB 3841W. Research and Literature in MCB (3 credits)
  • MCB 3842W. Current Investigations in Cancer Cell Biology (3 credits)
  • MCB 3843W. Research Literature in Comparative Genomics (3 credits)
  • MCB 3844W. Microbiology and the Media (3 credits)
  • MCB 3845W. Microbial Diversity, Ecology and Evolution (3 credits)
  • MCB 3849W. Symbiosis: The Science of Living Together (3 credits)
  • MCB 3996W. Research Thesis in MCB (3 credits)
  • MCB 4026W. Advanced Biochemistry Lab (4 credits)
  • MCB 4997W. Honors Research Thesis in MCB (3 credits)

*EEB 2244W. General Ecology and EEB 2245W. Evolutionary Biology (4 credits) can be used to fulfill this requirement for students with catalog years prior to 2018-2019 and for catalog year 2019-2020. Please note that this course does not count toward the 24 credit major group but this course will count as a related course.

Related Courses

Complete at least 12 credits of 2000-level or higher related courses outside MCB (Includes CHEM 2443 and 2444). Speak with your assigned advisor to determine which courses can count as related courses. EEB and PNB courses are pre-approved relateds.

Additional Notes and Restrictions

Sample Course Sequence

Students majoring in molecular and cell biology earn a BS degree. Candidates must complete the CLAS requirements for a BS to receive their degree. While no sample program can apply to every student, the following example assumes that the student has met the foreign language requirement in high school.


First Semester (Fall)

BIOL 1107 (4 credits)
CHEM 1127Q or 1124Q (3-4 credits)
Gen Ed (3 credits)
First-year writing or Gen Ed (3-4 credits)
UNIV 1800 (FYE) (1 credit)

Total credits: 14-16

Second Semester (Spring)

BIOL 11081 or MCB core2 (3 credits)
CHEM 1128Q or 1125Q (3-4 credits)
Gen Ed (3 credits)
Gen Ed or First-year writing (3-4 credits)
Total credits: 12-14

Third Semester (Fall)

MCB core course (3-4 credits)
MATH 1131Q (4 credits)
CHEM 1126Q or 2443 (3 credits)
W course (3 credits)
Gen Ed (3 credits)

Total credits: 16-17

Fourth Semester (Spring)

MCB core course (3-5 credits)
CHEM 2444 (3 credits)
MATH 1132Q (4 credits)
Gen Ed or elective (3 credits)
Gen Ed (3 credits)
Total credits: 16-18

Fifth Semester (Fall)

PHYS 1401Q or 1201Q (4 credits)
MCB core course (3-5 credits)
MCB writing (W) course (3-4 credits)
Gen Ed (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits)

Total credits: 16-19

Sixth Semester (Spring)

PHYS 1402Q or 1202Q (4 credits)
MCB core course (3-4 credits)
Elective or related course3 (3 credits)
Gen Ed (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits)

Total credits: 16-17

Seventh Semester (Fall)

3000+ MCB (lab) course4 (3-4 credits)
Related course (3 credits)
Gen Ed (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits)

Total credits: 15-16

Eighth Semester (Spring)

3000+ MCB (lab) course5 (3-4 credits)
Elective or related course (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits)

Total credits: 15-16


1The MCB major requires only BIOL 1107. For a broad background in introductory biology, it is recommended that students also take BIOL 1108. Pre-dental students should take BIOL 1108.

2MCB majors must take 24 credits of MCB coursework including all of the following core courses: MCB 2000. Introduction to Biochemistry (4 credits) or MCB 3010. Biochemistry (5 credits); MCB 2210. Cell Biology or MCB 2215. Honors Cell Biology (3 credits); MCB 2410. Genetics or MCB 2400. Human Genetics (3 credits); and MCB 2610. Fundamentals of Microbiology (4 credits).

3Students must take 12 credits of 2000-level or above courses outside MCB for the relateds requirement. This group must include CHEM 2443 and CHEM 2444. Students who choose related courses that are not in CHEM, EEB, or PNB should get advisor approval. Students interested in pursuing medicine or dentistry should also take CHEM 2445. Organic Chemistry Lab (3 credits).

4MCB majors must take one course that requires extensive laboratory work. Students interested in pursuing independent study should contact faculty members in disciplines that interest them. Three credits of MCB 3189. Clinical Research Laboratory, MCB 3989. Intro to Undergraduate Research, or MCB 4989. Intro to Honors Research fulfills the requirement for an MCB lab course; a maximum of three credits can apply to the 24-credit group.

5Complete 24 credits of 2000-level or higher courses in MCB, of which at least 9 credits are at the 3000-level or above.