Student researcher in Melinda Larsen Lab

Doctor of Philosophy



Program Concentration

The master’s in biology program at UAlbany has a Molecular, Cellular, Developmental and Neural Biology (MCDN) concentration

The MCDN concentration focuses on research concepts like cell-cell signaling, the regulation of bacterial gene expression, RNA folding, cancer drug discovery and brain function.

You will be encouraged to apply for fellowships, contribute to major scientific studies, and present your findings at conferences and symposiums. You will also have the opportunity to teach for at least two semesters with support to help develop your communication and presentation skills.


For more information about Molecular, Cellular, Developmental and Neural Biology, contact Marlene Belfort at


Note: Admissions to the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology concentration for the PhD Biology program have been suspended effective August 2020.

Program of Study

Qualifying Examination – Written

Qualifying Examination – Oral defense of research proposal

Full-Time Study in Residence

Sample core courses:

  • Cell Biology I and Cell Biology II
  • Biochemistry and Biomolecular Structure 
  • Advanced Molecular Biology

Research Tool Requirement

Demonstrated proficiency in one of the following:

  • Computer programming
  • Statistical analysis
  • Advanced mathematics
  • Electronic theory and design

Teaching Requirement

At least two semesters during your graduate tenure.


Representing a significant and original contribution to knowledge in your field of specialization.


See the Graduate Bulletin for details.



The main component of your PhD in Biology program studies will be research-based. With access to our collaborative Life Sciences open laboratories as well as to institutions in the region, such as the Wadsworth Center and the New York State Department of Health, you will have access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment to conduct your research.

You will have a strong mentoring relationship with our faculty enabling you to engage on all aspects of scientific investigation from discovery to effective data dissemination.


Career Outcomes

With a PhD in Biology you will have the credentials to pursue career opportunities for conducting research and development in private companies, applying your expertise and skills in government agencies or sharing your knowledge through teaching positions or journalism. Possible career titles include: Professor, Life Scientist, Microbiologist, Environmental Scientist, Teacher, Science Writer, Biotechnology Research Scientist.

Paolo Forni investigating neurological disorders

“Both the faculty and the students of the MCDN PhD program have become like a second family to me throughout this journey. I am truly amazed at how much I have grown both professionally and personally with their support over the years. Through extensive collaborations and interdisciplinary research within the department, I have matured into a stronger scientist. The program empowered me to be independent and explore diverse career options, which landed me an industry internship that turned into a research position at a leading pharmaceutical company."

- Cathleen Schiraldi

International Students

This degree is designated as a STEM program. Upon graduation, international students with an F-1 visa are allowed to apply for a 2-year extension to the automatic 1-year post-graduate Occupational Practical Training (OPT) period.

Admissions Requirements

Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: January 31
  • Spring: October 1
  • Summer: Not Available

 No Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: June 15
  • Spring: December 1
  • Summer: Not Available
Required Application Materials
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of goals

The statement is generally one to two pages discussing what you have to offer the program and what you wish to get out of the program.  It should include a brief description of the applicant's field of interest, related background, desired area of study and research emphasis or career goals.