MS and PhD in Comparative and Molecular Biosciences

CBM student reading a text book

The Comparative and Molecular Biosciences (CMB) graduate program is transdisciplinary and intercollegiate, bringing together basic, applied, and clinical scientists from across the University of Minnesota to provide students with individualized, cutting-edge biomedical research training to address both animal and human health. The CMB program is unique within the University of Minnesota because it focuses on health that spans a wide range of species, from laboratory animals, companion animals, and livestock species to humans.

Our mission is to advance our understanding of the basic mechanisms of animal and human health and disease. We include many professional development opportunities so that graduates are prepared for careers as independent investigators and educators in:

  • Comparative animal biology and genetics
  • Molecular mechanisms of health and disease
  • Immunology and infectious diseases
  • Animal models of human disease

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Application criteria

Applicants interested in the CMB program should review the following preferred performance standards:

  • A minimum grade performance average (GPA) of 3.25 (on a four-point scale).
  • GRE test scores will not be required for the Fall 2023 application cycle.
  • Prior research experience is strongly preferred.
  • Students with a BA or BS in biological sciences are encouraged to apply. 

International students 

Prospective students whose native language is not English will be considered if they have received the following minimal scores obtained within the past two (2) years of the graduate program start date from one of the following English proficiency examinations:

  • TOEFL: total score of 79; reading subscore of, 19; and writing subscore of, 21
  • MELAB: 80
  • IELTS: total score of 6.5 overall, reading subscore of 6.5, writing subscore of 6.5

Note: Review the Graduate School's English Language Proficiency page to review other acceptable tests to demonstrate language proficiency.

Ready to apply?

Please review the “Application Instructions” document to assist you in completing your MS or PhD application. Refer to the "Application Frequently Asked Questions" document for additional information.

  • Application deadline: December 1. Applications for new students are generally considered for the Fall term only. 
  • Application fees:
    • U.S. citizen / permanent resident ($75)
    • International ($95)

Required application materials include the following: 

  • Resume or CV
  • Names and email addresses of three people who can comment on your academic and research skills 
    • A complete application will require three letters of recommendation submitted by your recommenders via the application portal
  • Personal statement of research experiences and interests
  • Unofficial transcripts or academic records from each post-secondary learning institution attended, including incomplete or partial academic records 
  • GRE scores (not required for Fall 2023 application)
  • English proficiency test scores (e.g. TOEFL, MELAB, or IELTS), if applicable

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What to expect

Comparative and Molecular Biosciences PhD degree

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Comparative and Molecular Biosciences (CMB) is granted in recognition of scholarly scientific research attainments. Graduates will be prepared for leadership positions in academia or the private sector.

  • Students complete a minimum of 24 course credits and 24 thesis credits. 
  • On average, students complete the PhD degree in less than five years.
  • Students will experience a variety of disciplines, courses, and research projects in the first two years of the PhD program, which are used to define interest areas, broaden scientific background, and refine scientific communication skills. 
  • Students identify an adviser by the end of the first year and complete preliminary exams after two years. Students then focus on a dissertation research project that culminates with a final defense.

For more information see the CMB PhD course requirements and degree timeline

Comparative and Molecular Biosciences/MS degree

A Master of Science degree in Comparative and Molecular Biosciences (CMB) is granted in recognition of scholarly scientific research attainments and prepares graduates with strong technical skills for careers in industry or veterinary medicine. 

  • Students complete a total of 30 credits (including 10 thesis credits) and submit a thesis based on original laboratory research. 
  • On average, students complete the MS degree in less than three years.

For more information see the CMB MS course requirements and degree timeline.

Tuition, fees and funding

  • First year: The CMB graduate program supports incoming PhD students during their first academic year with a Research Assistantship position, which includes a $29,000 annual stipend, tuition waiver, and healthcare benefits.
  • Subsequent years: Faculty advisors provide financial support. After successfully passing preliminary exams given during the second year of a PhD program and if the student is paid at the base stipend level, students are eligible for a $1,000 increase. 
  • MS students must identify a faculty advisor who will provide financial support during their training.
  • A number of grants and fellowships are also available. Interested students should consult the U of M Graduate School and the college’s graduate program grant and fellowship opportunities.
  • Additional information on tuition and fees are detailed on the U of M OneStop.

Housing Information

Meet the Comparative and Molecular Biosciences faculty

Our faculty will help to provide you with individualized training to gain new knowledge in the understanding of comparative aspects of biology and pathology across animal species, animal models of human disease, and animal diseases and populations.

Meet our faculty

Meet the Comparative and Molecular Biosciences graduate students

Students in Comparative and Molecular Biosciences (CMB) are engaged in research in a variety of areas in biomedical sciences at the intersection of animal and human health. Our students study infectious and zoonotic diseases, genetics and genomics, molecular mechanisms of health and disease, virology and bacteriology, among other areas of research.

Meet our graduate students

Need additional information or advice?

Interested students should contact Dr. Hinh Ly, CMB Director of Graduate Studies, or Dr. Sandra Godden, Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Programs.