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Graduate Catalog 2016/2017

Cell and Molecular Biology (CBO)

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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CIP Code: 26.0406
College of Arts and Sciences (AS)
Total Minimum Program Hours Required (Post Bachelor's Degree): 90
Total Minimum Program Hours Required (Post Masters Degree): 60

Contact Information:
College of Arts and Sciences
Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology Department (BCM)
4202 E. Fowler Avenue ISA2015
Tampa FL  33620

Program Director or Coordinator:
Lindsey Shaw
Phone: 813-974-2087


Faculty Search: Arts and Sciences Faculty List

Program Information

Major Research Areas: Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Cancer Biology, Signal Transduction and Gene Regulation, Developmental Biology, Applied and General Microbiology

Accreditation Information:

Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of College and Schools.


Admissions Information

Admission Deadlines

There is an established University deadline for the submission of admission application materials. Programs may have earlier deadlines than the University deadline. The deadlines reflected below are the earliest of the two deadlines. Graduate Programs may continue to accept and process applications after the published deadline if space exists within the program. Check with the Program for availability.

Application Deadline (domestic application)

Fall: January 1
Spring: August 1
Summer: ---

International Students

Foreign applicants who are outside the U.S. are required to apply for a visa. Depending on the country of origin, this may take a few months. So the deadlines for these international applicants may be earlier than the Program deadline and these applicants must apply prior to both deadlines. They are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible. Foreign applicants who are in the U.S. and are currently on a visa may use the domestic application deadline dates. In addition to meeting the published application deadline for the Program of interest, all immigration documents should be submitted as soon as possible, but must be on file at USF no later than the following processing deadlines:

Fall: January 1
Spring: July 1
Summer: ---

Admission Requirements

You must comply with general University policies and meet general University Admission requirements in addition to those listed below.

Must meet University requirements (see Graduate Admissions) as well as requirements listed below.

Program Admission Requirements

  • 3.00 GPA last 60 hours of B.S. degree.
  • GRE: 57th percentile Verbal, 35th percentile Quantitative, 73rd percentile AW
  • All international students are required to submit the TOEFL test. Non-native English speaking graduate students must score a minimum of at least 570 on the paper based or a minimum total score of 79 on the internet-based test TOEFL and at least 50 on the TSE to be eligible for a teaching assistantship.
  • It is expected that candidates for the Ph.D. degree will have completed courses equivalent to those required for the B.S. in Biology at U.S.F.
  • Interview
  • Personal Statement of goals, experience
  • Three letters of recommendation

Admissions Status: Apply (Direct Receipt)


Program Degree Requirements

Total Minimum Program Hours 90
Core Requirements 6 Hours
PCB 6525 Molecular Genetics 3
PCB 6956 Scientific Grant Writing3
Other Required Courses 7 Hours
PCB 6920 Advances in Cellular and Molecular Biology1
BSC 6930 Lectures in Contemporary Biology (1) taken four times4
PCB 6093 Advances in Scientific Review2
Electives* 6 hours minimum
Selected from:
PCB 5616 Molecular Phylogenetics 3
PCB 6107 Advanced Cell Biology 4
BSC 5425 Genetic Engineering and Recombinant DNA Technology3
MCB 5206 Public Health & Pathogenic Microbiology 3
PCB 6236 Advanced Immunology4
PCB 5256 Developmental Mechanisms3
BSC 6932 Selected Topics 1-4
*Classes not on this list may be used with the approval of the CMMB Graduate Program Director
Research Requirements 71 hours minimum
BSC 7910Directed Research32 hours minimum
BSC 7980 Dissertation Research38 hours minimum
BSC 7936 PhD Seminar1 hour
Qualifying Exams

All students in the Cell and Molecular Biology Ph.D. program must complete a written and oral qualifying examination.

The written exam shall be in the format of a grant proposal and contain the following sections:

  • Abstract {300 words}
  • Specific Aims [1 page]
  • Background and Significance of topics [4-5 pages]
  • Proposed research program (conducted over 3 year period) [9-10 pages]
  • Bibliography (no page limit)
The length of the proposal shall be no more than 15 pages (the abstract and bibliography does not count in the page limit). The topic of the exam shall meet the following guidelines:
  • The written proposal cannot be based in the same model organism that the student will use to carry out their dissertation research
  • The written proposal cannot be based on the analysis of the same gene/protein that the student will investigate during their dissertation research
  • The written proposal cannot be based on the analysis of the same pathway that the student will investigate during their dissertation research
The oral exam is centered around a formal dissertation proposal presentation, followed by a period of questioning by the dissertation advisory committee.

Admission to Candidacy
The doctoral student is eligible for admission to candidacy after completing structured course requirements, passing the qualifying examinations and approval by the supervisory committee. Appropriate forms to document promotion to candidacy must be completed and to the Graduate School. Following admission to candidacy, a student must enroll in BSC 7980 when engaged in research, data collection, or writing activities relevant to the doctoral dissertation. Advisors should assign the number of credits in this course in accordance with policy and appropriate to the demands made on faculty, staff, and University facilities, but in no event will the total number of earned dissertation credits be fewer than 38. Students not admitted to candidacy are not eligible to enroll in BSC 7980.
Dissertation Requirements
The dissertation of all graduate students admitted to a graduate degree program at the University of South Florida must conform to the guidelines of the Handbook for Graduate Thesis and Dissertations available from the USF Graduate School (
Doctoral Seminar and Defense
All doctoral students must present a public seminar to the CMMB Department and must be enrolled in BSC 7980, during the semester in which the seminar is given. The seminar should be a concise summary of the research completed to satisfy the requirements for the Ph.D. The seminar is open to the general public and must be announced two weeks prior to the presentation. Upon completion of the seminar, the general public will be invited to ask questions. At the discretion of the student's advisory committee, members of the committee may continue to question the graduate student after the general public has departed the seminar room. Each student is expected to defend his/her research to the unanimous satisfaction of the advisory committee. Following the defense, students will make any editorial modifications to the dissertation as recommended by the advisory committee and submit the dissertation to the Graduate School.
Other Requirements
1 Scientific Publication
2 presentations at Scientific Meetings
Course Sequence
Fall year 1
     BSC7910 Directed Research (2)     Research Req.
     BSC6093 Advances in Scientific Review (2)     Other Required
     PCB6920 Advances in Cellular & Molecular Biology (1)     Other Required
     BSC6930 Lectures in Contemporary Biology (1)     Other Required
     PCB6525 Molecular Genetics (3)     Core

Spring year 1
     BSC7910 Directed Research (2)     Research Req.
     BSC6956 Scientific Grant Writing (3)     Core course
     Elective (3)     Elective
     BSC6930 Lectures in Contemporary Biology (1)     Other Required

Summer year 1
     BSC7910 Directed Research (6)     Research Req.

Fall year 2
     BSC7910 Directed Research (5)     Research Req.
     Elective (3)     Elective
     BSC6930 Lectures in Contemporary Biology (1)     Other Req.

Spring year 2
     BSC7910 Directed Research (8)     Research Req.
     BSC6930 Lectures in Contemporary Biology (1)     Other Required

Summer year 2
     BSC7910 Directed Research (6)     Research Req.

Fall year 3*
     BSC7910 Directed Research (9)     Research

*students should advance to candidacy by the close of the Fall of year 3. . Until candidacy is attained, students must enroll in BSC 7910. Once candidacy has been achieved, students must enroll in BSC 7980, starting with the semester following admission to candidacy.

Spring year 3
     BSC7980 Doctoral Dissertation (9)     Research

Summer year 3
     BSC7980 Doctoral Dissertation (6)     Research

Fall year 4
     BSC7980 Doctoral Dissertation (9)     Research

Spring year 4
     BSC7980 Doctoral Dissertation (8)     Research
     BSC7936 PhD Seminar (1)     Research

*Students are expected to finish in their 4th year but some may require additional time

College Degree Requirements

Refer to the College Section of theGraduate Catalog for College requirements and information.


USF Degree Requirements

See USF Degree Requirements —


Financial Assistance

Financial Aid

Fellowships & Scholarships

Graduate Assistantships


Registration Process

First, contact your graduate program advisor for guidance courses to register for. Obtain any electronic course permit if necessary. Register for the new student orientation online at Then go to the link to OASIS, USF's on-line registration system to register for your classes. Follow the directions given on-line.

To access online course materials, students must have a USF NetID (e-mail account). Please visit: to obtain your NetID.

New students, including those studying online, may obtain a USFCard. Please visit: to obtain your USFCard.

Tuition and fees: Fees are determined by the level of the course. Please visit Cash Accounting, Controller's Office, for information on tuition and fees.


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