Cell and Molecular Biology M.S. Programs

Information About the Program

The Cell and Molecular Biology program area offers Master's Programs in:

Molecular Biology

The Molecular Biology Institute (MBI) at San Diego State University administers the Master's program in Molecular Biology. The MBI is currently composed of members drawn predominantly from the Departments of Biology and Chemistry and is designed to serve these departments in the coordination, support and enhancement of research and training in the molecular life sciences. The interests of the MBI faculty span a wide range of biological problems, and their research activities are supported by research grants obtained from a variety of sources, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the American Heart Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Sea Grant, and the Air Force. Current grant support is in excess of $3 million per year. A listing of the faculty and a description of their research interests with recent representative publications can be accessed by clicking Faculty. The MBI faculty are also participants in the Ph.D. programs in Chemistry and Biology (other programs). More than 100 M.S. and Ph.D. candidates, post-doctoral fellows, and technicians participate in the research programs of the MBI faculty.

The laboratories of the MBI faculty in the Departments of Biology and Chemistry and BioChemistry are fully equipped for modern research in cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology and microbiology. Major items include peptide and oligonucleotide synthesizers and sequencers, amino acid analyzers, image processing facilities, Flow Cytometry Facility equipped with a BD FACSAria Flow Cytometer, FT and CW superconducting NMR spectrometers, mass spectrometers, stopped-flow spectrometers, unit mass and high resolution GC/MS, spectro-fluorometers, high pressure analytical and separation instrumental workstations, PCR machines, laser laboratories with a v ersatile array of lasers and accompanying equipment, controlled-temperature and animal rooms, research support shops, radiobiochemical hot labs and computers for DNA/protein structure/sequence analysis. The SDSU Microscopy Facility maintains an F EI Tecnai G2 12 TWIN transmission electron microscope with CCD camera, Zeiss 710 laser fluorescence scanning confocal light microscope, Hitachi scanning electron microscope, and ancillary equipment. SDSU is a member of the regional CRAY Supercomputer Consortium and is the supercomputer gateway to the California State University (CSU) System.

Applicants for admission to the Master of Science program in Molecular Biology must present evidence of adequate preparation and capacity for advanced work in the molecular life sciences and should have a strong background in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree or the equivalent from an accredited institution of higher learning with training comparable to that provided by San Diego State University's undergraduate programs. Applicants for admission should have completed minimally at least one year of physics, calculus, biochemistry, and one semester of organic chemistry.

The qualifications for admission in to the Master's program include a baccalaureate degree with a major in Biology or related field, a GPA of 2.85 for the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units of coursework and 3.00 for upper division courses in the major. The evaluation process will consider these numerical criteria, your three letters of recommendation, prior research experience and your specific research interests as they relate to faculty research programs. These last two items should be included as part of your Statement of Purpose in the Biology MS Application.

Applicants do not require a faculty sponsor for admission to the molecular biology and microbiology MS programs, but you will need to contact faculty members to determine if they accepting students into their labs.

Foreign applicants from undergraduate institutions where English is not the language of instruction must arrange to have their official TOEFL exam score forwarded to the Admissions Office. The TOEFL exam may be taken via computer or via a paper exam. A minimum score of 550 on the paper exam or 80 on the computer-based TOEFL is required.

International Students must also file a financial statement accompanied by the appropriate documentation from a bank or other source of funds, to demonstrate an adequate level of financial support to meet living costs, non-resident tuition, and other educational expenses at SDSU. If selected as a Teaching Assistant (see below), the salary earned (approximately $15,000/year) may be applied as partial fulfillment of this requirement.

More Information For Foreign Applicants

All students should submit application materials, including transcripts, letters of recommendation, CV and a statement of purpose to the Biology Department. Applications for admission are accepted by the SDSU Admissions Office beginning October 1 for the following fall semester (The Department of Biology does not have a Spring Admissions cycle). Molecular Biology, Physiology, and Microbiology Masters program applicants must contact particular faculty with whom they would like to carry out their thesis research to determine if there are openings in their labs. Applications for admission, including all supporting transcripts and scores should be submitted by February 1 for fall admission. The Department of Biology will continue to review completed applications received after February 1 and admission decisions will be made until all spaces are filled.

Under special circumstances applicants who do not meet certain admission requirements may be admitted as conditionally classified students and generally are given one year to meet such deficiencies in order to become fully classified graduate students. Such determinations will be at the discretion of the Admissions Committee and the Program Coordinator. Completion of such requirements by the proscribed deadline is necessary to continue in the program.

Detailed application instructions can be found here, Application Information for Prospective Masters Students, and should be followed closely.

Master's students must complete a graduate program of 30 units selected from approved courses under the recommendation of the MS advisor, and perform original thesis research under the guidance of one of the faculty of the Biology Department or the MBI. Considerable emphasis is given towards seminars, colloquia, and advanced topics courses in Molecular Biology. Generally, about 2.5-3.0 years are required for completion of course requirements and the thesis. A formal thesis presentation and defense is administered by the student's thesis committee.

Additional information about the program of study and program requirements can be found here Information for Current Students.

Graduate teaching assistantships (TAs) are available on a competitive basis (based on GPA and GRE scores) up to 20 hours work per week for the academic year (9 mos.). TAs are eligible for a full benefits package including medical, dental, and vision insurance for the calendar year. Completed applications should be submitted to the Department of Biology by February 1 along with all other application materials in order to be considered for a TA appointment. Fellowships, scholarships, and other forms of financial assistance from university, state, federal, and private sources are also available. More information about fellowships and loans can be obtained from the Financial Aid Office on campus

Although the overwhelming majority of graduate students live off-campus in private housing, there are a limited number of dormitory spaces on-campus. Housing costs are expensive in San Diego, but such costs can be minimized by sharing facilities. Contact the Office of Housing and Residential Life for assistance in locating off- and on-campus housing. Child day-care facilities are available on campus.

For California residents, registration fees are currently $4785 per semester for full-time (6.1 or more units) and $3279 per semester for part-time (6.0 units or less). Non-resident and foreign students must pay $396 per unit in addition to the aforementioned registration fees. In addition, foreign students are required to have health insurance coverage every year (approximately $1282). U.S. citizens may achieve California residency status at the end of one year. Once California residency is established students will pay the resident tuition fees. All fees are subject to change by the Trustees of the California State University.

For more detailed information please see Student Account Services.

The University is located 12 miles east of downtown San Diego and the Pacific Ocean. San Diego is a large and ethnically diverse metropolitan center with a population of over one million people, and is also host to one of the world's major biomedical research communities, with close interaction occurring among scientists at UCSD, Salk Institute, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation and SDSU. San Diego provides its inhabitants with one of the greatest varieties of living conditions and recreational opportunities. The Laguna Mountains are 45 minutes to the east and offer pine forests for hiking and camping. Beyond the Lagunas lies the Anza Borrego Desert State Park, the largest state park in the United States and certainly one of the most varied and interesting deserts to explore. Twelve miles to the west of the campus lies the Pacific with over 72 miles of recreational beaches providing outstanding facilities for water sports and ocean fishing. The city contains many fine cultural and recreational attractions, many of which are centered about Balboa Park. Balboa Park contains the world famous San Diego Zoo, as well as museums, art galleries, and the Old Globe Theatre with its summer Shakespearean festivals. Football, basketball, baseball and hockey fans can take advantage of Qualcomm Stadium, Cox Arena, and the San Diego Sports Arena to watch their favorite teams in action. Just 15 minutes south of San Diego is Mexico, with its cultural attractions, unusual shopping opportunities, and limitless possibilities for outdoor adventure in the rugged Baja peninsula.

San Diego State University, with approximately 1100 faculty and 32,000 students, including 5000 graduate students, is the largest of the 22 campuses in the California State University system. SDSU offers bachelor's degrees in 76 fields and master's degrees in more than 60 areas. There are presently ten doctoral programs offered jointly with nearby Ph.D.-granting institutions, including two in biology and one in chemistry. The annual amount of research and contract grant funds brought in by the SDSU faculty exceeds $120 million. Cultural activities abound on campus, including plays, concerts, films and lecture series. There are many opportunities on and near campus for part-time employment. For housing, there are a limited number of campus dormitory rooms available; however, most students choose to live in off-campus rental units in the college and beach communities.

Graduate Advising for M.S. Program in Cell and Molecular Biology/Microbiology

Kat Zumstein
Graduate Programs Coordinator

Dr. Ricardo Zayas
Cell and Molecular Biology/Microbiology M.S. Advisor