Apr 22, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 
    
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Biological Sciences


Return to: USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences  

The Department of Biological Sciences has research faculty with specialties in four disciplines: human and evolutionary biology, marine and environmental biology, molecular and computational biology, and neurobiology. A diversity of upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses permits biology majors to choose an emphasis in any of these four disciplines. Our students will gain a deep appreciation of organisms, from their smallest molecular mechanisms to their largest interactions within ecosystems. We help students refine skills in critical thinking, communication, and collaboration, as well as understand how biology can contribute to solving society’s problems. We also offer students the opportunity to participate in the discovery of new knowledge by working alongside our faculty members in their laboratories. Students who complete our degree programs will be well prepared for professional careers in the health sciences, as well as for careers in research and education in the basic biological and biomedical fields, and many other professions.

The department offers BA and BS degrees in Biological Sciences, and BA and BS degrees in Human Biology. See the HEB section of the Dornsife website for more information about Human Biology undergraduate programs of study. The BS in Biochemistry is offered as a joint program with the Department of Chemistry. See the Neuroscience section of the Dornsife website for descriptions of the undergraduate degrees in Neuroscience and Computational Neuroscience. Undergraduates in Biological Sciences have the opportunity to become involved in laboratory or field research and may enroll in  the research courses BISC 290  or BISC 490x  for some of their elective units. Minors are offered in Biology of Human Movement, Biotechnology, Craniofacial and Dental Technology (with the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry), Human Disease, Marine Biology, and Natural Science.

At the graduate level, the department offers challenging degree programs that lead to a PhD in Integrative and Evolutionary Biology, Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography, and Molecular Biology. See the Neuroscience section of the Dornsife website for a description of the graduate degree in Neuroscience. The department also offers an MS in Developmental Origins of Health and Disease as well as progressive MS degrees in Marine and Environmental Biology and Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry.

 

Allan Hancock Foundation Building 107
(213) 740-2777
FAX: (213) 740-8123
Email (undergraduate programs):
biodept@dornsife.usc.edu
Email (graduate programs):
marinebi@dornsife.usc.edu
molecule@dornsife.usc.edu
ieb@dornsife.usc.edu
Website: dornsife.usc.edu/bisc

Chair: James Moffett, PhD

Vice Chair: Ian Ehrenreich, PhD

Section Heads

Human and Evolutionary Biology: Lorraine Turcotte, PhD

Marine and Environmental Biology: Douglas Capone, PhD

Molecular and Computational Biology: Oscar Aparicio, PhD

Neurobiology: Judith Hirsch, PhD

Quantitative and Computation Biology: Remo Rohs, PhD

Faculty

Robert C. Packard President’s Chair and President: Carol L. Folt, PhD (Preventive Medicine)

University Professor, ARCO/William F. Kieschnick Chair in the Neurobiology of Aging and Professor of Gerontology, Biological Sciences, Anthropology, and Psychology: Caleb E. Finch, PhD (Gerontology)

Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and Ester Dornsife Chair in Biological Sciences: Norman Arnheim, PhD*

University Provost Professor of Neurology, Biomedical Engineering and Biological Sciences: Steve Kay, PhD (Neurology)

University Professor and Milo Don and Lucille Appleman Professor of Biological Sciences and Professor of Biological Sciences and Psychology: Larry W. Swanson, PhD

Distinguished Professor and Chair, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology; Fletcher Jones Foundation Chair in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology: Jae U. Jung, PhD (Molecular Microbiology and Immunology)

Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, and Chemical Engineering & Materials Science and Dana and David Dornsife Chair in Chemistry: Arieh Warshel, PhD* (Chemistry)

Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences: Susan L. Forsburg, PhD*   

USC Associates Captain Hancock Chair in Marine Science and Professor of Biological Sciences: David A. Caron, PhD*

W. M. Keck Provost Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and Biological Sciences: Andrew McMahon, PhD (Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine)

Provost Professor of Biological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Physiology and Biophysics, Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Pediatrics, Radiology and Ophthalmology: Scott Fraser, PhD

Dana and David Dornsife Chair, Wrigley Institute Director and Professor of Psychology and Biological Sciences: Joseph Arvai, PhD (Psychology)

Provost Professor of Ophthalmology, Neurology, Psychiatry and the Behavior Sciences, Radiology, Biomedical Engineering and Biological Sciences: Arthur Toga, PhD (Ophthalmology)

Dean’s Professor of Biological Sciences and Professor of Biological Sciences, Medicine, Biomedical Engineering and Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering: Peter Kuhn, PhD

William and Julie Wrigley Chair in Environmental Studies and Professor of Biological Sciences: Douglas G. Capone, PhD

Robert D. Beyer (‘81) Early Career Chair in Natural Sciences and Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Biological Sciences and Chemistry: Moh El-Naggar, PhD* (Physics and Astronomy)

McCulloch-Crosby Chair in Marine Biology and Professor of Biological Sciences: Jed A. Fuhrman, PhD*

Wrigley Chair in Environmental Studies and Professor of Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences: Kenneth Nealson, PhD (Earth Sciences)

George and Louise Kawamoto Chair in Biological Sciences and Professor of Biological Sciences: David Hutchins, PhD

Gordon S. Marshall Early Career Chair and Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Biological Sciences: Stacey Finley, PhD (Biomedical Engineering)

Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences: Laura Melissa Guzman, PhD; Carly Kenkel, PhD; Lindsey Schier, PhD

Professors: Jan Amend, PhD (Earth Sciences); Oscar M. Aparicio, PhD; Donald Arnold, PhD; Christopher Boehm, PhD; Sarah Bottjer, PhD; Lin Chen, PhD; Xiaojiang Chen, PhD; Casey Donovan, PhD; Suzanne Edmands, PhD; Pinghui Feng, PhD (Keck); Steven Finkel, PhD; Henryk Flashner, PhD (Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering); Myron F. Goodman, PhD; John F. Heidelberg, PhD; Judith Hirsch, PhD; Albert A. Herrera, PhD*; Dale Kiefer, PhD; Chien-Ping Ko, PhD; Michael Lieber, PhD; Emily R. Liman, PhD; Donal T. Manahan, PhD; David D. McKemy, PhD*; Jill McNitt-Gray, PhD; Matthew Michael, PhD; James W. Moffett, PhD; Aiichiro Nakano, PhD (Computer Science); Sergey Nuzhdin, PhD; Matthew Pratt, PhD (Chemistry); Peter Qin, PhD (Chemistry); Michael Quick, PhD*; David Raichlen, PhD; Remo Rohs, PhD; Sergio Sañudo-Wilhelmy, PhD; Andrew Smith, PhD; Craig Stanford, PhD; Fengzhu Sun, PhD; Paul Thompson, PhD (Neurology); John Tower, PhD; Lorraine Turcotte, PhD; Alan Watts, PhD

Associate Professors: Liang Chen, PhD; Irene Chiolo, PhD; Sean Curran, PhD (Gerontology); Matthew Dean, PhD; Dion Dickman, PhD; Rosa Di Felice, PhD (Physics); Ian Ehrenreich, PhD; Robert Girandola, PhD; Andrew Gracey, PhD; Christoph Haselwandter (Physics and Astronomy); Scott Kanoski, PhD; Rusty Lansford, PhD; Kristi Lewton, PhD (Keck); Biren Patel, PhD (Keck); Fabien Pinaud, PhD; Fei Sha, PhD (Computer Science); Cameron Thrash, PhD; Paul Thomas, PhD (Preventive Medicine); Eric A. Webb, PhD; Chao Zhang, PhD (Chemistry); Wiebke Ziebis, PhD

Assistant Professors: Berenice Benayoun, PhD (Gerontology); James Boedicker, PhD (Physics); Michael Campbell, PhD; Mark Chaisson, PhD; Xianrui Cheng, PhD; Charleston Chiang, PhD (Preventive Medicine); Michael Edge, PhD; Cornelius Gati, PhD; Naomi Herrera, PhD; Bruce Herring, PhD; Samuel Andrew Hires, PhD; Vsevolod Katritch, PhD; Naomi Levine, PhD; Travis Longcore, PhD (Architecture); Adam MacLean, PhD; Derrick Morton, PhD; Carolyn Phillips, PhD; Marc Vermulst, PhD (Gerontology)

Professor (Teaching): Karla B. Heidelberg, PhD*

Professor (Research): James Hicks, PhD

Associate Professors (Teaching): Christa Bancroft, PhD; Raffaella Ghittoni, PhD; Kurt Kwast, PhD; Gioia Polidori, PhD; Oliver Rizk, PhD; Rory Spence, PhD

Associate Professors (Research): Alberto Robador Ausejo, PhD; Linda Duguay, PhD; Feixue Fu, PhD; Raina Pang, PhD; Le Trinh, PhD

Associate Professor (Clinical): Kristi Lewton, PhD (Cell and Neurobiology)

Assistant Professors (Teaching): Peter Calabrese, PhD; Nancy Castro, PhD; Grayson Jaggers, PhD; Helaine Lopes, PhD; Trond Sigurdsen, PhD; Bruce Yazejian, PhD

Assistant Professors (Research): Joel Hahn, PhD; Laura Gomez Consarnau, PhD; Phuong Pham, PhD; Thai Troung, PhD

Master Lecturer: Gudrun Floyd, MS

Lecturers: Shirin Birjandi, PhD; Alexis Camacho, MS; Joshua Carlos, MS; Shannon Cross, EdD; Laura Held, PhD; Refael Levi, PhD; Brett Spatola, PhD, Lauren Visconti, PhD

Adjunct Assistant Professor (Teaching) of Biological Sciences: James Dines, PhD

Emeritus: Michael Appleman, PhD; Robert Baker, PhD; John Callaghan, PhD; Richard Deonier, PhD; Dennis Hedgecock, PhD; William O. McClure*, PhD; Raymond Stevens, PhD; Simon Tavare, PhD; Cornelius W Sullivan, PhD; Michael S. Waterman, PhD; Russel Zimmer, PhD

*Recipient of university-wide or college teaching award.

Undergraduate Degrees

Director of Undergraduate Studies, Biological Sciences: Christa Bancroft, PhD

The BISC degree programs are designed for students passionate about biology and the natural sciences. Rigorous training in scientific methods paired with a broad liberal arts education prepares BISC majors for careers in diverse fields such as business, education, law, health and technology. Many students choose the BISC major because most of the course requirements overlap with the pre-health curriculum or prepare students for a career in academia or industry.

The department offers specially planned courses within the biological sciences to prepare students for admission to professional schools (medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, occupational therapy, physical therapy, pharmacy, optometry, public health), paramedical sciences (medical technology, physician’s assistant, clinical and public health microbiology, clinical biochemistry), naturalist and environmental positions in the public and private sectors, jobs in industry (biotechnology), and graduate study (basic biological and biomedical fields). With the proper selection of courses under the guidance of the Department of Biological Sciences and the USC Rossier School of Education, the BS degree satisfies the California requirements for secondary school teaching in the life sciences.

Advisement

Advisement in the Department of Biological Sciences is required each semester. First semester freshman and transfer advisement takes place during orientation. Advisement in all remaining semesters takes place during the pre-registration period. The USC Dornsife Office of Advising sends advisement appointment information each semester to all students in the Biological Sciences and Human Biology majors.

Honors Program in Biological Sciences

The department offers an Honors Program to outstanding students already pursuing studies for the BA or BS degree in Biological Sciences or Human Biology. This program offers students an opportunity to participate in undergraduate research, experience in writing an honors thesis summarizing the completed research, and experience in an honors seminar. Honors students are required to take two semesters of  BISC 493x Honors Seminar  (1 unit/semester) and one semester of  BISC 494x Honors Thesis  (2 units) in addition to fulfilling all requirements of the BA or BS degree. Honors students must also choose  BISC 490x Directed Research  as one of their upper-division electives. This program leads to the designation on the transcript of Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences or Human Biology with Honors.

Honors Admission Requirements

Students may apply to the department for admission to the Honors Program after having completed at least one year of work at USC with a minimum GPA of 3.5 in all science and math courses required for the major. Applications for the Honors Program are available in Allan Hancock Foundation (AHF), Room 105A or on the Biological Sciences website (dornsife.usc.edu/bisc).

Honors Scholarship Requirements

For continuation in the Honors Program, students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 in the sciences and mathematics courses required for the major.

Honor Society

The Department of Biological Sciences offers membership in Phi Sigma, a national honor society, to selected biology majors (Alpha Alpha Chapter at USC.) Phi Sigma is devoted to the promotion of research and academic excellence in the biological sciences. Students with a GPA above 3.0 who have interest in research and have completed core requirements for the first two years in biological sciences are eligible. Major activities range from presentation of papers by members and lectures by outside speakers to field trips, laboratory demonstrations and joint research projects. 

Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences

This 56-unit degree program provides a solid foundation in the basic sciences: biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, chemistry, organic chemistry, calculus and physics. In addition, students complete 8 units of upper-division BISC elective courses. This degree program allows for more flexibility to pursue additional majors or minors, study abroad or graduate early.

Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences

This 72-unit degree program includes the foundational science courses as the BA degree, but adds a statistics course requirement. Students in this degree program complete 20 units of upper-division elective courses. This degree program is excellent for students interested in research or graduate education in the natural sciences, and provides greater depth of study and opportunities to specialize.

Maymester Courses

Maymester courses are 4-week intensives that provide opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning off-campus. Maymester courses are held from mid-May to mid-June so that students can register in three courses during the traditional spring semester and one course in the Maymester. Maymester courses are part of the spring semester load, so tuition is charged as spring tuition.

Catalina Island

The Biological Sciences Department in conjunction with the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies (WIES) sponsors 4-week Maymester programs at the USC Wrigley Marine Sciences Center (WMSC), on Santa Catalina Island. The Maymester courses focus on conservation biology, animal physiology, aquatic microbiology and field techniques in marine biology, and biological oceanography. These courses are open to all Biological Science majors as well as students in other departments and other institutions with a strong biology background. Students are primarily in their junior or senior years and may participate in any of the courses offered.

All the courses are taught by USC faculty and supported by USC graduate student teaching assistants. The classes are specialized to take advantage of the unique facilities and setting of Santa Catalina Island.

Students live on Catalina Island for the entire length of the course. Rates for room and board at the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center are comparable to those on campus. For those wishing to return to the mainland on the weekend — free transportation is provided each Friday to leave and each Monday to return.

For more information, students should contact the instructor(s) for the course of interest. Additional information can also be found at dornsife.usc.edu/bisc/wrigley-institute/.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

The Biological Sciences Department in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, sponsors a 4-week Maymester course BISC 445L 

This course focuses on the biology and evolution of the major vertebrate groups including fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals. All the major groups of vertebrates will be described and demonstrated in lab, and a special focus will be put on important stages leading up to the evolution of mammals, and finally modern humans. This course will present vertebrate evolution in detail, and also describe the methods used to study the relationships of biological taxa. Tours will be given by museum curators of fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals, and some information will also be given on the preparation of fossils.

In addition, this course will discuss how animals are adapted to their environment, for example, the marine vertebrates will be observed during the whale watching trip. The methods studied in this course are an excellent fit for students interested in comparative anatomy, biodiversity, evolutionary biology and human evolution.

For more information, students should contact the instructor of the course.

Fallmester Courses - Problems Without Passports

Fallmester courses are similar to Maymester courses, except they occur in the month prior to the fall semester. Fallmester courses are 4-week intensives that provide opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning off-campus. Fallmester courses are held from mid-July to mid-August so that students can register in three courses during the traditional fall semester and one course in the Fallmester. Fallmester courses are part of the fall semester load, so tuition is charged as fall tuition. If you are interested in enrolling in a Fallmester course, please consult with Financial Aid to be sure that your award is available in time for the beginning of the Fallmester session.

Oxford, England

The Biological Sciences Department in conjunction with University of Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, sponsors a 4-week Fallmester course BISC 428 . This course studies illness and disease burdens that affects millions of people across the world. In addition, this course addresses: challenges in global health; health policy and public health; infectious diseases and chronic diseases; and international development and health.

Students will have the opportunity to learn in depth about health issues from practitioners in the field, who, throughout the course of their careers, have worked in various countries of Africa, South America, India, and South East Asia. Students will also hear from researchers and clinicians active in vaccine development, disease burden abatement, chronic disease prevention, and international research trials. Together, the class will learn about the nuances and complexities that are woven into disease prevention and healthcare delivery around the world. A component of this course has students develop ideas for a sustainable solution to a current international health issue/problem.

For more information, students should contact the instructor of the course.

Minor in Biology and Buisness

The Marshall School of Business and the departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences jointly offer the minor in Biology and Business. See Biology and Business Minor  for a list of required courses.

Minor in Craniofacial and Dental Technology

For a description and complete listing of course requirements, see Craniofacial and Dental Technology Minor  in the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC section of the catalogue.

Minor in Marine Biology

This minor combines courses related specifically to marine science from several Dornsife College departments or programs. USC’s location along the Pacific Ocean and the unique facilities at the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center (WMSC) on Santa Catalina Island provide superb access for students to learn outside of traditional classroom venues. Students will learn about the biology, evolution, and ecology of organisms that inhabit marine environments and the ecological and physical processes linking them. This program is an appropriate start for students who are seeking a focus in marine science or who are interested in broadening their base of knowledge about marine biology, earth sciences or environmental science.

Minor in Natural Science

The minor in natural science will first provide students with a foundation in the basic sciences of physics, chemistry and biology. Each student will then build on this foundation by selecting a variety of electives to meet individual scientific interests and academic goals. This minor is well-suited for pre-medical students who are non-science majors, or for students interested in developing a better understanding of the basic sciences.

This minor is not available to majors in the natural sciences or engineering.

Graduate Degrees

Progressive Master’s Degree Programs

Master of Science in Marine and Environmental Biology

The Master of Science degree in Marine and Environmental Biology (MEB) is designed to provide admitted students with a rigorous, quantitative and focused introduction to the burgeoning fields and breadth of topics in marine environmental biology/chemistry, geobiology, oceanography, conservation biology and population dynamics (depending upon the concentration selected). The MEB degree program provides students with independent research ex­periences that satisfy their own specific interests. The program is intended to position and stimulate students for possible advanced study leading to a PhD in one of the areas stated above, and/or provide a unique facet to the background of a prospective medical student. The program will also provide fundamental tools and expertise for entry into a master’s level position in academic, government, or private sector research laboratories. It will prepare students interested in governmental and non-government (NGO) environmental regulatory science and forge career pathways into private sector positions in environmental consulting and business. Details are available at dornsife.usc.edu/meb/.

Master of Science in Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry

This degree option is available for a limited number of highly qualified students who want to take an extra year for an intensive graduate-level research experience with Molecular Biology faculty. Students apply at the end of their junior year, generally after at least one semester of research in their proposed mentor’s laboratory. Application consists of a two-page research proposal, letter of support from the mentor, and transcript, which will be reviewed by the master’s committee for admission. Admission is not guaranteed. Students who are accepted will take the graduate core course in Molecular Biology (502a/b) as well as a literature seminar and relevant electives, but a substantial part of the credit will be graduate-level research. Students will be reviewed during their senior year to ensure progress. All MS students must complete a summative paper at the end of their master’s year to be approved by their mentor and one member of the master’s committee.

Doctoral Degree Programs in Biological Sciences

The graduate programs in biology provide education and training of biologists interested in living systems ranging from cellular to ecosystem levels of organization, investigated by laboratory or fieldwork. Courses and faculty research interests allow a multidisciplinary approach. A number of additional research areas are provided by adjunct faculty from other institutions, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Students develop the ability to formulate and test hypotheses, integrating information and concepts in the completion of a dissertation (PhD). A qualifying exam committee is formed for each student during the first year to develop a particular program of course work and research, and to evaluate the student’s progress. Specific information about the options in biological sciences can be obtained by requesting information brochures or online at dornsife.usc.edu/bisc.

Doctor of Philosophy in Integrative and Evolutionary Biology

This program of study provides each student with a broad, fundamental background in integrative and evolutionary biology (IEB) with in-depth specialization in one (or more) research areas.  Broad research areas include, but are not limited to evolutionary biology, metabolism and nutrition, neuroscience, endocrinology, glycemic control, energy balance, biomechanics, biological anthropology, skeletal muscle physiology, kinesiology, and conservation. The curriculum and learning experiences for each student are tailored to their line of research. Students take a written and oral screening exam in the first year, and a written and oral qualifying exam no later than the end of the fifth semester of study.

This degree is awarded under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation  section and The Graduate School  section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degree must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university, preferably in an area relevant to the research interests in IEB (e.g. biology, bioanthropology, biomedical engineering, psychology, etc.). Applicants are evaluated by their transcripts and GPA, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose and relevant research experience. A faculty member must serve as the sponsor of admission to the IEB program and adviser throughout the student’s course of study. We encourage applicants to reach out to potential faculty members in advance of submitting their application materials.

Financial Support

The program supports each student we admit in the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships and fellowships. All awards include full tuition remission, a monthly stipend for living expenses, payment of student health/dental insurance and other university-wide benefits.

For any questions, please contact the IEB student services adviser.

Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography

In the marine biology and biological oceanography (MBBO) program, each student receives a general background in marine sciences and obtains in-depth specialization in a research area of his or her choosing. Each student’s curriculum is fitted to the particular needs and demands of the chosen research field. Broad research areas include, but are not limited to: organismal biology; evolution and population genetics; genomics; microbial biology, genetics and systems; aquatic, terrestrial and ocean ecology; environmental biology; and chemical biology. Typically, students take classes in the first two years. A written and oral qualifying exam to become a PhD candidate will be taken no later than the end of the fourth semester of study.

This degree is awarded under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation  section and The Graduate School  section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in a natural science (preferably biology) from an accredited four-year college or university. Undergraduate course work should include basic courses in biology, general physics, chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry and calculus. Applicants are evaluated by their transcripts and GPA, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of interest. A faculty member must serve as initial sponsor and adviser for admission to the MBBO program, so applicants are encouraged to contact potential advisers before applying. Applicants who are accepted into the program but judged to have minor deficiencies are expected to correct them within the first year.

Financial Support

The program supports each student we admit in the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships and fellowships. All awards include full tuition remission, a monthly stipend for living expenses, payment of student health/dental insurance and other university-wide benefits.

For any questions, please contact the MBBO student services adviser.

Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Biology

This program is designed to train the participants intensively in the concepts and experimental methodologies of molecular biology and biochemistry. The subject matter is organized in an integrated fashion (lectures, seminars and laboratory) to present fundamental information on the biochemistry, biophysics, genetics and development of cells from a variety of different organisms. Primary emphasis is on the relationship between structure and function at different integrative and functional levels. Molecular biology (MOL) students are required to complete at least three laboratory rotations in their first year.

This degree is awarded under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation  section and The Graduate School  section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

Admission Requirements

Application for admission may be accessed online at dornsife.usc.edu/mcb/phdhome/. Applicants are expected to have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a cognate area such as biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, bacteriology, computer science or bioinformatics. Undergraduate work should include a basic course in biology, basic physics, physical chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry and calculus from an accredited four-year college or university. Students who are deficient in any of these subjects may be required to correct the deficiency during the first two years of graduate study. Courses taken to correct these deficiencies may not be credited toward the degree. Applicants are evaluated holistically, through a combination of their transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of research interest. The letters of recommendation should be written by faculty members who can evaluate the promise of the student for graduate work and independent research.

Financial Support

The program supports each student we admit in the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships and fellowships. All awards include full tuition remission, a monthly stipend for living expenses, payment of student health/dental insurance and other university-wide benefits.

For any questions, please contact the MOL student services adviser.

Programs

Bachelor’s Degree

Minor

Master’s Degree

Doctoral Degree

Courses

Biological Sciences

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