Program Description

Cell and Molecular Biology Administration

Name Title Term
Douglas Rhoads Director 2022-2027
Adnan Alrubaye Associate Director 2022-2028
Phyllis Howell Administrative Support and Assistant to the Associate Dean 2023-
Erica Westerman (Chair) Program Advisory Committee 2022-2024
Kevin Murach Program Advisory Committee 2022-2024
Adnan Alrubaye Program Advisory Committee 2022-2024
Jeannine Durdik Program Advisory Committee 2023-2024
Yuchun Du Program Advisory Committee 2023-2024
Christopher Nelson Program Advisory Committee 2023-2024
TK Suresh Kumar Program Advisory Committee 2023-2024

Cell and Molecular Biology Program Description

For full details see Graduate Degree Requirements (opens new window) and the  Cell and Molecular Biology Program description (opens new window) in the Graduate Catalog of Studies

Areas of Concentration

The Cell and Molecular Biology (CEMB) program is an inter-disciplinary program incorporating faculty from 15 departments and four colleges in the University of Arkansas system. The program includes Doctoral and Masters graduate studies in any area of Cell and/or Molecular Biology, including the study of:

  • Cell function, structure, metabolism
  • Chemical functions on, within and between cells
  • Biomolecular reactions and observed cellular properties
  • Molecular genetics
  • Protein chemistry
  • Biological structures and Bio-nanomaterials
  • Molecular detection methods to detect or characterize biological states in animal and plant sciences
  • Systematics, and phylogenomicss
  • Chemical or biological forensics
  • Biomedicine and Health care.

Admission to Degree Program

  • Applicants must present
    • B.A. or B.S. in a basic or applied science
    • Graduate Record Examination scores are optional.  GRE scores may be required if:
      • Applicant feels they may strengthen their application
      • Potential sponsoring faculty member requires scores
      • Applicant wishes to be considered for University Doctoral Fellowships
    • CEMB will do conditional admissions for applicants that meet all criteria except for English language proficiency.
    • Three letters of reference
    • All undergraduate and graduate school transcripts
    • The CEMB Applicant Profile
  • To be considered for admission an applicant must secure a sponsoring faculty member who will:
    • Define the area of research focus
    • Arrange stipend and tuition support
  • Applicants must contact faculty to find a sponsor and are encouraged to contact many faculty to secure a sponsor
  • Research rotations are allowed in up to three designated research laboratories during the first semester.  Allowance for rotations is contingent upon:
    • Stipend support has been guaranteed
    • Faculty for the rotation have agreed to host the student during this period.
    • Student must obtain a faculty research sponsor after first semester.
  • Evaluation for admission:
    • Apply to the Graduate School (CEMB is in the graduate school)
    • Applicants must pay all application fees or secure a commitment from the sponsoring faculty member to secure the application fee payment.
    • Sponsoring faculty member submits sponsorship form to the program
    • Admission approved by Program Advisory Committee

 Graduate Student Support

  • Support - Graduate Teaching Assistant or Graduate Research Assistant – is arranged within the department of the sponsoring faculty member
    • CEMB faculty can apply for assistantships from the CEMB program.
    • Tuition is paid for all students on an assistantship

 Degree Requirements (MS or PhD)

  • Must complete CHEM 5813 and CHEM 5843, or their equivalent.
  • All students considered full-time must enroll every fall and spring semester in any one of the CEMB approved seminar course.
  • An additional 18 hours of graduate credits from CEMB approved courses
    • Excludes seminar, CHEM 5813/5843, dissertation and thesis credit hours.
    • Up to 6 hours may be substituted from other graduate courses with approval from the student's Graduate Advising Committee.
    • Grade Requirement
      • Students must maintain a minimum graduate Grade Point Average of 3.0 on all graduate course work.
      • Any student receiving more than two C grades (regardless of GPA) in graduate courses of 2 hours credit or more may not complete a Ph.D. in the program, but may elect to pursue the M.S. degree.
      • Any student who receives a grade of D or F in any graduate-level course will be subject to dismissal following review by the Program Advisory Committee.

 Graduate Advising Committee

  • Minimum of 4 CEMB faculty for Ph.D. or 3 for M.S. candidates.
  • Must contain CEMB faculty representing a minimum of two different academic departments, and if possible two different colleges.
  • This committee:
    • Formulates the student's program of study
    • Administers any required candidacy exams
    • Reviews annual written progress reports

Graduate Thesis/Dissertation Committee

  • Minimum of 4 CEMB faculty for Ph.D. or 3 for M.S. candidates.
  • Must contain CEMB faculty representing a minimum of two different academic departments, and if possible two different colleges.
  • This committee administers the thesis/dissertation examination and student defense.

 Requirements for the Master of Science Degree

  • Coursework as described above
  • Graduate School requires 30 semester hours, a comprehensive examination, a cumulative GPA of 2.85, and a minimum residence of 30 weeks.
  • A thesis based on their research
  • Give a public presentation of their thesis work prior to the final defense.
  • Pass a comprehensive oral examination based on the thesis.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree

  •  Coursework as described above
  • 18 hours of dissertation research.
  • Students must have 42 total credits beyond a MS degree and 72 credits beyond the bachelor degree
    • 42 hours = 24 hours of coursework described above and 18 hours of dissertation research
    • Students with a MS from another institution will get 30 hours of credit
  •  Students who do not meet the requirement for proficiency in spoken English at the time of admission must demonstrate proficiency in spoken English through a university-accepted examination (SLPT) prior to their candidacy exam. 
  • Complete the Candidacy Examination 
    • Writing of an original research proposal
      • According to federally funded post-doctoral fellowship (e.g., NIH, NSF, USDA)
      • In collaboration with their Graduate Advising Committee, student selects a topic and format for their research proposal within the first year in program.
      • Proposal topic is within the field of Cell and Molecular Biology but on a subject distinct from the students Ph.D. research.
      • Written proposal is submitted to the student's Graduate Advising Committee for evaluation and approval or rejection.
      • Students may submit the proposal more than once.
    • Pass an oral examination over the proposal, related subjects, and general knowledge.
    • Written and oral portions of the candidacy examination must be completed within the Ph.D. candidate's first 29 months in this program.
    • Only upon satisfactory completion of the proposal and oral examination, as judged by the student's Graduate Advising Committee, does a student become a candidate for the Ph.D.
    • Students that fail to complete the candidacy examination in the allotted time will be dropped from the Ph.D. program but may choose to become candidates for the M.S.
  • The Ph.D. is granted not only for fulfillment of technical requirements but also for development and possession of critical and creative thought abilities in the areas of Cell and/or Molecular Biology.
  • Evidence of these abilities is given through the completion of a dissertation.
  • Prior to the Final Examination the Ph.D. candidate will present a public seminar.