PhD Programs in Molecular Biology: Degree Overviews

Oct 12, 2019

Essential Information

Doctoral degrees in molecular biology typically lead to careers in academia and research, though other career outcomes include molecular biology technology and genetics. To gain admission to a program, applicants must have a bachelor's degree and submit their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.

Students of molecular biology Ph.D. programs may conduct original research on cellular bioinformatics, differentiation, gene expression, and signaling. Doctoral students typically complete research rotations and participate in assistant teaching. They are also required to develop a dissertation that must be presented and defended in front of an academic board.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Molecular Biology

Molecular biology Ph.D. students are required to have a history of strong academic performance in chemistry, biology or the physical sciences. In order to prepare for work on an original dissertation, doctoral students are able to select coursework according to an area of special interest. Common courses include:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Biomedical ethics
  • Computational biology
  • Genetic analysis
  • Macromolecular structure
  • Organic mechanisms

Popular Careers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2018 that there were around 30,400 people employed as biochemists and biophysicists ( The industries with the highest levels of employed biochemists and biophysicists were scientific research and development and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Common job titles include:

  • Eukaryotic cell biologist
  • Human molecular geneticist
  • Molecular biology sales specialist
  • Molecular biology technologist
  • R&D scientist

Employment Outlook

According to the BLS, employment of biochemists and biophysicists is expected to grow 6% over the 2018-2028 decade. The job outlook in the field of biological sciences is growing as fast as the average compared to other occupations. In May 2018, the BLS reported that the median annual wage of biochemists and biophysicists was $93,280, with the highest-paid workers earning $177,680 or more as an annual salary, and the lowest-paid professionals earning $49,230 or less per year.

Ph.D. programs in molecular biology prepare graduates for research and development, manufacturing, and academic careers by offering extensive coursework, scientific writing, and laboratory experience in different areas of specializations.

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