PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology: Degree Program Overview

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in cell and developmental biology provides preparation for advanced research positions. Learn about the program requirements, specializations and courses offered in cell and developmental biology PhD programs.

Essential Information

Cellular and developmental biologists study the structure and processes of cells and developing organisms and how these may relate to human health. The Ph.D. programs can be completed within six to seven years. Students spend the first few years narrowing their interests, and often specialize in an area such as cellular physiology, genetics or membrane protein synthesis. Students also complete advanced coursework and participate in seminar discussions about research in their niche, for example, biomedicine or animal genomics.

Advanced research is completed under the guidance of a mentor during the last years of candidacy, culminating in a written dissertation and oral defense. Most programs also require graduate students to spend part of their time teaching lower-division classes.

Most schools require applicants to have a master's or bachelor's degree in a related field, such as molecular biology or biochemistry, in order to qualify for admission. Students must also submit their scores from the Graduate Record Examination and have maintained a high GPA in previous college-level science coursework.

Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology

Courses touch on advanced studies in the physiological structure of cells, biochemical reactions and cellular generation. Students might complete courses in topics such as:

  • Human embryonic development
  • Assisted reproductive technology
  • Ethics of science research
  • Cellular morphogenesis
  • Bacterial pathogenesis

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Depending on their field of specialization, cellular and developmental biologists might work in one of several related fields, including cancer, stem cell or genetic research. As a result, salaries and employment opportunities can vary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of biochemists and biophysicists was expected to increase 8% between the years 2014 and 2024 ( The BLS reported the mean annual wage of biochemists or biophysicists employed in scientific research and development was $97,530 as of May 2015.

Students pursuing a Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology examine all aspects of cell growth and development. Graduates can expect positive job growth as biochemists or biophysicists.

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