An experiment at MCO A social event with MCO MCO playing volleyball MCO conducting an experiment MCO socialising
Biochemistry Biophysics Cell Biology Neuroscience Development Evolution Genetics Genomics Structural Biology Engineering
molecules, cells and organisms

Molecules, Cells and Organisms is an innovative doctoral program that trains future leaders of scientific research in all areas of modern biology. MCO hosts faculty members from five departments on Harvard University’s Cambridge campus – Molecular and Cellular Biology, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, and Physics where students work in close collaboration with both faculty and peers.

WHY MCO?

MCO’s unique approach to the Biological Sciences Ph.D. cultivates versatility as well as depth of expertise by exposing its students to the full spectrum of modern biology. Three eight-week lab rotations in the first year offer students the opportunity to explore divergent fields of scientific research and collaborate with faculty affiliated with five departments, providing an interdisciplinary foundation intended to inform ultimate paths of research.

In addition to lab rotations, students complete a series of rigorous foundation courses as well as two electives. Participation in the MCO Student-Faculty Journal Club and two terms as a Teaching Fellow hone the communication skills and critical thinking vital to a successful career in the sciences. Students take the Candidacy Examination in the second year and conclude their preparatory studies by proposing their dissertation subjects to a committee of faculty members. Candidates devote the following years to full-time laboratory research, completing their dissertation, and earning their doctoral degree by the end of the sixth year.

Harvard University’s lively Cambridge campus accommodates a close-knit community of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty from diverse personal and academic backgrounds. Interdepartmental volleyball tournaments, weekly student-hosted TGIF socials, and annual student-organized retreats (past locations include the New England Aquarium and the Boston Museum of Science) contribute to a vibrant sense of community among peers at MCO.

COURSEWORK SPECIAL ACTIVITIES ALUMNI 

An experiment at MCO

Course Structure

The MCO graduate program consists of ten broad areas of research and teaching organized along four tracks:

Biochemistry, Chemical, and Structural Biology (BCSB)

Cellular, Neuro and Developmental Biology (CND)

Genetics, Genomics and Evolutionary Biology (GGE)

Engineering and Physical Biology (EPB)

These tracks group together similar areas of research where scientists frequently collaborate and support each other. Collaboration also takes place between tracks and with the broader Harvard scientific community.

Each track is headed by two faculty members who serve as track leaders. During a student’s first year, these track leaders advise and guide trainees on coursework and lab rotations.

Our Students

Kayla Lee

I was most drawn to MCO because of the faculty members, students in the program, and program structure. Clearly, both faculty and students work extremely hard, but seem 100% excited and invested in what they do.

Kayla Lee, Alumni, Springer Lab

I chose MCO because I liked the seriousness and the passion students displayed toward their research as well as their nerdy scientific humor. I also loved the tour of the Harvard Center for Biological Imaging; the variety of cutting-edge microscopes there — especially the laser microdissection microscope, cutting and popping out tissues with a laser — is amazing!

Haneui Bae, G6, Hensch Lab

Felix Baier

I love that the interdisciplinary nature of the program — a collaborative atmosphere with access to multiple departments and countless research areas — mirrors the interdisciplinary nature of molecular and cellular biology itself.

Felix Baier, G6, Hoekstra Lab

Thomas Dial

The best resources and professors available, the best funding opportunities, an amazing city, all mean the fewest limitations on possible research.

Thomas Dial, G6, Lee Lab

THE FACULTY

MCO hosts faculty members from five departments on Harvard University’s Cambridge campus – Molecular and Cellular Biology, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, and Physics where students work in close collaboration with both faculty and peers.

THE MCO FACULTY

Community at MCB

DIVERSITY AND OUTREACH

The MCO Program is proud to provide an atmosphere that is supportive and inclusive of students from all backgrounds. About 13% of current MCO students identify themselves as members of underrepresented minority groups, which attest to the program’s dedication to a diverse student body. The MCO Program also strives to ensure that any student with a disability has equal access to the educational opportunities, facilities and resources available in the program.

In addition, as a program within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, MCO students have access to a wealth of resources and support at Harvard University. If you are considering applying to the MCO Program, the links below provide some useful information:

MORE INFO

SUMMER INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

MCO STUDENT INVOLVEMENT

Applying

MCO invites applications from prospective students who have received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in the United States or its equivalent from an international institution. First year graduate studies begin at the start of the fall semester, although it is possible to begin in July prior to the first year by undertaking a summer laboratory rotation.

Although both MCO and EPB are comprised of faculty from several departments, MCB is the administrative host of both programs. When submitting an application, prospective students must indicate the program as well as department to which they are applying.

 

To apply to the Program in Molecules, Cells and Organisms, including the track in Engineering and Physical Biology, prospective students should complete the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Online Application. Paper applications will not be accepted. In addition to being a training program comprised of faculty from five departments, The Program in Molecules, Cells and Organisms is a member of the Harvard Integrated Life Sciences (HILS) consortium, a federation of Harvard life sciences PhD programs, departments, and subject areas that facilitates cross-disciplinary academic and research collaboration.

For additional application details and information about the GSAS online application system, please visit the HILS website.

Molecules, Cells and Organisms (MCO)
When filling out the GSAS Online Application, on the “Program Selection” page please indicate “Molecular and Cellular Biology” as your Program and “Molecules, Cells and Organisms” as your Subject.

Engineering and Physical Biology (EPB) Track in the MCO Program
When filling out the GSAS Online Application, on the “Program Selection” page please indicate “Molecular and Cellular Biology” as your Program and “Engineering and Physical Biology” as your Subject.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS

Why MCO?