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Cell Biology


Graduate students will be enrolled as full-time students. A total of 72 credit hours is required to obtain a PhD degree, with the majority of these credits being derived from dissertation research. See the Graduate School web page for specific credit hour and residency requirements.

CBS Core Courses Required of all Students:

Courses Required for Cell Biology Concentration:

Other Courses:

Elective Courses

Elective courses are selected by the student and mentor, and must be approved by the student's graduate advisory committee. Possible elective course include, but are not limited to, the following:


Before the end of the first year of the MS program and second year of the PhD program, the student is expected to select a graduate committee. This Committee will serve to direct and guide the student through the PhD program. The Committee will consist of the Supervisor (Chairperson) and a minimum of three other members of the Graduate Faculty. A member of the graduate faculty from outside of the degree program appointed by the Graduate School will serve to monitor the student's oral examinations. The Graduate School representative is to ensure that the process is conducted in a manner that is fair to the student.


It is expected that after the first year, and before the beginning of the third year, the doctoral student will take a comprehensive preliminary examination. The Graduate School of NCSU requires that this exam be taken not earlier than the end of the second year, and not later than one semester (four months) before the final oral examination. The student should schedule this examination at a convenient time after consulting with his/her advisor. This examination is intended to be comprehensive and assess the student's preparations to be a scholar in the concentration area discipline. The Preliminary Examination must consist of a written component in a research grant proposal format. The NIH NRSA individual fellowship application research plan component is the recommended format, but the committee can choose another format for the proposal. The topic of the written examination grant proposal is determined by the graduate committee and should be related to (but not necessarily the same as) the thesis project. A closed-book exam consisting of a series of essay questions or problems based on previous coursework and research can also be required by the committee. Written questions generally take one day to complete. The committee should agree on the format and provide instructions to the student during the first committee meeting. The written portion of the exam should be submitted to the committee at least one month prior to the scheduled oral examination and no later than two weeks prior to the oral examination.  Satisfactory completion of the written examination is required before a candidate can sit for the oral preliminary examination. The oral examination is designed to determine the depth and breadth of the student’s knowledge in their concentration area discipline and to test the student's ability to relate factual knowledge to specific circumstances, to use this knowledge with accuracy and promptness. It will consist of questions asked by members of the student's graduate committee. Students are expected to prepare and deliver a short presentation of their written grant proposal for the oral examination.


Graduate students are required to submit a Plan of Work in the MyPack Portal in consultation with their advisory committee. Master's students should complete the plan of work once they've competed half of the credits required for their degree. Doctoral students should complete the on-line plan of work once they've completed 18 hours of coursework. The Plan of Work must be approved by the student's advisory committee, Director of the Comparative Biomedical Sciences (CBS) Program, and the Graduate School. Students should meet with their advisory committee prior to submitting the on-line plan of work to present a written proposal. This written proposal should include a list of proposed courses, a brief description of the proposed field of study and research focus area, and a list of the members selected for the Graduate Advisory Committee. The selection of a dissertation must follow the guidelines imposed by the Graduate School. The publication, Thesis and Dissertation Guide is a helpful guide. During the second year, the student should be in preparation of research proposals to define the scope of work for the dissertation. This proposal can be used to submit to granting agencies for research funding. Description of research project should include a background of the proposed study area (literature review), hypotheses to be tested, description of studies to be conducted, methods to be used, methods of analysis, and a time-line that includes significant milestones.


The final oral examination will take place after the dissertation is complete, except for revisions that the committee feels are necessary. This examination must take place not earlier than one semester after the Preliminary Examination. The examination consists of oral questions concerning methods and conclusions reached in the research and as reported in the dissertation.


All graduate students are required to adhere to the NCSU Code of Student Conduct.