Complete course information and requirements for the PhD degree in Cellular, Molecular, Developmental Biology and Biophysics can be found on the online academic catalog.


In addition to the general university requirements for an advanced degree, doctoral candidates must meet the following departmental requirements:

  • Six core courses, three 600- and 700-level electives, and two Quantitative Biology labs.
  • At least one year of laboratory teaching during the period of graduate residence.
  • A high level of achievement in a comprehensive written proposal and oral examination covering proficiency in the field of the student’s research interest and various areas of biology and related fields.
  • A dissertation based on a program of independent research, an oral defense by the thesis committee, followed by a public seminar.

All graduate students are required to complete five of the six core courses during the first year, and one during the second year. In addition, students are required to complete four elective courses before graduation chosen from the list below of 600-level electives and 700-level seminars offered each semester. At least two out of the three courses must be 600-level.

Teaching Opportunities

Since most biology PhDs will teach at some time during their careers, experience in teaching is considered an essential part of the PhD program. The minimum teaching requirement is three contact hours a week for one year in the laboratory sections of undergraduate courses. Further teaching experience is gained through the preparation and presentation of reports in seminars and journal clubs. The department stresses organization of material and clarity of presentation.

CMDB Course Sampling

For complete information including schedules and registration, visit the Johns Hopkins Public Course Search website.

Students may also take courses on other campuses (School of MedicineSchool of Public Health) with permission of the director of the graduate program.

All 600-level courses are open to undergraduates with permission.

020.601 Current Research in Bioscience
Instructors: Staff
Fall, 1 credit

020.607 Quantitative Biology Bootcamp 
Quantitative and computational methods have become essential to modern biological research. The goal of this course is to provide an introduction to basic skills that will enable students to employ these methods. Students will learn how to work in a command line shell and use software to perform analyses of large biological datasets. Students will learn basic programming using the Python language. Throughout the course students will apply the skills learned to practical analysis problems emphasizing parsing and working with biological data formats, exploratory data analysis and visualization, and numerical and statistical methods.
This course is only open to first-year students in the CMDB program.
Instructors: Rajiv McCoy

020.617 Quantitative Biology Lab I
This computer lab is designed for first year CMDB graduate students to enhance their quantitative skills for fall core courses. This course will cover quantitative and computational analysis of biological datasets, emphasizing molecular biology. In a hands on lab setting, students will carry learn to perform essential analyses including assembly of genomes, detection of DNA methylation, analysis of transcription factor binding and motifs, detecting genome variation, measuring expression of genes, and understanding genome evolution.
Instructors: Rajiv McCoy

020.618 Quantitative Biology Lab II
This computer lab is a continuation of the fall quantitative biology lab for CMDB graduate students. This semester will cover quantitative and computational modeling of selected topics from biophysics, cellular biology, and developmental biology.
Instructors: Staff

020.619 Communicating Science
“Communicating Science” is a required course for 2nd year students in the CMDB program. It will be held at the Carnegie Institution for Science Bldg., 3520 San Martin Drive commencing August 30th, 2018. The course is intended to provide students with practical experience organizing oral presentations, preparing science manuscripts, and writing an application for an NIH National Research Service Award (F31). Participants will also learn about critically reviewing grants and papers.
Instructors: Kuruvilla and Belin

020.637 Genomes and Development
This course covers the genetic analysis of development, model developmental systems, cell determination, organization of tissues and organs, cell motility and recognition, and sexual reproduction.
Instructors: Van Doren, Spradling, Halpern, Chen, Taylor
Spring, 3 hours

020.668 Advanced Molecular Biology
An advanced course in organization and function of eukaryotic and prokaryotic genes, and techniques to analyze gene structure and transcription.
Instructor: J. Kim, Johnston
Fall, 3 hours

020.674 Quantitative Biology and Biophysics
Students interested in pursuing biophysical research, who have taken undergraduate physical chemistry, may opt to take a two semester series in Molecular Biophysics (250.-689-690). This course will provide an overview of protein and nucleic acid structure, fundamentals of thermodynamics and kinetics, ligand binding, folding and stability of macromolecules, and the principles of biophysical methods such as fluorescence spectroscopy, NMR, and X-ray crystallography. Similar topics are covered in the two-semester series, but with greater emphasis on mathematical and quantitative analysis. Students wishing to pursue this option should consult with faculty.
Instructors: Staff
Fall, 3 hours

020.686 Advanced Cell Biology
All aspects of cell biology are reviewed and updated in this intensive course through critical evaluation and discussion of the current scientific literature. Topics include protein trafficking, membrane dynamics, cytoskeleton, signal transduction, cell cycle control, extracellular matrix, and the integration of these processes in cells of the immune system.
Open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates by permission of the instructor.
Instructors: Kuruvilla, Y. Kim
Fall, 3 hours

020.699 Responsible Conduct in Research (INTERSESSION)
The Johns Hopkins Departments of Biology, Biophysics, Chemistry and Carnegie Institution are committed to promoting the highest ethical standards among our administration, faculty members, and students. Therefore, all trainees and training faculty are required to attend the discussions series, Responsible Conduct of Research. The two week series meets for 6 two hour sessions and will be offered every January. Graduate students must attend the discussion series during their first year of study. Science has come under increased scrutiny and scientific misconduct has become a public issue regularly addressed in the media. Against the background of public skepticism, each university must make a visible commitment to responsible conduct of research. We believe that this is best accomplished by case-based discussions involving both trainees and faculty who are active investigators. In addition to general information, such as Honor in Science, participants will be expected to read related handouts sent to them before each session. Copies of the material contained in the suggested reading list will also be available. Through the use of pre/post testing and presentation evaluations, the course will respond to the specific needs of trainees and faculty.
Instructors: Staff