Molecular and Cellular Biology

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


What is Molecular and Cellular Biology?

Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) is the study of living organisms through two lenses. One is the understanding of basic molecular and cellular structure and function. The other is the metabolic, genetic, and physiological processes common to all organisms.

MCB is made up of the departments of biochemistry, cell and developmental biology, microbiology, and molecular integrative physiology. It offers courses that explore:

  • unique aspects differentiating living organisms
  • how cells are organized
  • how cells and organisms respond to each other and their environment
  • how cells communicate signals and regulate gene expression
  • how these processes go awry during injury, infection, or genetic diseases

The curriculum imparts basic principles of modern biology and provides the fundamental, critical, and analytical skills necessary for a successful career. MCB also offers a Secondary Education option for the teaching of Biology in high schools.

If you are interested in this major, apply into our Biology program. You may choose MCB as your major before your sophomore year.

Career Options

  • Bioinformatics
  • Biosafety
  • Biotechnology & pharmaceuticals
  • Clinical technology
  • Cytotechnology
  • Dentistry
  • Education
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Forensic science
  • Genetic counseling
  • Government (NIH, EPA, FBI, CDC, DOD)
  • Laboratory research
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacy
  • Physician assistantship
  • Public health
  • Research
  • Science journalism
  • Science policy
  • Science writing, editing, & publishing
  • Teaching
  • Toxicology
  • Veterinary medicine

Post-Graduation Success1

72% employed or continuing education

33% employed after graduation

38% attending graduate school

1% volunteering

$39,086 average starting annual income

Sample employer destinations: AbbVie, Mayo Clinic, Eli Lilly View All

Sample grad school destinations: Johns Hopkins University, University of Chicago, Washington University St. Louis View All

Review Criteria

First-Year Major-Specific Criteria

  • Strong math and science coursework and performance
  • Calculus preferred (if available at high school)
  • Biology and chemistry preferred (if available at high school)
  • Demonstrated understanding of and interest in the major 

View All Review Criteria

Transfer Criteria

Transfer Guide

Graduation & Retention2

3.8 years to degree

95% first-year retention rate

94% four-year graduation rate

94% six-year graduation rate

Annual Program Costs3

Illinois Resident

  • Tuition: $17,866
  • Fees: $4,928
  • Expenses: $18,222
  • Total: $41,016


  • Tuition: $36,986
  • Fees: $4,928
  • Expenses:$18,562
  • Total: $60,476


  • Tuition: $39,434
  • Fees: $4,928
  • Expenses: $18,562
  • Total: $62,924