FAQs

Why earn a Ph.D. degree in the MICaB Graduate Program?

  • The MICaB Graduate Program provides a collegial and highly collaborative environment. Our faculty are outstanding and are committed to fostering your growth as a scientist. You will perform cutting edge research using state of the art techniques and equipment. This environment will permit you to quickly become proficient in many aspects of biologic and biomedical science.
  • Scientists need other like-minded individuals to thrive. MICaB provides an ideal environment for graduate students because the program supports your professional and personal growth. You will find other MICaB students whose company you enjoy and whose personalities you admire.
  • The level of collaboration among our students and faculty is truly phenomenal. For example, we have group emails through which you can request advice or reagents. Almost invariably someone will respond and if you request a reagent, they will share it with you. We recognize that the success of one helps the whole.
  • Several years ago the more senior MICaB graduate students decided to “pay it forward” by helping the more junior students prepare for their required student seminars and preliminary examinations. This was entirely the students’ idea and their peer advising was invaluable. This tradition continues and is another example of how cohesive our program is. This cohesiveness extends to our alumni, as they stay in touch with each other and us, and are willing to network with current students.
  • The MICaB Career Development Program is run by MICaB students with some faculty input. The Career Development Program works closely with the BGREAT Career Development Office to bring in speakers and host activities that allow our students to explore the diverse career tracks for which a MICaB Ph.D. degree prepares them. Often the speakers are MICaB alumni that remained local or have been brought back at our expense. These interactions allow current and former MICaB students to network.
  • The University of Minnesota consistently ranks among the nation’s top research universities. As a top tier research university, we have state of the art facilities for genomics, imaging, bioinformatics etc. You rarely have to go off campus to meet a research need.

How do I apply?

  • The nuts and bolts of how to apply to the MICaB program can be found on the MICaB website: How to Apply
  • The application deadline is November 30 for admission the following fall semester.
  • We invite all of our top applicants to visit us at our expense so that you can see for yourself what the MICaB program has to offer.

How is my application reviewed?

  • Very thoroughly.
  • The review panel consists of nine faculty members, three from each of the three tracks.
  • Each application is reviewed by three faculty members, one from each of the three tracks.
  • Each reviewer uses the same four criteria when evaluating applications: academics (GPA), research experience, quality of the three recommendation letters, and the applicant’s personal statement. Each criterion receives equal weighting.
  • We examine your overall GPA, and the GPA you earned in your last two years. If your overall GPA is on the low side but your GPA in your last two years is high, then we are not as concerned with the overall GPA. We chalk it up to the college adjustment period.
  • The committee is looking for applicants that have significant hypothesis driven research experience. It is important for applicants to have experience working in a research environment.
  • When selecting individuals to write letters of recommendation, it is important to obtain letters from individuals that can speak directly to your past research experience and/or potential for being successful in a graduate program. Typically we are looking for letters from faculty members or employers that have worked closely with the applicant. Please do not submit letters from family members, friends, clergy or employers unrelated to your scientific experience. 

How much does it cost?

  • You get paid to earn your doctorate in the MICaB Program. Our current annual stipend is $32,000. This pays for your living expenses.
  • You do not have to pay tuition. We pay that for you.
  • The health care plan offered to graduate assistants is quite comprehensive and one of the best in the nation. MICaB covers your health insurance and student fees for the first two year in the program. After the first two years the cost is relatively inexpensive at ~$140 per semester for health coverage and ~$36 for domestic student fees and ~$225 for international student fees.

Where will I be living?

  • The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are known nationally for a high quality of life, due to an unusually strong sense of community and a rich environment of cultural and recreational activities.
  • Within the Minneapolis city limits, there are five large lakes with beaches, bike trails, walking paths and parkways.
  • The makers of the Cranium board game once crowned Minneapolis "The Most Fun City in America" and noted that Minneapolis "has more theaters than Boston, more parks than Denver, more golfers per capita than any other city in America - and, with 10,000 lakes in the state, Minnesota has more coastline than California, Florida and Hawaii combined."
  • The Twin Cities is also a great place to raise a family. Child magazine rated the Twin Cities as one of the top 5 cities for families.
  • We are home to several professional sports teams including the Lynx (WNBA), Stars (NASL), Timberwolves (NBA), Twins (MLB),Vikings (NFL), and Wild (NHL).

How many students join MICaB each year?

  • MICaB looks to enroll between 12-16 students each year.

What are the MICaB student demographics?

How long does it take to earn a MICaB Ph.D. degree?

  • The average time to degree completion is 5.4 years for Ph.D. students and 4.0 years for M.D./Ph.D. students. It is faster for M.D./Ph.D. students because they apply some of their medical school courses towards the Ph.D. credit requirements, and they perform their laboratory rotations while in medical school.

What can you expect during your tenure in the MICaB Graduate Program?

  • Make novel discoveries and as a result, be the only person on the planet (at least for a little while) who knows a brand new fact.
  • Publish your work and present it at local and national meetings.
  • To be constantly challenged intellectually.
  • To be almost never bored.
  • To receive informal and formal mentoring by your advisor and other MICaB faculty members throughout your tenure in the program.
  • To be paid at least $32,000 to do your hobby – science.
  • You are not expected to provide your own funding (e.g. via fellowships). However, we strongly encourage you to apply for your own funding once accepted into the program

Here are some specifics of your training in the MICaB program.

  • 3 x 10 week rotations - These start when you enter the program. Each rotation permits you to get a firsthand look at the working environment in a potential mentor’s lab. You spend 10 weeks in each of three labs before making a mutual decision with your new mentor as to where you will perform your thesis research.
  • Coursework - You typically take two doctoral level courses per semester for your first two years.
  • Seminars - You are expected to attend weekly student and faculty seminars throughout your tenure in the program. You will present a 30 minute seminar in the spring semester of your second year and a 50 minute seminar in the fall semester of your fourth year.
  • Data/Journal clubs – You are expected to attend data and journal clubs throughout your tenure in the program.
  • Teaching – You are required to serve as a teaching assistant for two semesters, typically one semester in each of your second and third years.
  • Qualifying examinations - You will submit your written preliminary examination by April 1 in your second year. You will take your oral preliminary examination before the start of your third year.
  • Final thesis examination – Your final thesis defense is open to the public. After this public seminar, you meet privately with your thesis research committee. You will have met with this committee about nine months prior to your final defense to ensure you and the committee were in agreement as to what was required for your successful thesis defense. There should be no unpleasant surprises at your final thesis defense.

What can you expect after earning your Ph.D. degree in the MICaB Graduate Program?

  • What you do after receiving your Ph.D. degree often serves as a springboard for the rest of your scientific career. Our faculty are extremely well connected with investigators all over the world and will facilitate your transition from a pre-doctoral to a post-doctoral position. Our connections result from serving on grant and editorial review panels, presenting talks nationally and internationally, serving on committees in our professional societies, and collaborating with other scientists.
  • The vast majority of our graduates do postdoctoral training in either academia or industry upon graduating. These positions are in other top tier research institutions such as Stanford, Harvard and the NIH, and in top tier biotechnology companies such as Eli Lilly and Genentech.
  • You can expect to join over 240 MICaB alumni in a growing national and international network.
  • Among our more “differentiated” graduates (i.e. those finished with postdoctoral training), about 35% are in academia, 35% are in biotechnology industries, and the remaining 30% are in a variety of positions including health care, scientific publishing, government agencies and patent law/technology transfer.
  • You can expect the University of Minnesota Alumni Association will never, ever lose track of you and will solicit contributions from you for the rest of your life.

What are our alumni doing now, and what do they say about the training they received?

  • A list of MICaB alumni can be found here.   The alumni page also provides information regarding their positions after graduating from the program.