UMKC Catalog


Cell Biology and Biophysics
Discipline Coordinator
Karen Bame, (816) 235-2243,

Click here to see Cell Biology and Biophysics faculty who are members of the Doctoral Faculty

Cell Biology and Biophysics is a discipline in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program administered by the School of Graduate Studies.

Note: The discipline-specific requirements listed here are in addition to the requirements listed in Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Application Procedure and Minimum Criteria for Admission and Minimum Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Academic Regulations and Degree Requirements.

Discipline-Specific Admission Requirements

No additional requirements. Due to the sequencing of coursework, new students selecting cell biology and biophysics as their primary discipline will normally only be admitted in the fall term. In general, initial admission will be granted into an M.S. track leading to full admission to the Ph.D. program.

Qualifying Requirements for Full Admission

Minimum of 16 hours of approved graduate coursework at UMKC toward the Ph.D. program with a grade-point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. International students must establish English proficiency.

Suggested Compatible Co-disciplines

Chemistry, molecular biology and biochemistry, pharmaceutical science, pharmacology, oral biology, and physics.

Core Program Requirements

Cell Biology and Biophysics as a Primary Discipline

Minimum Core

33 credit hours of courses and 15 credit hours of dissertation research for a total of 48 credit hours of post-baccalaureate credits, distributed as indicated below. The core courses should be completed by the end of the second academic year after admission to the graduate program on a full-time basis (individual arrangements will be made for part-time students). 

33-credit-hour minimum core of courses and competencies.

  • 13 credits in cell biology and biophysics (5500-level or higher), including:
  • An additional 3 credits selected from among the following three-credit-hour courses: LS-CBB 5566 Membrane Biochemistry, LS-CBB 5569 Structural Biology, LS-CBB 5504 Graduate Virology, or LS-CBB 5505 Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology.
  • LS-CBB 5690/LS-MBB 5690 Analytical Methods (five credits)
  • 12 credits in related disciplines. Related disciplines are molecular biology and biochemistry, chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences, pharmacology and oral biology, although others are not precluded.

Seminar courses are part of this component of required courses, up to a maximum of three for the program, as are additional credits of Advanced Experimental Molecular or Cell Biology (a total of four credits in experimental laboratory courses, independent of thesis research, is required). 5700-level courses may not be used to satisfy cell biology and biophysics discipline-specific course requirements.

Any of the above courses, whether part of the primary or related discipline requirements, will be credited toward the 30-credit Ph.D. course requirement if taken as part of any graduate program at UMKC and if a grade of "B" or better is received.

  • At least 15 credit hours of dissertation research in cell biology and biophysics.

In addition to the basic 30-credit course core, each student's Faculty Advisory Committee may require up to nine credit hours in additional elective courses in any University-approved doctoral discipline as preparation for specific areas of research. No more than seven credit hours of 5500-level courses, or their equivalents, can be taken at institutions outside UMKC.

For Students with Cell Biology and Biophysics as a Co-discipline

Students who select this discipline as a co-discipline must take a minimum of 11 credit hours of core courses, plus seminars, including the following: 

  • LS-MBB 5561 General Biochemistry I (four credits)
  • LS-MBB 5562 General Biochemistry II (four credits)
  • LS-CBB 5612 or LS-MBB 5611 (1 credit)
  • A sufficient amount of other core courses to constitute the required percentage of their overall program of study. 5700-level courses may not be used to satisfy cell biology discipline-specific course requirements.

Requirements for Comprehensive Exams

Full-time students with cell biology as their primary discipline must take their comprehensive examination before the beginning of the third academic year after admission to Ph.D. study. Part-time Ph.D. students in this discipline must complete their comprehensive examination immediately after completion of the 25-hour course requirement on their Ph.D. plan of study.


For students with this discipline as their primary discipline, written and oral examinations are required.

Written Portion

The written examination, for students who have cell biology and biophysics as their primary discipline, has two components. The first component consists of a written, general comprehensive examination testing an integrated knowledge of material acquired through the courses and the seminar series in the primary discipline and co-discipline. The second component of the written examination consists of an NIH-style grant proposal that the student will prepare. The topic of the research proposal will be determined by the student in consultation with the student's supervisory committee.

Oral Portion

The oral examination has two aspects: (1) questions covering the grant proposal prepared by the student for the written examination and (2) other related material in the student's area of specialization, including fundamental knowledge of the student's chosen disciplines.

Other Discipline-Specific Special Requirements

Students with this discipline as a primary discipline must participate in the teaching program of the School of Biological Sciences.

Students with this discipline as a primary discipline or co-discipline must participate in seminars.

Retention in Program

No more than one C grade will be permitted in basic core coursework. If a student with this discipline as the primary discipline receives more than one C grade in a basic course, he or she will be dropped from the doctoral program. Students with this discipline as a co-discipline who receive more than one C grade will be dropped from the discipline.

A minimum grade of B in LS-MBB 5561 and LS-MBB 5562 is required to remain as a doctoral student in this discipline.

For students with this discipline as their primary discipline, no more than two C grades will be allowed in any courses and no D or F grades are permitted. A student who receives more than two C grades or a D/F grade will be recommended for termination from the doctoral program.

The doctoral faculty in cell biology and biophysics meets formally at the end of each academic year to discuss and evaluate all graduate students' progress. Each student's committee also meets with the student at least once a year. After the annual doctoral-faculty meeting, each student receives a written evaluation of his or her status and a report is placed in the student's file.