The combined master’s degree is only open to undergraduate students who will graduate from Johns Hopkins with a degree in biology or molecular and cellular biology.

Program Components


  • Four advanced or specialized courses beyond the requirements of the bachelor’s degree. At least two of these courses must be at the 600 level or above. The eligible courses are listed in the requirements.
  • Advanced Seminar in Molecular and Cellular Biology (020.401 and 020.402; 3 credits each). All master’s students will participate in this weekly seminar during their year in the program. The seminar involves student presentations of research and discussion of topics of current interest in the field.


Mentored Research (020.551, 020.552, and 020.553)

Mentored Research provides master’s students with intensive research experience for a full academic year. Students in the program work under the direction of a research mentor on an original research project approved by the program committee, produce a written report in the form of a thesis, and make a presentation of the work to the biology department. Monitoring the progress of the students during the research year is the responsibility of the research mentors. Students register for 020.551 in the fall, 020.552 in the intersession, and 020.553 in the spring. Students receive 9 credit hours per semester for research during the fall and spring semesters of the research year and 3 credit hours for the intersession. This aspect of the program will require a waiver of the usual limit of 6 research credits per year. This assignment of credits is quite conservative for the expected full-time research work. The usual formula for assigning credits for independent research is 3 hours of work per week per credit hour. According to this formula, 9 credit hours would correspond to 27 hours per week of research, somewhat less than will be expected of the MS students during the research year. The evaluation of the mentor takes into account the progress of the student on the research project.


  • Written Thesis: During the spring semester each student will prepare and submit a written thesis (at least 20 pages in length) describing their research.
  • Oral Presentation: Each student will give an oral presentation on their thesis research at the end of the spring semester. The final oral presentation will be 20 minutes in length, with 10 minutes set aside afterward for questions from the audience.

The written thesis and oral presentation are evaluated by the Thesis Committee. Passing performance, as judged by the committee, is required for the MS degree.

A student who does not receive a passing evaluation for the final report and presentation will not be awarded the MS degree.


Teaching is an integral component of the master’s degree. Students fulfill the teaching requirement by serving as a teaching assistant for the General Biology and General Biology Laboratory or other Department of Biology courses during the fall and spring semesters.



Admission to the Molecular and Cellular Biology Master’s Program is selective, but not competitive.

Admission decisions are made by the Program Committee, on the basis of:

  • The student’s academic record
  • A written proposal for a research project to be completed under the supervision of the research advisor
  • Three letters of support and recommendation
  • The Committee reserves the right to require interviews for individual students in order to clarify issues raised by their written application materials

Characteristics of Qualified Applicants

  • A Hopkins biology or molecular and cellular biology major
  • A junior or senior who plans to complete the program immediately following graduation or concurrently with their final undergraduate year
  • A minimum overall GPA of 3.2 and minimum natural science GPA of 3.0

Students with a GPA below the minimum requirement will be considered under special circumstances if a strong commitment to research is demonstrated.

  • At least two semesters of previous research experience prior to entering MS program
  • A research mentor and research project.

Research mentors must be Johns Hopkins faculty (regular or adjunct), but may be located at the Homewood campus, the Carnegie Institution, the School of Medicine (including both the East Baltimore and Bayview campuses), Bloomberg School of Public Health, or the School of Nursing.

How to Apply

Students wishing to apply to this program must select a Spring matriculation date. All participants will be admitted in the Spring term of their application in order to transition to either a MS student or a BS/MS student in the Fall prior to their graduation.

The deadline is November 1 for matriculation the following fall semester.

There is no fee to apply. Make sure to select the appropriate option when completing the application form so the fee is waived.

Required Application Materials

  1. Three recommendation letters
    • One letter of support and recommendation from the research supervisor. In the letter, the supervisor should both agree to take on the applicant as a master’s student and outline plans for the supervision of the student’s work.
    • Two additional letters of recommendation
  2. Official Undergraduate Transcript
  3. Additional Materials: the following items should be submitted as a single PDF uploaded in the personal statement section of the application form.


Students who finish their bachelor’s degree before starting the master’s program will receive 50% tuition remission by fulfilling the teaching requirement. Therefore tuition will be 50% of the typical tuition amount. Financial aid is not available.

Students who finish their bachelor’s and master’s degree at the same time are not eligible for tuition remission.  However, any financial aid received for your undergraduate tuition will still apply.