The sun sets over Lake Mendota and the cutout sunburst design of a silhouetted Memorial Union Terrace chair at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during a summer evening on July 26, 2014. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)


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Who should declare the Molecular and Cell Biology major?

The Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) major may be a good fit for students who are interested in the properties and functions of the molecules that make up living cells, along with those who are looking for rigorous course requirements and the flexibility to choose upper level courses from the areas of Biochemistry, Biophysics, Cellular Systems, Genetics, Microbiology, Virology, and Quantitative Biology.

The MCB major may also be a good fit for students who plan to enter a research career in molecular and cell biology or related areas such as biochemistry, computational biology, genetics, oncology, microbiology, cell biology, or developmental biology; Pre-professional students who plan to enter either a research or clinical career in medicine, veterinary or allied health fields; or Students with interest in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical science industries.

What can I do with a Molecular and Cell Biology major?

The Molecular and Cell Biology major provides broad foundational knowledge and skills for employment in a variety of public and private agencies, both domestic and international. Opportunities exist in lab research, product development, government agencies, healthcare, medicine, education, and many more!

Check out the What Can I Do With A Molecular Biology Major? document to see what MCB alumni are doing and the organizations for which they’ve worked.

How do I declare the Molecular and Cell Biology major?

Schedule an appointment via Starfish with the Molecular and Cell Biology Academc Advisor.  We will review the major, answer any questions and then you can declare the major when you’re ready.

Can I declare a double major with Molecular and Cell Biology?

A double major of Molecular and Cell Biology with Biochemistry or Biology is not allowed, however, a double major with other majors is acceptable. Some examples of majors students have completed with the MCB major include (but are not limited to) Anthropology, Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, Data Science, Gender and Women’s Studies, Global Health, Music, Life Science Communication, Neurobiology, Plant Pathology, Psychology, Spanish, or Zoology.  See a full list of UW-Madison majors and certificates (minors) available at the Undergraduate Guide.

Is Honors in the Major available for the Molecular and Cell Biology major?

Yes. Check out Honors in the Major requirements and contact the MCB Academic Advisor, to discuss honors in the major is a good fit for you.

How do I find a faculty research mentor?

Undergraduate Molecular and Cell Biology students at UW-Madison have the opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading researchers. Many opportunities for laboratory research experience are available on campus for undergraduate students and at least two credits of molecular or cellular related research is required in the major. Research experience provides students the opportunity to apply what they’re learning and compliment their knowledge with practical skills. It is highly valued by employers, graduate programs, and professional schools.

To explore undergraduate research opportunities and to find a research mentor, visit the Undergraduate Research tab.

Can I use a Senior Thesis or Directed Study from a different department to fulfill the Lab/Research requirement for the major?

Yes. A Senior Thesis course or Directed Study course from other departments is acceptable as long as the work is sufficiently related to molecular or cell biology.

If you have questions about how to determine if the course is sufficiently related to molecular or cellular biology, please contact the MCB Academic Advisor.

If I take courses at another UW institution, how do they transfer?

Continuing students can check Transferology for transfer credit equivalencies and the Office of the Registrar’s website for how to post transfer credit. If you are a current UW-Madison students and plan to take classes at UW-Madison and another institution at the same time, complete a Concurrent Enrollment Request Form.  Questions can be directed to the Molecular and Cell Biology Academic Advisor.

Prospective students can find more information at the Transfer Transition Program.

Can I take a course for Pass/Fail?

Yes. However, courses taken Pass/Fail will not count towards your major, breadth, or general education requirements.  You can find additional Pass/Fail details here.