Two students working at a laptop

Graduate Study at MIT Biology

The MIT Biology graduate program is designed to teach students the research and communication skills essential to a distinguished career as an independent scientist. A majority of MIT Biology graduates advance to careers in universities, research institutions, or the biotech industry, and a growing number launch successful careers in consulting, science writing, technology transfer, and patent law.

Broadening Participation

The MIT Department of Biology is strongly committed to promoting diversity and inclusion as one of its core missions.  We welcome and encourage talented individuals of all cultures, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, and sexual orientations, including individuals with disabilities, to apply to our graduate program. Our faculty value teaching and mentoring and are committed to providing a supportive, sensitive, and inclusive environment for all students. The department sponsors multiple programs and activities to promote community building and to encourage open communication between students and faculty.

In addition to department level efforts, MIT has a number of dedicated offices and student organizations, as well as substantial infrastructure to support and serve a diverse student population with a spectrum of needs.

Program Structure

The MIT Biology graduate program is structured for students with widely diverse academic and research experience. During the first year, students acquire a deep foundation in the principles of modern biology and exposure to contemporary thinking in a wide range of fields through coursework and lab rotations. Beginning in the second year, students focus almost entirely on research and contribute to many of the significant scientific accomplishments of the department.

Tuesday afternoons throughout the academic year, the MIT Biology Colloquium hosts distinguished researchers in many areas of biology, medicine, and related fields. Graduate students are encouraged to invite and host some of the colloquium speakers each year.

Review graduate program requirements for more information on the structure of the program.

Interdisciplinary Programs 

MIT Biology offers the following interdisciplinary program for graduate students.

Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience (MCN) Track—places graduate students at the forefront of molecular and cellular neuroscience research and provides access to MIT Biology’s cutting edge neuroscience laboratories at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, the Whitehead Institute, and the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

PhD requirements

To earn a PhD, MIT Biology students must:

  • complete the first-year program
  • complete the Responsible Conduct in Research course
  • pass a qualifying examination
  • serve as a teaching assistant for two semesters
  • defend a thesis of original research

Review doctoral program requirements.


MIT Biology graduate students pursue their research in one of more than 60 faculty research laboratories—labs headed by world-renowned scientists, including:

  • three Nobel laureates
  • twenty-nine members of the National Academy of Sciences
  • fourteen Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators

MIT Biology faculty labs are housed in the department’s six research locations grouped along the Main Street corridor of the MIT campus.

Learn more about MIT Biology’s research locations

The department conducts research in the following fields, and individual research projects may include more than one of these areas: 

Explore MIT Biology’s research areas.