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Cellular, Molecular and Microbial Biology Graduate Program

Welcome to the web page for the Cellular, Molecular and Microbial Biology Graduate (CMMB) Program in the University of Montana’s Division of Biological Sciences. Students pursuing a graduate degree will earn Doctoral degree in Cellular, Molecular and Microbial Biology with an option in Cellular and Developmental Biology, Microbial Evolution and Ecology, Microbiology and Immunology, or Molecular Biology and Biochemistry.

Students admitted to the CMMB graduate program will have the opportunity to perform laboratory rotations with faculty members in the graduate program to assist in identifying a thesis laboratory. There is a wide array of faculty research interests within the CMMB graduate group. Faculty research specialties include biochemistry, cell biology, environmental microbiology, immunology, medical microbiology, microbial ecology, microbial genetics and evolution, microbial pathogenesis, molecular biology, parasitology, structural biology, and virology. Several of the CMMB faculty are also members of one or more Research Facilities, including the Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience, the Center for Environmental Health Sciences, and the Center for Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics.

 The CMMB graduate program also is involved with two prestigious partnership programs to which students can apply concurrently. The Montana Ecology of Infectious Disease program (M-EID) is a cross-disciplinary program that involves the Departments of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Communication Studies along with the School of Forestry and the Institute of Medicine and Humanities at St. Patrick Hospital and Health Sciences Center in Missoula. M-EID is funded by a National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship grant. CMMB faculty and students are also involved in a NIH Graduate Partnership Program (GPP) with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Rocky Mountain Laboratories, part of the National Institutes of Health located 45 miles south of Missoula in Hamilton, Montana.

Admission to the CMMB graduate program to pursue an M.S. or Ph.D. is competitive and students are customarily admitted and supported during their first year on teaching assistantships. CMMB PhD students are guaranteed four years of stipend support, pending satisfactory progress, from teaching assistantships. However, student stipend and tuition costs are typically provided by the thesis mentor’s laboratory on a research assistantship after the first year.

An incoming CMMB student is advised by a Graduate Education Committee (GEC) member in the programmatic requirements and in the selection of courses for the first semester (and for the second if a committee has not yet been formed and coursework approved). All CMMB students have a common set of requirements. In addition to these, each emphasis has its own prerequisites and programmatic requirements (coursework, comprehensives, etc).

An incoming CMMB student is advised by a Graduate Education Committee (GEC) member in the programmatic requirements and in the selection of courses for the first semester (and for the second if an advisory committee has not yet been formed and coursework approved). All CMMB students have a common set of requirements: students must take a total of 60 semester credits, including 20 semester credits of courses (includes any course other than Dissertation, Thesis, and Research), which must include at least three 3-credit (or more) graduate courses at the 500 or 600 level (besides those listed below). Students should be aware that additional coursework may be required at the discretion of the advisory committee. In addition, students must take:

  • MS/PhD: Four credits of Professional Seminar (BCH/BIOM 594) or a seminar series course in another program as approved by the student's advisory committee. (An additional four credits in a seminar course can be counted toward PhD degree requirements).
  • MS: Two credits of Experimental Microbial Ecology (BIOM 546) or Exp Molec Cell & Chemical Bio (BIOB 595).
  • PhD: Four credits of Experimental Microbial Ecology (BIOM 546) or Exp Molec Cell & Chemical Bio (BIOB 595). (Students are expected to attend one of these "data club" courses throughout their tenure on campus).
  • MS: One credit of Introduction to Research (BCH/BIOM 570).
  • PhD: Two credits of Introduction to Research (BCH/BIOM 570).

Tips for graduate students registering for classes:

Graduate students must register for between 9-12 credits.  9 credits is the minimum. (A special exception is allowed for students who wish to obtain residency in Montana: please contact the Graduate School.)

Degree Guidelines may be found on the Graduate School Page:

BCH course descriptions may be found here: 

BIOM course descriptions may be found here:

To determine course number for Research Credits, go to this page:

Pull down the “Subject” menu item and choose Biochemistry (BCH) or Biology-Microbiology (BIOM) and type “”Research” in “Course Title” and hit “Search” button.  Individual faculty members act as Instructors for courses numbered 570 (Intro to Research; for first-year students) or 597 (Research). 

Seminars/Data Club courses 

BCH 594 - Professional Seminar

BIOB 565 - 01 - Membrane Dynamics Res Sem

BCH 547 - Exptl Mol/Cell/Chem Biol

BIOM 545 - Adv Topics in Microb Ecol

BCH 561 - RNA Structure & Function

BCH 562 - Amyloid Disease

BCH 694 - BSD Seminar

Graduate academic courses are offered every other year.   

Courses offered Autumn Semester (odd years)

BCH 584: Nucleic Acids (3 cr)

Courses offered Autumn Semester (even years)

BCH 582: Proteins and Enzymes (4 cr)

Courses offered Spring Semester (odd years)

BIOM 509: Advanced Virology (3 cr)

BCH 581: Physical Biochemistry (3 cr)

BIOB 509: Principles of Light Microscopy (3 cr)

Courses offered Spring Semester (even years)

BIOM 502: Advanced Immunology (3 cr)

BCH 600: Cell Organization and Mechanisms (3 cr)

Additional Courses are available through the Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences (BMED) or other Departments. To learn more, go to:

Course Descriptions

choose Term, then Subject: e.g., Biomedical/Pharmaceutical Sciences; then push the Get Courses button.

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