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Graduate Programs


Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) considers graduate education to be a cornerstone of the university and is a major participant in the development and offering of several excellent interdepartmental graduate majors. Iowa State University has pioneered the use of interdepartmental graduate programs to provide strength in graduate education across departmental and college boundaries and has been very successful in providing a network of excellent graduate programs to provide for the research and educational needs of graduate students interested in any area of biological science. GDCB has taken full advantage of these interdepartmental programs, eliminating the need for a departmental graduate program.

GDCB offers graduate majors in and has faculty active in the following interdepartmental graduate programs. See the website of each graduate program for more information.

Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

The Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB) at Iowa State University is an exciting Interdepartmental Graduate Major which offers outstanding opportunities for graduate study toward the Ph.D. degree in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. The BCB program involves more than 60 nationally and internationally known faculty – biologists, computer scientists, mathematicians, statisticians, and physicists – who participate in a wide range of collaborative projects. Iowa State University was awarded a $3 million National Science Foundation Training Grant in Computational Molecular Biology and has established several new research centers including a Center for Bioinformatics and Biological Statistics and a Center for Plant Genomics. The Training Grant and new centers provide funding for graduate assistantships, new faculty, and new facilities for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology research.

Genetics and Genomics

The Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Genetics and Genomics (IGG) at Iowa State University offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees with a major or minor in genetics in thirteen participating departments. The diversity of the more than 60 faculty ensures a broad, well-balanced education from the best instructors, while offering flexibility in choice of specialization. Faculty have strengths in many areas, from fundamental studies at the molecular, cellular, organismal, and population levels, to research with immediate practical application. Ongoing research projects span all the major areas of theoretical and experimental genetics, including molecular studies of gene regulation, gene mapping, transposable element studies, developmental genetics, quantitative and mathematical genetics, evolutionary genetics, and population genetics.


The Immunobiology Graduate Program offers graduate research and study toward an M.S. or Ph.D. from Iowa State University. This program includes diverse faculty expertise and flexible choices for individual specializations within the dynamic field of Immunobiology.


The Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Microbiology coordinates graduate education and research in areas including prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbiology, virology, microbe interactions with animals, plants and arthropods, and the responses of those hosts to the microbes. It provides students with a solid foundation in the functional aspects of basic microbiology within a highly interactive, interdisciplinary group. The 50 members of the Interdepartmental Graduate Microbiology Program have diverse research interests including: biochemistry; ecology; genetics and molecular biology of microbes; biogeochemistry; food safety and security; microbe-host interactions; bacteriology; immunology; mycology; parasitology; virology; and microbial genomics.

Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

The Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB) interdepartmental graduate program gives a broad educational experience in molecular, cellular and developmental biology and allows students to design a truly interdisciplinary research program through advanced courses and research tailored to the interests and goals of each student. Research interests of the MCDB faculty span a broad spectrum within the disciplines Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Developmental Biology, Molecular Microbiology, Plant Molecular Biology, and Signal Transduction.


The Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Neuroscience at Iowa State University offers study leading to MS and Ph.D. degrees through more than 30 faculty from 9 different academic departments. The program focuses on sound fundamental neuroscience education, mastering modern research methods and flexibility in serving the interests and educational needs of individual students. Neuroscience research opportunities at Iowa State University range from molecular to behavioral and cognitive levels of analysis. The Program reflects the structure of contemporary neuroscience which has become a diverse and inter-disciplinary field. Students of diverse educational, ethnic and national backgrounds are encouraged to apply to the Program.

Plant Biology

The Interdepartmental Plant Biology (IPB) Graduate Program coordinates graduate education and research in the areas of plant biochemistry, plant molecular biology and plant physiology. Graduate study in IPB, leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. Degrees, is offered through seven participating. The major provides students with a solid foundation in the functional aspects of basic plant biology within a highly interactive, interdisciplinary group, while encouraging them to design a truly interdisciplinary research program. The diverse research interests of the more than 35 members of the IPB Faculty at ISU include regulation of plant gene expression, gene mapping, plant biochemistry, stress physiology and plant development.


More than four decades of nationally recognized toxicology research in the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Family and Consumer Sciences are the foundation of the Interdepartmental Graduate Major in Toxicology at Iowa State University. Graduate degrees are offered at the M.S. and Ph.D. levels for a broad range of fundamental and applied research in the general area of toxicology.

Stipends for 2023-24

The GDCB stipend for .5 full-time-equivalent Ph.D. and M.S. students is $26,400 annually.