Study and Courses


The Ph.D. in the MCB program requires successful completion of a minimum of 30-credit hour courses(42-credit hour courses for students holding B.S. degree only), a qualifying exam and thesis research. The maximal length of study is 7 years.

Molecular and Cell Biology 4
Seminar 4
Thesis Research 12
Elective Courses >=10
Total 30


First Year Students

  • Transfer Credits. New students who have previously completed graduate school coursework with a grade of 70 or higher at other domestic or international colleges and universities within five years of admission, students can request to have these credit transferred with Curriculum and Degree Committee if any of the following condition is met:
    1. Course with identical titles and contents (transcript required)
    2. Course with similar titles and contents (transcript, the course outline, syllabus and textbook used need to be provided to get approval by Curriculum and Degree Committee and the corresponding course instructor)
    3. If necessary, take the oral or written exam in time.
    Requests for transfer credits should be submitted by the end of the Add/Drop period of the first semester after enrolling in the program. The total numbers of transfer credits should not exceed 1/3 of the total elective credits required by the program for graduation (Thesis credits excluded). Molecular and Cell Biology, thesis research and Seminars credits cannot be transferred.
  • MCB Course(4 credits). Every student should take MCB course on the 1st semester of the 1st year and students who pass the MCB course are eligible to take QE before the beginning of the 3rd year.
  • Lab Rotations. Please check the Lab Rotation Guideline for the rules of each rotation period. Students may rotate through several labs with the goal of finding a lab to conduct their thesis research. The duration of each lab rotation is upon mutual agreement between the student and the advisor, but shall not exceed 4 months. A maximum of 2 credits will be granted, even if students take more than 2 lab rotations. Students are highly recommended to decide on the thesis research lab by the end of the first summer. Studentship will be terminated if a student cannot find a thesis research lab before applying for qualifying exam.
  • Chinese Course. It is for foreign student only. Foreign students should take it on the 1st year.
  • Seminar. To invite as many PIs to join the seminar and to benefit students in diverse fields. Please check the Seminar Guideline for the rules of each rotation period.


Second Year Students

  • Course Requirements. Seminar for another year. In order to be eligible to take the Qualifying Exam in the Spring semester of their second year students need to ensure that MCB course are completed by the end of the Fall semester of their second year.
  • Thesis Advisor. The thesis advisor must be a faculty member of the TIGP-MCB program and have agreed to advise and sponsor the student for the entire period of graduate study. Thesis Advisor Form
  • Thesis Committee. The thesis advisor should organize a Thesis Committee within one month of a student choosing their lab. Each Thesis Committee should consist of at least three members, including the advisor. The Thesis Committee must meet at least once a year to evaluate the progress report from the student. The thesis committee evaluates the progress and advises on current research problems and the future direction of the project.
  • Progress Report. Students are required to complete their annual progress reports to the Thesis Committee in a timely manner in order to graduate. The first report should be given by the end of the third semester aimed at discussing the thesis proposal with the committee. Thereafter, progress reports should be given once a year by the end of each Fall semester. Students should prepare a written proposal or progress report (see below for format), and submit it to their Thesis Committee and the TIGP-MCB office at least one week before their scheduled annual progress report meeting. Progress Report Cover

      • Format for the written report (no more than 15 pages, single-spaced)
        1. Title page
        2. Introduction (2-5 pages)
        3. Results and discussion
        4. Future work
        5. References

  • Students should coordinate the schedule for their progress report with their Thesis Committee and duly notify the Thesis Committee members when to attend meetings to discuss their progress reports.
  • Qualifying Exams.  In principle, the TIGP-MCB qualifying exam (QE) will be held twice every year. Students should take the QE before the start of their third academic year. Students need to pass the Molecular and Cell Biology course to be eligible to apply to take the QE. Students must submit an application form and a one-page research proposal that contains an Abstract and Specific Aims to the Curriculum and Degree Committee by the announced date (see Table 1 below).

    The Curriculum and Degree Committee will appoint a QE Evaluation Committee to evaluate each abstract and will appoint a QE Committee for each student according to the subject of the proposal. Each QE Committee consists of 5 members. No more than 2 of the 5 can be the student’s thesis committee members. The student’s thesis advisor should not serve on the student’s committee or be present during the exam.
    The date of the QE exam will be announced as indicated in Table 1 below.
    Students must submit their proposals to the TIGP-MCB office at least two weeks before the exam date.

    Two formats of QE proposals:
    1. Non-thesis proposal: The topic cannot be closely related to the student’s Master’s or PhD thesis, or to the advisor’s research. However, the topic can be in the general field of the student’s thesis research.
    2. Thesis proposal: With the consent of their thesis advisor, students can submit their thesis proposal for the examination.
    The format of the QE proposal should be as follows:
    1. Specific Aims
    2. Background and Significance
    3. Experimental Design and Methods
    4. Alternative approaches and discussion
    5. References
    Please follow the reference format of the journal “Cell”.

    Students will defend their proposal in front of their QE committee. The QE will be evaluated based on: (1) background knowledge, (2) rationale, originality and feasibility of the proposal, and (3) presentation skill. At least three QE Committee members must grant approval to pass the exam. If a student fails the QE, they can retake the exam after 3 months, but must retake it within 6 months of their first QE. Students can only retake the QE once; a second failure will result in studentship termination.

    Table 1. Timetable for students eligible to apply for the QE

    Semester Application Announcement of the dates Examination
    Fall October 1-15 By November 15 December 15 - January 15
    Spring April 15-30 By June 1 July 1 - August31

    Qualifying Exam Form

    The most updated guidelines and follow it accordingly.


Third Year and Beyond Students

  • Annual Thesis Committee Meetings (Progress Report).  Students must give an annual progress report to the thesis committee by the end of every fall semester.

  • A written progress report of the same format as proposal is required, and should be submitted to the thesis committee and MCB Office one week before presentation.
    Starting from 2008, students are required to complete the annual progress report in a timely manner in order to graduate.
  • Thesis Research. A minimum of two years of thesis research is required. Twelve credits will be granted to the student upon completion of their thesis defense. Students should choose a thesis advisor from among the eligible TIGP-MCB faculty after their enrollment.
  • Degree Requirements
    In order to earn a Ph.D. in TIGP-MCB, the candidate must successfully complete/meet the following criteria within seven(7) years.
    • Completion of course requirement: 30 credits of course work (including 12 credits for thesis research) are required for students with a Master’s degree and 42 credits for students with only a Bachelor’s degree.
    • Students must have completed annual progress reports in a timely manner.
    • Students must meet one of the following requirements:
      1. The student should have published at least one manuscript, or have a manuscript
      accepted for publication, as first-author in a research journal that is ranked in the top 50% of journals in that subject amongst SCI list publications. The affiliation for TIGP-MCB program students should be listed in their published work as "Molecular and Cell Biology, Taiwan International Graduate Program, Academia Sinica and Graduate Institute of Life Science, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan", followed by the primary affiliation of the advisor. An alternative option is: “Molecular and Cell Biology, Taiwan International Graduate Program, Academia Sinica and National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan". The publication date of the manuscript can be anytime after the student has been enrolled in the TIGP-MCB program.
      In principle, the thesis advisor should be the only corresponding author of the publication evaluated for graduation. If there is more than one first author or more than one corresponding author for the publication, the following procedure should be followed to apply for approval for a thesis defense:
      (1)The student’s thesis committee is required to submit a recommendation letter to verify that the quality and quantity of the student's work is sufficient to gain a Ph.D. degree under the TIGP-MCB program. The recommendation letter should detail the student’s specific accomplishments, independence and communication skills in research.
      (2)The thesis advisor should also write a statement outlining the reasons why the student’s capabilities and qualifications warrant award of a Ph.D. degree. The student must also submit a written statement specifying his/her own contributions to the paper(s) and other achievements. These documents, together with the letter from the thesis committee, should be submitted to the TIGP-MCB Curriculum and Degree Committee at least one month before the next scheduled Curriculum Committee meeting of our partner university. Please note that the partner university’s committee meeting schedule may vary each year.
      (3) The student should give an oral presentation to the TIGP-MCB Curriculum and Degree Committee, and the thesis advisor should be present at the presentation to answer any questions from the Committee. The TIGP-MCB Curriculum and Degree Committee will make a majority vote.
      (4) If approved by the TIGP-MCB Curriculum and Degree Committee, the case will then be submitted to the partner university’s Curriculum Committee for approval through a majority vote.
      2. For students who have been in the TIGP-MCB program for 5 or more years and at the
      discretion of the Thesis Committee based on a student’s exceptional aptitude, the thesis
      committee can request that a thesis defense proceed prior to manuscript publication, as
      long as they can provide specific documentation demonstrating the student’s research
      achievements to the TIGP-MCB Curriculum and Degree Committee. The procedure for
      taking this route is the same as the one described above for publication with more than one first/corresponding author. Records of manuscript submissions and reviewing, and oral presentations of the student in international meetings, would be helpful to the TIGP-MCB Curriculum and Degree Committee in evaluating the application.
    • Students must pass the thesis defense.

    In principle, the thesis advisor should be the only corresponding author of the publication evaluated for graduation. If there is more than one corresponding author for the publication, the student and advisor MUST submit a written statement specifying the reason for this to the Curriculum and Degree Committee for approval before the beginning of the semester in which graduation will be evaluated.

  • Thesis Defense Committee
    With the consent of the student’s Thesis Committee, a Thesis Defense Committee of 5-7 members must be formed. The Thesis Defense Committee must comprise 2-4 non-TIGP-MCB faculty members. Students must present their thesis work in an open seminar, followed by a defense in front of the Thesis Defense Committee.


    Required Courses- Required for all students.

  • 3024101 Molecular and Cell Biology (4 credits, 1st semester of the 1st year)
  • 3024110 Seminar (1 credit/semester, 1st and 2nd years)
  • 3024501 Annual Progress Report (every fall semester, starting in the 3rd academic year)
  • 3024130 Thesis Research (12 credits)
  • 3024211 Primary Chinese (o credit; for international students who cannot excel in mandarin)


    Elective Courses- Choose at least 2 courses.

In addition, the MCB students can take any courses offered by other programs in TIGP and by NDMC. Wanna see more course information from other TIGP program, please use link.


Termination of Studentship

Studentships will be terminated under any of the following conditions:
  • A student fails the “Molecular and Cell Biology” course twice.
  • A student cannot find a thesis research lab before applying for the QE.
  • A student fails the QE twice.
  • A student does not fulfill the requirements for a Ph.D. degree within seven school years.
  • Contact the TIGP-MCB Office if the resources above do not address your questions.