Graduate Programs

University of Chicago Post-Bac Scholars Research Program in Cell, Developmental and Molecular Biology (CDMB)

The post-baccalaureate (post-bac) program in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology (MGCB) at the University of Chicago is designed to provide recent college graduates an immersive and rigorous research and career enrichment experience prior to pursuing a PhD or MD/PhD degree. As members of MGCB labs, post-bac scholars will participate as full members of our collegial and interactive scientific community, gaining knowledge, experience and connections that will help launch successful scientific careers.


Program Opportunities

Participants in the program will work full-time for two years as paid post-bac scholars in an MGCB faculty lab (see MGCB faculty). Research interests of the faculty span a wide range of topics at the frontiers of cell, developmental and molecular biology. A minimum of 80% effort will be devoted to lab research. Up to 20% effort can be spent on other scientific, educational and career advancement activities including quarterly post-bac research in progress meetings, career advice programming, networking, scientific seminars, PhD defenses, local Chicago area scientific meetings and auditing a graduate course. Post-bac scholars will attend the annual Molecular Biosciences retreat in year one and present a poster in year two.

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The admissions process will be rolling, with applications opening January 19, 2024. Initial review of applications begins March 15, 2024.

Because slots in the program are limited and admission will be competitive, we recommend applying by this date to ensure full consideration. After an initial review by the program directors, a process that may include a zoom interview, the successful applicants will be provisionally accepted to the program, pending a successful matching with a participating faculty member. Faculty considered a good match to the student’s interests will interview the applicant and then decide if they would like to offer a position. Each successful applicant may interview with multiple faculty, and assuming multiple offers, will choose their preferred lab.

Start dates should be no later than September 15, 2024 when program orientation and other activities will begin, but can be as early as June 15.

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Application Instructions and Materials

Applications and three recommendation letters should be submitted through the UChicago application portal.  The application package includes:

  1. A curriculum vitae that summarizes your education and as relevant, research experience, employment experience, publications, volunteer or community service experience, leadership experience, honors, awards and any other activities or accomplishments. The names and contact information for your three references should be included at the end of the cv (your recommenders will submit their letters independently).
  2. A 1-2 page personal statement that summarizes your broad scientific and/or research interests, your career goals, and why you are interested in the program. It is helpful to indicate faculty mentors and research areas of potential interest.
  3. An unofficial copy of your transcript.
  4. Names and email addresses of three references, preferably faculty familiar with your academic and research experience.
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Eligibility is limited to US citizens or permanent residents who have recently completed a BA or BS, or are in the final year of study toward such a degree. Significant coursework in STEM is expected. Some prior research experience is a plus, but is not required.


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Program Contact

Please contact Professor Ilaria Rebay with questions.


Iliaria Rebay

Ilaria Rebay, PhD

Co-Director, Post-Bac Scholars Research Program

A post-bac (post-baccalaureate) program is a non-degree granting program that provides a full-time paid research and career enrichment experience for recent college graduates who are interested in pursuing a PhD. In addition to providing opportunities for scholars to develop the foundational skills essential to success in graduate school, participation in a post-bac program can also greatly increase competitiveness in the graduate school application process. You may find this article helpful:

Our program expects a two-year commitment, with continuation in the second year contingent on satisfactory performance in the first. Occasionally a lab may be willing to accept a post-bac scholar for only one year.

Post-bac scholars will receive a stipend comparable to that of an entry-level technician, plus benefits.

No. Because of the majority of time will be spent in the lab conducting original research, post-bac scholars are expected to reside locally in the Chicago area for the full duration of the program.

Please go to the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology website and then follow the links to individual lab websites. Because not all labs will be accepting students every year, it is important to list several that interest you on your application. Through the interview process, we will help match you to an appropriate lab.

We use a rolling admissions process that starts on January 19, 2024. Applications must be submitted online. Application review starts March 15, 2024. Applications received after that date will generally be reviewed within ~4-6 weeks of submission.

The interview process may include an invitation to participate in a zoom conversation with the faculty program directors. The goal of such an interview is to confirm an applicant’s suitability for the program and to help the applicant identify potential labs of interest. Within a week of the interview, the applicant will be informed whether or not they are provisionally accepted to the program. Provisionally accepted applicants will then be responsible for contacting faculty of interest and setting up additional zoom interviews. Formal admittance to the program is contingent on the applicant matching with a participating faculty member.

No, but we expect our program graduates will be highly competitive for admission to top graduate programs, including our own. In addition to a rigorous research experience, our program will provide programming and advice aimed at navigating the graduate school application and interview process successfully. If a post-bac scholar elects to take one of our graduate courses, and then later joins our graduate program, they will receive academic credit for that course.