Research Opportunities

There are many opportunities for students to carry out research in the laboratory of a faculty member in MCDB. A broad spectrum of state-of-the-art research activities is performed at Yale in the MCDB department and in related departments including the Yale School Medicine. This research is in molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, cell biology, neurobiology, physiology, computational plant sciences biology, and evolution. All interested students are encouraged to participate in research. Students may work in laboratories for academic credit and/or experience. Financial support may be available in some cases, but students being paid may not receive course credit.

The Yale Undergraduate Research Association (YURA) has just launched a new version of the Research Database (RDB), an integrated, searchable database of the research work of 1400+ Yale professors across 60+ undergraduate fields of study. It is an invaluable resource for undergraduates to find research opportunities at Yale in all disciplines. The RDB can be found at

The choice of a research laboratory should be made in consultation with faculty members and the director of undergraduate studies. See descriptions of research programs in MCDB.

Research Courses

During the academic year, students with DUS approval may take either of three research courses, MCDB 475a or b, MCDB 485a and 486b or MCDB 495a and 496b. These courses are primarily for students who are culminating their undergraduate experience by doing independent research to fulfill the senior requirement. It is possible for students who wish to do research earlier in their course of study to take MCDB 474 a or b before their senior year, but it does not substitute for other course requirements. There is a limit of three terms of 475 that can count towards the major (MCDB 485a, 486b counts as 2 terms of MCDB 475a or b in this calculation). Alternatively, a maximum of one term of 475 a or b plus the two-term MCDB 495a, 496b during the senior year can count towards the major. For research courses, hours are typically arranged at the mutual convenience of the student and the faculty advisor. Please note that taking MCDB 474 or MCDB 475 at any time does not satisfy the lab requirement or the elective requirement for a course from MCDB at 350 or above.

Approval from the Yale College Committee on Honors and Academic Standing is required if certain limits are exceeded. A student must petition the committee for permission to enroll in more than one such course credit in any one term before the senior year or in more than two such course credits in any one term during the senior year. Permission is also required for a student to enroll in more than three such course credits in the first six terms of enrollment. In the petition the student must give sound academic reasons for exceeding these limits.

Students taking MCDB 475a or b are expected to spend at least ten hours per week in the laboratory of a faculty member. This course can be taken more than once. Students must reapply each semester to be enrolled, and at the completion of each term, a paper must be submitted to their professor. This course fulfills the senior requirement if one semester is taken in the senior year.

MCDB 485a, 486b is a year-long research course intended for senior students who wish to do research for the B.S. degree. Students are expected to spend a minimum of ten to twelve hours per week in the laboratory and to attend monthly discussion groups. Research should be conducted under the supervision of the same faculty. At the end of the course a written report on the research accomplished must be submitted before a grade will be given.

MCDB 495a, 496b is intended for senior students who wish to do intensive research for the Intensive B.S. degree. It is a year-long course, two credits each term, in which students are expected to spend at least twenty hours per week in the laboratory. At the end of the course, students prepare a paper describing the research they completed. One grade is given at the end of the second semester.

A recent presentation for MCDB Majors Interested in Undergraduate Research can be viewed below.  A PowerPoint presentation can be viewed here.

Summer Research

Yale students can also perform research with a faculty member during the summer months, which allows students to devote full-time effort to a research project. Summer research enables students to continue research that was initiated during the previous academic year or to begin research that will be continued during the following academic year. Sometimes the faculty member has grant funds that can support students during the summer. Other possibilities for financial support can be found at Interested students should consult a member of the Yale faculty or the director of undergraduate studies. Academic credit is not granted unless the student is registered in (and paying tuition to) the Yale summer school.

Summer research at other institutions is possible through several programs. More information can be found at:   Yale does not award academic credit for research done at other institutions, even if done in the context of a course.