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Cellular Physiology and Biophysics, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 36 months
University rank #7 (BCR) Manhattan, NY, United States
The Physiology and Cellular Biophysics Program provides a stimulating and supportive environment enabling graduate students to acquire fundamental training in physiology, cellular and molecular biology, and biophysics while participating in the rich intellectual life of Columbia University.
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The objective of the Physiology and Cellular Biophysics program is to provide a stimulating and supportive environment which enables graduate students to acquire fundamental training in cellular and molecular biology and biophysics while participating in the rich intellectual life of Columbia University. 

The centerpiece of our program is the close interaction between graduate students and faculty which occurs in graduate courses, laboratory rotations, and thesis research. We make special efforts to tailor each student's educational program to his or her professional and personal goals enabling them to pursue careers as independent research scientists and educators.

Research opportunities 

The research interests of the faculty encompass many of the major themes of modern cell physiology and neurobiology. The PhD program provides advanced training in biochemistry, biophysics, and cell and molecular biology in addition to thesis research. Specific processes under study include analysis of the principles that determine how neural networks develop and mediate behavior, how neural interactions are changed when learning occurs, neural control of endocrine secretion, structure and developmental biology of the spinal cord, the physical basis for ion selectivity in channels of excitable membranes, neuromuscular transmission, development of the kidney, epithelial transport of salt and water, structure of biological membranes, biophysical properties of blood cells, mechanisms of phagocytosis, structure and function of surface receptors of leukocytes and endothelial cells, transport of water across cellular membranes, structure and function of mammalian glucose transporters, and cellular immunology. Diseases under study include AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, hypertension, Legionnaires disease, septic shock, and tuberculosis.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 36 months
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Courses include: 

  • Mechanisrns of Human Disease 
  • Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology 
  • Introduction to Biostatistical Methods 
  • How to Make a Drug 
  • Responsible Conduct of Research and Related Policy Issues 

English Language Requirements

  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120.

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Get a free IELTS practice test
  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL®PBT is administered in a paper format and measures your ability to use and understand English in a classroom setting at the college or university level. It accurately measures how well you can listen, read and write in English while performing academic tasks.

Academic Requirements

  • This programme accepts GRE® scores. However, it does not provide a recommended score range.

    Schedule GRE®

    The GRE® General Test is a widely administered admissions test that measures the skills needed in today's graduate and business school programs worldwide. The GRE® General Test contains three sections - Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Three scores are reported: a Verbal Reasoning score on a 130 - 170 score scale in one-point increments, a Quantitative Reasoning score on a 130 - 170 score scale in one-point increments, and an Analytical Writing score on a 0 - 6 score scale in half-point increments.

General Requirements

Admission Requirements
  • The department welcomes applications from highly motivated students who have completed a bachelor's degree or its equivalent. 
  • Admission to the program is based on academic record, recommendations, GRE scores, and a personal interview. Applicants must submit Graduate Record Examination scores including the advanced test in either biology, chemistry, physics, or mathematics. Prerequisites include differential and integral calculus, biostatistics, physics, general and organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and biology or biochemistry. 
  • Computer literacy is recommended.

Tuition Fee

Living costs for Manhattan

  • 2638 - 5760 USD/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


Fellowships are awarded in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success. Teaching and research experience are considered an important aspect of the training of graduate students. Thus, graduate fellowships include some teaching and research apprenticeship. 

Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.


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