Microbiology and Immunology (PhD)


Doctor of Philosophy in Microbiology and Immunology
Unit: School of Medicine (GM)
Department: Microbiology & Immunology 
Program Website 
Academic Plan Code(s): MBIOPHD

Program Information

The Department of Microbiology and Immunology, in the School of Medicine, offers a program of study leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The PhD program includes training in a broad range of research areas using state-of-the-art immunological, microbiological, and molecular technologies. A competitive stipend, health care benefits, a full waiver of tuition and fees are provided to all applicants accepted into the PhD Program.

Admission Requirements

For admission to the PhD program, the applicant must have attained a BS or BA degree with a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 point scale). In addition, the following should be submitted online directly to the Graduate School, Graduate Admissions.

  • A completed application form and application fee
  • Official scores of the General Test Section of the Graduate Record Examination and the TOEFL (when applicable)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A brief statement of purpose describing interests and career goals
  • A current resume or curriculum vitae
  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework (submitted to the Graduate School, Graduate Admissions)

The applicant must meet the other general requirements of the Graduate School as outlined in the General Information section of this catalog. The application deadline is March 1 each year. Submission prior to March 1 is strongly encouraged in order to ensure that all required materials (especially letters of reference) are received by the deadline.

The applicant is expected to have completed the following undergraduate courses prior to admission to the PhD program (one semester of each):

  • Introductory biology
  • Organic chemistry
  • Introductory calculus
  • Biochemistry

Prospective students may be invited for a personal interview with members of the admissions committee and departmental faculty as part of the application process.

Program Requirements


Required Courses
BIOC 603Special Topics in Biochemistry (Spring)2
BIOC 630Responsible Conduct of Research: Survival Skills and Research Ethics1
BIOC 645Advanced Biochemistry I (Fall)4
BIOC 667Cell Biology (Spring)3
MBIO 600Lab Rotations (Fall & Spring)1
MBIO 601Molecular Microbiology (Fall)2
MBIO 602Immunology (Fall)3
MBIO 604General Virology (Spring)1
MBIO 606Seminar (Fall & Spring)1
MBIO 610Methods and Analysis in the Biomedical Sciences (Fall)2
MBIO 619Research (Fall, Spring & Summer)1-12
MBIO 623Scientific Writing and Hypothesis Testing (Summer)1
Elective Courses
Select three courses from the list of suggested electives (at least one must be MBIO):9
Advanced Immunology: Innate and Adaptive Immunity (Spring)
Advanced Immunology of Disease (Fall)
Microbial Pathogenesis (Spring)
Microbiota in Health and Disease (Fall)
Other Approved Graduate Courses
Advanced Biochemistry II (Spring)
Molecular Biology and Genetics (Fall)
Cancer Biology (Spring)
Minimum Total Hours31

Note: Students enrolled in the MD/PhD Joint Degree Program, who have completed step I of NBME, will have satisfied all of the required course requirements except seminar, Research Ethics, Research Methods, and research. Three electives will be required. They will be required to satisfactorily complete the Qualifying Exam and successfully defend a dissertation research project, in addition to attending all journal club sessions and seminars.

Qualifying Examination

Upon successful completion of the required course work, maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA, and upon the recommendation of the advisor or chair, the student may take the PhD Qualifying Examination. The Qualifying Examination will consist of a written research proposal outside of his/her area of primary research and oral defense of the project. Three to five faculty with expertise in the area of the proposal will be selected by the Curriculum Committee to serve as the Examining Committee. The student may enter degree candidacy upon receipt of satisfactory judgment from the Examining Committee and successful completion of the final semester of coursework.

Selection of a Research Advisor, Dissertation Committee and Research Proposal

Selection of the Research Advisor and specific research area is one of the most important decisions of the student's entire graduate training program and is a joint decision by the student and faculty member. Students must select a Research Advisor for their dissertation research by the end of their first year. Selection of the Research Advisor and formation of the Dissertation Committee must be approved by the Department Chair and the Dean of the School of Medicine (or their designees). The potential advisor must agree, in writing, to provide stipend and candidacy fee support from his/her research funds, following fellowship support. Upon approval of the Research Advisor, the student will formally decide upon a dissertation research project. The student and Research Advisor will form a Dissertation Committee with five (5) graduate faculty members. The committee will be composed of the advisor, three faculty members of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and one additional graduate faculty member from another department. If the advisor does not have a primary appointment in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, one of the three other departmental members with a primary appointment in the department must serve as Co-Advisor. The Chairman of the Department may serve as an ex-officio member of the committee.

The committee will meet regularly to evaluate progress of the research (at least once per year). The student will also be required to present a research seminar to the department annually on this progress. When the dissertation research is completed, the committee will conduct the final oral examination in accordance with the guidelines in the General Information section of this catalog.