Academic Program

Students in the Microbiology Graduate Theme have the opportunity to specialize in Bacteriology or Virology via defined tracks within the Program. Students interested in other microbes or areas of research will be assisted in the formulation of their specific programs through the selection of specific courses, journal clubs, seminars, and research training.

First year - Courses, Lab Rotations, Selection of Mentor

Courses. First year students in all Graduate Biomedical Sciences Themes take a common 13-week core curriculum emphasizing the fundamentals of biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology. Students in the Microbiology Theme will continue their first year coursework with classes in Prokaryotic Genetics, Virology, Immunology and more specialized courses focusing on their area of interest. A passing grade of B or better is required in all courses. Students who fail a course (i.e., make less than a B) must retake and pass the relevant course in the subsequent year. Students who fail more than two courses during the first year are subject to dismissal from the program.

Laboratory Rotations. During the first year, students participate in three laboratory rotations of their choosing. Lab rotations allow the student to identify specific research areas and mentors  with whom they will ultimately perform their graduate research project. At the end of the first year, students select the mentor with whom they will complete their studies.

Second year and beyond - Qualifying examination, courses, journal clubs, research, completion of degree.

Qualifying examination. During the fall of the second year, students must pass a Qualifying Examination that assesses their general knowledge, ability to read the literature, and ability to formulate and defend testable hypotheses. The examination involves a written proposal and oral defense of the proposal.

Journal Clubs. From the second year until completion of the program, students participate in a Journal Club related to their specific area of interest. The purpose of the journal club is to enhance the ability to critically read the literature and to stay abreast of current findings in the field. A wide variety of Journal Clubs are available, many of which can be found here.

Advanced courses. Three advanced courses in areas relevant to the student's area of interest are required and may be completed anytime from the second year on. Students are encouraged to take these courses as early as possible in order to achieve the most benefit in their training. Some of the recently offered courses can be found here.

Dissertation research. After completion of the Qualifying Examination, and no later than the third year, the student forms a dissertation committee comprised of five faculty members (including the mentor) whose expertise will be beneficial in helping direct the research and course of study.

Awarding of the Ph.D. degree. The Ph.D. is awarded upon successful completion of the academic requirements and defense of the dissertation. The dissertation consists of a written document that is expected to include published papers or manuscripts in preparation, along with a scholarly introduction and discussion of the work that has been completed. An oral presentation and public defense of the dissertation is the final step toward completion of the degree.