Ph.D. Requirements

Please refer to the Guide to Graduate Studies for comprehensive information about receiving your Ph.D. degree in Microbiology and Immunology.



After year 1 with the BBSP, if you commit to a Faculty member of our Department, please contact the Student Services Manager or the Director of Graduate Studies, Bob Bourret.


A. Required by the Graduate School:

  1. Four Full Semesters of Credit (9 hrs each)
  2. Written Preliminary Examination
  3. Oral Preliminary Examination
  4. Submit a progress report of your research to each member of the committee at least once a year.
  5. Dissertation and public presentation of research results at a seminar

B. Additional Requirements Imposed by this Department:

  1. Six Courses including MCRO 795 and at least two seminar/tutorial courses
    One of the seminar tutorials may be outside the department but requires:
    -the class to be based on discussion of the primary research literature, not lectures.
    -approval by the Director of Graduate Studies after reviewing a course syllabus. (The student is responsible      
    for obtaining the class syllabus.)
  2. Two semesters of TAship assigned by our Department.
  3. Participation in Department seminars and student seminars (MCRO 701).
  4. Minimum Publication Requirement


A. During the First Year

1. During the First Year – BBSP will advise you

-Meet with the BBSP Graduate Student Advisor (GSA) to choose courses.
-Recommend no more than 2 didactic or seminar courses per semester.
-Three Laboratory Rotations: Choose labs of your interest and contact the Faculty.
-Choose Research Preceptor later in the year (who can support you and your research).
-Professional development (including training in Scientific Ethics) in the First Year Groups

B. During the Second Year

  1. Departmental Courses: No more than 2 didactic or seminar courses per semester. These courses are chosen in consultation with your research advisor or with the departmental Director of Graduate Studies. In addition, students are required to take MCRO 795 and attend two-thirds of the Departmental seminars and student seminars (MCRO 701). 
  2. Once during the year act as a T.A. for a departmentally approved course. (Microbiology 251 or Microbiology 515)
  3. Take the qualifying (prelim) written examination.
    Our departmental written prelim exam format is a research proposal written in a format similar to an NIH pre- or postdoctoral fellowship proposal.  Specific guidelines will be discussed in detail when the students meet as a group with the Prelim Exam Advisor at the start of the Spring semester.  The exam is understood to be an expression of each student's independent ability to formulate an experimental approach and adequately express it on paper.  The exam period will start with the distribution of a list of foundation publications on the first day of classes of the Spring semester and must be completed by June 1. 

C. During the Third Year

1. Departmental Course Requirements: 

Required to attend two-thirds of the Departmental seminars and student seminars (MCRO 701). 
Appropriate seminar/tutorial courses may be taken in consultation with your research advisor.

2. Once during the year act as a T.A. for a departmentally approved course

                        (Microbiology 251 or Microbiology 515)

3. Student Seminars:

Graduate students are expected to participate and attend student presentations held weekly during the academic year.  Students are required to attend two-thirds of the presentations. 

     All graduate students who are Year 3 and above will be scheduled to give a formal presentation of their research (typically in PowerPoint) of about 30 minutes in length.

4. Form a Dissertation Committee and choose a thesis committee chair:

Committee Members: According to Graduate School rules the dissertation committee must consist of at least five persons: the dissertation advisor and at least four members of the Graduate faculty.  One must be chosen as your thesis chair.  Our department requires that the four members of the dissertation committee be faculty (primary or joint appointees) in our department.  The names of the Faculty should be listed on the ‘Report of Doctoral Committee Composition’ form.  The committee and chair must be selected by the start of the Fall semester.

5. Oral Examination:

The oral preliminary exam (also known as the doctoral oral examination) centers on the topic of the thesis project, and provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to discuss the fields of science related to your thesis proposal, as well as your ability to analyze problems and design experiments. The exam serves a dual purpose as the initial meeting of the thesis committee. Therefore, a separate decision to approve or disapprove your thesis project will occur in the same meeting.     

6. Dissertation Research Project Approval:

Each student develops a dissertation research project with his or her research advisor during year 2.  The proposed dissertation project must be approved by your dissertation research committee.  The committee must meet to consider approval of your proposed dissertation project by December 31 of the third year.  Prior to your project approval meeting, please obtain the ‘Report of Approved Dissertation Project’ form from departmental Student Services Manager.  Provide the committee members a written prospectus of the dissertation research problem and methodology, at least one week in advance of the committee meeting.  The prospectus should be two pages or less and describe hypotheses, Specific Aims and a brief overview of research design, including which parts of the project have been completed.  At the meeting, you will present (orally) the dissertation research proposal and any experimental data to the committee.  The committee determines the soundness of the problem and its feasibility.  If a topic requires additional experimentation to determine feasibility, then topic approval may be deferred to subsequent meetings within the year.  When your topic is approved, the Graduate School will be notified in writing that the dissertation project has been approved and that you are advised to proceed.  You must meet at least once every year with your dissertation committee to review your progress on your dissertation research projectSee Committee Meetings and Progress ReportsBe sure to pick up your progress report form prior to each meeting.  This meeting is typically held in conjunction with the annual Student Seminar. 

D. During the Fourth and Fifth Years

1. Register for three credit hours of MCRO 994 (dissertation in progress) and MCRO 701.

2. Provide 30 minute Student Seminar annually [deleted some unnecessary words]

3. Conduct Research and hold committee meetings.
Monitor your research progress, work hard, tabulate results, publish papers, write your dissertation.  Dissertations are largely a collection of your manuscripts unified with a comprehensive Introduction and an overall Discussion. 

4. Complete minimum publication requirement.  As a minimum standard, to earn the Ph.D. degree we require that (i) a student must make meaningful contributions to and be an author on at least two manuscripts intended for publication in respected, high-quality professional journals or books, (ii) at least one of the two manuscripts must be accepted for publication, and (iii) prior to the private Ph.D. defense, a student must have peer reviews returned for at least one first (or co-first) author primary research manuscript. Parts ii and iii cannot be satisfied with the same manuscript.  See the Publication Requirement for complete information.

5. Dissertation: The decision of when to write the dissertation is a collective one made by you, your advisor and your committee.  When you are ready to begin writing your dissertation, you must consult with your advisor and committee members regarding content and format of the document.

Please refer to the Guide to Graduate Studies for comprehensive information about receiving your Ph.D. degree in Microbiology and Immunology.