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Information for Microbiology Graduate Students

Information on applying to our graduate programs is found here.

Ph.D. General Requirements of the Graduate School
The requirements for the Ph.D in Microbiology conform to the requirements of the Graduate School as set forth in the Graduate School Catalog. These requirements include approximately 44 to 48 academic credits, a general examination, and a final examination based on the dissertation (dissertation defense). Satisfactory completion of at least 15 credits of GRAD 6950 Doctoral Dissertation Research or GRAD 6960 Full-Time Doctoral Dissertation Research is required. A plan of study listing courses to be completed for the degree must be filed with the Graduate School before twelve credits are completed. These and other requirements of the Doctor of Philosophy degree are described in the Graduate Catalog.

Graduate students, their advisors, and their advisory committees are responsible for shaping student curricula depending upon each student’s background and interests. An advisory committee is composed of a student’s major advisor and two associate advisors chosen by the student after consultation with his/her advisor.

The number of courses and research credits that comprise the required 44-48 credits are determined by the students and their advisors. Typically about one-half of these credits are from coursework. Courses in microbiology, genetics and biochemistry are used to fulfill this requirement. Appropriate courses outside these areas can also be used. All Microbiology graduate students attend “Microbiology Seminar,” a weekly discussion of current topics in microbiology attended by students and microbiologists from around campus. Each student is expected to make presentations at these discussions periodically. Meetings of individual laboratory groups as well as departmental meetings provide students with opportunities to present their own research findings.

General Examination format

A General Examination must be passed as a requirement for the Ph.D. It consists of two parts in the Microbiology program: an examination of general knowledge of Microbiology (the preliminary examination, given in written and/or oral portions) and an examination based upon thesis-related research (the related examination).

The preliminary exam is normally taken by students who have been in the program for 1 1/2 years. It is given in two parts, a written examination followed by an oral examination. The oral examination provides an opportunity for the committee to ask follow-up questions from the written portion and to explore other areas raised in that examination. The oral examination is scheduled soon after the written portion has been completed and graded. Both portions are administered by a faculty examination committee.

Upon successful completion of the preliminary examination, the student will be eligible to complete the related examination. This exam must be taken before the completion of three years in the program. At least one week before the exam, the student will submit a research prospectus to the advisory committee and two examiners. The examination consists of an oral presentation of the work to the committee followed by questions about the work addressed to the student. Questions may cover the general area of investigation, approaches and methods. The related examination will be chaired by one of the associate advisors. Upon successful completion of the related examination, the Graduate School will be notified that the student has completed the General Examination.

Finally, students must defend their dissertation (the oral defense) at the end of their research program.

If a student enters the program with a masters degree, both the preliminary and related examinations are required, but the master’s degree may be accepted by his/her committee in partial fulfillment of the course requirements for the Ph.D. Note that in this situation, the student’s doctoral study begins at the time any courses listed on the plan of study are taken. From that date, the student must complete the general examination within four years.

Print out a Checklist for the PhD program in Microbiology

Plan A and B MS Degree
The requirements for the M.S. degree in Microbiology conform to the requirements of the Graduate School as set forth in the Graduate School Catalog. Master’s degrees may be earned under either of two plans as determined by the advisory committee. The first plan emphasizes research, the second requires comprehensive understanding of a more general character.

Plan A requires 21 content course credits on a Plan A Master’s plan of study and a minimum of 9 credits of GRAD 5950, as well as the writing and oral defense of a thesis. Plan B requires a minimum of 30 content course credits, a final examination, but no thesis. In either case, advisory committees may require more than the minimum number of credits. Check the Graduate catalogue for details on transferring credits, time limits and other information.

For a concise guide regarding the milestones and procedures please refer to the Milestones and Procedures Document. This document also contains a check list with dates that you will find useful to keep on track during your tenure in MCB.

Students interested in careers in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries may also pursue a M.S. degree Microbial Systems Analysis in the Professional Science Master’s (PSM) program (Contact for more information).