Molecular Microbiology Curriculum


Students in the Molecular Microbiology Program complete didactic courses and participate in seminars, journal clubs and research presentations. All classroom work is typically completed during the first two years. During the first year, students complete four research rotations and, at the end of the first year, select their thesis advisors. At the end of the first year, students write and defend a research proposal on a topic unrelated to the thesis research. Thesis research begins at the end of the first year and continues until an appropriate body of work has been assembled. Second-year students are required to present and defend a Thesis Proposal.

Didactic Coursework

Required didactic courses for students the Molecular Microbiology Program provide a strong foundation in microbiology and biochemistry. Students also complete courses in scientific ethics. Students in the MERGE-ID Track or the Molecular Genetics Track follow a curriculum that includes a strong background in microbiology as well as courses relevant to their area of specialization.

More information about the curriculum and specific courses can be found in the GSBS Catalog or on the Molecular Microbiology Special Tracks page.

Qualifying Exam

Each student, in consultation with a qualifying examination committee, chooses a research topic unrelated to the student’s thesis research and prepares a written research proposal detailing experiments that address specific questions in the chosen area. The written proposal is then defended in an oral examination. The Qualifying Exam is completed within 12 months after course work begins for all students. More details can be found in the Molecular Microbiology Program Guide.

Seminar Series

Our series of invited seminars is shared with the Immunology and Genetics Graduate Programs. Many of the speakers seek to engage students and faculty from all three programs; others are more program-specific. Students in the Molecular Microbiology Program are required to attend all seminars hosted by the Program and are encouraged to attend as many of the seminars sponsored by the Immunology and Genetics Programs as possible.

The seminars are traditionally presented on Wednesdays at noon and are followed by a catered lunch for students with the speaker.

Check the GSBS Calendar for a schedule.

Research Workshop

Students, faculty and postdoctoral fellows present their research to the whole program annually. Students do so beginning in their third year and present every year until their thesis defense. We consider that learning to create professional quality presentations is an important part of the training experience.

Faculty members and other senior researchers help students to organize their data, create clear and informative slides, and present their work in an interesting and compelling manner.

A student’s presentation is often coupled to a meeting of the thesis advisory committee. The members of the thesis advisory committee offer critiques of the presentation and suggestions for improvement. All students are required to attend all research report meetings throughout their time in the program.

Check the GSBS Calendar for a schedule.

Journal Club

The overall goal of the Journal Club is to advance the student’s skills in critically evaluating scientific literature. PhD students must register each semester for four years, and MD/PhD students for three years.

Journal Club meets monthly in a small-group format. Attendance is required.

Check the GSBS Calendar for a schedule.