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Immunology Graduate Program Curriculum

All students are required to enroll in a comprehensive cell and molecular biology core course taken in the fall semester of the first year. Other required courses that are program-specific include a graduate level general immunology course taken in the first year and a series of special topics courses completed in the second year that explore in depth a range of specific areas including tumor immunology, clinical immunology, signal transduction and host response to infection. Additionally, students are required to complete a professional training course, which presents important ethical, social and practical aspects of science as a career, including presentation preparation, scientific writing, ethics, and interview skills. The required courses are outlined below:

Course# Title Semester Year Credits
First Year:
BIOS 6606 Statistics for the Basic Sciences Fall 1st 3
IDPT 7806 ​Biomedical Scien​ces Core Course  Fall 1st 6
IDPT 7810 Biomedical Sciences Core Topics A Fall 1st 2
IDPT 7810 Biomedical Sciences Core Topics B Fall 1st 2
IMMU 7650 (001) Research in Immunology (lab rotations) Fall 1st 1
IMMU 7650 (002) Research in Immunology (lab rotations) Fall 1st 1
​IMMU 7650 (001) ​Research in Immunology (lab rotations) ​Spring ​1st 1​
IMMU 7662 Immunology Spring 1st 6
IMMU 8990 Doctoral Thesis Summer 1st 1

Second Year:
IMMU 7607 Science as a Profession (including ethics) Fall 2nd 1
IMMU 7602 Special Topics in Tumor Immunology Fall 2nd 1
IMMU 7603 Special Topics in Clinical Immunology Spring 2nd 1
IMMU 7605 ​Scientific Writing Workshop ​Spring ​2nd ​1
IMMU 7650 (OV3) Research in Immunology (lab rotations) Fall/Spring 2nd 3
IMMU 8990 Doctoral Thesis Summer 2nd 1 

Third-Fifth Years:
IMMU 8990 Doctoral Thesis Fall/Spring 3rd-5th 5
IMMU 8990 Doctoral Thesis
Summer 3rd-5th 1 (**5)
** If defending

Preliminary Exams

At the end of the first year, graduate students take a written preliminary exam meant to test the academic progress they have made in their first year, based on graduate core curriculum and required Immunology coursework.

Comprehensive Exam

Immunology students are required to take an oral qualifying exam (comprehensive exam) in order to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Each student is required to submit an abstract on a project related to their thesis research by November of their second year. After abstract submittal, each student is paired with a faculty member who guides them in preparing a written proposal formulated closely to an NIH R01 grant. When the proposal is complete, the student presents their proposal before a committee comprised of five faculty selected by the student, and chaired by their comprehensive exam advisor.

Journal Club

Immunology students participate in a weekly journal club, guided and moderated by graduate students in the Immunology Program. Each week, one student will present a brief summary of a student-selected journal article, present data, and offer interpretation of figures. The attending Immunology students participate in a guided discussion on the journal article.

Lab Rotations

Laboratory skills are necessary for successful completion of any of the participating Ph.D. programs. A minimum of three laboratory rotations are required of first-year Immunology students, running concurrent with their enrollment in the graduate core curriculum and immunology course. First-year students may choose to perform laboratory rotations with any faculty trainer in the Immunology Graduate Program. Faculty not currently listed as trainers may be considered as thesis advisors upon approval by the Steering Commitee. Students begin their first rotation during fall semester.

Thesis Research

Thesis labs and projects are selected by mutual consent of the student and the faculty member at the end of the first year. These research projects give graduate students the opportunity to learn scientific techniques, experimental design, scientific writing and presentation skills over a 3-5 year period. In the winter of their second year, students choose a thesis committee, consisting of four immunology faculty members and one non-immunology member. Immunology graduate students schedule meetings with their thesis committees every six months, where they discuss their thesis project and the progress they’ve made. Immunology graduate students are expected to publish their thesis work in a peer-reviewed journal before graduation. Upon approval by their thesis committee, students write their thesis and present the work to the immunology department in an oral defense.