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Curriculum for the Microbiology PhD Graduate Program

Students begin their program of study by taking an intensive graduate level course that provides a unified presentation of the fundamental principles in the basic disciplines of biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, and genetics. This is a core course that is designed for all first year basic science graduate students at the University of Colorado.  Beginning spring semester, students take additional elective courses in subjects such as microbial pathogenesis, bacteriology, virology and immunology. In addition to the Microbiology Program's required courses, students may take additional elective courses offered by other graduate programs. Students must earn 30 semester credit hours prior to the comprehensive examination and advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

In addition to formal course work, during their first year, Microbiology Graduate Program students conduct a series of three independent research projects, or laboratory rotations. Students may do their rotations in the laboratories of any of the Microbiology Graduate Program faculty.

Throughout their graduate training, students also participate in a variety of lively journal clubs and "Research in Progress" presentations. In these interactive sessions, students learn to critically evaluate the scientific literature and develop strong presentation skills. Each year the graduate students present their ongoing research in the weekly Microbiology Seminar series. All students are expected to regularly attend two of the three weekly journal clubs hosted by the department of Microbiology: Bacteriology Journal Club or Virology Journal Club and Infectious Diseases Journal Club.

Successful completion of a written and an oral examination is required for advancement to candidacy for doctoral thesis research. By the end of the spring semester of the first year, students have completed the required course work. At this time, the students must pass a written Preliminary Examination that addresses problem solving aspects of the first year course work. In addition, an oral Comprehensive Examination is taken by mid-December of the second year. This examination is based on a written research proposal prepared by the student.

After successfully completing the Comprehensive Examination, the student is advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. The students usually select a laboratory and dissertation advisor by the end of the first year of study. Any faculty member of the Microbiology Graduate Program can serve as a dissertation mentor. Selection of a laboratory is a mutual decision made by the student and the prospective mentor, and is, in part, contingent upon available space and research funding. When the mentor has been selected a Doctoral Thesis Committee is appointed to advise the student and mentor in matters pertaining to the student's research. Through regular meetings with the student and mentor, the committee evaluates and monitors the student's progress. A typical doctoral dissertation requires three to four years of full-time research.


The Ph.D. program in Microbiology trains graduate students to become proficient and successful investigators who are able to:

1.      Demonstrate a basic knowledge of central concepts in the biomedical sciences.

2.      Understand current concepts in microbiology.

3.      Read and critically evaluate the scientific literature.

4.      Formulate hypotheses based on current concepts in the field and design, conduct, and interpret their own research projects.

5.      Present research results in peer-reviewed publications and in a dissertation.

6.      Communicate research results effectively through oral presentations at scientific seminars, conferences, and other venues.

7.      Write a competitive application for research funding.

8.      Develop ancillary skills, where necessary, to obtain positions outside of scientific research.



​ Year 1 Required Events
​Microbiology Program orientation Aug 19 and 22
​Microbiology Graduate Student Retreat
​4 Pre-Comp Advisory Committee meeting: during orientation, and end of each rotation
​Attend and participate in IDJC
​Attend Friday Seminar Series and Tuesday Student/Post-doc RIPs (barring class conflicts)
​Present 10 minute summary seminar after each rotation
​Year 1 Fall Semester Course Curriculum
​Research in Microbiology ​1 Credit ​MICB 7650, 001
​Research in Microbiology ​1 Credit ​MICB 7650, 002
​Biomedical Sciences Core Course I ​4 Credits ​IDPT 7806
Biomedical Sciences Core Course II
​2 Credits ​IDPT 7807
​Biomedical Sciences Core Course III ​2 Credits ​IDPT 7808
​Biomedical Sciences Core Course IV ​2 Credits ​IDPT 7809
​Fundamentals of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases ​2 Credits ​MICB 7706
​Year 1 Spring Semester Course Curriculum
​Research in Microbiology ​1 Credit ​MICB 7650, 001
​Molecular Mechanisms of Bacterial Disease ​3 Credit ​MICB 7702 (Sp 2017)
​Molecular Virology and Pathogenesis ​3 Credits MICB 7701
​Genomics ​3 Credits ​MICB 7620
​ ​ ​Year 1 Summer Semester Course Curriculum
​Doctoral Thesis ​1 Credit ​MICB 8990
 Year 1 Preliminary Exam
​Dates for writing Preliminary Exam Written portion of Preliminary Exam due date ~June 6
Last day to complete oral portion of Preliminary Exam ~June 25
Year 2 Required Events
​Microbiology Graduate Student Retreat
​IDJC, Attend and Present
​Attend Friday Seminar Series
​Attend and Present in Student RIP series on Tuesdays at 9am
​2 Committee meetings, with Pre-Comps or Thesis Committee
​Comprehensive Exam written proposal due two weeks before oral exam and no later than May 1
 Year 2 Course Curriculum​ ​ ​
​Ethics Course, Fall Semester ​1 Credit ​IMMU 7607
​Research In Microbiology
​Variable ​MICB 7650 (OV3)
 Year 2 Summer Semester Course Curriculum​ ​ ​
​Doctoral Thesis ​1 Credit ​MICB 8990
Year 3 and Beyond Required Events
​Microbiology Graduate Student Retreat
​IDJC Attend and Present
​Attend Friday Seminar Series
​Attend and Present in Student RIP series on Tuesdays at 9am
​2 Thesis Committee meetings
​Ethics instruction must be undertaken at least once during each career stage, and at a frequency of no less than once every four years. After completing the full ethics course in year two, an ethics refresher course may be required, in which students are required to participate only in the discussion sessions.
 Year 3 and Beyond Course Curriculum​ ​ ​
​Doctoral Thesis ​5 Credits Fall/Spring
1 Credit Summer, *5 Credits if defending in Summer
​MICB 8990
Thesis Preparation
​Obtain approval from Thesis Committee to write dissertation ~ 6 months before anticipated defense date
​Thesis due to Thesis Committee members at least 2 weeks before oral defense