Courses & Laboratory Rotations


Because students have varied backgrounds and interests, they may choose from a variety of courses. Students must take a minimum of three courses in Microbiology and at least three elective courses, chosen to fill gaps in their education or to satisfy a strong subject interest. In addition, students must do at least three nine-week laboratory rotations and take a course on scientific ethics.

Students must receive a grade of “Honors” in two full-semester courses in order to advance to candidacy.

Laboratory Rotations

Students must do one year of laboratory rotations in three separate laboratories.  Each rotation lasts about nine to 10 weeks, during which time students are expected to participate in a research project under the direction of a faculty member. Faculty sponsors provide a written evaluation of each student's performance, and rotations are graded satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

Research rotations give students a chance to identify a laboratory in which they might conduct dissertation research. Rotations also introduce students to different techniques and approaches. Thus, this requirement will not be waived because a student has made an early decision concerning a dissertation laboratory.

Students should choose and organize their rotations in advance through discussions with faculty members and the director of graduate studies.

Recommended rotation schedule:

  • The first rotation should start in late September or early October, after faculty research presentations
  • The second rotation starts in January
  • The third rotation should begin in March and may continue through the summer.

A three-to-five-page research paper is required at the end of each rotation. Students should choose their thesis laboratories by the beginning of their second year.