Exams & Requirements

Qualifying Exam

The qualifying examination is generally taken during the spring semester of the second year.

The purpose of the exam:

  • To provide an opportunity for students to read in depth in areas of interest that may be related to an eventual dissertation topic
  • To acquire experience in the formulation and preparation of coherent research proposals
  • To enable the faculty to identify areas of strength or weakness that exist in a student's knowledge. 
  • To allow students to demonstrate their ability to think critically about areas relevant to the proposed thesis project and field of inquiry.

 The examination process:

  • The examination involves selected readings relevant to the student's potential thesis project. Reading topics and examining committee members are chosen by the student in consultation with the thesis advisor and the DGS.
  • Students write an eight-to-10-page research proposal from these topics.

After submission of the written proposal, an oral presentation is made to the committee.

  • The faculty asks questions that allow the student to demonstrate his/her ability to think critically about knowledge relevant to their field of inquiry.

Teaching requirements

Microbiology students are expected to participate in two semesters of teaching. Teaching requirements are fulfilled during the second or third year. Students are not expected to teach during their first year.

Academic participation

Microbiology graduate students are expected to attend and participate in:

  • The Microbiology Graduate Program Seminar Series
  • The Research in Progress Seminar Series
  • The Microbiology Annual Retreat.

Dissertation Prospectus

A dissertation prospectus (a clearly written statement summarizing the nature and scope of the dissertation research) and a provisional dissertation title are required by the Graduate School by the end of the third year. The dissertation prospectus is prepared by the student in consultation with her or his research advisor and thesis advisory committee.

Admission to Candidacy

Pre-dissertation requirements:

  • Course requirements
  • Honors requirements
  • Qualifying examination
  • Teaching requirement
  • Dissertation prospectus

After these requirements are fulfilled, a student will be admitted to candidacy for Ph.D. degree. These requirements are usually met in the first three years of the program.

Dissertation and Dissertation defense

Students must write a description of their dissertation research. The dissertation is read by three faculty members, two from within the University and one outside the University.