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The Microbiology Graduate Program stresses solving fundamental problems of biology through molecular, biochemical, and immunological approaches. A wide range of research opportunities is offered. The program encompasses topics concerning the cell and molecular biology, genetics, physiology, and biochemistry of microorganisms and cells of higher organisms. Research topics are concentrated in, but not limited to: understanding microorganisms and their interactions with their hosts in order to solve health problems associated with microorganisms; and using the ease of manipulation for some microorganisms to understand important, fundamental biological problems common to most organisms.

The flexible program of study is designed to provide excellent training and research opportunities individually tailored to each student's needs. A well-qualified student can usually complete the doctoral degree program in five to six years.

Financial Support

During your first academic year in the Microbiology Graduate Program (September 2020-May 2021), you will be fully supported through an ICMB Fellowship, which includes an annual stipend of $32,500 (beginning in fall 2020), full tuition and fees, and health insurance. Additional support for students in the CMB Program may come from a combination of research assistantships, teaching appointments, University Fellowships and CMB Endowments.

After the first year, financial support is coordinated with the permanent laboratory and students are employed as graduate research assistants or as teaching assistants. Continuing students are also eligible for a wide array of competitive fellowships that are awarded on the basis of teaching performance or academic excellence. Funding for travel to professional conferences is also available.

Program Outline

1. Rotations: Students conduct three lab rotations during the first academic year. The rotations provide students the opportunity to explore different research interests prior to the selection of a Ph.D. supervisor.

2. Course work. All students are required to take 4 core courses and an additional six credit hours (2 electives) of relevant graduate level coursework inside the Microbiology Graduate Program.

3. ICMB Seminar Series: Students should attend the seminars held weekly. These seminars give students the opportunity to participate in discussions with faculty and peers about various topics and research problems.

4. Teaching. In the second or third year, students are required to fulfill a one long-semester teaching assistant requirement. A TA training workshop is offered twice a year and must be completed prior to the first TA-ship.

5. Qualifying Exam: To be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree, the student must complete a two-part preliminary examination during their spring of their second year. The exam consists of the presentation and defense of a NIH-style grant proposal based off of the student's research, and the presentation and defense of an "off-topic" specific aims page. A Grant Writing and Presentation Skills course is required in the fall of the second year to help the student prepare for the qualifying exam.

6. Weekly research seminar each semester after advancing to candidacy. These seminars allow students to present their own research findings and receive feedback from faculty and peers.

7. Annual ICMB retreat. The Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology hosts an annual retreat in the Texas Hill Country. The three-day event is an exciting opportunity for faculty, post-docs, and graduate students to meet and discuss science in an informal setting.

8. Conduct independent, original research under the direction of a faculty member; the results of this research constitute the dissertation.

Additional Information

Prospective students are encouraged to review the Program Requirements and Timeline and Microbiology Graduate Student Handbook for detailed information about the doctoral degree program.


If you have any questions please check our FAQs or feel free to contact the Graduate Program Administrator.