2008 - 2009 Site Archive



Graduate Bulletin

Microbiology and Immunology, Ph.D.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines
Application Deadline:

Fall: July 1

Spring: November 1

Applications are processed as they are received throughout the year.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 2

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from college/university faculty members familiar with academic and research competence.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

While there is no fixed list of courses that are prerequisites for admission, understanding of and success in present-day Microbiology and Immunology requires good preparation in the Biological, Chemical, and Physical Sciences. Thus, formal coursework in Biochemistry, Calculus, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry, and Physics is desirable.

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:


Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A baccalaureate degree is required.

Statement of Goals:

The Statement of Goals should be approximately 500-1,000 words and should include the following elements: your particular interest in Temple's program; your research goals; your future career goals; and your academic and research achievements.

Standardized Test Scores:

The GRE is required. The program weighs the analytical and quantitative sections of the GRE more heavily than the verbal section. In certain circumstances, MCATs can be substituted for GREs.

The GRE Subject Exam in Biological Sciences and/or Chemistry is NOT required.

Minimum TOEFL score needed to be accepted: 600 paper-based, 250 computer-based, or 100 internet-based.


A resume is required.

Advanced Standing:

Graduate credits from an accredited institution may be transferred into this program. The credits must be equivalent to coursework offered at Temple and the grade must be a "B" or better in order to transfer. The Graduate Program Committee makes recommendations regarding the transfer of credits to the Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. The maximum number of advanced standing credits awarded is 18.

Program Requirements
General Program Requirements:

Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Master's: 10

Required Courses:

The Department of Microbiology and Immunology participates in the "Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences" at the Temple University School of Medicine.  The program requires Ph.D. and M.S. students to take a defined set of courses over the first two years:

    • 2 courses from the "Foundations of Biosciences Series" of the Interdisciplinary Program, comprising either a basic or advanced Biochemistry course, and a course on Molecular and Cell Biology.
    • 2 courses comprising Scientific Communication and Scientific Integrity.
    • 2 courses from the "Integrated Biosciences Series" from the following list:


      Cancer Biology

      Cell Structure and Function

      Comprehensive Immunology

      Host-Pathogen Interactions

      Molecular Approaches to Research

      Principles of Development

      Principles of Genetics

      Principles of Organ Pathology

      Principles of Pharmacology

      Principles of Physiology

      Proteins and Enzymes

Generally, students of Microbiology and Immunology take "Comprehensive Immunology " and "Host-Pathogen Interactions."

In addition, all students take the following required courses:

Microbiology 8309, 4 of 8300, 8310, 8320, 8330, 8340,8350 and 5301, 5302, 5351, 9301

In addition to the required courses, students must have at least 12 credits of 5000 level courses. Of these, 3 credits must be in the area of Molecular Biology and 3 in the area of Biochemistry.

View all COURSE OFFERINGS in Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, and Molecular Biology and Genetics.

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: No language examination is required.

Additional Requirements:
  • Attend orientation meeting.

  • Submit signed copies of the dissertation and relevant forms to the Department and Graduate School as described by current Graduate School policy.

  • Participate in a minimum of 3 laboratory rotations for which 3 individual rotation evaluation forms should be submitted to the Administrative Office following completion of each rotation.

  • Have a rotation review with all faculty members in whose laboratory the student rotated, within 1 month of decision of advisorship, and submit evaluation of rotation review forms to the Administrative Office.

  • In a consultation with proposed advisor, submit letter to the Chairperson of the Department requesting that the advisor be appointed dissertation advisor.

  • Take the Preliminary examination at the end of the second year. Students wishing to take the examination must have completed at least 1 year in residence, and have at least three 500 level courses (totalling at least 9 semester hours) in addition to the required 400 level courses.

  • Before the defense of dissertation, complete 30 hours of departmental approved course work.

  • Have a research review with the research committee within 6 months of Chairperson's written approval of advisor. This committee must have a minimum of 3 faculty members of this department (including advisor). An abstract and announcement of the review must be circulated to the faculty seven days prior to the review. Subsequent reviews must be scheduled with a maximum interval of 6 months. These reviews continue until the research committee indicates that the work is ready to be written and submitted as a Ph.D. dissertation.

  • Complete and successfully defend a Ph.D. dissertation. This dissertation must be submitted and defended within 1 year of being directed by the advisory committee to do so. At least 3 weeks in advance of the final examination (defense) all examiners must receive a typed copy of the dissertation in near final form. At least 2 weeks in advance of the final examination, the student should notify the Chairperson of the Department about the date and place of the examination and the examiners for the final. This announcement must be provided at least 10 days in advance to all members of the Department and to the Dean of the Graduate School, and must be posted in the School of Medicine.

Culminating Events:

Preliminary Examination:

The preliminary examination is designed to evaluate the ability of potential Ph.D. candidates to carry out original dissertation research toward completion of the Ph.D. program. The exam consists to two parts. Part I will test the student's knowledge of information that is fundamental to microbiology and immunology. Part II will test the student's knowledge of general concepts and the ability of the student to understand and interpret this information.

Part I will consist of approximately 50 questions allowing for short, definitive answers. These questions will be assembled and graded by members of the Preliminary Examination Committee. Part II will consist of questions that cover concepts taught in the Required Courses with the objective of testing understanding and interpretation. The questions will be sought from Graduate Faculty by the Preliminary Examination Committee. The Preliminary Examination Committee will use these questions as a basis to design a written examination consisting of six questions of which each student will answer four.

After 2 years of matriculation in this Department, students enrolled in the Ph.D. program are required to take the preliminary examination. At least three 500 level courses, totaling at least 9 credit hours, must be completed prior to taking the preliminary examination. Students wishing to take the examination also must have completed at least 1 year in residence.

Part I will test the student's knowledge of information that is fundamental to microbiology and immunology. Questions will be selected that allow for short, definitive answers. Part II will stress the understanding of concepts, experimental design and analysis of data. Compare and contrast, or discussion questions will be accepted only under unusual circumstances. Questions will be selected and combined to stress multi-disciplinary approaches. The intention is that this will be a test of the student's ability to apply information learned in required courses to the experimental situation.

For Part I, the Preliminary Examination Committee will assembly the questions. Typically, members of the Committee will be responsible for blocks of approximately ten questions. Two members of the Faculty will grade each question on a pass/not pass basis. For Part II, the Preliminary Examination Committee will solicit from each author of the preliminary exam questions a brief outline which should provide the minimal acceptable answer to the question. The Preliminary Examination Committee will appoint in advance two designated Graduate Faculty members to independently grade each question. In some exceptional cases, it may be necessary that faculty members be required to grade more than one question. The two faculty graders will independently, and without any consultation, grade the examination question on a scale of 5-10, with a score of "10" representing an "exceptional" performance, and "7" representing a "barely adequate" or "borderline" score. Graders may use half units to apply.

To pass Part I of the Preliminary Examination, a student must answer at least 75% of questions correctly in order to pass this part of the Preliminary Examination. To pass Part II of the preliminary exam, a minimum of 3 scores of "7" or better must be achieved for the 4 answers. Also, the Preliminary Examination Committee will assemble the scores for each of the 4 answers provided by a student, and will further consider the "best" 3 averaged scores from each student. The averaged scores for each of these 3 answers must total "23" or more or the student receives a "failing" grade. Students with a failing grade must take a re-examination. No conditions may be attached to a passing grade. If a re-examination is required, it must be taken within four weeks of notification of the official result, provided in writing, of the initial preliminary examination. The re-examination will be taken as an oral examination, unless justification for a written examination is provided.

The Chair of the Preliminary Examination Committee meets with all qualified students 6 weeks prior to the examination and tells them the time, place and location of the examination.


After choosing a research advisor, the student and advisor should agree on the composition of a Research Advisory Committee. The Department Chair approves the the advisory committee at the time of approval of the research advisor. The committee consists of the student's faculty advisor and at least two other members of the Departmental Graduate Faculty. This committee must meet at least once every 6 months to review the progress of the student's research work. The Doctoral Advisory Committee must include at least three Graduate Faculty who are resident in the Department. By the end of the fourth year, the Doctoral Advisory Committee also must include a member who is from outside the Department. The Chair of the Doctoral Advisory Committee is usually the advisor.

The Research Advisory Committee also forms the nucleus of the committee which conducts the final examination (defense). Just prior to the defense, an additional outside examiner must be added to the committee. This examiner must not be a member of the Department.

Any changes in membership of the Research Advisory Committee must be approved by the advisor, the other members of the Committee, and the department chair. The new committee member also must be registered with the Graduate School. If a student wishes to change advisors, he/she should discuss this matter with other members of the Research Advisory Committee and with the Department Chair. The Chair, in consultation with the Research Advisory Committee and the Graduate Program Committee will determine if a change in advisor is required or desirable.

The Dissertation is an original empirical study that makes a significant contribution to the field of Microbiology & Immunology. Dissertation research must be carried out while the student is enrolled in the doctoral program and must not have been used to obtain another degree. In addition, only those portions of co-authored papers which were written by and contain relevant research which was conducted by the dissertation candidate may be included. Work already published by the candidate must be logically connected and integrated into the dissertation. Simply binding reprints or collections of publications together is not acceptable as a dissertation.

Dissertation proposals are to be about 5 pages in length and to contain the following: (1) a statement of the problem; (2) background information describing how the student's project fits within the context of the general field of research; (3) a summary of what the student has done so far; (4) a brief description of the plans for future research, including the methodology to be employed; (5) references.

A majority vote plus one is required of the Doctoral Dissertation Examining Committee in order to pass the Dissertation defense. The major advisor must vote in the majority in order for the student to pass the defense. In the event of a failure, a report in writing must be provided to the student by the Doctoral Dissertation Examining Committee. A dissenting report may be filed by one or more members of the Doctoral Defense Examining Committee.

At least 3 weeks in advance of the final examination (defense), all examiners must receive a typed copy of the dissertation in near final form.

At least 2 weeks before the final examination, the student should notify the Chair of the Department about the date and place of the examination and the examiners for the final. This announcement must be provided at least 10 days in advance to all members of the Department and to the Dean of the Graduate School, and must be posted in the School of Medicine.

Program Contact Information:


Department Information:

Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology
School of Medicine
3400 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19140


Department Contacts:


Dr. Chris D. Platsoucas


Program Coordinator:

Dr. Chris D. Platsoucas


Graduate Chairperson:

Dr. Chris D. Platsoucas



Dr. Chris D. Platsoucas


About the Program

The mission of the graduate program of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology is to provide aspiring scholars with the training and knowledge to become independent scientists. This will enable them to meet the needs of academic, governmental, and industrial organizations. Our graduate program is a scholarly endeavor requiring originality and creativity. As such, it challenges students to think and express themselves independently. Research opportunities include molecular and cellular immunology, molecular and biochemical microbiology, and eukaryotic and prokaryotic genetics and physiology.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 7 years

Campus Location:

Health Sciences

Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

Students are required to complete the degree program through classes offered before 4:30 p.m.

Department Information:

Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology
School of Medicine
3400 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19140


Interdisciplinary Study:

The program encourages interdisciplinary coursework and research, among faculty and students with interests in Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular Biology, Cancer Biology, Genetics, Immunopharmacology, etc. There are extensive collaborations within the Department, with other faculty in the Medical School and the University, and with colleagues at other institutions. These extensive interdepartmental collaborations and multi-disciplinary programs have increased the breadth of the potential research projects available to the graduate student. The graduate faculty maintains close ties with clinical departments including surgery, cardiology, infectious diseases, oncology, pulmony medicine, and gynecology.


Not applicable.

Study Abroad:



The Department has been ranked 26th in the country based on the level of NIH grant monies awarded to its faculty.


One of the highest marks of approval and distinction that can be bestowed on a graduate program in the health sciences is the awarding of a Training Grant by the National Institutes of Health. The department has been recognized by the NIH with a Training Grant supported through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that has been in place for over 20 years. In addition, faculty in the department are approved mentors for additional NIH Training Grants in the areas of Immunopharmocology (supported through the National Institute of Drug Abuse), Cancer (supported through the National Cancer Institute), and Thrombosis (supported through the National Institute of Heart, Lung, and Blood Research).

Areas of Specialization:

Active research areas include: (1) Molecular and Cellular Immunology-Molecular genetics of T cell antigen receptors and immunoglobulins; Signal transduction in T cells; Molecular basis for the superantigen activity of certain microbial agents; Immunoregulation; Cellular and molecular analysis of the role of opioid receptor in the function of the cells of the immune system; Molecular aspects of autoimmune diseases in humans and animal systems; Molecular basis for the function of cytokines. (2) Molecular and Biochemical Microbiology- Quorum sensing and stationary phase survival; Cytokinesis in bacteria; Virulence factors and microbial pathogenesis; Molecular biology of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Epstein-Barr Virus. (3) Eukaryotic and Prokaryotic Molecular Genetics- Molecular genetics of sporulation in Bacillus; Cellular and viral oncogenes and their role in cell growth and transformation; Molecular modeling and protein structure/function.

Job Placement:

Since 1965, more than 100 students have graduated from our graduate program. Approximately 68 percent of our graduates hold academic positions, 20 percent have industrial or federal research positions, and 10 percent are directors of clinical microbiology or immunology laboratories.


Not applicable.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

Non-matriculated students can take courses with permission of the instructor. If accepted to the program, those courses may be applied toward the degree program.

Financing Opportunities

Research Assistants (RA) are expected to devote a minimum of 20 hours per week on average to research obligations. RAs will be assigned to a faculty member or principal investigator who is investigating a specific research project. The appropriate subjects are determined by consultation between the student and the student's research and academic advisors.

April 2008