Microbiology and Immunology, Ph.D.
SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
Admission Requirements and Deadlines
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 and succeeding 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:
A master's degree is not required.
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.
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.
General Program Requirements:
Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Master's: 30
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:
Cell Structure and Function
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.
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 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 5000-level courses (totalling at least 9 semester hours) in addition to the required 4000-level courses.
Before defending the dissertation, complete 30 hours of departmental approved coursework.
Have a research review with the research committee within 6 months of Chair'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. The 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 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 Graduate School, and must be posted in the School of Medicine.
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 of two parts. Part I tests the student's knowledge of information that is fundamental to microbiology and immunology. Part II tests the student's knowledge of general concepts and the ability of the student to understand and interpret this information.
Part I consists of approximately 50 questions allowing for short, definitive answers. These questions are assembled and graded by members of the Preliminary Examination Committee. Part II consists of questions that cover concepts taught in the Required Courses with the objective of testing understanding and interpretation. Questions are sought from Graduate Faculty by the Preliminary Examination Committee, which uses the questions as a basis to design a written examination. The exam lists six questions of which each student answers 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 5000-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. All qualified students meet with the Chair of the Preliminary Examination Committee six weeks prior to the examination to learn the time, place, and location of the examination.
Part I tests the student's knowledge of information that is fundamental to Microbiology and Immunology. Questions are selected that allow for short, definitive answers. Part II stresses the understanding of concepts, experimental design, and analysis of data. Questions are selected and combined to stress multi-disciplinary approaches. Questions that seek to compare and contrast or to discuss are asked only under unusual circumstances. The intent is to test the student's ability to apply information learned in required courses to the experimental situation.
For Part I, the Preliminary Examination Committee assembles the questions. Typically, members of the Committee are responsible for blocks of approximately 10 questions. Two members of the Faculty grade each question on a pass/not pass basis. For Part II, the Preliminary Examination Committee solicits from each author of the preliminary exam questions a brief outline that should provide the minimal acceptable answer to the question. The Preliminary Examination Committee appoints 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 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 pass Part I of the preliminary examination, a student must answer at least 75% of questions correctly. To pass Part II of the preliminary exam, a minimum of three scores of "7" or better must be achieved for the four answers. Also, the Preliminary Examination Committee assembles the scores for each of the four answers provided by a student, and further considers the "best" three averaged scores from each student. The averaged scores for each of these three 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 is taken as an oral examination, unless justification for a written examination is provided.
The dissertation proposal is about 5 pages in length and contains 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 plans for future research, including the methodology to be employed; and (5) references.
The dissertation is an original empirical study that makes a significant contribution to the field of Microbiology and 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 that were written by and contain relevant research 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.
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 Department's 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 that 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, s/he should discuss this matter with other members of the Research Advisory Committee and the department chair. The Chair, in consultation with the Research Advisory Committee and the Graduate Program Committee, determines if a change in advisor is required or desirable.
A majority vote plus one is required of the 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 Dissertation Examining Committee. A dissenting report may be filed by one or more members of the Dissertation 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 department chair 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 the Graduate School, and must be posted in the School of Medicine.
Program Contact Information:
Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology
School of Medicine
3400 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19140
Dr. Chris D. Platsoucas
Dr. Chris D. Platsoucas
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 enables 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
Students are required to complete the degree program through classes offered before 4:30 p.m.
Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology
School of Medicine
3400 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19140
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, pulmonary medicine, and gynecology.
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; and 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; and molecular biology of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Epstein-Barr Virus; and (3) Eukaryotic and Prokaryotic Molecular Genetics - molecular genetics of sporulation in Bacillus; cellular and viral oncogenes and their role in cell growth and transformation; and molecular modeling and protein structure/function.
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.
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.
Research Assistants (RA) are expected to devote a minimum of 20 hours per week on average to research obligations. RAs are 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.