Program Requirements

General Overview 

Successful completion of the first year curriculum and identification of a laboratory mentor is required for IBGP students to enter the Immunology (IMM) Graduate Program. Students from the MSTP can matriculate into the IMM Graduate Program after completing two years of medical school and identifying a laboratory mentor.  Students normally enter the Program on September 1 following approval by the Graduate Program Director and the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. 

Required Immunology Program Activities

The weekly Student/Postdoc Research in Progress Seminar series allows graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, faculty, and guest speakers to present their most exciting current research results. Graduate students must present their research progress once each year after passing the Comprehensive Examination. Graduate students also have the opportunity to meet with guest speakers of the Department of Immunology Seminar Series for special breakfasts, where the students can begin to form contacts for collaborations and future post-doctoral opportunities. Attendance each week is required for all Graduate Students.

Immunology Program Comprehensive Examination

Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program should take the Comprehensive Examination by the end of the second year, unless permission to extend the deadline is obtained from the Comprehensive Examination Committee. The Comprehensive Examination will be administered after the student has completed most of his/her course work, has decided on the general area of his/her thesis research, and has chosen a major advisor. Normally, the examination will be taken in the spring semester of student's second year.

The student will be required to submit a proposal in the format of a research grant to the Comprehensive Examination Committee chairperson, who shall establish a panel of faculty members to evaluate each student's proposal and to conduct an oral examination of the student if the written proposal is acceptable. NIH instructions for format of the written proposal should be followed. If the written proposal is deemed sufficient to proceed to the oral component of the exam by a simple majority vote of the panel, the student shall receive at least a one-week notice of the oral defense date. The oral defense will typically take place within 3 to 4 weeks of submission of the sufficient written proposal. The oral exam is not to exceed two hours, and focuses on the student's understanding of both the contents of the research proposal and the basic concepts underlying the contents. The student is graded pass/fail, with a simple majority vote of the panel deciding the grade. In the event of a failure of the written and/or oral component of the exam, the student shall be given one opportunity to retake each failed component of the examination within two months of failure of the first exam. In the event that a students fails either component twice, the action of the faculty shall be dismissal of the student from the program or recommendation that the student transfer to the M.S. degree program, for the completion of his/her training.

Advancement To Candidacy And Formation Of A Dissertation Committee

Following completion of course work and passing the comprehensive examination, the student undertakes the steps required for advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D degree, outlined below.

Students should form a dissertation committee within one month of passing their Comprehensive Examination. The committee shall consist of at least five faculty members. The Dissertation Advisor is included in the committee and may act as Chair, although another faculty member may be designated Chair of the committee. The majority of the members must be from the Immunology program faculty, and the majority of the members must have Graduate Faculty status. At least one member must be from outside the Immunology program, and at least one of these outside members must have Graduate Faculty status. The student is not limited to faculty from the School of Medicine. The Director of the Immunology program will review the committee, sign the necessary forms and forward the completed documents to the Graduate Office and to the Immunology Program Administrator. Final approval of committee membership rests in the hands of the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies.

The thesis committee should meet within two months of formation. Prior to the meeting, a written thesis proposal should be provided to each committee member. At this meeting, the dissertation research project is presented in detail to the committee; if the committee approves the proposal, the student should make certain that all required graduate school forms are completed for advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

Every time a thesis committee meets (including the first meeting), a brief report of this meeting, signed by both student and advisor, must be sent to all thesis committee members, and to the Immunology Program Administrator, so that this information can be included in the student's academic file.

Following the initial thesis committee meeting, additional meetings must be held at six month intervals. The student must submit one week prior to the scheduled committee meeting a brief written summary of their research progress since the previous committee meeting.

Immunology Program Teaching Requirement

Teaching experience is an integral part of the training of each graduate student. This statement reflects the philosophy that effective graduate training should be comprehensive and include formal course work, independent research, and teaching experience. This curriculum best prepares students for careers in academia and industry where one is often involved in formal or informal teaching duties.

All students in the Immunology program will be required to teach during the second and third years of graduate school. The timing of teaching assignments will be dependent on the scheduling of courses, but will usually require approximately 20-25 hours spread over the span of one month per year. Students will obtain one course credit per year for fulfilling this requirement by registering for MSIMM 2250 in the appropriate term. Currently, Immunology program students participate in teaching medical students in a Medical Microbiology laboratory course. Students who wish to participate in teaching after the third year may contact the Program Director and can usually be accommodated, but will not receive course credits.

Students will not normally be required to teach during the academic year in which they plan to defend their dissertation. Other exemptions from teaching will normally not be considered or granted.