The Doctor of Philosophy program requires at least 30 hours of course work. Six credit hours must be in research (MICB 797 Doctoral Degree Research and Dissertation). The student and their advisory committee select the remaining advanced course work that specifically addresses their research interests.

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Advisory Committees

After completion of rotations in the first year of residence in the graduate program, graduate students will select an area of research and appropriate graduate adviser. Graduate students, in consultation with their graduate adviser, select a graduate advisory committee made up of at least 5 members.

More information... about Advisory Committees.


Comprehensive Preliminary Examination. All students are required to take a written comprehensive preliminary examination at the end of the first academic year of residency in the graduate program. All required graduate courses from the first year common core curriculum should be successfully completed by this time. The exam consists of a written and an oral portions covering a Microbial Pathogenesis problem and an Immunology problem. 

Candidacy. After successfully passing the comprehensive written preliminary examination, students must complete an NIH style research proposal and successfully defend the proposal to be considered for candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

More information... about the process of candidacy.

Requirements for Students Enrolled in the M.D.-Ph.D. Program.

Requirements for students enrolled in the WVU School of Medicine M.D., Ph.D. program will be exactly the same as for regular graduate students, with the following exceptions:

  1. successful completion of the first two years of the medical school basic sciences curriculum will be considered equivalent to the required course component (i.e. the first year Ph.D. curriculum)
  2. M.D.-Ph.D. students must have passing score on the Step 1 USMLE Board Examination taken at the end of the second year of the medical school curriculum.  This will be considered the equivalent to a passing score on the written preliminary examination of the Ph.D. curriculum
  3. M.D.-Ph.D. students must serve as a teaching assistants in an approved Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cell Biology course at least once during their residence in the program.  

Thesis Requirements

Written Dissertation. The form of the dissertation will be decided by the graduate advisory committee and must be consistent with the School of Medicine Guidelines for Theses and Dissertations and guidelines published in the university graduate catalog. A copy of the dissertation draft must be delivered to the graduate advisory committee and to the departmental office at least one month prior to the defense of dissertation.

Defense of dissertation. Each student must present his/her research in an open seminar to the faculty of the University. Announcement of the Defense of Dissertation Seminar must be published in the university record three weeks prior to the examination date. Successful completion of this requirement of the program and conferral of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy is determined by a vote of the advisory committee and is subject to guidelines stated in the general graduate catalog of the university.

Conferral of degree. Completion of the final examination requires the conferral of the degree by the Graduate Advisory Committee. The student must also fulfill all of the appropriate deadlines and guidelines for graduation posted by the WVU Health Sciences Center Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

Career Opportunities in Field

Most previous graduates of this program have gone to post-doctoral fellowships in university, government (NIH, etc.) or pharmaceutical companies. One recent graduate obtained a position at the University of Pennsylvania in the technology transfer office. Skills learned in this program are especially versatile because they allow students to work in most fields of cell and molecular biology, as well as more specialized areas of microbiology and immunology.

Educational Enrichment:

Immunology and Microbial Seminar Series. This department supports a regular series of extramural seminar speakers whose research is relevant to the interests of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cell Biology. Students are expected to attend this seminar series and time will be specifically set aside for the students to meet with each invited speaker for informal discussion.