The Department of Microbiological Sciences offers graduate study leading to Ph.D. degrees in Microbiology. Faculty in the department have expertise in microbiomes, microbial genomics, biotechnology, synthetic biology, molecular biology, virology, immunology, microbial physiology, and discipline-based education research. The Ph.D. in Microbiology is an outcomes-based program focused on developing research project leaders.
Ph.D. in Microbiology
The Ph.D. program in Microbiology encompasses many sub-disciplines, including plant-microbe and animal-microbe interactions, microbiome research, virology, vaccine development, soil microbiology, biofilm research, immunology, and discipline-based education research. The program trains students in the foundation of knowledge, the process of inquiry, and the philosophy of microbiology. It breaks with traditional programs by focusing the training on seven well-defined learning outcomes that can be attained with or without supporting coursework. This includes outcomes for professional, ethical, and civic development Doctoral graduates are prepared for a variety of career paths including academic or industry research and academic teaching.
Graduating doctoral students will be able to:
Demonstrate professional and ethical behavior consistent with the expectations of the discipline
Conduct scholarly inquiry relevant to societal challenges and the field of study
Utilize and apply discipline appropriate knowledge, concepts, and theoretical frameworks
Demonstrate proficiency with a variety of classical and modern techniques
Communicate scientific research results to diverse audiences
Develop professional skills such as collaboration and personal effectiveness to be competitive in the job market
Demonstrate civic responsibility, citizenship, and inclusiveness
The program of study is customizable to each student’s training needs. In the absence of course requirements, the program holds students accountable for year-over-year progress toward the learning goals via annual assessments of student progress by the mentor and research advisory committee.
In addition to the Graduate School requirements, applicants must have evidence of a strong academic record in the biological sciences. The following science courses are required or recommended:
One year of general biology with laboratory (required)
One course in genetics (required)
At least one course in cellular biology, cellular physiology, animal physiology, or bacterial physiology (required)
Microbiology and Immunology (recommended)
One year of general chemistry with laboratory (required)
Two sequential terms of organic chemistry with a laboratory course (required)
Two sequential terms of physics with a laboratory (required)
Additional application requirements
The statement of purpose should include the following:
An explanation of how obtaining a graduate degree in our program fits your career goals.
A description of the qualities you possess that will contribute to your success in your chosen field.
A description of any research experiences you have had. If you have had research experience, it is important to include a letter of recommendation from your research adviser.
A list of the areas of research in the department that interest you.
The student must first apply to the Graduate School and be accepted in full or conditional status before he/she is eligible for an assistantship. Research and teaching assistantships are contingent upon the availability of funds and are awarded competitively. Applicants are considered on the basis of scholarship, the potential to undertake advanced study and research, and financial needs.
The Ph.D. program is based on defined training outcomes. Degree requirements are in agreement with NDSU Graduate School requirements. The student and major adviser will prepare a plan of study by the end of the first year in residence. The Graduate School requires the plan of study for the Ph.D. degree to include no less than 90-semester graduate credits (60 credits for students matriculating with a master's degree). An overall GPA of 3.0 or higher must be maintained. Please refer to the department website for more information on the requirements for this program.
Qualifying Exam: Two preliminary examinations must be completed successfully before advancement to candidacy for the doctoral degree. The first examines fundamental areas of knowledge that will be essential for success as a doctoral candidate. The second requires the student to write a research proposal targeted at a program administered by NIH, NSF, or NIFA and defend the proposal in an oral examination. After successful completion of the comprehensive written and oral preliminary examinations, the student will be formally admitted to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.
Final Exam: The final examination will be an oral defense of the student's research results. The student's research advisory committee will administer the exam after a public presentation of the work.