In the first year, each student takes a common Core Program. In the fall, the students take a course each in Biochemistry, Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Critical Analysis of Scientific Literature. In the spring, students take courses in Prokaryotic Biology, Microbial Pathogenesis, and Virology.
In addition to the courses, the students complete three 5-week research rotations in the first semester. Following completion of rotations, the students select a research advisor and laboratory. Together with his/her advisor, the student also selects 3-4 faculty members appropriate to the student's intended degree to serve on the advisory committee. This advisory committee guides and monitors the student's research and course work.
The Microbiology program requires a total of 90 credit hours. Of these, 24 credit hours come from course work, including the Core Program, and at least 3 credit hours from Advanced Course work. The Advanced Course offerings change from year to year, to provide breadth in topics covered. Most Advanced Courses are half-semester 1.5-credit-hour courses in areas requested by students. Each student must also take Grant Writing during Year 2, and a Research Ethics and Career Development course during Year 3. The IU Graduate School also requires students to complete a minor. The student has the option to select any minor in consultation with his/her advisor and the Microbiology Graduate Program Director.
The Microbiology program has a two-part preliminary exam. In Part 1, the students are examined on a set of primary literature papers. These papers test the breadth of student knowledge in each area of microbiology. The students are expected to understand the concepts and technology within the papers, critically evaluate the experiments, and appreciate their relevance to the field. In Part 2 of the exam, the students write and defend a thesis proposal to their advisory committee. Both exams are completed prior to beginning their third year in graduate school. Students who pass both of these examinations are admitted to formal candidacy for the Ph.D.
Throughout their graduate career, students participate in the Microbiology Seminar Program and a weekly Microbiology Research Discussion. The Microbiology seminar hosts world-renowned researchers and exposes students to cutting edge research in the field. The Microbiology Research Discussion is a forum that allows students to present their findings and discuss their recent data with their peers, postdocs, and faculty. The final requirement of the program is a Ph.D. thesis, which must be defended in a public research seminar and in a meeting of the research advisory committee.