Students begin their program of study by taking an intensive graduate level course that provides a unified presentation of the fundamental principles in the basic disciplines of biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, and genetics. This is a core course that is designed for all first year basic science graduate students at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. In the spring semester of the first year, students take additional courses in bacterial and viral pathogenesis. In addition to the Microbiology Program's required courses, students may take additional elective courses offered by other graduate programs. Students must earn 30 semester credit hours prior to the comprehensive examination and advancement to candidacy for the PhD degree.

In addition to formal course work, during their first year, Microbiology Graduate Program students conduct a series of three independent research projects, or laboratory rotations. Students may do these rotations in the laboratories of any of the Microbiology Graduate Program training faculty. By the end of the spring semester of the first year, students have completed much of the required course work. At this time, the students must pass a written and oral Preliminary Examination that addresses problem solving aspects of the first year course work.

Students usually select a laboratory and dissertation advisor by the end of the first year of study. Any faculty member of the Microbiology Graduate Program can serve as a dissertation mentor. Selection of a laboratory is a mutual decision made by the student and the prospective mentor, and is, in part, contingent upon available space and research funding.

At the end of the second year, a written and oral Comprehensive Examination is taken by the students. This examination is based on a written research proposal prepared by the student and based on their thesis research. After successfully completing the Comprehensive Examination, the student is advanced to candidacy for the PhD degree. At this time, a Doctoral Thesis Committee is appointed to advise the student and mentor in matters pertaining to the student's research. Through regular meetings with the student and mentor, the committee evaluates and monitors the student's progress. A typical doctoral dissertation requires three to four years of full-time research.

Lab Rotations

Laboratory skills are necessary for successful completion of any PhD program. Three (3) laboratory rotations are required of first year students, running concurrently with the graduate course curriculum. First-year students may choose to perform laboratory rotations with any of the training faculty participating in the Microbiology program. After acceptance into the program, rotations begin in the fall semester. At the end of each rotation, students in the Microbiology program present a short oral presentation on their work to program students and faculty.

Journal Clubs and Seminars

Throughout their graduate training, students also participate in a variety of journal clubs and "Research in Progress" seminars. In these interactive sessions, students learn to critically evaluate the scientific literature and develop strong presentation skills. Each year the graduate students present their ongoing research in the weekly Immunology and Microbiology Research-in-Progress Seminar Series. In addition, all students are expected to regularly attend and present in the Infectious Diseases Journal Club.

Required Coursework and Activities


Required Events

  • Microbiology Graduate Program New Student Orientation
  • Microbiology Graduate Program Student Retreat, Fall Semester
  • 4 Pre-Comp Advisory Committee meetings: during orientation, and end of each rotation
  • Attend and participate in Infectious Disease Journal Club (IDJC)
  • Wednesday Student Research in Progress Seminars and Friday Seminar Series 
  • Present 15-minute summary seminar after each rotation

Fall Semester Course Curriculum  
Research in Microbiology 1 credit    MICB 7650-001
Research in Microbiology 1 credit    MICB 7650-002
Statistics for Basic Scientists3 credits    BIOS 6606*
Foundations in Biomedical Sciences6 credits    BMSC 7806**
Core Topics in Biomedical Sciences – topics A
Microbiology in Biomedical Research
2 credits    BMSC 7810-002
Core Topics in Biomedical Sciences – topics B
The Microbiome in Health and Medicine, Gene Regulation
and RNA Biology in Disease, Principles of Cancer Biology
2 creditsBMSC 7810-009, -008, or -011

Spring Semester Course Curriculum  
Research in Microbiology 1 credit    MICB 7650, 001
Molecular Mechanisms of Bacterial Disease 3 credits    MICB 7703
Molecular Virology and Pathogenesis 3 credits    MICB 7701

Summer Semester Course Curriculum  
Doctoral Thesis             1 credit    MICB 8990

*Dates are approximate. Time from May finals - end of June are reserved for Prelims until final dates announced; *BSP students take in their first year; **MSTP students take their first year in the program. 

Preliminary Exam

  • Due dates for written portion of Preliminary Exam: ~ Early June 
  • Last day to complete oral portion of Preliminary Exam: ~Late June


Required Events

  • Microbiology Graduate Student Retreat
  • IDJC, Attend and Present
  • Attend Friday Seminar Series
  • Attend and Present in Student RIP series on Wednesday 
  • Committee meetings, with Pre-Comps or Comps Committee
  • Comprehensive Exam written proposal due two weeks before oral exam and no later than May 1

Course Curriculum  
Introduction to Bioinformatics, Fall3 creditsIMMU 6110
Science as a Profession,
1 credit   IMMU 7607
Research in Microbiology,
variable    MICB 7650-0V3
Workshop in Scientific Writing,
1 credit    IMMU 7605

Summer Semester Course Curriculum  
Doctoral Thesis             1 credit    MICB 8990-OV1


Required Events

  • Microbiology Graduate Student Retreat
  • IDJC Attend and Present
  • Attend Friday Seminar Series
  • Attend and Present in Student RIP series on Wednesday 
  • 2 Thesis Committee meetings
  • Ethics instruction must be undertaken at least once during each career stage, and at a frequency of no less than once every four years. After completing the full ethics course in year two, an ethics refresher course may be required, in which students are required to participate only in the discussion sessions.

Course Curriculum  
Doctoral Thesis             5 credits Fall/Spring,
1 credit Summer,
*5 credits if defending in Summer      
MICB 8990

Thesis Preparation

  • Obtain approval from Thesis Committee to write dissertation ~6 months before anticipated defense date
  • Thesis due to Thesis Committee members at least 2 weeks before oral defense
CMS Login