The Immunology Program places a significant emphasis on research training. However, the classroom experience is also an integral component of the Ph.D. Program, providing the intellectual foundation necessary for well-rounded scientists. Advanced training is facilitated by a series of graduate courses designed to provide in-depth knowledge in broad areas of immunology and allied sciences. Core courses in biochemistry, cell biology and molecular biology complement the program's strong orientation towards training independent investigators in immunology. Courses within the department are taught primarily in a tutorial format where small numbers of students interact with faculty members. The following outlines a typical schedule of graduate study in the Department of Immunology.
Entering students will begin with visits to each laboratory within the department. You'll be introduced to the ongoing research projects and the types of technologies used in the laboratory. At the end of these visits, you'll select three laboratories where you'll spend eight weeks participating in a research project. Each student is expected to spend a minimum of 20 hours per week in these rotations.
In conjunction with the laboratory rotations, you'll begin fulfilling the graduate school core curriculum requirements and the immunology requirements. Most students complete the core curriculum requirements by the end of the first year. During the first year, summer students attend the seven-day Advanced Immunology Course sponsored by the American Association of Immunologists.
Second-year students continue to take advanced immunology courses to meet degree requirements as well as core curriculum courses, if not completed. Most of your time will be spent in the laboratory developing preliminary data towards the thesis research project. By the end of the second year, you'll take a written qualifying examination to test your knowledge and critical reasoning in the area of immunology. After passing the written exam, you'll take the oral component of the qualifying examination.
The third year primarily consists of thesis research with some additional advanced courses. Upon completion of the oral and written components of the qualifying examination, you'll prepare a research proposal pertaining to your project. Together with your thesis adviser, you'll select faculty to participate on your Graduate School Thesis Advisory Committee. This thesis committee will evaluate the proposed direction, experimental methods and preliminary data of your thesis research project.
The fourth and subsequent years are used to complete the thesis project. You'll meet with your Thesis Advisory Committee at least twice a year. These meetings include a presentation of the progress towards the completion of the thesis project as well as discussions about adjustments in research direction. Upon completion, you'll write a thesis and present your findings in seminar form, followed by a thesis defense.