The Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology (MIC) Department is the home department for over 60 Ph.D. candidates and (MSTP) Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) graduate students. Our graduate students study under internationally-recognized scientists in the areas of immunology, cancer biology, virology, bacteriology, infectious diseases, biodefense, cell-signaling, and gene regulation.
The diversity of our Department ensures that students in MIC are offered diverse, interdisciplinary training throughout their graduate career. The wide variety of choices in laboratories and coursework, coupled with flexible departmental requirements, enables each student to design a custom-tailored training program that culminates in the awarding of the Ph.D. degree.
BIMS students who select primary or secondary MIC faculty for their theses mentors and choose to pursue their Ph.D. degrees in Microbiology have specific curriculum requirements.
Requirements for Ph.D. in Microbiology
Based on the thesis lab selection and the specific thesis project a student’s mentor will direct the student’s course-selection to fulfill MIC Ph.D. and NIH training program requirements.
All BIMS students must complete a minimum of 72 hours of graduate credit. A minimum of 24 out of the 72 credit hours must be graded coursework, and no more than 48 of the 72 credit hours can be comprised of Non-Topical Research. Requirements for graduation include the following courses:
MIC Colloquium course where primary literature is read, presented, and discussed with classmates and faculty.
Four 6-week courses of electives are required. At least two of these must be MIC-specific courses.
Various 6-week modular courses may be taken concurrently and/or sequentially, potentially allowing all course work to be completed in the first year of graduate studies, or students and their mentors may choose to spread the course work over the second and third years.
Students can formally enroll in classes offered by BIMS/SOM basic science departments and across Grounds throughout their tenure as a graduate student. Note that permission from your mentor is needed before enrolling in any formal coursework outside of your degree requirements.
Laboratory Rotations for new first year students
In exceptional circumstances whereby students are not able to join the program until August they will miss the summer rotation and may take their third rotation in the spring.
Toward the end of the second year, each student must prepare a 12 page written document and orally defend this detailed dissertation research proposal in the form of a “qualifying exam.” Ph.D. candidates are required to successfully prepare and defend the proposal before July 1st of the second year in order to remain in good standing as a Ph.D. candidate, and to continue receiving financial support from the Department. MSTP students are required to successfully prepare and defend the proposal before Oct. 1st of the second grad-year. One of the faculty with a primary microbiology appointment (not the student’s mentor) should serve as the chairperson or first-reader of the committee. The student’s mentor will be an essentially silent member of the committee during the oral defense of the qualifying exam.
It is not uncommon for a qualifying exam (dissertation) proposal to require revision, and perhaps a second committee meeting, before a student is passed into candidacy. Successful completion of the qualifying exam and any revisions allows the student to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Those not admitted to candidacy may, on approval of the faculty, be permitted to complete the requirements for the degree of Master of Sciences in Biological and Physical Sciences.
More information about the Qualifying Exam process may be found HERE.
An extension to the completion date of the Qualifying Exam may under extenuating circumstances be granted upon written request to the Director of Graduate Studies. Extensions must be requested no later than May 31st.
Each student and his/her mentor should select BIMS Faculty to serve on the student’s Dissertation committee as soon as possible. Each Dissertation committee must be comprised of at least five BIMS Faculty including the student’s mentor. For the MIC student at least three of these must have a primary faculty appointment in MIC. At least one primary MIC faculty (not including the mentor) must be tenured.
In addition, one of your committee members must be from “outside” the MIC Department and will serve as a representative of the School of Medicine to affirm that the student has been assessed fairly and with due rigor. This individual may be drawn from the tenured or tenure-track faculty of the School of Medicine or other graduate schools at the University, but must hold a primary appointment outside of MIC. He/she must hold a Ph.D. and/or serve as a BIMS-approved mentor.
All Dissertation committees must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies before the student contacts any faculty to participate on the committee. For the qualifying exam, one primary MIC faculty from the committee should be selected by the student and mentor to serve as the first-reader/chairperson. The chairperson will be the primary liaison between the student and the student’s committee. A proposal must be sent to all committee members at least one week prior to the qualifying exam.
BIMS students are required to have at least one committee meeting every 12 months to remain in good academic standing, and this is especially important now that the Individual Development Plan (IDP) is in place.
For committee meetings after the Qualifier, MIC students will be required to send a 1-page summary of their progress to their entire committee a week before the annual committee meeting.
All students need to let the MIC program administrator know in advance when they have a committee meeting arranged. Students will receive a written summary of each Committee meeting assessing their progress.
All PhD candidates must perform original research in the laboratory of their mentor(s). A minimum of one 1st-author original research paper that is accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal is required for graduation. While this 1st-author paper is required, however, it is not sufficient for the Microbiology PhD degree. Students are expected to demonstrate problem-solving and practical skills commensurate with functioning as an independent researcher as judged by their thesis advisory committee and generate a body of work that contributes new knowledge to the field.
While a student may begin writing their dissertation prior to formal acceptance of the paper, permission to schedule the defense will be granted by the thesis advisory committee once the body of work has been accepted for publication as a first-author paper. The student should contact Amy Anderson when they begin writing their thesis, and must apply for graduation in SIS for the semester they plan to graduate in. The deadlines to apply in SIS are Fall – October 1, Spring – February 1, Summer – July 1.
Under exceptional circumstances, requests for a waiver of the 1st-author paper requirement will be considered by the MIC Academic Advisory Committee. Waiver requests must be submitted to the MIC Director of Graduate Studies prior to the defense date being set. The letter should be supported by the thesis advisory committee and signed by (1) the chair of the thesis advisory committee, (2) the mentor, and (3) the student. Waiver requests will be considered if the following conditions have been met:
- A 1st-author original research paper must have been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal and received a favorable review.
- The authors must present their timely plan for resubmission of the paper. This should include steps that will be taken to ensure that the paper is ultimately accepted for publication.
- Any hardship(s) on the part of the student and/or mentor that are driving the request for a waiver should be described.
Once written and approved by the Mentor, the complete thesis must be distributed to the Chair of the thesis advisory committee at least 3 weeks ahead of the defense and the rest of the thesis advisory committee at least 1 week ahead of the defense. The defenses should be completed sequentially over the course of a single day with the public defense preceding the private defense.
Summation of Thesis to UVA Library’s LIBRA System
Doctoral students must upload the final, approved version of their dissertation to the University Library’s digital repository, also known as LIBRA, adhering to the same deadline for the Final Exam form.
Information regarding the repository, the submission process and copyright law is available through the LIBRA web site. Please note the following:
- The title page of the dissertation should be formatted according to the approved template. Signatures of the dissertation committee members should appear only on the Final Examination Form and not on the title page of the document uploaded to LIBRA.
- The studet is responsible for ensuring they upload the final, approved version of their thesis. Documents submitted to LIBRA cannot be deleted or corrected.
- The thesis title submitted to the BIMS Administrator is entered in SIS and will appear in the LIBRA upload interface. If the title listed in LIBRA does not match the final title of the thesis being uploaded, the student must stop the upload process and inform the BIMS Administrator of the correct title. The thesis title listed in SIS, LIBRA and the student’s transcript should be identical.
- LIBRA will accept the thesis as a single PDF document up to 100MB. Students also have the option to upload supplemental files.
- Formatting Requirements: There are no formatting requirements or restrictions; however, students should adhere to traditional physical standards if they wish to purchase bound copies from UVA Printing and Copying Services.
Survey of Earned Doctorates
All graduating students are required to complete the online National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates during the term when they graduate. This online survey takes about 15 minutes to complete. The survey link can be found in SIS under the Academic Requirements.
Requirements for Dual Degree Program
Microbiology welcomes students from the Medical Scientist Training Program. Students in the (MSTP) are in an accelerated curriculum and generally complete their Graduate Requirements within 4 years.
Students enrolled in the MSTP will often use the coursework completed during the MD preclinical curriculum to receive transfer credit for course requirements. For example, MSTP students can petition the Director of Graduate Studies for the PhD degree-granting program with which the student affiliates to receive transfer credit for BIMS 6000 (Core Course in Integrative Biology). Decisions on these petitions will be made by the DGS in consultation with the MSTP Director and the student’s research advisor.
Beginning with the cohort of MSTPs matriculating into the MD program in summer of 2021, and based on the School of Medicine’s Policy on course credit equivalencies, students who are awarded transfer credits for the core course requirement will be awarded 10 topical credits, the equivalent graded credit hours of the Core Course in Integrative Biology.
For those MSTPs who take the core course, the pre-clerkship curriculum will be evaluated by the Director of Graduate Studies of their selected degree-granting program for other appropriate coursework equivalencies for which they may receive transfer credit (up to 10 credits in total).