General Overview

In the first year, students are required to successfully complete four seven-week rotations, identify a laboratory mentor and complete core curriculum. Students from the MSTP can matriculate into the PMI after completing two years of medical school and identifying a laboratory mentor. In the second year students complete course work and pass a comprehensive examination. The remaining years are dedicated to research in their mentor’s laboratory.










For more information, please view the PMI Handbook.

Required PMI Activities

The weekly Student/Postdoc Research in Progress Seminar series allows graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to present their most exciting current research results. Graduate students must present their research progress once each year after passing the Comprehensive Examination. Graduate students are required to attend departmental seminars which typically hosts guest speakers and will also have the opportunity to meet with guest speakers for special breakfasts or lunches. Here, students can begin to form contacts for collaborations and future post-doctoral opportunities.

PMI Comprehensive Examination

Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program should take the Comprehensive Examination in the Fall of their second year, unless permission to extend the deadline is obtained from the Comprehensive Examination Committee. The Comprehensive Examination will be administered after the student has completed most (but not necessarily all) of his/her course work, has decided on the general area of his/her thesis research, and has chosen a major advisor.

The student will be required to submit a proposal in the format of a research grant to the Comprehensive Examination Committee chairperson, who shall establish a panel of faculty members to evaluate each student's proposal and to conduct an oral examination of the student, if the written proposal is acceptable. NIH instructions for format of the written proposal should be followed. If the written proposal is deemed sufficient to proceed to the oral component of the exam by a simple majority vote of the panel, the student shall receive at least a one-week notice of the oral defense date.

The oral defense will typically take place within 3 to 4 weeks of submission of the sufficient written proposal. The oral exam is not to exceed two hours, and focuses on the student's understanding of both the contents of the research proposal and the basic concepts underlying the contents. The student is graded pass/fail, with a simple majority vote of the panel deciding the grade. In the event of a failure of the written and/or oral component of the exam, the student shall be given one opportunity to retake each failed component of the examination within two months of failure of the first exam. In the event that a student fails either component twice, the action of the faculty shall be dismissal of the student from the program or recommendation that the student transfer to the M.S. degree program, for the completion of his/her training.

Advancement To Candidacy And Formation Of A Dissertation Committee

Following completion of course work and passing the comprehensive examination, the student undertakes the steps required for advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D degree, outlined below.

Students should form a dissertation committee within two months of passing their Comprehensive Examination. The committee shall consist of at least five faculty members. The Dissertation Advisor is included in the committee and another faculty member will be designated Chair of the committee. The Director of the PMI will review the committee. Upon approval from the Director, the student should then email the PMI Coordinators to obtain the forms that will be required at their first committee meeting. Final approval of committee membership rests in the hands of the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies.

The thesis committee should meet within two months of formation. Prior to the meeting, a written thesis proposal should be provided to each committee member. At this meeting, the dissertation research project is presented in detail to the committee; if the committee approves the proposal, the student should make certain that all required graduate school forms are completed for advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

Every time a thesis committee meets (including the first meeting), a brief report of this meeting, completed by the Thesis Committee Chair, must be sent to the PMI coordinators, so that this information can be included in the student's academic file.

Following the initial thesis committee meeting, additional meetings must be held at six month intervals. The student must submit, one week prior to the scheduled committee meeting, a brief written summary of their research progress since the previous committee meeting.

PMI Teaching Requirement

Teaching experience is an integral part of the training of each graduate student. This statement reflects the philosophy that effective graduate training should be comprehensive and include formal course work, independent research, and teaching experience. This curriculum best prepares students for careers in academia and industry where one is often involved in formal or informal teaching duties.

All students in the PMI will be required to teach during the second and third years of graduate school. The timing of teaching assignments will be dependent on the scheduling of courses, but will usually require approximately 20-25 hours spread over the span of one month per year. Students will obtain one course credit per year for fulfilling this requirement by registering for MSMI 2250 in the appropriate term. Currently, PMI students participate in teaching medical students in a Medical Microbiology laboratory course. Students who wish to participate in teaching after the third year may contact the Program Director and can usually be accommodated, but will not receive course credits.

Students will not normally be required to teach during the academic year in which they plan to defend their dissertation. Other exemptions from teaching will normally not be considered or granted.

Graduation Information

Looking for information about graduation?

See the PMI Checklist to Schedule and Defend Your Thesis.

Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP)

SURP is designed to provide stimulating and rewarding research opportunities for undergraduates considering graduate education in Immunology.

Learn More