College of Medicine

Microbiology, Immunology, & Molecular Genetics - Graduate


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The Ph.D. program in Microbiology & Immunology is designed to prepare doctoral candidates for research careers in academia, industry, and government laboratories. The program has at its heart a close student-mentor relationship that allows for maximum flexibility in the development of independent and creative scientists. Students will have the opportunity to join faculty research programs across a spectrum of topics including pathogenic microbiology, virology, cancer cell and molecular biology, and cellular and molecular immunology. Specific research areas include microbial physiology, bacterial pathogenicity, cellular and molecular immunology, tumor immunology, lymphocyte differentiation, membrane biology, molecular virology, molecular genetics, and gene regulation. Students will utilize cutting-edge techniques, including genetic engineering, genomics, bioinformatics, and fluorescence-activated cell sorting. The program of study is tailored to the individual background and career goals of the student and stresses an interdisciplinary approach both in the selection of courses and in the pursuit of research. The most important aspect of the doctoral program is an independent research project under the direction of the student's mentor. Students are expected to develop their reading and writing skills, in part through their participation in graduate seminars, journal clubs, and research seminars, grant-writing, interactions with visiting scholars and attendance at local and national meetings to present their research. All Ph.D. students are supported by a Research Assistantship that provides a yearly stipend, tuition costs, and student health.  

Doctoral Program Description

All students pursuing degrees in the biomedical sciences at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine are admitted through the Integrated Biomedical Sciences (IBS) program ( This one-year umbrella program, through core coursework and laboratory rotations, provides students with broad-based exposure to biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, and integrated physiology and flexibility in selecting a research advisor among nearly 200 faculty in the six participating departments: Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics, Neurosciences, Biochemistry, Physiology, Pharmacology, Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology & Cancer Biology. Students select their PhD advisor at the end of the IBS year and matriculate into the advisor’s department to continue their doctoral program through program-specific courses and research. The doctoral degree is awarded in the program chosen, for example, in Microbiology & Immunology.

Admission to the IBS program is competitive and is based upon academic background, three professional recommendations, research experience (if any), and when possible, personal interviews. Students should have completed an undergraduate degree in chemistry, biology, biochemistry, engineering, mathematics, neurosciences, physics, pharmacy or psychology. It is recommended that students have completed undergraduate courses in organic chemistry, physics, and the biological sciences. 

Doctoral (PhD) Degree - Application Requirements

Students must apply to the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program, an undifferentiated first-year core curriculum that serves as the entry point for six doctoral programs housed in the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

  1. CV
    • Indicating any academic honors, publications, research experience and relevant work experience (since graduation--for those who have previously graduated from an undergraduate or graduate degree program). 
  2. Personal Statement
    • Indicate your research interest and goals for doctoral study and beyond.
  3. Research Experience (if any)
  4. Three letters of recommendation

Applicants must apply through the University of Kentucky Graduate School and meet the Graduate School admission requirements.

See Integrated biomedical sciences