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W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Doctor of Philosophy

(Please scroll down for application instructions)

The PhD program is research-based and prepares students to become independent investigators. The program includes coursework and written and oral exams, but the primary focus of this degree is completion of original research and preparation of a research thesis.

Opportunities for doctoral research in MMI are very diverse and include research in the broad areas of virology, bacteriology, parasitology, vaccine development, host immunity, pathogenesis, autoimmunity, bioinformatics, ecology of infectious diseases, and medical entomology.

Our PhD students learn mechanistic approaches to solving fundamental questions in microbiology and public health. All PhD students receive a stipend, a full tuition scholarship and medical insurance.

For more detailed information about the PhD program in MMI, please consult the PhD Program Handbook.


Required first-year courses include:

In addition, students complete two rigorous molecular biology courses, a course on scientific grant writing and a course in statistics during their second year. Students also participate in laboratory research meetings, journal clubs, and seminars. Finally, students have an opportunity to take elective courses within and outside of MMI.

Rotations and Selection of an Adviser

Upon entering the MMI Department, each student is assigned to a faculty member who will serve as the academic advisor for the first year. The academic advisor will assist with the selection of appropriate courses for the first year and will serve as a source of information about department policies and procedures.

In the first year, each student rotates through three laboratories in the Department, spending 8 weeks in each. All three rotations are selected by the student. These rotations serve as the basis for short oral presentations during the weekly Departmental Research Forum. Typically, after the third rotation, students select their PhD mentor.

Written and Oral Exams

Students in the PhD program take two comprehensive exams.

The first examination is intended to test competency in areas of study required in MMI during the first year. The written comprehensive exam consists of a critical review of the scientific literature on a topic relevant to first-year coursework that is chosen by the student in consultation with the academic advisor. The review must include an analysis of the state of knowledge on the topic, identification of important unanswered questions, and potential experimental approaches to address those questions. A three-member MMI committee assesses the student's ability to integrate and apply information to the chosen topic. The review is defended in an oral examination.

The second comprehensive examination is the Preliminary Oral Examination and is generally taken after the student’s second year. The purpose of this examination is to determine whether the student has gained the ability and knowledge to undertake significant research in their general area of interest. The written component of the exam takes the form of a grant proposal written by the student on a topic related to their dissertation research using technical knowledge gained in the Scientific Method Applied to Grant Writing course.

Thesis Research

The MMI Department provides state-of-the-art facilities for cutting-edge research in microbiology and immunology. All laboratories in the Department are newly renovated and provide students with the necessary tools for conducting their dissertation research.

We are committed to ensuring that students receive the highest quality graduate research training available. To that end, each PhD student has a Thesis Advisory Committee to provide advice and constructive feedback about their dissertation research. Students also summarize their thesis research progress annually in the departmental Research Forum. PhD students in MMI spend an average of 5-6 years in their coursework and thesis research before graduating.

How to Apply

Prospective students should submit the School's online application, which requires the following documents:

The deadline to apply to the PhD Program is December 1 for the training program beginning the following September.  Admissions decisions are made by the end of February.

Application Instructions

All PhD applicants must submit a completed application through SOPHAS. The Biomedical Sciences in Public Health is an application gateway to the following PhD programs:

A single application to the Biomedical Sciences in Public Health allows you to be considered for the aforementioned programs. Under additional questions please select the program(s) to which you wish to be considered for admission. Decisions will be made separately by each program. To find our program track, please use one or more of the following searchable SOPHAS designations:

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Gail O'Connor
Academic Program Administrator
Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
615 North Wolfe Street, Room E5008
Baltimore, Maryland 21205
Phone: (410) 614-4232
Fax: (410) 955-0105