Microbiology (Ph.D.)


The Ph.D. in Microbiology combines a dynamic curriculum in a broad range of areas with interdisciplinary research opportunities at the frontiers of microbiology, host-microbe interactions, and environmental microbiology. Graduates of the program are equipped for leadership positions in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, academic and government research laboratories, and successful careers in teaching and research at the college and university level.

Distinctive Features of the Program

  • Research opportunities are available in many cutting-edge microbiology research areas
  • Emphasis on interdisciplinary research training
  • Well-equipped research laboratories and core facilities on the UNH campus
  • Laboratory rotations upon entry to the program to become familiar with different research laboratories
  • Weekly graduate student seminar presentations, as well as a departmental seminar series of invited speakers
  • Opportunities to gain teaching experiences as a Graduate Teaching Assistant

Research Opportunities

  • Host-microbe interactions, parasitology, and immunology
  • Environmental microbiology
  • Signal transduction pathways
  • Molecular microbiology
  • Genomics and bioinformatics
  • Microbial ecology and evolution
  • Biotechnology

Financial Support

  • Students admitted to the Ph.D. Program are typically supported by Research Assistantships or Teaching Assistantships
  • Intramural summer and academic year fellowships are available to students on a competitive basis

Career Prospects

  • Research scientists in biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries
  • Lab managers in academic research labs and research institutes, state and federal government agencies
  • Academic preparation for future teaching and research roles in a college or university environment

Admission Requirements

  • Completion of foundational courses in biology, chemistry (including organic chemistry), physics, genetics, and mathematics
    • Otherwise well-qualified applicants can correct academic deficiencies with enrollment in appropriate courses or independent study during the first year of graduate studies
  • Applicants from non-English speaking countries must provide Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement, including research interests and names of two or three potential Microbiology faculty thesis advisors.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Students with appropriate academic training at the baccalaureate or master's level may be considered for admission to the doctoral program. Students admitted to the Ph.D. program are required to conduct an independent research project in conjunction with a Microbiology graduate program faculty adviser. Specific coursework is determined in conjunction with the graduate committee.

Advancement to candidacy requires the successful completion of the following:

  1. All courses required by the graduate committee
  2. A written qualifying exam administered by the graduate program coordinator and graduate faculty
  3. An independent research proposal developed in conjunction with a faculty adviser
  4. An oral defense of the research proposal

Students enrolled in the doctoral program are required to complete one semester of teaching and successfully complete and defend a dissertation based on their research proposal. The acceptance of the dissertation is contingent on its approval by the doctoral committee and evidence that at least two manuscripts based on the thesis research have been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal appropriate to the topic.

All graduate students are required to enroll in and attend MCBS 997 Seminar each semester and present one seminar each year.

Approved courses for the Microbiology Ph.D. and M.S. programs:
Biological Sciences
BIOL 804Plant-Microbe Interactions3
MICR 805Immunology3
MICR 815Immunology Laboratory2
GEN 804Microbial Genetics and Genomics5
GEN 813Microbial Ecology and Evolution4
GEN 817Molecular Microbiology5
Natural Resources
NR 806Soil Ecology4
Additional non-disciplinary courses to consider:
ANFS 933Design, Analysis, and Interpretation of Experiments4
BCHM 825Cell Phenotyping and Tissue Engineering Laboratory4
BCHM 853Cell Culture5
BCHM 854Molecular Biology Research Methods5
BIOL 811Experimental Design & Analysis4
BIOL 902Writing and Publishing Science2
BIOL 950Scientific Communication2
GEN 812Programming for Bioinformatics5
GRAD 891National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Preparation0
GRAD 930Ethics in Research and Scholarship2 or 3
LSA #900College Teaching2
MATH 835Statistical Methods for Research3
MCBS 901Introduction to Research in the Life Sciences2
MCBS 913Applied Bioinformatics3
MCBS 910Cell Signaling Networks Across the Kingdoms3
MCBS 997Seminar1
NR 905Grant Writing2
NR 909Analysis of Ecological Communities and Complex Data4

All MCBS graduates will be able to:

  • Critically apply theories, methodologies, and knowledge to address fundamental questions in their primary area of study.
  • Pursue research of significance in the discipline or an interdisciplinary or creative project. Students plan and conduct this research or implement this project under the guidance of an advisor while developing the intellectual independence that typifies true scholarship.
  • Demonstrate skills in oral and written communication sufficient to publish and present work in their field and to prepare grant proposals.
  • Follow the principles of ethics in their field and in academia.
  • Demonstrate, through service, the value of their discipline to the academy and community at large.
  • Demonstrate a mastery of skills and knowledge at a level required for college and university undergraduate teaching in their discipline and assessment of student learning.
  • Interact productively with people from diverse backgrounds as both leaders/mentors and team members with integrity and professionalism.

Graduates of the Microbiology Ph.D degree program will be able to:

  • Demonstrate strong foundational knowledge in microbiology theory and practice, and sub-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary knowledge specific to the student’s research area.
  • Critically analyze and interpretate the primary literature.
  • Integrate knowledge by 1) synthesizing research questions and/or hypotheses, 2) designing, executing, and interpretating research and 3) contextualizing their contributions to the field of study.
  • Demonstrate competency in laboratory safety, and specialized microbiological methods.
  • Promote the importance of science, the discipline of microbiology, and microbes themselves to society by communicating the meaning and value of your scholarship across formal and informal forums.
  • Independently construct analytical arguments as demonstrated by the development, execution, defense and publication of a dissertation research project.