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Curriculum

Students pursuing an MS in Microbiology and Immunology at IU School of Medicine must complete didactic coursework, electives, research rotations and a research thesis and also attend seminars. All students should consult the graduate school bulletin for general requirements of the graduate school and for detailed requirements of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

Required Didactic Coursework

Ten credits of required didactic coursework must be completed. Coursework includes (J810) Research in Microbiology, a four-week laboratory rotation (1 credit). If a student does not join the laboratory in which the rotation is performed, he/ she must rotate in another lab to find a mentor for thesis research. If no mentor is identified by the end of the first semester, the student is dismissed from the program.

MS students must also take one course from the following: G715 Biomed I-Biochemical Basis of Biological Processes (3 credits); G716 Biomed II-Molecular Biology and Genetics (3 credits); or G717 Biomed III-Cellular Basis of Systems Biology (3 credits) and at least four credits from the following: G720 Stem Cell Biology (2 credits); G728 Fundamental Concepts of Infection and Pathogenesis (1 credit); G729 Introduction to Immunological Systems (1 credit); G852 Concepts of Cancer Biology: Signaling Gone Awry (2 credits); J807 Current Topics in Immunology (2 credits); J829 Current Topics in Molecular Genetics of Microorganisms (2 credits); or J842 Neoplastic Determinants (2 credits).

G855 Experimental Design and Biostatistics (1 credit) and G505 Responsible Conduct of Research (1 credit) are also required. Depending on the student’s interests and career goals, additional graduate courses within or outside the department may be taken.

Additional Training Requirements

MS students must complete at least 16 credits of J810 Research in Microbiology as well as a thesis project involving original research and oral defense of the thesis to the committee.

In addition to the credits listed above, four credits of additional graduate-level course work or thesis research is required to reach the 30-credit minimum requirement.

Attendance at departmental seminars is required as part of the program curriculum. Attendance and, starting in the second year, annual presentation of research at Research in Progress (RIP) student seminar series is also required. Attendance is reported to mentor and committee for consideration in assigning research grades.

Optional Training

Although not required, participation in a journal club of interest is encouraged.

MS students interested in teaching can request a nonpaid teaching assistant position in MICR J210 Microbiology and Immunology.

Research Rotations

All entering first-year MS students undertake one four-week research rotation at the start of the fall semester. The rotation is chosen according to the interests of each student and the availability of laboratories. In the event that a student enters an unworkable situation, that student may petition the graduate advisor for a different rotation.

During the rotation, students are expected to spend no less than ten hours per week on rotation-related activities. It is the responsibility of each faculty member to ensure that student rotations in faculty laboratories are properly structured for the enrichment of the students, including a defined goal for each student’s efforts.

At the conclusion of the rotation, an evaluation form is completed by the laboratory head. This evaluation includes a brief assessment of the student’s rotation experience, level of effort and ability, and a grade to be averaged with the other evaluation and the report as a basis for one credit of J810.

Upon mutual agreement by both the student and mentor, at the conclusion of the rotation, the student may enter the mentor’s laboratory and begin thesis research. If the student does not join the laboratory in which the rotation was performed, the student must rotate in another lab to find a mentor for thesis research. Up to three four-week rotations may be performed in the first semester. If no mentor is identified by the end of the first semester, the student is dismissed from the program.

Evaluation at Committee Meetings

Grades for thesis research (J810) are assigned by the student’s advisory committee. Students hold at least two committee meetings per year, during which the student’s progress in the program is assessed. At each meeting, the committee decides upon a grade that reflects the student’s progress, and each committee member initials the grade form to indicate assent to that grade. The committee also fills out a rubric that details the level of the student’s progress. After the meeting, the chair submits a written synopsis of the student’s progress to the course director (graduate advisor). Failure to hold a meeting for a given semester results in a grade of Incomplete (I) at the end of that term. If no letter grade is assigned within one year, the I is automatically converted to an F.

The grade given to a student at the completion of a committee meeting is based upon a variety of criteria: the student’s understanding of the literature and ability to apply that literature to the design of the project; appropriate design of experiments including controls; the student’s technical ability and ability to move the project along logically, responding to problems as they arise; satisfactory progress since the previous meeting; student’s ability to effectively communicate the project and its results and think logically in responding to questions/comments and the student’s professionalism, as shown by participation in required activities beyond didactic coursework and research.

As the student advances through the program, the ability of the student to work independently also contributes to the formulation of a grade.