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Graduate Program Overview

UW Microbiology

Graduate Program Overview

UW Micro PhD students at Friday Harbor, 2024
UW Micro PhD students at Friday Harbor, 2024


Study towards the Ph.D. begins in Autumn quarter. During their first and second years, students take a number of graduate courses in the Department of Microbiology as well as other basic science departments. While all students are required to take several core courses, the program leaves substantial flexibility for a number of elective courses best suited for individual interests. In addition to formal courses, students participate in a departmental journal club and attend the weekly microbiology seminar series. Students are also encouraged to attend seminars offered throughout the academic year by other basic science departments.

During the first year, students participate in 10-week research rotations in three laboratories. These rotations allow students to familiarize themselves with the research directions of individual laboratories, assure a broad research experience, and aid in selection of a research advisor and a dissertation project.

The teaching requirement for the Ph.D. degree is satisfied by assisting in the teaching of undergraduate laboratories during the first and second year, and by giving two or more formal lectures in undergraduate courses in the third or fourth years of training.

In addition to meeting formal requirements, students take part in various scholarly activities on a voluntary basis. This includes a student journal club and an annual graduate student weekend retreat combining science and recreation. Furthermore, students participate in various departmental activities through their representatives on search committees, the graduate admissions committee, and the seminar committee.

Graduate Policy and Advising Committee (GPAC) 
Mission Statement:  The GPAC is responsible for reviewing and updating the Microbiology Graduate Program curriculum, guidelines, and requirements. During a graduate student's career, the GPAC provides advice and mentoring concerning coursework, lab rotations, choice of a thesis lab, and exams. The GPAC also supports students and faculty in navigating challenges that arise from any aspect of graduate education.

Membership: The GPAC is chaired by the Departmental Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) and includes one or two additional faculty members. Current members are Jason G. Smith (GPC), Beth A. Traxler, and Michelle L. Reniere.

Admissions Committee
Mission Statement: The Microbiology Admissions Committee is responsible for overseeing the application, admission, and entry practices of students into the graduate program. The committee has several key responsibilities, including defining program admission requirements and application content, applying holistic review metrics, organizing student interviews and departmental visits, securing additional funding support, and selecting candidates for fellowships.

Membership: The committee consists of a chair (currently Joshua J. Woodward), six graduate training faculty members, and one or two graduate student representatives appointed on an annual basis by the current students in the program.

Funding for Graduate Education

Financial support is provided for all fulltime graduate students by research assistantships and predoctoral trainee fellowships, with salaries and benefits at rates similar to other UW School of Medicine programs. Tuition for both Washington residents and non-residents is covered.  The department attempts to ensure continuous support for all students through five years.


For information about the graduate program please e-mail the Graduate Program Advisor at