Microbiology, PHD

At a Glance: program details

Join us to learn how microbes impact human health and the environment, gain theoretical and practical training in your chosen area of interest, and become an expert ready to contribute to the greater good.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: PHD Microbiology

The PhD program in microbiology offers a dynamic research environment; a broad range of basic, translational and use-inspired research areas; advanced transdisciplinary training; and opportunities to work with world-class faculty and collaborative research partners committed to training scientific leaders with skills necessary for addressing significant global microbiological problems and challenges.

This program focuses on the smallest of living things and immunology. Students can tailor the program around their interests and gain skills in contemporary approaches used in microbiology, biomedicine and biotechnology. They train in a broad array of fields, including microbial ecology and evolution, geomicrobiology, bacterial physiology and genetics, bacterial pathogenesis, metabolic engineering, immunology and vaccine development, and cancer biology.

Faculty members are associated with the School of Life Sciences, The Biodesign Institute, The Translational Genomics Institute, Barrow Neurological Institute, and other area hospitals and research centers.

Courses and electives

Elective courses (6 - 24 credit hours)
  • MIC 791 Seminar: Virology Journal Club
  • MIC 598  Special Topics: Immun: Molecular and Cell Foundations
  • MIC 598 Special Topics: Advanced Immunology
  • MCB 791  Seminar: Molecular Virology Journal Club 
  • BIO 611 Topics Resp Conduct Research: Emerging Technologies Life Science
  • MIC 598: Immunology: Molecular & Cellular Foundations
  • MIC 598: General Virology
  • MIC 598: Advanced Immunology
  • MIC 598: Bacterial Diversity and Systematics
  • MIC 598: Novel Models for Host-Microbe Interactions
  • MIC 598: Bioinformatic Analysis of High-throughput DNA Data
  • MIC 598: Bacterial Pathogenesis
  • MIC 598: Geomicrobiology
  • MIC 598: Microbial Ecology and Evolution
  • MIC 598: Viromics 

Application and admission information

Applications open September 1 for admission in Fall of the following year. The application deadline is December 1. We accept applications for Fall semesters only. We cannot guarantee that applications received after the December 1 deadline will be considered for admission.

All applicants must apply by filling out ASU's Graduate Admissions application. All application materials must be submitted through the application or to Graduate Admissions directly. Please do not mail or email any documents to the School of Life Sciences. 

  • Required materials and information include the following:
  • 1-2 page personal statement
  • An up to date CV or resume
  • The names of relevant SOLS faculty you have been in touch with who you might be interested in being supervised by
  • Unofficial transcripts and English proficiency test scores (if applicable)
  • The names and emails of at least 3 recommenders to write you letters of recommendation

Following the December 1 deadline, faculty will begin reviewing applications. Applicants should monitor their My ASU priority tasks to ensure there are no missing materials in their application.

Faculty will decide which applicants they would like to invite to our Graduate Recruitment Weekends (GRWs), typically held in February. Applicants will hear from the School of Life Sciences in January if they are invited to participate in the GRWs.

Admission decisions will begin after the GRWs, and applicants typically receive final decisions by April 1.

Minimum requirements for admission include the following:

  • Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • International applicants must satisfy university minimum requirements for English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo, PTE)
    • There are other ways to demonstrate English proficiency beyond the tests, so please refer to ASU's English proficiency webpage to review how you might satisfy requirements

Desired qualifications typically seen in competitive candidates:

Please note that the GRE is not required.

Students offered admission to a PhD program in the School of Life Sciences will typically receive a funding offer as well. While individual funding offers may differ to some degree, they typically include teaching assistant and/or research assistant positions each semester (summer optional) for 5 years. These positions provide financial coverage through the following:

  • A standard salary stipend paid biweekly
  • Tuition remission covering enrollment in 6-18 credit hours for fall and spring semesters and 1-14 credit hours for summer semesters
  • Health insurance coverage

To discover more, check out the ASU Graduate College's funding opportunities!

Degree Requirements

Curriculum Plan Options

  • 84 credit hours, a written comprehensive exam, an oral comprehensive exam, a prospectus and a dissertation

Required Core (4 credit hours)
BIO 610 Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research in Life Sciences (1)
MIC 501 Foundations in Microbiology (3)

Electives or Research (68 credit hours)

Culminating Experience (12 credit hours)
MIC 799 Dissertation (12)

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in the biological sciences, biochemistry or a closely related field from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

Applicants must submit the following:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. academic record form
  4. personal statement
  5. curriculum vitae or resume
  6. three letters of recommendation
  7. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of their current residency.

Prior research experience is a desired qualification for admission.

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Learning Outcomes

  • Able to review the scholarly literature associated with research questions in microbiology.
  • Able to design and execute a research plan in an area of microbiology under advisement of their mentors.
  • Able to communicate science effectively, both orally and in writing.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of this program's intense and interactive educational and research training are prepared for advanced careers in research and education, specifically in bacteriology, virology, mycology, immunology and oncology.

Career possibilities are diverse, with opportunities in academic organizations, research and development industries, government service and other professional organizations. Examples include:

  • instructors in universities and colleges
  • principal investigators in government labs and nonprofit organizations
  • professors in universities and colleges
  • research associates in universities
  • research scientists in industry

Program Contact Information

If you have questions related to admission, please click here to request information and an admission specialist will reach out to you directly. For questions regarding faculty or courses, please use the contact information below.