PhD Requirements

The requirements for obtaining the Ph.D. degree are:


1) Course Work in Immunology plus electives, such as biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, cell biology, and/or tumor biology. Courses are typically completed within the first year. The students take courses mostly from the curriculum of Harvard Medical School or Harvard University. Click here to review Courses in Immunology.


2) Laboratory Rotations.  Each student must complete 3 laboratory rotations before selecting a dissertation lab. During rotations, the student learns different immunological methods and experimental approaches. The rotation through the laboratory also serves to orient the student in his/her choice of Dissertation project and Dissertation advisor. Click here to review more about choosing a lab.


3) Teaching. During the second year of study, students receive course credit for serving as Teaching Assistants for an Immunology course in an unpaid position.


4) Preliminary Qualifying Exam (PQE). By the end of December of the second year, students must successfully complete a proposal-based preliminary qualifying exam (PQE). The goal of the PQE is to evaluate the student's potential and ability to think independently and creatively in laboratory experimentation. The written proposal will be presented to the exam committee in an oral presentation and defense format.


5) Research Project and a Dissertation Defense. The Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC), along with the Dissertation Advisor, determines when sufficient laboratory work has been completed so that the student may begin to write the dissertation. For the defense, the candidate will give a public 1-hour seminar, prior to a private defense of the dissertation with the selected Examination Committee. Click here to view recent Dissertation topics.


The training facilities are extensive, including the facilities of various groups doing immunology research at Harvard University, Harvard Medical School and its hospitals. The major groups involved include: Departments of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School, Departments of Medicine and Pathology at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics at Children's Hospital Medical Center and the Harvard School of Public Health. Also available are the transplantation units and various biochemistry and molecular genetic laboratories. Each of these various units contain facilities for biochemical analysis, animal handling, gene cloning, etc.



Meet our Current Students

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