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Graduate School


Veterinary & Microbiological Sciences

Department Head

Dr. Charlene Wolf-Hall

Graduate Coordinator

Dr. Nathan Fisher

Department Location

Van Es Hall

Telephone Number

(701) 231-7667

Degrees Offered

Ph.D., M.S.

Application Deadline

February 15 for fall

Test Requirements


English Proficiency Requirements

TOEFL ibT 71

Program Description

The Department of Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences offers graduate study leading an M.S. in Microbiology and a Ph.D. in Molecular Pathogenesis. Faculty in the department have expertise in pathogenic microbiology, virology, immunology, epidemiology, microbial genetics, bacterial physiology and food microbiology. The Master's in Microbiology emphasizes research methodology and laboratory techniques. The Ph.D. in Molecular Pathogenesis is a comprehensive program that integrates microbial genetics, mechanisms of pathogen-host interaction, and immunology to better understand the molecular basis of disease.

Admission Requirements

M.S. in Microbiology and Ph.D. in Molecular Pathogenesis

  1. A relevant Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  2. Evidence of a strong academic record in the biological sciences
  3. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  4. The Graduate Record Examination General Test is required.

The following science courses are required or recommended:


  • One year of general biology with laboratory (required)
  • One course in genetics (required) · At least one course in cellular biology, cellular physiology, animal physiology, or bacterial physiology (required)
  • Microbiology and immunology (recommended)


  • One year of general chemistry with laboratory (required)
  • Two sequential terms of organic chemistry with a laboratory course (required)
  • Biochemistry (required)


  • Two sequential terms of physics with a laboratory (required)

Application Process

Applications should be submitted directly to the Graduate School prior to August 15 for the following spring semester, and prior to February 15 for the following fall semester, in which the student plans to begin. Official transcripts (transcripts having an appropriate seal or stamp) of all previous undergraduate and graduate records must be received by the Graduate School before the application is complete. When a transcript is submitted in advance of completion of undergraduate or graduate studies, an updated transcript showing all course credits and grades must be provided prior to initial registration at North Dakota State University.

Three letters of recommendation are required before action is taken on any application. The TOEFL examination score is required of foreign applicants, please see Graduate School requirements.

Students who do not meet all requirements for admission or have deficiencies in prerequisite course work but show potential for successful graduate study may be admitted under a conditional status (evidence must be provided showing that the applicant’s potential is not adequately reflected by his/her record). Once admitted, the student, in consultation with the major adviser, may request a change to full graduate standing when (s)he has met the standards of performance set by the department. The student may not earn more than 12 semester credits of graduate credit in the conditional status. The request for change must be submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School by the major adviser and approved by the department chair.

Financial Assistance

The student must first apply to the Graduate School and be accepted in full or conditional status before he/she is eligible for an assistantship. Research and teaching assistantships are contingent upon availability of funds and are awarded competitively. Applicants are considered on the basis of scholarship, potential to undertake advanced study and research, and financial need.

Credit requirements for International Students

F-1 International graduate students without an assistantship are required to have at least nine semester credits unless they have an assistantship in which case they are required to take at least six semester credits each term.

When international students are in their last semester of course work, they are allowed to register for less than the required number of credits. Following the completion of their coursework, they are only required to register for at least one semester credit, either a thesis credit or a research credit to maintain their F-1 status until they receive their degree. More information regarding international programs, international student associations, and other topics is available through the Office of International Programs.

Ph.D. in Molecular Pathogenesis

The Ph.D. in Molecular Pathogenesis encompasses the study of molecular pathogenesis of infectious and non-infectious diseases with an emphasis on zoonotic diseases and public health. The comprehensive Doctoral degree in Molecular Pathogenesis integrates the study of microbial genetics, mechanisms of pathogen-host interaction, and cellular immunology to better understand the molecular basis of disease. Doctoral candidates in Molecular Pathogenesis focus on research and utilize the expertise of one or more departmental faculty members. Course work is designed to be relevant to future careers in academia, industry, and government.

Degree Requirements

Degree requirements are in agreement with NDSU Graduate School requirements. The student and major adviser will prepare a plan of study by the end of the first year in residence. The Graduate School requires the plan of study for the Ph.D. degree to include no less than 90 semester graduate credits. Of these, no less than 27 credits must be in courses other than seminar or research credits, and must include 15 credits at the 700-789 level. An overall GPA of 3.0 or higher must be maintained. Please click ( for more information on course requirements for this program.

Core courses must be completed before the student takes the oral or written preliminary examination, whereas elective classes can be completed any time prior to the defense of the written dissertation.


Both a written and an oral, comprehensive, preliminary examination must be successfully completed to admit the student of candidacy for the Doctoral degree. These examinations should be taken no later than the end of the third year in residence. The written examination will consist of an approved, non-thesis research proposal written by the student in the format of a National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, or USDA postdoctoral fellowship proposal. Questions on the oral exam will be based upon the written proposal and upon graduate course work. After successful completion of the comprehensive written and oral preliminary examinations, the student will be formally admitted to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Dissertation Research

In addition to the defense of the written dissertation in the final oral examination, the candidate will present a final public seminar based on the dissertation research. At least one academic semester, and preferably two semesters, shall elapse between the preliminary examinations and the oral defense of the research-based dissertation.

M.S. in Microbiology

A Master's degree in Microbiology at NDSU emphasizes research methodology and laboratory techniques. Student research and academic programs are individually tailored to meet the needs and interests of each student. Graduates are prepared for positions in research or commercial laboratories or for further graduate study. Students shall select a major adviser by the end of the first semester in residence. By the end of the first year in residence, the student and major adviser will select a supervisory committee. Students are encouraged to visit with each faculty member and spend time in each laboratory to acquaint themselves with the department's research programs.

Degree Requirements

The Master's program requires 24 months of full-time study, completing a minimum of 30 semester credits with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better. Students with inadequate undergraduate training in microbiology will be required to complete undergraduate courses in microbiology in addition to the required minimum 30 semester credits. The M.S. degree in microbiology requires a research-based thesis, a public seminar of the thesis research, and a final oral defense of the thesis. The supervisory committee administers the oral thesis examination.

Click here for course descriptions.


Peter Bergholz, Ph.D.
Michigan State University, 2007
Research Interests: Environmental Microbiology

Teresa Bergholz, Ph.D.
Michigan State University, 2007
Research Interests: Foodborne Pathogenesis

Eugene S. Berry, Ph.D.
Northeastern University, 1983
Research Interests: Animal virology, Molecular pathogenesis of ss(+) RNA viruses

Glenn Dorsam, Ph.D.
Virginia Commonwealth University, 1998
Research Interests: Molecular Pathogenesis

Neil W. Dyer, D.V.M., M.S.
Iowa State University, 1991
Research Interests: Studies with Bacillus anthracis, porcine pneumonia, new malignant catarrhal fever herpesvirus

Nathan A. Fisher, Ph.D.
University of Michigan, 2006
Research Interests: Infectious Disease and Public Health

Penelope S. Gibbs, Ph.D.
University of Georgia, 2001
Research Interests: Avian E.coli, bacterial molecular pathogenesis, antimicrobial resistance, food safety

John M. McEvoy, Ph.D.
University of Ulster, 2002
Research Interests: Pathogenicity and virulence of Cryptosporidium

Birgit Pruess, Ph.D.
Ruhr-Universitat Bochum, 1991
Research Interests: Global gene regulation in enteric bacteria, complex regulatory networks

Sheela Ramamoorthy, Ph.D.
Virginia Tech, 2006
Research Interests: Virology and Vaccinology

Jane M. Schuh, Ph.D.
North Dakota State University, 2000
Research Interests: Immunology; biomedical significance of the initiation and maintenance of allergic asthma; the innate immune response in health and disease; murine models of human asthma; Aspergillus fumigatus -induced immune response

Charlene E. Wolf-Hall, Ph.D.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1995
Research Interests: Food microbiology and toxicology

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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NDSU Graduate School
Phone: +1 (701) 231-7033
Campus address:  106 Putnam Hall
Physical/delivery address:  NDSU Graduate School/106 Putnam Hall/1349 12th Avenue Northwest/Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address:  NDSU Dept. 2820/PO Box 6050/Fargo, ND 58108
Page manager: NDSU Graduate School

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 04, 2014 12:00:25 PM