Ph.D. Molecular Pathogenesis

The Ph.D. in Molecular Pathogenesis encompasses the study of molecular pathogenesis of infectious diseases. This program provides students with the skills and knowledge to address key gaps in our understanding of how microorganisms interact with their hosts to cause disease. In addition, a strong emphasis on written and oral communication throughout the program will equip students with the tools to be effective science communicators.

Degree requirements

These are in agreement with NDSU Graduate School requirements. The student and major advisor 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 not less than 90-semester graduate credits. Of this total, not less than 27 credits must be in courses other than seminar or research credits, 22 credits of these credits must be from core courses, and 15 of these credits must be at the 700-789 level. Four credits of MICR 790 are required during the first two years, to include a credit each from; professional development (job applications), how to present a short seminar, how to present a long seminar, and how to present a poster. Twelve credits may be petitioned for transfer from other graduate programs. An overall GPA of 3.0 or better must be maintained.

Core subjects

Molecular Studies (a minimum of 8 credits)*

  • BIOC 701 Comprehensive Biochemistry I 4 credits
  • BIOC 702 Comprehensive Biochemistry II 4 credits
  • BIOC 719 Molecular Biology of Gene Expression and Regulation 3 credits
  • BIOL 720 Advanced Cell Biology 3 credits
  • MICR 680 Bacterial Physiology 3 credits
  • MICR 682 Bacterial Genetics and Phage 3 credits
  • MICR 781 Advanced Bacterial Physiology 3 credits
  • MICR 783 Advanced Bacterial Genetics and Phage 3 credits
  • PLSc 631 Intermediate Genetics 3 credits

Technique Courses (a minimum of 5 credits)*

  • BIOC 673 Methods of Biochemical Research 3 credits
  • BIOC 674 Methods of Recombinant DNA Technology 3 credits
  • MICR 645 Animal Cell Culture Techniques 2 credits
  • MICR 661 Pathogenic Microbiology Lab 2 credits
  • MICR 671 Immunology/Serology Lab 2 credits
  • MICR 782 Molecular Microbiological Techniques 3 credits

Pathogenesis (a minimum of 9 credits)*

  • MICR 660 Pathogenic Microbiology 3 credits
  • MICR 665 Fundamentals of Animal Disease 3 credits
  • MICR 670 Basic Immunology 3 credits
  • MICR 675 Virology 3 credits
  • MICR 750 Advanced Topics in Epidemiology 3 credits
  • MICR 752 Advanced Food Microbiology 3 credits
  • MICR 762 Advanced Pathogenic Bacteriology 3 credits
  • MICR 770 Immunology of Chronic Infections 3 credits
  • MICR 775 Molecular Virology 3 credits
  • MICR 785 Pathobiology 3 credits

* Additional courses may be offered.

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


Two preliminary examinations must be completed successfully before advancement to candidacy for the doctoral degree. The first, which is generally taken at the end of the first year in residence, examines fundamental areas of knowledge that will be essential for success as a doctoral candidate. The second requires the student to write a research proposal targeted at a program administered by NIH, NSF, or NIFA and defend the proposal in an oral examination. 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.