Financial Assistance

The department offers assistantships on a competitive basis. Information about other forms of financial assistance may be obtained from the Financial Aid Office in Ceres Hall.


The Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) and the Teaching Assistantship (TA) provide monthly stipends plus tuition waivers. Although tuition is waived, students must pay a minimal activity fee each semester. An assistantship normally will not begin until the first semester of full graduate standing during which courses are taken that will apply for the graduate degree.

Graduate programs are a full time endeavor, including graduate studies, thesis research, and duties related to the assistantship. Students on assistantship are expected to perform research or teaching duties in the department in return for their stipend. All full-time assistants are expected to be available for performing services related to research or teaching for an average of 20 hours per week. Time expended on the student's research project may be recognized as partial fulfillment of this requirement.

A limited number of teaching assistantships may be available. Duties performed by TAs are extremely important to meet the teaching goals of the department. A teaching assistantship is an excellent option if a student is interested in pursuing a career in education, including university-level teaching, or would like to strengthen their general understanding of microbiology. Granting assistantships depends on the academic performance of the student, departmental needs, and the availability of assistantships. All accepted graduate students will be considered for funding unless the student specifies he or she has their own funding. The department cannot make any decisions or provide information about the likelihood of a particular student receiving an assistantship until a completed application has been forwarded from the Graduate School.


Graduate teaching and research assistants do not earn annual leave (NDSU Policy 130). The department expects graduate students to reschedule their commitments or make appropriate voluntary arrangements with their advisors for vacation, or during times when sickness makes it impossible or unwise for them to meet their professional obligations. While graduate students thus have considerable flexibility in scheduling and fulfilling these professional obligations, they should not regard as automatic vacations all those periods when University classes are in recess.

Expectations and Time Limits

It is the goal of the NDSU Department of Microbiological Sciences to offer a graduate program leading to a Master’s degree which can be earned in 24 months of productive effort by the student. Similarly, the Ph.D. degree is anticipated to take 4-5 years of productive effort (3 years beyond the M.S. degree), although this range is flexible due to greater differences in the individual plans of study for the Doctorate degree. Part-time graduate candidates must make steady progress toward their appropriate degree and complete degree requirements within the time limitation of the Graduate School.

The Department limits the duration of any Master’s student's assistantship to 2 years and any Doctoral student’s assistantship to 5 years. The assistantship stipend may be terminated if the student does not complete as scheduled. Extended illness or loss of essential data are potential reasons to re-evaluate the schedule. It is strongly recommended that students back up computer data in multiple places frequently to prevent its loss. Additional time may be approved, on a case-by-case basis, if the work being accomplished by the student warrants it and sufficient funds are available. Request for such extensions should be made, in writing, by the student to the department head, who will confer with the adviser and those on the student's supervisory committee regarding the request. It is the student's responsibility to work with the adviser to monitor his/her timely completion of the program.

Interruption of Assistantship

The assistantship may be interrupted at either the request of the student or at the initiative of the department. Requests for leave from the position as a Research or Teaching Assistant are considered on a case-by-case basis. Unless specified in writing, there is no guarantee that an assistantship will be available after a leave period. The department may allow interruption of the student's assistantship for indefinite periods to employ the student on projects other than the student's research project. In such cases, students can expect to be reinstated on assistantship when their duties on other efforts are completed. In either case of assistantship interruption described above, the time period(s) not on assistantship will not count against the time limit.

Loss of Assistantship and/or Termination from the Program

All graduate students will be evaluated twice per year. A student may lose an assistantship and/or be terminated from the program due to (1) substandard academic performance (See academic standards), (2) lack of progress in completing degree requirements, (3) unsatisfactory performance of research or teaching responsibilities or other assigned duties, or (4) financial exigencies of the department.

Departmental Commitment to Student Success

The faculty in VMS places a high value on rigorous scientific research and engaged student discovery. The department is committed to encouraging and supporting all graduate students in their academic career. We additionally recognize issues and support specific steps to decrease barriers to success for women and other underrepresented groups. Issues may include extended absence due to pregnancy, family emergencies, illness or other. Each case will be addressed based on individual needs and circumstances for the student, the faculty member and the lab. Variables include but are not limited to funding availability, source of funding, time restrictions on a grant or project, and availability of space in departmental programs. For students who demonstrate a commitment to making progress in their graduate programs, the VMS faculty members and the department head will work to resolve issues and find solutions that lead to program completion and long term, student success.

Professional Development

The department offers several opportunities for professional development. If a student desires some teaching experience, the opportunity is often available. Please contact your advisor or the department head.

Attendance at all departmental seminars is expected.

All graduate students in the Veterinary and Microbiological Science Department will be requested to contribute time to the general work of the department as part of their training in the field. An example would be to assist with laboratory assignments for undergraduate and graduate labs throughout their academic stay in the department. Requests for student assistance will be arranged with the advisor and the student. Each student will be required to participate in departmental professional development curriculum (MICR 790) throughout his/her tenure in the program.

Ph.D. students will register for MICR 790 each semester of their program. Students that have completed all four MICR 790 topics may be asked to contribute as student mentors in subsequent semesters. PhD students will also be required to give two additional seminars (not for credit) beyond the MICR 790 series. Students may have opportunities to present data at professional meetings. Membership in professional and academic organizations (such as the American Society for Microbiology – ASM) should be considered.

Checklist when Leaving the Department

  • Let the department accountant (Sandy) know the date for going off stipend.
  • Return keys to the key controller (Jerie). The department will be charged for each key not returned.
  • If a desk was assigned, please be sure it is completely emptied.
  • Arrange an exit interview with the Department Head.

Non-Academic Activities


The department wishes to involve all graduate students as an important part of the VMS community and to provide interactive social functions. A holiday party (student, spouse/or guest, and family) is planned every winter. Departmental mixers are scheduled to welcome and introduce new students, staff, and faculty to the facilities and other members of the department. Graduation parties to celebrate both undergraduate and graduate student achievements are scheduled regularly (spring and fall) for all to attend.


Coffee is available throughout the day in Room 108 at a reasonable cost. Graduate students are welcome to participate. See the sign in the coffee room and Mary in the Diagnostic Lab for information.

Office Hours and Facilities

Office Hours

Regular hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break. During the summer, the hours change to 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a one half-hour lunch break.

Office Facilities

Graduate students will be assigned a desk as available in an office or laboratory in the department building or lab/office space in another building. The desk oroffice may not be changed without permission of the department head. You will be expected to maintain an organized and clean office space.

Keys to laboratory and building doors can be obtained from the department secretary. The graduate offices, conference room, and research laboratories are available to graduate students 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Responsible care of building keys is expected. Graduate rooms and laboratories are to be locked when unattended, per NDSU safety policies. All keys must be returned when the student leaves the department. If you invite other students into the building, you are responsible for their conduct while they are in Van Es Hall. Others are not allowed in the labs without supervisor approval.

Photocopying and Printing on Departmental Equipment

Photocopier use must be approved by your major advisor. Photocopying for personal use should be done at the Memorial Union or Library.

Computer Use

Several computers are available for student use in campus and departmental computer clusters and in the graduate offices. Personal computers may also be used, but are subject to all NDSU policies when connected to the NDSU network (Acceptable use policy).

Theses/Dissertation Library

The department theses and dissertation collection is found in the departmental library. Theses must be checked out with the front office staff. Please leave returned volumes with the department secretary who will check them back in to the departmental library.

Research Facilities Use and Supply Purchases

Laboratory Facilities

Laboratories are available to all students within reasonable limits, although certain equipment or space may be restricted to certain work or projects. The major advisor and project leader responsible for the equipment should be consulted regarding use of the laboratory and equipment. Check with the appropriate department technician or research specialists before using or removing items, equipment, or lab supplies from any laboratory (sign-out sheets may be used to keep a record of who has certain lab equipment or for scheduling the use of equipment).

Use of Facilities in Other Departments

We often have joint projects with Plant Sciences, Animal and Range Sciences, Cereal and Food Science, Soil Science, Foods and Nutrition, etc. Their facilities should be used with great care and consideration. The major advisor will make arrangements for use of space and replacement of all chemicals or materials used or cost charges involved.

On-Campus Purchases

Follow lab-specific procedures and consult your advisor regarding the purchase of supplies. All requests for chemicals or supplies must have the advisor’s signature. Certain procedures must be followed for all purchases, and those involving on-campus purchases are very specific. Purchases from the Chemistry Department require the signature of a staff member: the Chemistry Department will bill the department. Purchase of alcohol is controlled by the Chemistry Department stockroom because of exemption from Federal tax involved.


Graduate students in the department are considered to be integral members of the department and should conduct themselves with professional demeanor. This includes the maintenance of reasonable and regular office hours; in general, keeping the office informed of your whereabouts during normal working hours; and maintaining a neat common area, office, and laboratory space. All laboratories, glassware, and equipment must be kept clean and maintained in good condition. It is your responsibility to report defective or broken equipment to your advisor. If working in another department’s laboratories, you are expected to keep your research “set-up” in a presentable condition. Clean up your areas and return unneeded instruments and tools to storage areas each day before leaving.

Graduate students should keep the office informed if they are not in the building or taking classes during the day. Anyone who turns on lights and equipment, etc., is responsible for taking care of these items before leaving the building. The outside door should be securely closed whenever entering or leaving the building. Failure to do so can lead to building or equipment damage, and create unsafe conditions for other people in the building.

Safety and Compliance

NDSU Safety Training requirements for new graduate students include the Chemical and Laboratory Safety Training and the Baseline Safety Training courses. Both courses should be taken as soon as the student starts in a lab. The baseline training must be renewed annually. Safety and compliance is the responsibility of every individual. Any safety issue or concern should be discussed immediately with your advisor or the department head. Any questions or issues regarding safety and compliance can be addressed to the Van Es Hall Safety Committee or its members (Julie Sherwood, 130 Van Es Hall, and Lynn Schaan, 159 Van Es Hall).

Training within the academic adviser’s/investigator’s lab is also required to ensure that the graduate researcher is familiar with the policies and procedures of the particular lab.

All training appropriate to the needs of the lab must be taken prior to commencing research activities, including IBC, IACUC, radiation safety, and/or IRB (see below). Training must be arranged with the academic advisor to ensure that appropriate approvals are obtained. These approvals are required for submission of thesis/dissertations. It is imperative that graduate researchers are added to the approved projects of the investigator. The NDSU compliance office does not allow retroactive approval for projects.

Students who will regularly use State vehicles for research purposes (data collection, site visits, etc.) are required to take the defensive driving course.

Building Safety

Safety is everyone’s responsibility. All normal safety precautions should be used in the operation of equipment and in handling of chemicals. Researchers should be aware of the location and proper operation of fire extinguishers, fire blankets, safety showers, and other safety devices in every area in which they work. If there is any doubt about the operation of a piece of equipment or the procedures for handling hazardous chemicals, students should consult their major advisor. During off-hours, all doors must be kept locked—leaving doors propped-open is against campus safety regulations.



Smoking is not allowed in the buildings on the NDSU campus.

Personal Safety

Graduate students are allowed and encouraged to spend additional time on research in addition to the daily 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. routine; however, responsible personal safety should always be considered, especially when working alone at off-hours. It is appropriate to plan work when someone else will also be in the building. Alternatively, the Campus Police should be notified that a person is in the building alone and that they should check on them from time to time.


Safety Compliance and Training

A number of safety courses are required for the safe operation in the laboratory setting. This training is offered through various safety and compliance offices on campus. In addition, lab-specific training is required to safely conduct research in each laboratory. This training is offered in the individual lab through the PI or technical staff.

Personal Vehicle Information

Parking Vehicle

A permit is required for student parking and graduate students are required to use student lots. Parking permits are sold Monday through Friday from 8 am - 4 pm by Facilities Management located in Thorson Maintenance Center.

Vehicle License

If you have an out-of-state licensed vehicle, and have questions regarding vehicle license requirements, call the State Highway Patrol (Motor Vehicle Department).

Driver's License

All drivers must have state, international, or other valid driver's license.

Vehicle Insurance

Personal automobile insurance coverage is required by the state of North Dakota. Everyone must have liability coverage and foreign students should secure a Driver's Permit and liability insurance before driving.

State Fleet Vehicle Use

  • Vehicles are available in the state fleet pool (these must be reserved in advance through the motor pool, 231- 9619). These vehicles may be used only on University business and only with the approval of the student’s supervisor. All mileage is charged to the appropriate departmental account.
  • Only those who hold a valid driver's license and are employed by NDSU may drive state fleet vehicles.
  • Participation in an NDSU defensive driving class is recommended. Also, this will give the participant a discount on auto insurance.
  • Vehicles are normally operated on a pool basis and are not assigned to a particular project.
  • When leaving with a vehicle, follow all state fleet regulations. Also, record odometer reading at beginning of trip. See trip record form located in the vehicle.
  • Upon return, re-fuel, record odometer reading, and follow all state fleet regulations for vehicle return.
  • Vehicles should be locked and all windows closed whenever the vehicle is not in use.
  • When returning department-assigned vehicles to the ramp, do not block doorways. Be sure vehicles are not parked in the street.
  • Remove all trash and personal material from vehicle upon its return.
  • If the vehicles are in need of service, notify the shop supervisor.
  • For out-of-town trips, vehicle reservations should be made as early as possible and confirmed 2 to 3 days before the trip.

Travel Regulations

Travel authorization is required for any out-of-state NDSU business travel. Travel requests are prepared online and forwarded by e-mail to the department chair and Dean as needed.

Expenses are charged to individual projects. Check with your advisor before completing a travel request. A Travel Expense Voucher can be completed after the trip has been completed for all meals, lodging, taxi, and other expenses. Receipts are required for lodging, transportation, and most other special items, except food. Per diem rates for meals are listed in NDSU’s Policy Manual (per diem rates). Note that some cities may be reimbursed at a higher rate and are linked from the Policy pages, as well.

For further information on travel, please see this NDSU quick reference guide to business travel

Health Services and Insurance

The Student Health Service is located in the NDSU Wellness Center, 18th Street and Centennial Boulevard. It is a primary health care facility offering integrated professional services to NDSU students. The Student Health Service is staffed by a physician, nurse practitioner/physician assistant, and registered nurses.

The primary health services of the Student Health Service include health promotion, disease prevention, health counseling, care during acute and chronic phases of illness, and referrals to outside providers when appropriate.

Medical laboratory and pharmacy services are also available. Only registered students are eligible to use the Student Health Service. Appointments may be scheduled by calling the SHS reception desk at 231-7331. Wellness education leaders conduct health education presentations and activities in the Wellness Education area, residence halls, and various other locations on campus.

For more information on services that are offered visit the Wellness Center web page

Health insurance

Students are advised to always have insurance coverage in effect while working/studying in the department. Student must carry a minimum of 3 credits to be eligible for health insurance through the Student Affairs Office. This insurance is

available at the beginning of fall and spring semesters and is pro-rated if the student purchases coverage at some other time during this period. Contact the Student Affairs Office for more information on health insurance.

Health insurance for international students

All international students studying in North Dakota are required to purchase the North Dakota State mandated health insurance policy. For specific information on what the insurance policy covers or does not cover, see the brochure available from the Office of International Programs, Ceres 338 (Health care insurance information).

Counseling and disabilities services

Counseling and Disability Services provides a confidential setting in which students may explore concerns of a personal, academic, or career-related nature. The office is located at 212 Ceres Hall.


Graduate assistants may belong to the Northland Educators Federal Credit Union located at 12th Avenue and Albrecht Blvd. This organization provides checking and savings accounts and loan services. Other off-campus banks are also available. The Financial Aid Office has short-term loan facilities also.

Important Telephone Numbers

To obtain an external line from any phone in the building, dial 9 first. You can find the locations and contact information for health care clinics in Fargo here.

24-hour emergency number

9+ 911
Ambulance Service - Fargo-Moorhead

9+ 911
Police (Campus)

Police Department (City of Fargo)

Fire Department

Poison Information System

MeritCare Occupational Health

MeritCare Health System

Dakota Clinic Innovis Health

Dakota Clinic South University

International Student Advisor

NDSU Counseling Center

Suicide Prevention Center & Crisis Line

Suicide Hot Line (Fargo)

Metro Area Transit (MAT Bus)


Campus Map

Download a PDF version of the NDSU campus map here.