Graduate Programs

Master/PhD Degrees in Immunology and Infectious Diseases (IID)






Overview of the IID Program

Master/PhD Degree

Research training leading to the MS or PhD degree is tailored to the individual's background and career goals, with the proviso that a strong foundation in basic sciences is indispensable in preparation for infectious disease research. The major advisor and trainee interact intensively to define a research hypothesis and the appropriate experiments to test the hypothesis, and develop a directed course of research. Mentored laboratory research is the most critical part of the training and is the primary mechanism by which the philosophy of research is imparted to new scientists. Throughout the training period, all graduate students attend weekly research seminars where faculty and trainees present recent results. The goal of trainee participation in these seminars is exposure to critical analysis of data, experimental design and discussion of research significance. Trainees are expected to conduct original research leading to a significant contribution to knowledge in the area of emphasis and culminating in publication in leading international scientific journals. Peer-reviewed publication is required for, and constitutes the MS or PhD dissertation.

Faculty engaged in the IID Graduate program are housed in both VMP and the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health.




Student Learning Outcomes

PhD trainees will gain research training in a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment that prepares well educated, highly skilled graduates.  Doctoral students will demonstrate mastery of general knowledge in the fields of immunology and infectious diseases, and the highest level of expertise in a specific, defined area of this field. Skills and outcomes will include:, followed by an oral examination that is a dissertation defense and also may cover the general fields of knowledge pertinent to the degree.

  • Become broadly able to recognize and characterize problems in immunology and infectious diseases, including the ability to objectively and effectively interpret and critique reports by other scientists and to develop new strategies for the investigation of these problems.
  • Develop a comprehensive knowledge of previous and current research in their specific field of inquiry and be able to demonstrate that knowledge capably in oral or written evaluations or reports.  
  • Evaluate their data in light of the defined research problem, with particular attention to how their experimental evidence affects support for their research hypothesis.  
  • Present a research project proposal to the graduate program faculty in the format of a grant application to an extramural funding agency.
  • Build professional foundations through activities such as teaching, internships, fellowships, and collaborative extramural grant applications.
  • Present research to local, regional, national, and international audiences through publications in professional journals and conference papers given in a range of venues and to diverse audiences, and develop networks among research colleagues.
  • Prepare first author manuscripts describing the results of their research that will be suitable for publication in high quality peer-reviewed scientific journals.

MS trainees will gain research training in a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment that prepares well educated, highly skilled graduates with a background and knowledge of research that enable entry into doctoral training or positions requiring a high degree of scientific literacy and skill.  The program will provide experiences that enable MS students to achieve broad general knowledge in the field of infectious diseases, and mastery of a specific, defined area of this field. Skills and outcomes will include:

  • Become broadly able to recognize and characterize problems in immunology and infectious diseases, including the ability to objectively and effectively interpret and critique reports by other scientists as well as to develop new strategies for the investigation of these problems.
  • Develop a comprehensive knowledge of previous and current research in their specific field of inquiry and be able to demonstrate that knowledge capably in oral or written evaluations or reports.
  • Identify significant questions within their field of expertise and formulate testable hypotheses related to those questions.
  • Develop specific research objectives using methods capable of testing their research hypotheses, apply appropriate statistical analyses of their research data, and interpret and present the results of their objectives appropriately and in conformance with high standards for ethical and responsible conduct of research.
  • Evaluate their data in light of the defined research problem, with particular attention to how their experimental evidence affects support for their research hypothesis.
  • Present research to diverse audiences through publications in professional journals and conference papers given in a range of venues.
  • Prepare a first author manuscript describing the results of their research that will be suitable for publication in a high-quality peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Credits and Final Examination

MS candidates are required to earn 30 credits, of which 21 must be formal graded courses or seminars, and the remainder earned for supervised thesis research. The final MS examination is preceded by a public presentation of the research, attended by the faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows, followed by an oral examination.

PhD candidates are required to earn 72 credits; 15 of these credits must be formal graded graduate courses. The remainder is earned in courses related to diagnostic microbiology and supervised dissertation research. The final PhD examination is preceded by a public presentation of the research, followed by an oral examination that is a dissertation defense and also may cover the general fields of knowledge pertinent to the degree.




Areas of Research Emphasis

Department research interests surround a central theme of microbial pathogens and their interactions with animal hosts and the environment. Integrated and complementary programs include:

  • Bacterial and viral respiratory and gastrointestinal disease
  • Innate immunity, immunogenetics, and vaccine development
  • Parasitic infections
  • Persistent viral infections
  • Transmissible Spongioform Encephalopathies
  • Vector-borne diseases
  • Zoonotic and food-borne pathogens



Integrated Program in Biomedical Sciences (iPBS)

Students in the IID programs participate in the activities sponsored by the Integrative Programs in Biomedical Sciences (iPBS). The iPBS provides a proven umbrella structure that supports interdisciplinary training, provides financial support, and offers a professional development track throughout the duration of your training.




NIH Training Program in Biotechnology

Candidates with a BA or BS degree in the sciences and who are US citizens (or permanent residents of the US) may apply through the Department for a position in the university-wide NIH Biotechnology Training Program.




Opportunities through USDA-ADRU

VMP has a unique and strong partnership with the USDA-Animal Disease Research Unit. Candidates with a DVM and who are US citizens may apply for a position integrated with and supported by the USDA-ADRU. Application should be made directly to VMP. Candidates eligible for and interested in a USDA-ADRU position will be nominated for a position by the Department Chair. More information on the USDA-ADRU can be found at www.ars.usda.gov.




International Students

International students and others interested in research assistant positions are welcomed. Please be advised however, that there are very few Graduate Research Assistantships available each year. Prospective students interested in a research assistant position are strongly encouraged to contact individual faculty with whom they wish to work and arrange opportunities in specific labs. International applicants are strongly encouraged to obtain a fellowship to support their graduate training from either their home country or one of the organizations that provide international fellowship support such as the Fulbright Program.