Graduate Admissions


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The doctoral program in Microbiology, Immunology and Infection is based in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology and is one of the specialized research and training areas within the Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Studies of the Coordinated Doctoral Program in Biomedical Sciences at Columbia University Medical Center.

The Department of Microbiology & Immunology offers a program of study leading to the Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology. You will earn M.A. and M.Ph. degrees in the course of your studies. There is no program leading to a M.S. degree. If you are accepted to the Ph.D. program, you will be given full support for tuition, student health services, and medical insurance. You will also receive a stipend for your personal use, which continues throughout your graduate studies.

Applicants to the doctoral program in Microbiology, Immunology and Infection should have a bachelor's degree or equivalent, an advanced knowledge of biology, and a basic knowledge of chemistry, physics and mathematics. Research experience is regarded very favorably. Recent scores for the Graduate Record Examination (verbal, quantitative and analytical) are required for admission, and it is recommended, but not essential, that an advanced GRE test be taken in biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, or chemistry. Foreign applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English by taking the test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The department does not impose any cap on accepting foreign applicants. If accepted, they are fully funded by the program. Having their own fellowship is welcomed, but is not a criterion by which their application is evaluated.

The department is also home to a NIH/NAID T32 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Institutional Research Training Grant for the predoctoral Columbia University Graduate Training Program in Microbiology and Immunology, which serves to fund up to four graduate trainees a year over a period of five years. Trainees are selected for this prestigous award through an application process from doctoral students in the department that have attained dissertator status, which typically takes place in the second year of study.

You should apply for admission online to the doctoral program in Microbiology, Immunology and Infection of the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. When applying to a program of study, select the term you are applying for, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) as the degree, Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Studies as the program, and Microbiology, Immunology and Infection as the specialization. Further details on the application procedures are available on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences application guidelines website, including application deadlines. 

Applications are screened by a joint admissions committee, and decisions are based on:

  • Undergraduate grades

  • Research experience

  • Graduate Record Examination scores

  • The personal statement

  • Letters of recommendation

 

Doctoral Program       


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The Microbiology, Immunology and Infection doctoral program of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology is one of the specialized research and training areas within the Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Studies of the Coordinated Doctoral Program in Biomedical Sciences at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC).

Upon acceptance to an individual Ph.D. program (your "home program"), you will become part of the Coordinated Doctoral Program and a welcome member of the exciting and highly interactive research community of faculty, students, and postdoctoral fellows at CUMC.

The Coordinated Doctoral Program gives you the choice of doing at least one of your first year research rotations in the laboratory of any basic science training faculty outside your home program. While you will very likely choose a laboratory in your home program for your Ph.D. research, the Coordinated Doctoral Program makes it possible for you to arrange to work with a mentor in any basic science Ph.D. program. The Program has also established new initiatives to expand course options and maximize interactions of the already vibrant graduate student community here at CUMC.

As a student in the Coordinated Doctoral Program, you will be given full support for required tuition, student health services, and medical insurance. You will also receive a competitive stipend for your personal use. The stipend begins at registration and normally continues throughout the period of graduate study.

 

Trainers


The doctoral program in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology originated in 1893 as the first medical science degree granting program at Columbia University. It continues to provides predoctoral trainees with a unique opportunity to obtain individualized training across a broad spectrum of cutting-edge research in microbiology and immunology, including immune system regulation, immune determinants of host-pathogen interactions, microbial growth and survival, and molecular determinants of microbial pathogenesis. The excellent institutional support of our doctoral program includes the recent recruitment of internationally renowned research faculty to act as graduate trainers, such as Dr. Sankar Ghosh, Chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Dr. Megan Sykes, Director of the Columbia Center for Translational Immunology, Dr. Ricardo Dalla-Favera, Director of the Institute for Cancer Genetics, and Dr. Steven Reiner, Professor of Microbiology & Immunology and Pediatrics. These trainers, together with other superb recruits, add to our existing strengths in microbiology and immunology to create an exceptional training faculty based in – but not limited to – the Department of Microbiology & Immunology.

The following faculty members act as graduate trainers for the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, and are currently accepting new students into their laboratories. The research interests of our trainers spans a broad spectrum of basic and applied research including transplantation tolerance, dendritic cell differentation, somatic hypermutation, immunological dysregulation leading to lymphomas, microbial cell division and exit from dormancy, malaria parasite chemotherapy and drug resistance, and disease-causing DNA damage and its repair pathways. Our trainers' outstanding research productivity is evidenced by their publication of over 60 articles in Cell, Science, Nature or Immunity journals since January 2011.

 

Graduate Trainers


 

Student Housing at CUMC


Although Columbia University guarantees housing for graduate students at the medical campus, where you will be spending most of your time, many prefer to search for their own apartments. Finding your own place in New York City allows you to choose the convenience of living near the medical campus, the collegiate ambiance of the main (Morningside) campus, or one of the many other little worlds that New York City offers.

New York City has firm rent control and rent stabilization policies; even though housing is not inexpensive, many students find that by sharing they can rent apartments in the neighborhood of their choice that are not only affordable now but still will be when graduate studies are completed.

 

Questions?


More information on the Coordinated Doctoral Program, and on Ph.D. programs at Columbia University Medical Center, can be found at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. If you have questions specific to the Microbiology, Immunology and Infection doctoral program, you may contact our Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Lorraine Symington by email at lss5@cumc.columbia.edu. If you have questions about your online application, contact the Office of Graduate Affairs at 212-305-8058 (phone), 212-305-1031 (fax) or by email at BiomedicalSciences@columbia.edu. GRE and TOEFL scores should be sent directly from the testing service. When applying, select the term you are applying for, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) as the degree, Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Studies as the program, and Microbiology, Immunology and Infection as the specialization.