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Microbiology & Immunology (MI) Frequently Asked Questions

When can I expect news about an offer to enter the program?

After your visit to Drexel, the Microbiology & Immunology Graduate Education Committee will consider your completed application as well as feedback from your faculty interviewers. If you are selected to receive an offer by the Graduate Education Committee, your offer must then be approved by the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies. Once approved, an official offer to join the program will be sent to you by the Graduate School. This process usually takes three to four weeks after the interview day. You will also be notified if you were not selected to join the program this fall.

If I receive an official offer to join the program this fall, what do I do next?

If you receive an official offer letter from the Graduate School, you need to sign and return the acceptance letter. Once we receive your signed letter and deposit, you will be officially enrolled as a Drexel student. From that point until you arrive at Drexel for the fall semester, you will be communicating with Michael Kennedy, who is the academic administrator for our program.

Where can I live while getting my degree?

Students in our program live in housing available around both College of Medicine campuses. There are numerous apartments for rent in close proximity to the Queen Lane campus. Similarly, the Center City campus has many apartments nearby. In addition, Drexel University offers housing for post-baccalaureate and graduate students at Stiles Hall, which is located on the Center City campus. Go to the Stiles Hall web page for more information.

Students also have the option of living in suburban Philadelphia communities and using regional rail lines that service Suburban Station, which is within walking distance of the Center City campus. For more information about Philadelphia's transit system, visit the website for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).

Can I do interdepartmental rotations?

Interdepartmental rotations can be arranged. The only requirement is that the mentor needs to be a member of the graduate faculty of the Microbiology and Immunology Graduate Program.

Can I take courses from other departments?

Yes, you can take courses that are offered by other departments. Some courses offered by other departments have already been approved as electives in our MS and PhD programs. Courses not already approved as electives can be considered on request.

What types of career paths/opportunities have recent graduates of this program been afforded?

Graduates of the Microbiology and Immunology MS/PhD program have been able to pursue a wide range of career paths. Many of our PhD students have secured traditional post-doctoral positions in prestigious laboratories throughout the country and around the world. Other students have chosen to follow other career directions, including entry into medical school, employment in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, and positions in contract research organizations that support the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries.

Is it possible to transition from the Microbiology and Immunology master's program into the PhD track? If so, what are the requirements?

Yes, it is possible. Since the curriculum for the M&I Master's Program incorporates the same courses that are also taken by the PhD students in years one and two, a transition to the PhD program is very feasible. However, the transition from the MS Program to the PhD Program requires the approval of the M&I Graduate Program Director and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies.

Are there core facilities at Drexel available for graduate student use? If so, what are they?

There are core facilities available within the department as well as in other departments at Drexel. Within the Department, shared Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease research resources are available through the Center for Genomic Sciences (CGS), the Center for Advanced Microbial Processing (CAMP), the Center for Clinical and Translational Medicine (CCTM), and the Center for Immunology and Vaccine Science (CIVS). These centers encompass shared equipment and facilities, including flow cytometry technologies, microscopy equipment, clinical laboratories, and two Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) facilities.

Are there teaching requirements for the PhD track? Are there teaching opportunities for those who are interested?

While teaching is not required as part of your PhD training, it is highly encouraged. Graduate-level courses offered by the department offer numerous teaching opportunities to senior graduate students who want to add teaching experience to their CVs. Teaching can be arranged on a volunteer-basis, or performed for credit applied toward your degree requirements.

How diverse is the graduate student group?

We have always attracted a very diverse population of students to our MS and PhD programs. Our current student body includes students from the US, India, the UK, Peru and Puerto Rico.

Are graduate students given the opportunity to present their research?

Yes, graduate students have several outlets for presenting their research. Each PhD student is required annually to present his or her research project in our department seminar series. Students also have opportunities each year to present posters or deliver oral presentations at three local meetings: the Drexel University Research Day, the College of Medicine Discovery Day, and the International Symposium on Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease. Students can also be sent by their mentors to present their work at national and international scientific meetings.

What is expected of first year graduate students?

First year graduate students are expected to focus on the successful completion of the first year curriculum. Secondarily, first year graduate students complete three or four laboratory rotations. The goals of the research rotations are to (1) gain practical experience in bench-level scientific research and (2) select a mentor who will train the student over the course of the MS or PhD program.

What is the core curriculum like?

The core curriculum is a comprehensive interdisciplinary program of study for all first year research intensive MS and PhD degree students in the biomedical sciences graduate programs. The goal of the core curriculum is to provide a broad foundation in biomedical sciences and serve as a framework for advanced study in more specialized areas. The fall semester course covers topics in biochemistry, molecular structure, metabolism, molecular biology and genetics. The spring semester course covers topics in cell biology, cell signaling, cell cycle and integrated systems.

Are there additional department-specific classes?

Most of the classes outside the core curriculum are department-specific classes taught by members of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Examples of required department-specific classes include: Molecular Pathogenesis I and II, Immunology I, Microbiology and Immunology Journal Club, and the Microbiology and Immunology Seminar Series.

How are advanced classes taught?

Unlike undergraduate courses, which are primarily lecture- and textbook-based, graduate-level courses offered as part of the MS and PhD program curricula rely more on reading and comprehension of primary scientific literature, critical thinking about current research, and interactive discussions with instructors and other students about topics in microbiology and immunology. Some courses are taught in a face-to-face format, while others are taught in a hybrid format using online resources (e.g. Blackboard Learn) to augment more traditional teaching approaches.

What types of courses are available as electives?

Electives available to MS and PhD Microbiology and Immunology students include Immunology II, Special Topics in Virology, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Experimental Therapeutics, Microbial Pathogenesis, and Advanced Molecular Biology.

How does the two campus system work?

The Drexel University College of Medicine currently operates primarily on two campuses: the Queen Lane campus in the East Falls area and the Center City campus in Center City Philadelphia. Classes can be scheduled to convene on either campus. Because the Department of Microbiology and Immunology has faculty, laboratories, and classroom resources on both campuses, you will be required at times to travel from one campus to the other. Travel between the Queen Lane and Center City campuses is supported by shuttle buses that run throughout the day and evening. One-way travel time for a shuttle bus is usually around 20-25 minutes. There are also regularly scheduled shuttles that connect the Center City campus with the University City campus.

Some classes, like the Core, are offered simultaneously on both campuses using state-of-the-art videoconferencing systems. Information about courses offered at multiple locations will be made available on a course-by-course basis.

Is there a gym available for students?

Yes. As a Drexel student, you have free access to Drexel's gym on the University City campus. The only requirement for entry is your Drexel ID card. There is also a small gym available on the Queen Lane campus, which also requires your ID card for entry.

Are there tutors available for students who need extra help?

Yes, tutors are available for students who may need some extra help in specific classes. Tutoring and team studying can be arranged on an informal basis with other interested students in the program. In addition, tutoring services are officially available for the Core through the Graduate School. Tutoring for other courses can be arranged through the Drexel University Center for Academic Success.

Is there someone I can contact if I have any questions about the status of my application after my visit?

For updates on your application, contact Michael Kennedy (Academic Administrator) by email at or by phone at 215.991.8157.

If I have any questions later that might be best answered by someone in the program, is there a current student who I can contact?

Certainly! We have two students who have happily volunteered to field any questions that might come up after your visit. You can contact Andrea at or Elizabeth at Both Andrea and Elizabeth have finished their coursework and are now working on their PhD thesis projects with faculty mentors in the department.


Alison Carey and Ogan Kumova (Carey Lab) from the Microbiology and Immunology Program at Drexel University College of Medicine.