The requirements for a PhD degree in Molecular Virology include course work, participation in formal and informal seminars, a research qualifying examination, and the PhD thesis.
In addition to the core curriculum, students are required to complete a minimum of sixteen additional credit hours of advanced course work, including Introduction to Virology and Virus-Host Interactions. Recent examples of specialized, elective courses relevant to the program include: Mechanisms of Drug Resistance, Molecular Genetics of Cancer, Molecular Biology of RNA, Transcription and Gene Regulation, Immunology of Infectious Disease, and HIV & AIDS: Research and Care.
Formal and Informal Seminars
Students also participate in formal and informal seminars. Each year, students present a seminar on their own research to members of the department. Prominent outside speakers are invited to present current research through the weekly Molecular Biology & Microbiology seminar program, the monthly Lester O. Krampitz Seminars and Cleveland Virology Group meetings, and numerous seminars in other departments.
The qualifying exam for advancement to candidacy for the PhD degree focuses on the student's own research and consists of two parts. In the first part, an original description of the student's research project is prepared in the form of a grant application. In the second part, the student defends the written proposal before the pre-thesis committee in an oral examination. Preparation for this exam provides experience in developing and formulating original research ideas and assessing their feasibility. At the time of the qualifying examination, a student is expected to be conversant with relevant experimental techniques and to be familiar with the scientific literature pertinent to the proposed project. Generally, the qualifying exam is completed by the middle of the third year of study.
For the PhD thesis, the student will carry out an original research project in the advisor's laboratory. Early in the second year, a pre-thesis committee, consisting of the thesis advisor and additional faculty members, will be chosen to advise the student on the academic program and the dissertation. This committee provides scientific expertise, offers support in overcoming research difficulties, and evaluates progress towards the PhD degree.