Ph.D. Microbiology

Degree Overview & Mission 

A major feature of our Ph.D. in Microbiology program is the production of a doctoral dissertation that is publishable and contributes new knowledge about microbial science. The Ph.D. degree typically takes five years to complete.

All our Ph.D. students are supported financially by research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and fellowships. One semester of teaching is required for graduation and provides students with valuable experience as an instructor at the collegiate level. Our Ph.D. students develop organizational, speaking, and technical skills through teaching, coursework, and research conducted in laboratories.

Most of our Ph.D. graduates during the past ten years have been awarded postdoctoral fellowships at leading academic institutions or hold senior research management positions in industry. In recent years, our Ph.D. graduates have had multiple offers of postdoctoral fellowships prior to or shortly after graduation. 

Admission Requirements

The general requirements for our microbiology Ph.D. degree are those of the Graduate School:

  • Bachelor’s degree
    A minimum of a Bachelor's degree from an accredited four year college or university is required for consideration into graduate programs at UMass Amherst. 
  • English Proficiency
    Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency.  For more details consult the International Applicants page for more information.  
  • GREs: Not Required
  • Other Requirements

See if you're eligible to qualify for an application fee waiver through either the Graduate School or the Elizabeth Stuart Fund for Graduate Education.

Program Requirements

Credit Requirement: 18 dissertation credits

Students must demonstrate competency in Advanced Microbial Physiology, Advanced Microbial Genetics, and one other core graduate-level course in microbial science. Following the fourth semester of graduate study, a Comprehensive Preliminary Examination is administered to evaluate students’ working knowledge of the principles of microbiology. After passing, students enrolled in the Ph.D. program are considered doctoral candidates and become eligible to earn dissertation credits. A doctoral candidate must have 18 dissertation credits to receive the Ph.D. degree. 

The Graduate School requires no minimum number of credits for the doctoral program, with the exception of dissertation credits.  However, we recommend that all graduate students meet the credit requirements for the Master’s degree in case a student leaves the program with a Master’s degree. For more details, consult the Graduate Student Handbook. 

Additional Resources

For more information about our Microbiology Ph.D. program, please contact Graduate Program Director Dr. Yasu Morita at