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MS program frequently asked questions

Frequently Asked Questions (and answers) for Prospective Masters Students:

Q: Should I apply to the MS or PhD program?

A: If your goal is a terminal MS degree, then our MS in Microbiology program may be right for you. However, if your ultimate goal is a PhD, we strongly recommend that you apply to the PhD program. An MS degree is not required for our PhD program, and our PhD program offers several benefits, including a full tuition waiver and a guaranteed stipend. 


Q: Am I required to identify an MS thesis advisor prior to being accepted in the program?

A: Yes. In order to be accepted into the MS program, you must identify a thesis advisor who is willing to serve as your MS thesis advisor. This is not a requirement for the PhD program.


Q: Are MS students financially supported?

A:  Sometimes. Some thesis advisors may be able to provide financial support for MS students with a research or teaching assistantship and a tuition waiver. Financial support is not guaranteed for MS students. 


Q: When should I apply?

A: To assure consideration for Fall admission,  please complete your application by December 1. You should plan to contact potential MS advisors ahead of the application deadline.


Q:  Can I visit the department?

A:  Top applicants will be invited for an interview/recruitment weekend in February.  


Q:  How do I find an advisor? Should I contact faculty directly for admission?

A:  Potential advisors include the faculty in the Microbiology Department as well as those listed as Adjunct Faculty that are in other departments but carrrying out microbiological reserach. You should contact potential adivsors directly to ask if they are interested in serving as your MS advisor in their lab. You may also want to inquire about their ability or willingness to provide financial support for MS students.


Q:  What are the qualifications of a successful applicant?

A:  All aspects of each application are considered. We are interested in students that are competitive academically, and have significant research experience. Because the application is a holistically evaluated, we do not judge the likelihood of acceptability based on a short pre-application. 


Q:  What are the degree requirements?  How long do they take to complete?

A:  The average time to degree in the MS program is 2-3 years. The requirements consist of both coursework and research and more details can be found in the information for current students on the website. 

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