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Curriculum Information and Resources for Current IDI Students


The PhD program in Infectious Diseases and Immunity (IDI) is a laboratory based infectious disease research program that spans immunology and microbiology with a public and global health focus. It usually takes about 5.5 years to complete the IDI PhD degree. The Graduate Group in Infectious Diseases and Immunity, administered by the School of Public Health, is an interdepartmental graduate program that is unique in its emphasis on integrated multidisciplinary training. Important areas of inquiry include the biology of host-pathogen interactions, molecular and cellular aspects of pathogenesis, the ecology and evolution of disease agents, environmental factors in transmission, intermediate hosts and vectors, the biology of surveillance and epidemiological analysis, and vaccine and disease prevention and control. The program follows the admission application process and requirements of the School of Public Health which requires the applicant to complete both the SOPHAS and UC Berkeley Graduate Admission applications.

In addition to the minimal core course requirements (listed below) each student shall take additional courses selected in consultation with the major professor and/or Graduate Advisor and approved by the Group Executive Faculty Committee. The specific courses will not be listed here since this part of the student’s curriculum will be tailored to meet identified professional career goals. In addition, laboratory rotations, two GSI teaching, qualifying examination, research resulting in a dissertation, and enrollment and participation in the IDI Doctoral Seminars are required for completion of the PhD degree.

The minimum requirements include core training in molecular biology, epidemiology, statistics, and research ethics. Specific training in infectious disease is also available related to a student’s major interest for more specialized preparation.

It is expected that students will complete a minimum of 30 units of predominantly graduate-level courses, in addition to 4 units of graduate seminar. During the first three to four semesters of the program, doctoral students complete all or most of the course work required for the degree and rotate through the research laboratories of one to three faculty members, who evaluate the student’s ability to conduct laboratory research. This allows the student to determine what research opportunities are available to them, to learn new research methods that will be of value in their subsequent dissertation research, and to decide on a suitable research project for their dissertation.

Download the IDI PhD Degree Flowchart

  • Group I: Infectious Diseases (2 courses)
    • PH 260A Principles of Infectious Diseases (4 units) Riley
    • And one of the following:
      • PH 262 Molecular Basis of Bacterial Pathogenesis (3 units); Portnoy
      • PH 265 Molecular Parasitology (3 units); Harris
      • PH 266B Zoonotic Diseases (2 units); Dailey
  • Group II: Immunology (1 course)
    • PH 263 Public Health Immunology (3 units) (PH 263 is highly preferred)


    • MCB 250 Advanced Immunology (4 units); Raulet/Robey
  • Group III: Biostatistics (1 course)
    • PH 142 Introduction to Probability & Statistics (4 units)


    • PH 245 Introduction to Multivariate Statistics (4 units)
  • Group IV: Epidemiology (1 course)
    • PH 250A Epidemiologic Methods I (4 units)
    • PH 253B* Epidemiology and Control of Infectious Diseases (3 units) Lewnard


    • PH 260E Molecular Epidemiology (2 units) Riley

    Note: IDI PhD students without an epidemiology background are strongly encouraged to read more about Epidemiology and/or take 250A prior to taking PH 253B

  • Group V: Research (2 courses)
    • PH 293 IDI Monday Doctoral Seminar (1 unit) required every semester (Note: will not be offered in Fall 2021)
    • PH 293 IDI Research Doctoral Seminar (2 units) for pre-QE students in letter grade, other IDI students are welcome
  • Electives

    In addition to the required courses listed above, students will elect several additional courses appropriate to the student’s area of research interest with the guidance of the Graduate Advisor and other faculty.

    Examples for electives (also includes courses listed above):

    • PH 250B Epidemiologic Methods II (4 units)
    • MCB 210 Molecular & Cell Biology (4 units)
    • PH 260F Infectious Disease Research in Developing Countries (2 units)
    • PH 257 Outbreak Investigation (2 units)
    • MCB 230 Advanced Cell Biology (4 units)

Lab Rotations

Rotations in lab provide an opportunity for students to experience different research areas and environments. Lab rotation should be arranged by mutual agreement with the faculty and the student in consultation with the IDI Head Graduate Advisor. Each lab rotation may last 10 weeks and should begin as early as the mid part of the first semester. Students are suggested to do three rotations before deciding on the lab for their dissertation research.

Teaching Requirement

At least two semesters as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) are required.

Qualifying Examinations

A qualifying examination (QE) should be taken no later than the second year (4th semester) of graduate study, and only after all course requirements have been completed with a minimum grade-point average of at least 3.0 (4-point scale), excluding lower-division courses, seminars and research. The graduate advisor and the student will select a four-member committee to administer the examination. The Ph.D. qualifying examination consists of an oral defense of two written research proposals (10–15 pages each). One proposal describes the student’s proposed dissertation research, and the other must encompass a research problem in an area unrelated to the dissertation research. The purpose of the examination is to test the student’s mastery of a broad area of knowledge reflecting the interdisciplinary preparation of an approved course of study.

Advancement to Candidacy

Within one semester of passing the qualifying examination, students must apply for advancement to candidacy for the PhD degree. At this point, the student must identify a Dissertation Committee comprised of faculty members who can contribute to the dissertation research work. The Dissertation Committee Chair is the student’s primary research mentor. PhD candidates are required to meet with their dissertation committee at least once a year to discuss research progress, manuscripts in preparation, a proposed timeline for graduation, and post-graduation plans.

Research and Dissertation

The research preceptor is typically selected by the student after obtaining research experience through laboratory rotations. The student is thus acquainted with the research opportunities available in several laboratories and can evaluate these opportunities in the context of their personal interests. Students with interests that are clearly defined and are not identified among the Graduate Group faculty, but can be identified among faculty at Berkeley or UCSF outside of the Graduate Group, may elect through direct mentorship of a Graduate Group member to conduct their research in a laboratory other than one represented in the Graduate Group. It is expected that the student’s research will be of sufficient quality to be accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. A goal of at least one, but preferably two or more first-author publications are typically considered sufficient to write the dissertation. The emphasis on publication of student research, rather than merely completing a dissertation, is an intrinsic component of the Program’s training experience. Within three months of filing the student’s dissertation, the student will give an oral seminar to the members of the Graduate Group describing the dissertation research conducted.

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