Department of Immunology

Program Description


The PhD is normally earned within five and a half years (view a diagram of the timeline to degree).  In the first year, students rotate through three different laboratories and identify a laboratory in which to carry out their thesis research at the end of the first year.  Students also take required courses and may take some elective courses during the first year.

In the second year, students begin their thesis research and continue to take required and elective courses.  Students also gain teaching experience by functioning as teaching assistants for UW Immunology’s Introduction to Immunology course taught autumn quarter.  Students are required to form their Doctoral Supervisory Dissertation Committee by the end of Summer Quarter of Year 2.  Students must also meet with their Committee before taking the General Exam.  Ideally, the first Committee meeting will occur in Autumn Quarter of the 3rd year, but must occur no later than Winter Quarter of the 3rd year.

In the third year, students continue their thesis research.  Students must take their General Exam (in which they propose the research that they plan to complete for their dissertations) by the end of Spring Quarter in Year 3.  In the remaining years in the program, students focus on thesis research.

Relevant coursework required for UW Immunology students includes, but is not limited to:

  • Intersection of Innate and Adaptive Immunity in Disease (IMMUN 532) – WIN QTR
  • Central Issues in Immunology (IMMUN 534) – SPR QTR
  • Immunological Methods (IMMUN 537) – AUT QTR
  • Immunological Based Diseases and Treatment (IMMUN 538) – SPR QTR
  • Immunology Research in Progress (IMMUN 550) – AUT/WIN/SPR QTRS

All students register every year for Immunology Seminars (IMMUN 573), and attend regularly scheduled mentor and joint lab meetings, scientific meetings, and the department retreat.


UW Immunology faculty reassess the graduate program requirements annually.  In brief, students must

  • Complete at least 3 laboratory rotations
  • Complete specified coursework totaling 18 graded credits.
  • Serve one quarter as a Teaching Assistant
  • Pass the General Exam
  • Complete doctoral research requirements, under supervision
  • Publish or have accepted for publication one first-authored manuscript
  • Pass the Final Exam (dissertation defense)
  • Comply with Graduate School requirements, and UW Student Conduct Code

Download the UW Immunology Graduate Program Requirements (PDF)

Timeline from admission to graduation


Students who enroll in the UW Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) choose research specializations from among numerous disciplines and interdisciplinary areas of biomedical research to conduct their thesis work. The entire program is typically seven to eight years in duration and emphasizes continuity of both clinical and basic science exposure. MSTP students rotate in laboratories during the summer quarters prior to entering medical school and at the end of the first year of medical school such that they have identified a home laboratory and can begin thesis research immediately upon entering the program.  MSTP students must meet the same program requirements as other Immunology students.  To achieve an accelerated timeline toward completion of the dissertation requirements, MSTP students take their general exam in the Autumn Quarter of their third year.

Learn about the Medical Scientist Training Program.