General Information

The Microbiology & Immunology Graduate Program offers graduate programs leading to the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees. The Program has expertise necessary for the instruction and training of advanced students in areas that include cellular and molecular biology of eukaryotes, microbial genetics and molecular biology, immunology, medical microbiology, microbial physiology, and virology.

Prospective Students

All information for students interested in the Microbiology and Immunology Graduate Program can be found on the admission website for the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Program Details

Program Objectives

The Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of Saskatchewan offers the Microbiology and Immunology Graduate Programs and facilities for research training in the areas of Molecular, Cellular and Tissue Biology; Developmental Biology; Neurobiology; Functional Anatomy and Advanced Anatomical Imaging. The Master of Science (M.Sc.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees are offered. The Graduate Program Committee develops policy and administers the graduate program. Immediate oversight for each student is provided by a faculty Supervisor, and each student has a unique faculty Advisory Committee. Direct financial support to graduate students is derived from a variety of sources. All aspects of the program, including conferral of degrees, are ultimately governed by the College of Graduate Studies and Research, which sets or approves the policies and procedures that departments follow.

Program Overview

Key research areas include:

  • Molecular Genetics/Microbial Physiology: molecular regulation and secretion of virulence factors in pathogenic bacteria, genetic regulation of gluconeogenic enzymes, catalytic and regulatory mechanisms of microbial enzymes, chromosomal rearrangements, carcinogenesis, chemical mutagenesis, mutagenic mechanisms, DNA alkylation damage and repair in eukaryotes, and mechanism of replication nitiation.
  • Immunology/Virology: molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for self-nonself discrimination and immune class determination, cellular and molecular interactions involved in lymphocyte activation and differentiation, analysis of regulatory function of CD8 T cells.
  • Pathogenesis/Infectious Diseases: development of effective vaccination and immunotherapeutic strategies against intracellular pathogens causing chronic disease and against cancers, clinical bacteriology.
  • Tumor Biology/Immunology: tumor metastasis, molecular tumor immunology.

2 Years  

Students must maintain continuous registration in the MCIM  994.0 course.

  • MCIM 960.0
  • MCIM 961.0 if research involves human subjects
  • MCIM 962.0 if research involves animal subjects
  • MCIM 990.0 seminar
  • a minimum of 9 credit units, chosen at the discretion of the student’s Research Advisory Committee
  • M.Sc. thesis defense

4 Years

  • Students must maintain continuous registration in the MCIM 996.0 course.
  • MCIM 960.0
  • MCIM 961.0 if research involves human subjects
  • MCIM 962.0 if research involves animal subjects
  • MCIM 990.0 seminar
  • a minimum of 3 credit units, chosen at the discretion of the student’s Research Advisory Committee
  • Comprehensive Examination
  • P.hD. thesis defense

Students must satisfy the department by written or oral examination, or by both, that they have the potential to obtain sufficient knowledge of their chosen general field of study to proceed toward candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.  Responsibility for this examination may be assigned to the Advisory Committee in cases where several departments are involved.  Normally, this examination is administered preferably within the first year, but no later than the end of the second year, of the student's program.  The student needs to complete the course requirements at the M.Sc. level at the time of the qualifying examination.  The results of this examination are likely to have a significant impact on the Program of Study developed for the student.  The standard by which a student must obtain to pass the qualifying examination is at the discretion of the department or the Advisory Committee, as the case may be.  A student failing an examination for the first time is permitted a second qualifying examination.  A second failure automatically disqualifies the student from further work for the Ph.D. degree.  This failure may be appealed to the Ph.D. Committee on substantive or procedural grounds.  The results of all qualifying examinations must be reported to the Graduate Secretary for data entry and submission to the College of Graduate Studies and Research.

The qualifying examination format in this Department is an oral examination in two of the five pre-selected subjects. The five subjects are:

1. Bacterial genetics and physiology

2. Eukaryotic molecular and cellular biology

3. Immunology

4. Medical bacteriology and Infectious diseases

5. Virology

The examiners of each subject are appointed by the Graduate Affairs Committee each year.  The two examiners of the subjects selected by the student will provide a short list, often 2-3, references (research article and/or review article) related to the subject, with a few sample questions, for students to prepare for the oral examination.  The examination will take place three weeks after the student receives all references.  The examination questions will be related, but not limited, to the references provided.  The purpose of the examination is to assess the student’s ability to synthesize scientific knowledge, to analyze the experimental data, and to apply the knowledge to critical thinking.  The examination takes about 3 hours.

The examination Committee consists of two subject examiners and the Chair.  After the oral examination is complete, the Committee will discuss and vote Pass or Fail on each subject.  If a student fails one or both subjects, she/he may request a second examination and elect with either the original examiner or an alternative examiner appointed by the Graduate Affairs Committee.  In the case of failing one subject, both original and newly appointed examiners of the subject will serve as examiners.  The examination will take the same format.

The thesis examination for the award of Master's degree at this or other recognized universities may be, at the discretion of the department and the College of Graduate Studies and Research, accepted in lieu of the Ph.D. qualifying examination. The Ph.D qualifying examination must already have been passed at a suitable level before consideration will be given to recommendations for transfer from a Master's to a Ph.D program.  Other requirements for the transfer and registration include:

  • Satisfaction of courses taken and grade (80% average) at M.Sc. level,
  • A Ph.D. proposal,
  • The approval of the proposal by the student’s Ph.D. Advisory Committee.


Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology
Microbiology & Immunology Graduate Program
2D01 Health Sciences Building, 107 Wiggins Road
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5E5

Graduate Chair
Dr. Sylvia VandenHurk

Graduate Programs Administrator
Barb Stuckless