A competitive graduate program with an emphasis on existing and emerging interdisciplinary research areas

For those interested in a research-driven career in academia or industry, our Department of Infectious Diseases offers a PhD program with training in many disease relevant disciplines such as molecular virology, pathogenic bacteriology, classical and molecular parasitology, epidemiology, immunology, avian disease, and wildlife disease.

Important aspects of our graduate training program include:

  • A seminar series that features excellent speakers from around the country
  • Five journal clubs that cover the range of department research interests and provide important training in critical analysis of published work
  • A yearly department retreat that offers an opportunity for our graduate students to present their work to their peers
  • Competitive financial support

In addition to a range of molecular biology and immunology tools, the department has equipment to support phosphoimaging, quantitative real-time PCR, flow cytometry, computational bioinformatics, and chemiluminescent gel imaging.

Additionally, our college’s close proximity to the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency offices, as well as our access to facilities such as UGA’s Animal Health and Research Center, the Center for Vaccines and Immunology, and Diagnostic Laboratories, make us uniquely positioned for collaboration and innovation in education and research.

About the program

How it works

Applicants are accepted through the University of Georgia’s Integrated Life Sciences (ILS) program. The ILS program allows first-year graduate students to explore the research areas of more than 200+ faculty and 14 participating units before they choose a major professor and departmental home.


Competitive applicants will have:

  • Bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in any biological science from an accredited institution (For international applicants, an equivalent to American bachelor’s degree requiring a minimum of four years of training is required)
  • Demonstrated research experience

For a list of current tuition and fees, see UGA’s Bursar & Treasury Services. Financial assistance is available from the Department of Infectious Diseases.
A majority of our students are funded by research and teaching assistantships, training grants, and fellowships. Please contact the department directly for more information.

How to apply

Step 1: An online application must be completed through the UGA Graduate School. This will include the submission of official college transcripts; a résumé or curriculum vita; three letters of recommendation; and a personal statement describing your experiences, interest in infectious diseases, and your reasons for applying to the program.

Foreign applicants are required to submit additional documentation as part of their online application. See the Graduate School’s website for a list of supplemental information for your country.

Step 2: Apply to the Integrated Life Sciences Program. This requires completion of the ILS Background Interest form and a personal statement.

Application deadline

Application packages must be completed by December 4th to be considered for matriculation the following August. Accepted applicants will be notified in March.

Frequently asked questions

How important is GPA?

GPA is important, but we also look at where you went to school and the degree you obtained. Our faculty members must be confident that you will be able to maintain the minimum 3.0 GPA required in graduate level courses.

What should I write in the statement of purpose / personal statement?

This is your chance to “talk” to the Admissions Committee. Express why you want to enroll in our graduate program, what strengths you feel set you apart and highlight your research qualifications.

Who is the Graduate Coordinator? The Graduate Assistant? What’s the difference?

The graduate program assistant is the administrative professional who is responsible for handling incoming applications, maintaining student records, approving forms and submitting information to the Graduate School. You can reach the graduate program assistant at [email protected] or by phone at 706-542-0389.

Dr. David Peterson is the graduate program coordinator for the department. He chairs the graduate committee that evaluates applications, makes recommendations about the program, and works on programmatic issues such as making application decisions, seeking assistantship funding for new students, and evaluating curriculum changes.

If you need a form signed or a question answered, see the graduate program assistant. If you are seeking a change to the program as a whole, or need assistance troubleshooting some unusual circumstance, see the graduate coordinator.

Who does laboratory rotations and how are they scheduled?

All students applying to our graduate program through the Integrated Life Sciences program at UGA will participate in three different laboratory rotations prior to choosing a major professor. Research rotations provide an opportunity for students to explore the breadth and depth of life science research available at UGA through ILS before formally committing to a thesis project and advisor.


Rotations are scheduled for six weeks in each lab starting in September. After each rotation period, faculty will submit to the ILS graduate coordinator an evaluation form assessing the performance of the student during the rotation.  Students will be able to start in their new labs at the beginning of the spring semester.


Students on rotations are expected to spend as much time as possible in the mentoring lab and get immersed into the research culture of the environment. The principal investigator of the lab has the last word about admission of a student into his or her laboratory. In order to make that decision, the professor will assess the student’s performance during the rotation and will have access to the student’s application file.

Are there teaching responsibilities for students on assistantships?

There is no departmental teaching requirement for students who enter our graduate program through the Integrated Life Sciences Program, and whose subsequent stipend support is provided by a grant to their major professor. In the event that a student is supported for a time on a departmental assistantship the student will be required to TA in one of the IDIS courses for each semester they are supported by the department.

Are there teaching opportunities for students who are not on departmental assistantships?

Students who are not required, but wish to have teaching experience, may find teaching opportunities in the Department of Infectious Diseases or in departments with large undergraduate teaching components, such as Microbiology or Cellular Biology.

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