1st Year

The first year of the Graduate Program in Immunology consists of laboratory rotations, coursework, and seminars. Selection of a dissertation supervisor is normally made by the end of the first year.

Medical Student Training Program (MSTP) students will be given credit for prior basic science courses. MSTP students have the option of forming an advisory committee and taking the preliminary examinations during the first year. See 2nd Year for more details.

CMB, DBTP & UPGG students are encouraged to explore and join the Graduate Program in Immunology. Students would optimally start the Immunology core curriculum with IMM 544 in the Fall of their first year. However, our curriculum is sufficiently flexible such that it can be started with IMM 800 in the Spring of the first year. This is particularly true for those students who have had some prior exposure to immunology as undergraduates; however, any highly motivated student should be able to start the sequence with IMM 800.  Please contact the DGS for further details and discussion.

Laboratory Rotations

Students are required to rotate in two or more laboratories for periods of at least 10-12 weeks per rotation. Students typically do three rotations; a fourth can be conducted in the summer if need be. The DGS will work with the incoming students to find the first rotation during the summer prior to the start of graduate school. Incoming students will provide their top three choices to the Director of Graduate Studies and s/he will coordinate the assignment.  The first rotation begins in the first week of the Fall semester. Students arrange the remaining rotations on their own, but need to submit their choice to DGS for approval in advance.  All rotations should be registered in Duke T3.

Rotations should generally be restricted to faculty who are members of the Graduate Program in Immunology; that is, they have a primary or secondary appointment in Immunology and are members of the Graduate Faculty of Duke University.

During the Fall semester students register for IMM 791A and during the Spring semester students register for IMM 791B. After each rotation, faculty mentors will submit an evaluation form summarizing the student’s work in the laboratory. Students will receive a copy of the feedback. The DGS assigns one grade for the whole year at the end of the Spring semester based on the rotation evaluations. Students will get the “Z” grade in the Fall semester but this will be retrospectively converted to the final grade at the end of Spring semester. Thus, students will see the same grade for Spring and Fall semesters. All rotation students will present their work in the WIP component of IMM 731S, Immunology Seminar, each semester. Presentations are generally ten minutes in length including Q&A.

1st Year

Affiliation with a Thesis Laboratory

Selection of a dissertation supervisor is normally made no later than August 1 following the first year. Students are required to notify the DGS and DGSA of their choice of laboratory and should fill out the Laboratory Affiliation Form. Final approval of affiliation with primary faculty laboratories requires that the mentor can demonstrate to their grant manager and the Immunology Chair that they will be able to fund the student at least through Year 3. Final approval of affiliation with secondary faculty laboratories requires a Financial Backstop Agreement signed by the mentor’s chair.  This process is initiated by the DGSA.   

Department of Immunology faculty take seriously their roles in mentoring trainees to develop into independent scientists and equipping them for success beyond their PhD/fellowship training. Strategically, accomplishing these goals requires a mentorship plan that aligns with, and enhances, faculty’s own requirements to write scientific proposals and to conduct research that will make tangible contributions to science and to society at large. Graduate students and Fellows play absolutely critical roles in carrying out this research and achieving these goals.  The department’s foundational Mentor Trainee Compact outlines expectations for both faculty mentor and graduate student trainee.








Fall Semester

  • BIOTRAIN 750: Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) | Orientation – incoming students are required to attend the program specified by OBGE
  • New for Fall 2021: BIOTRAIN 701 Foundations of Professionalism course required for first year SoM PhD students
  • IMM 544 Principles of Immunology
  • IMM 701D Pillars of Immunology
  • IMM 731S Immunology Seminar - First and second year students enroll in this course. This course consists of two components:
  1. A work-in-progress seminar for students and postdoctoral fellows on Mondays
  2. An invited speaker series on Tuesdays. Students are evaluated on attendance and a required presentation of at least one work-in-progress seminar per year
  • IMM 791A - Research in Immunology 
  • RCR forums
  • Continuation is required each semester

Spring Semester

  • IMM 800 Comprehensive Immunology
  • IMM 731S Immunology Seminar
  • IMM 736 Current Topics in Immunology – required each semester beginning with spring of the first year.
  • IMM 791B - Research in Immunology
  • 1 Elective course (optional)
  • RCR forums
  • Continuation credit (CTN) is required each semester

Summer Semester

  • Continuation is required each semester