The Harvard Immunology Ph.D. program gives students the flexibility to explore their scientific curiosities while also ensuring that they gain a solid foundation in the study of immunology.


G-1 Expectations



Fall Semester    Spring Semester
Fall Semester Chart Spring Semester Chart







In addition, G1s must participate in ten 3-hour courses to be team-taught by three upper year students including one G3, G4 and G5 student.  These courses will be taught monthly and are the Immunology Program’s nano-course equivalent.

Lab Rotations


Interacting with faculty members, learning about their research interests, and immersing oneself in their labs are all critical for choosing a thesis advisor. Advisors should be someone with whom the student connects with on a personal level and who the Program Heads approve of as a potential mentor.  Students are expected to attend seminars, dinners, poster sessions, retreats, journal clubs, and other program activities to meet the faculty. G-1s are advised to consult the Program Heads before starting rotations. The laboratory rotation serves as the best way to select a dissertation advisor.

Students are required complete three lab rotations during the first year.

G-2 Expectations


Dissertation Lab Declaration


Students are expected to select their dissertation advisor by September of their G2 year.  An advisor can be anyone listed as a participating faculty member of the Harvard Immunology Ph.D. Program. Click here to review the list of Faculty and Research Interests.


G2 students are required to take Med. Sci. 300qc. Conduct of Science in their fall semester.

Teaching Requirement: Each student must also fulfill a teaching requirement during their second year of study. Serving as a teaching assistant for an immunology course is an unpaid position. Course credit is received for teaching and Med-Sci 350T is entered on the study card for the semester in which they teach.

Preliminary Qualifying Exam (PQE)

By the end of December of the second year, students should successfully complete a proposal-based preliminary qualifying exam (PQE). To learn more about the PQE requirements and review the necessary forms please click here.  Within 6 months of this exam, students will have their first Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC) meeting.

Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC)

The student, in conjunction with the Immunology Program Directors and their Dissertation Advisor, nominates a Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC), consisting of at least one faculty member of the Immunology Graduate Committee. Students meet with their DAC at least once a year, typically every six to nine months during the dissertation research phase of the program. To learn more please click here.

G-3 & Above Expectations


Course requirements


G-3, G-4 and G-5 year students are required to team-teach the G1 Immunology-Nanocourse equivalent courses, participating in one 3 hour teaching session every year. G-3 and above students may attend all of these courses if they so choose.

G5 students are required to take Med.Sci. 302qc. Conduct of Science refresher in their fall semester.

G-3 year and above students are required to meet every six -nine months (depending on G-year, see timeline to degree) with their DAC.  Upon receiving permission to write from their DAC, they are expected to write and defend their dissertation within 4-6 months. A suggested endpoint for graduation, though this decision is left to the discretion of the individual DAC, is two submitted manuscripts.  

To learn more about the procedures and guidelines for defending contact the DMS Office at or visit the DMS Dissertation and Defense page

For All Students

Participating in the Annual Immunology Retreat is a requirement.