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Upon Arriving in Fort Collins

​One of the most important things to do is ESTABLISH RESIDENCY​. This will allow you to claim in-state tuition in your second year.

MS and PhD Graduate Program What to Expect

The First Year

The first year of your Ph.D. or M.S. program, you will be taking classes and rotating through labs to find a good fit. If you are a GTA, you will also be teaching.

You will likely be assigned teaching duties in the undergraduate courses offered by MIP.  If you will be teaching, you are required to attend the GTA Workshop presented by The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) and the Graduate School, which is held the week before Fall semester classes begin. 

Colorado State University offers a Graduate Teaching Certificate Program, which you can work towards during your teaching assistantship in the first year of your M.S. or Ph.D. This is a great opportunity to get credit for your teaching hours and to put together a teaching portfolio with help from experienced faculty.

You will contact faculty members to arrange two laboratory rotations during the first semester; each rotation is approximately 8 weeks in length.  You can have an opportunity to perform a 3rd or 4th rotation during their second semester, as needed.  The Associate Department Head for Graduate Education will assist you in the selection of research laboratories.  By the end of the first two semesters of study, a permanent faculty research advisor should be identified and approved by the GEC and Department Head.

Obviously, this is a very busy time and a lot is expected of you. You need to keep your grades up, devote a lot of time to teaching and every spare minute should be spent in the laboratory. The ability to multi-task will really help you out here. Do your homework or grading in the lab while you are waiting for restriction enzymes to digest. Also, take advantage of the Winter and Spring breaks to spend some uninterrupted time in the lab and make some real progress on your project.

The Second Year

You will still be taking classes, but this year you should have more time to devote to research. You should be mastering techniques, and gathering an in-depth understanding of your chosen area by reading the literature and talking to your lab mates.  You’ll also give your first seminar presentation during MIP792A-Graduate Seminar in your second year.

After identifying a faculty research advisor, you and your advisor will propose the membership of a graduate committee.  A graduate committee is composed of at least three members for the M.S. program and at least four members for the Ph.D. program, including the major advisor.  Your major advisor chairs the committee.  The committee must have at least one member from outside the MIP Department.  The chair must be a member of the Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology faculty.  Your graduate committee is responsible throughout the remainder of the student’s graduate career for advice on course work and evaluation of progress in the program.  Your committee will advise and guide you in the execution of the research program.  In consultation with your major advisor and graduate committee, a program of study will be formulated and submitted. 

Towards the end of the second year (if you are in the PhD program), it is time to think about setting a date for the Preliminary Exam. The prelim must be taken by the end of the 5th semester to qualify you as a Ph.D. candidate. The preliminary examination consists of preparation of a written research proposal and an oral exam, which covers the candidate’s entire program of study. 

If you are in the MS program, by the end of the second year you should be beginning to wrap up your research project and starting to write your thesis.

The Third Year and Beyond

You should be done with most of your classes and spending every waking moment in the laboratory. Hone your scientific writing and presentation skills, stay on top of the literature and attend seminars and conferences. Take every opportunity to expand your experience. You will likely be considered a more senior member of the laboratory and may be required to train undergraduates and junior graduate students. See this as a chance to get experience that will be invaluable when managing your own lab and projects in the future. Annual committee meetings will encourage you to regularly evaluate the direction and progress of your project.

Your research should be complete within four or five years. Don't forget to start planning the next step of your career at least six months before graduation!

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