The Graduate Program in Bacteriology (GPiB) teaches students to identify and address outstanding questions in microbiology using classical and modern approaches. In addition to participating in courses and paracurricular activities associated with their home programs, students engage with the GPiB community in courses, paracurricular events, social hours, and more. By focusing on practical skills, scientific knowledge, and professional networking, we prepare our graduates for a full range of scientific and biomedical careers.

Scientific Training

Molecular Biology of the Bacterial Cell (MICRO 201)

This course serves as an introduction to the cellular and molecular biology of bacteria, covering topics from cell envelope biogenesis to the regulation of chromosome replication and the SOS response. This broad survey of the inner workings of the bacterial cell draws on both classical and modern papers. Through critical discussion of these papers, students learn experimental approaches, logic, and outstanding questions and practice scientific communication.

Mechanisms of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Host Immune Response (MICRO 202)

This class consists of lectures and group discussions emphasizing themes of pathogenesis, methods, results, and interpretations of classic and contemporary literature. Subjects including bacterial secretion systems, mechanisms of entry into host cells, biofilm formation, and motility are viewed primarily from the pathogen’s perspective, whereas topics including inflammasome activation, TLR signaling, and adaptive immune responses provide a host-centric view.

Science Communication

GPiB students receive practical, hands-on training presenting and discussing their data at all stages in the program. They receive peer mentorship during qualifying exams, take classes where presentation of data is an integral part of the coursework, and are paired with a team of faculty and student mentors to deliver a presentation of their research to our bacteriology community. Students also share their science in an informal student-run data club.

Research Skills Training

Trainees have access to courses in biostatistics, the manipulation of genomic datasets, and quantitative image analysis at HMS and HSPH. In addition, GPiB students have access to workshops and short courses that explore topics and skills critical for bacteriologists, ranging from single-cell RNASeq to time-lapse fluorescence microscopy to making publication quality figures.

GPiB students also present and participate in seminars, informal research updates, retreats, journal clubs, and symposia in our research community. See Community Events page for more.

Career and Professional Development

Career chats

GPiB hosts career chats with departmental seminar speakers, GPiB faculty, or alumni in a wide range of non-academic careers. These informal chats are a chance for students to learn about potential career paths and the steps for entering them.

Alumni mentor database

GPiB students have access to a database of former students and postdocs from our community who have agreed to serve as career mentors. Through this network, students can seek tailored advice on potential career paths and the job application process and can connect with alumni for internship and shadowing opportunities.

Additional Resources

Students have extensive access to career exploration, career preparation, and professional development resources through the Harvard Office of Career Services, HMS Program in Graduate Education, and HSPH Office of Career and Professional Development. Additionally, many GPiB students participate in student-run career-focused organizations.


GPiB hosts advising sessions for students throughout their graduate careers. These include workshops on identifying mentors and thesis labs for first year students, preparing for qualifying exams for second year students, building effective dissertation advisory committees for third year students, and creating plans for defending for senior students.

GPiB’s close community also provides students with a large network of peer and faculty mentors outside of their own labs. In addition, GPiB’s program directors and curriculum fellow provide advising and connect students with courses and resources within GPiB and across the university.