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The First Year Plan

Welcome! During the first year at OSU, you will need to complete multiple tasks before the start of each semester. To make this transition as smooth as possible, we will guide you along the way. This page provides the information that should help you to juggle your schedules upon arrival to Columbus. Before the classes begin, you will participate in various orientations and have the opportunity to participate in social activities (such as the ODI Orientation & Networking Reception). Afterwards,  you will get to learn more about the research in our department, attend classes and seminars, and participate in laboratory rotations. Some of you will also work as TAs.

Additional activities are in place for international students.

Please note: Due to COVID-19, some courses may follow Hybrid or Distance Learning delivery. Please look at the course delivery when registering for courses. Research Credits will continue to be considered as in person. You will receive further instruction as it is available and as appropriate.


Seminars which all graduate students (MS & Ph.D) are required to attend

  • Micro 7899: Microbiology Colloquium (1 credit, Autumn & Spring W 4:10-5:05)
  • Micro 8899: Seminar in Microbiology (1 credit, Autumn & Spring M 3:00-3:55)
  • Departmental Annual Symposium (TBD)

Required Courses

  • Micro 6010: Principles in Microbiology (2 credits, Autumn TR 11:30-12:25)
  • Micro 6020: Microbial Physiology & Biochemistry (3 credits, Autumn MWF 11:30-12:25)
  • Micro 7600: First-Year Student Orientation (1 credit, Autumn W 3:00-3:55)
  • Micro 6789: Research Principles & Techniques (Lab Rotations) (4 credits Autumn & 4 credits Spring)

      (Two of the following three core diversity options)

  • Micro 5161: Bioinformatics and Molecular Microbiology (3 credits, Spring MWF 12:40-1:35)
  • Micro 6080: Advanced Microbial Genetics(3 credits, Spring WF 2:20-3:40)
  • Micro 6155: Microbial Ecology and Evolution (3 credits, Spring F 9:30-12:15)

*All Microbiology pre-candidacy students are required to register for 12 credit hours (the university minimum is 8) for the Autumn & Spring semesters; pre-candidacy students register for 4 credit hours during the Summer term. Pre-candidacy fellows register for 6 credit hours during Summer Semester.

Research in Microbiology

The best way to learn more about the research opportunities in our program is to visit pages of our faculty, interact with members of their laboratories, and read their publications.

At the beginning of your first Autumn semester, faculty will present their research interests to all incoming students.

Armed with this knowledge, you will be well positioned to select the labs for rotations.


Before you can choose a thesis lab you are required to complete at least 3 seven-week lab rotations, two in the Autumn Semester and one in the Spring Semester. At the end of your third rotation (and not before), you will submit a ranked list of choices for your dissertation research to the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee.  To make the process fair for everyone, neither faculty nor the student should make any selections or commitments before the end of the third rotation.  The Graduate Studies Committee Chair will confirm with faculty their availability and capacity to take on a new graduate student and will coordinate the selections.  If at the end of the third rotation you are still undecided regarding your dissertation laboratory, you can request permission to complete a fourth  rotation; however, most people make their choices after completing the first three.

The dates for 2023-2024 rotations are:

  • Rotation 1: September 11 - October 20

  • Rotation 2: October 23 - December 8

  • Rotation 3: January 8 - February 16

Before each rotation period, you should approach faculty about possibly rotating through their labs. Once you have settled on a lab or labs you are interested in, please send a ranked list of three labs where you would like to rotate to the Graduate Studies Committee Chair one week before the rotation starts – sometimes extra time is needed to accommodate your wishes and the faculty plans. We will make every effort to place you in your first choice lab, but if that is not possible you will receive priority for that lab in subsequent rotations. The list you provide does not commit you to labs for the next rotation - you are free to change your choices.

You should be very serious about rotations - they are a part of your training and will be graded through Micro 6789.  You should ask the faculty in whose lab you are rotating about their expectations as they may differ from lab to lab. Students are also required to complete the Rotation Agreement Form provided below.

Rotation Agreement Form


Orientations and Training

As soon as you arrive on campus, you should come to the Microbiology Office and talk to Kendra Rowell (phone 614-292-2301; department email) about registering for courses and completing your hire paperwork (if you have not done so already).

You will also need to:

The Graduate School will host a welcome program for students who are new to OSU (date is TBA). In addition, you will take part in several other orientation activities. For a full list of Welcome Week activities, please visit Welcomeweek.osu.edu

Expectations and Orientation for Microbiology Teaching Assistants (TAs)

Graduate students in the Department of Microbiology are required to act as TAs for one academic semester during their time at Ohio State University. In addition, most graduate students may be appointed as TAs for additional semesters, as dictated by their advisor.

TAs are expected to supervise undergraduate students in a laboratory setting. Several courses are divided into lecture and laboratory components, with a faculty member presenting the lectures and TAs supervising the laboratories with the guidance of a laboratory coordinator. Some TAs are assigned to classes in the Department of Microbiology, while others may be assigned to the Center for Life Science Education to teach general biology.  TAs are assigned to classes based on their expertise and interest.

TAs usually work in pairs in classrooms of 36-40 students. At the beginning of each class, the TAs will present a brief (~10-15 minute) oral overview of the experimental work for the day with an emphasis on safety and technique, perhaps demonstrating new techniques, and orienting the students to the location of materials. Following the class, the TAs take charge of incubating bacterial cultures and Petri dishes as appropriate. Laboratory written exams, lab reports, and some practical exams will be graded by the TAs.

The courses with laboratory components are:

  • Microbiology 4000, Basic and Practical Microbiology (for non-majors)
  • Microbiology 4100, General Microbiology for majors
  • Microbiology 4140, Microbial Genetics
  • Microbiology 5546, Food Microbiology

Questions about TA assignments and expectations can be directed to Dr. Jesse Kwiek

TA Orientation

Teaching experience is a required component of Ph.D. training. OSU has numerous resources to help you to become proficient in teaching, which is an important component in many career paths.

Before the start of the Autumn classes, the Center for Life Sciences Education (CLSE) and the Department will provide training sessions that you must attend.

(CLSE TA orientation dates will be announced as they approach). CLSE orientation is integrated with UCAT's university-wide training. 

Microbiology TA training:

Training might be organized  as a part of the departmental orientation; you will be contact by your TA instructor directly to discuss training. 

Department Welcome Orientation: 

The 2023 Department Welcome Orientation location is TBA.

Safety training:

You are required to take a mandatory training course in safe laboratory practices. Once the announcement has been emailed to everyone with the finalized dates, you will need to contact the specified person(s).

International Students


All new international students are required by the United States Department of Homeland Security to report to the Office of International Affairs prior to the beginning of their academic program. In order to assist students in complying with this requirement, mandatory international student check-in will be held in the Student-Alumni Council room located on the second floor of the Ohio Union.

Students need to reserve a specific day and time for completing their initial check-in. Visit the OIA website for arrival procedures and orientation details, including the deadline to register. The department requires international students to have their check-in scheduled prior to arrival.

Spoken English Testing

The Spoken English Program was established in 1986 to provide screening and training of international teaching assistants whose first language is not English. These students must take a test to determine whether they need additional instruction in English - otherwise, they cannot teach at OSU.

You need to schedule an Oral Proficiency Assessment (OPA) test as soon as you arrive to Columbus. OPA tests are used as markers for placement into one of the remedial courses or certification. If you are not certified to teach, you will be required to take a remedial course in English. These classes fill up very fast, thus it is imperative that you take the test as soon as possible, well ahead of the semester start. Failure to do so will complicate scheduling the TA activities in the program, as well as your courses.

Contact Kendra Rowell by phone 614-292-2301, email, or in person for additional information.

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