PhD in Vector Biology & Parasitology 


This PhD degree program provides a broad didactic and research experience in Vector Biology and Parasitology.  Specific goals for this PhD degree program are to develop independent scholarship, originality, and competence in research, teaching, and professional service.  This program is designed for outstanding students with a strong commitment to careers in Vector Biology and/or Parasitology.  Within the PhD program, an individualized course of study is designed for each graduate student to meet their specific needs.  The PhD program provides the training and experience necessary for research careers in Medical Parasitology or Vector Biology.  Matriculates should have a Master's degree in an appropriate field of biology.  Only under the most exceptional circumstances will individuals with only a Baccalaureate degree be considered for admission to the program.


Two tracks will be offered to students, one in Vector Biology and the other in Medical Parasitology.

A series of core courses will be required of all students in the Vector Biology and Parasitology PhD program.  In addition, students in the medical parasitology track will take courses in experimental parasitology, helminthology and protozoology, while students in the medical entomology track are required to take courses in insect physiology, arbovirology and biosystematics.  Students are also encouraged to take a series of courses in molecular biology.  Extensive course offerings in molecular biology are available from other USU Departments and from the National Institutes of Health.

The minimum residency requirements for a doctoral degree will be 36 months of full-time graduate study. All requirements for a doctoral degree must be completed no later than seven years after initiating the program of graduate study at USU. Formal coursework, participation in PMB teaching programs as teaching assistants, research fellows or senior research fellows, directed research, and participation in other academic activities in approved programs of graduate study are all components of the pre-doctoral graduate education program. Full-time status for trainees in graduate education programs will be defined as 12 or more credit hours per academic quarter.   The minimum requirement for formal coursework will be 48 credit hours, and the minimum requirement for total academic credit will be 144 credit hours. Students must earn a grade of “B” or better in every required course. Candidates who are active duty military members have the ability to tailor their coursework and research to meet the specific needs of their sponsoring Uniformed Service.


PMO503,504 Biostatistics I & II - 8 credits

PMO567 Changing Patterns of Arthropod-Borne Diseases - 4 credits

PMO540 Environmental Health - 4 credits

PMO511 Introduction to epidemiology - 4 credits

PMO512 Epidemiologic methods - 4 credits

PMO569 Malaria Epidemiology and Control - 3 credits

PMO561 Medical Parasitology - 3 credits

PMO560 Principles and Practice of Tropical Medicine - 6 credits

PMO564A Epi and Control of Arboviruses - 2 credits

IDO704 Ethics and the Responsible Conduct of Research - 1 credit


A partial list of elective courses within PMB that may be used to fulfill program requirements follows:

PMO571 Biosystematics in Medical Zoology - 2 credits

PMO564A Epidemiology and Control of Arboviruses - 2 credits

PMO514 Epidemiology and Control of Infectious Diseases - 3 credits

PMO549 Principles of Toxicology - 3 credits

PMO682 History of Preventive Medicine - 2-4 credits

PMO528 Global Health I  - 4 credits

PMO539 Global Health II - 4 credits

PMO548 Joint Ops & Humanitarian Assist - 3 credits

PMO568 Medical Acarology - 4 credits

PMO561 Medical Parasitology - 3 credits

PMO505 Computer Applications in Public Health - 1 credit

PMO570 Modern Technology and Vector-Borne Diseases - 4 credits

PMO566 Physiological Parameters of Vector Competence - 4 credits

PMO577 Introduction to GIS in Public Health - 2 credits

PMO578 Remote Sensing Methods in Public Health - 3 credits

PMO964 Research in Medical Zoology - 1-15 credits

PMO760 Tropical Medicine Research Tutorial - 1-12 credits

PMO763 Tutorial in Medical Zoology - 1-12 credits

PMO764 Tutorial in Aquatic Biology - 4 credits

PMO565 Vector Biology - 2 credits

MCO503 Cellular and Molecular Immunology - 4 credits

Additional elective courses are available in other departments at USU.  Additionally students may also be eligible to take, as electives, courses at The Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES) Graduate School at the National Institutes of Health.  FAES courses are offered in the disciplines of biochemistry, biophysics, biology, genetics, chemistry, physics, general studies, languages, mathematics, computer science, medical subspecialties, medicine, physiology, microbiology, immunology, pharmacology, toxicology, psychiatry, psychology and statistics.


PMO691 Doctoral Student Teaching Practicum

Teaching experience is considered to be an integral part of graduate education, and all graduate students in the program will participate in the Diagnostic Parasitology course offered to second-year medical students and/or in other PMB Department courses.


EOH Journal Club (first year) - 1 credit

PMB Doctoral Journal Club (second and third years) - 2  credits (one per year)

A free-ranging journal club is an essential component of the student's education, and is required for the entire period of training in the program. The PMB Journal Club meets weekly. Students present papers, selected in consultation with the Faculty Advisor, in areas of general interest. Students generally make two presentations each year. For students who have been advanced to candidacy, one of these is a seminar in which they describe their own research. First-year students make one presentation during the second half of the year on a topic related to one of the seminars in the MCB seminar series. (pulled from EID PhD)


PMO661 Current Topics in Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics

Seminar attendance is strongly recommended for all DrPH students and candidates while they are in residence at the USU campus. Doctoral students can register for course credit for attendance at all the departmental seminars. Attendance at seminars conducted by other departments, the Packard Lecture and other University events is strongly encouraged.


To advance to candidacy in Vector Biology and Parasitology, students must pass a Qualifying Examination consisting of two parts: The written examination is comprehensive and designed to test the student's knowledge of selected topics in vector biology and parasitology, as well as the student's problem-solving abilities. For those who matriculate with a master's degree, the Qualifying Examination will normally be scheduled one year post-admission and no later than 24 months post-admission. 

The written examination is comprehensive and designed to test the student's knowledge of selected topics in vector biology and parasitology, as well as the student's problem-solving abilities.


All requirements for advancement to candidacy must be completed no later than two years of attendance after initiating a program of study at USU.

Waivers to the two-year requirement are considered in exceptional cases and be recommended by the Director of PMB Doctoral Programs and approved by the Associate Dean of Graduate Education.  Waivers may not exceed one year.

Final approval of advancement to candidacy rests with the Associate Dean for Graduate Education acting on the recommendation of the student examination committee and the Director of PMB Doctoral Programs.

The requirements for advancement to candidacy include:

  • 48 credit hours of formal course work at the graduate level,
  • a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 (B),
  • successful completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations
  • formation of a dissertation committee.


The dissertation is defined as an extensive written treatment of a public health topic based on the original scholarly research. A dissertation is required of all aspirants for a PMB doctoral degree.  An acceptable alternative pathway is the manuscript-based thesis if agreed upon by the candidate and their thesis committee.  The Dissertation Committee, also known as the “Thesis Committee” or “Thesis Advisory Committee” advises the doctoral candidate and helps guide his or her research.

The Dissertation Examination Committee is responsible for reading the dissertation, and certifying its acceptability as to scope and quality, and conducting the defense of the dissertation.  In most cases, the candidate’s Dissertation Committee also serves as the Dissertation Examination Committee.  The defense of the dissertation consists of an oral presentation of the dissertation and response to questions.  A private defense (involving the candidate, their dissertation examination committee members and invited guests) and a public defense using a seminar format are required.


Qualified active duty uniformed officers serving in fields related to vector biology will be preferentially reviewed for admission to the PhD program.  Civilian applicants are considered on a space available basis with preference given to health professionals sponsored by other U.S. government agencies.  At a minimum, applicants for both programs must have a Master’s degree with an outstanding academic record (undergraduate transcript and GRE scores) and documented successful completion of rigorous coursework related to their desired area of graduate study.  A limited number of pre-doctoral teaching/research assistantship stipends are available for civilian graduate students in PhD programs through the Graduate Education Office.

*International Students will be considered if they have earned a baccalaureate degree from a United States College/University. 


  • A complete employment history
  • A personal statement describing how the applicant became interested in public health and how they envision incorporating the training they would receive in their future careers
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant’s academic, professional, and/or military service background.
  • Active-duty Uniformed Services personnel must obtain the sponsorship of their parent organization and should mention in their packet of where they stand in the process of obtaining sponsorship

Additional Application Requirements


Deadline for full consideration of applications is December 1st for matriculation the following August.

If active duty service members require a letter of competitiveness or early consideration for admission before that date, they should notify the University’s Graduate Education office. Late applications are considered on a case-by-case basis, especially as they concern the needs of the Uniformed Services.  Apply Here



Tuition: $0

Fees: $0

Equipment: $0

Tuition and fees are waived for all students.


Civilian students to not incur any commitments for service or other forms a payback to the US government. During their first three years of graduate training Civilian Track students in the Department are supported as Administratively Determined (AD) government employees who receive salary and benefits as such. Total compensation is highly competitive with other local universities. As an Administratively Determined (AD) Federal employee, your salary is subject to standard taxes and withholdings. Support for years 4 and beyond is made available through research grants and fellowships.


Military students are not charged tuition and remain on active duty status supported by their specific service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Public Health Service). Service obligations due to PhD training are specifically determined by the supporting service.


The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine annually provides support for 1-3 graduate fellowships. The fellowships are competitively awarded annually to outstanding USU civilian graduate student doctoral candidates in the USU School of Medicine who meet the following criteria:

The student's USU-supported funding has ended or will end in August of the year of the award

The student has advanced to candidacy and is in good academic standing

Applicants must provide information on their research plan and progress, and have the support of their Program Director. Selections are made in June and announced prior to 1 August of each year.

Graduate student fellowship support is also competitively available from many other sources, such as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Foundation, and various private foundations such as the American Heart Association, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, etc. Check with the USU Office of Research and/or the Graduate Education Office for various opportunities to compete for extramural funding.


Civilian students do not incur service obligation to the United States government after the completion of their graduate studies.

Active-duty Uniformed Services personnel may incur an obligation for additional service in accordance with the applicable regulations governing sponsored graduate education.