Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology


Graduate Programs in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology

Ph.D. in Pathobiology

The Pathobiology Graduate Program is an interdepartmental and interdisciplinary program with a mission to provide a broad based graduate education to students seeking a PhD degree in the areas of infectious and non-infectious diseases of animals, food safety, security, and policy, and production animal medicine and management. The graduate program faculty have established programmatic requirements, within the overall policies of the Graduate School, for admission, supervision, and completion of the degree and provide both the course instruction and the research training essential to accomplish the mission. The graduate training is provided in a vibrant multidisciplinary environment, exposing students to a variety of disciplines and research areas. A unique aspect of the program is that it offers opportunities to D.V.M students to work concurrently on the doctoral program (D.V.M/Ph.D.), which expands opportunities for students to pursue career options beyond traditional veterinary practice.

The program is managed by Graduate faculty primarily from the Departments of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology (DMP) and Clinical Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine. The program is also served by faculty from other departments or units at K-State, which include Anatomy and Physiology, Animal Sciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Biology, Biosecurity Research Institute, Entomology, and the Olathe campus. The faculty in the Pathobiology Program have national and international reputations in areas of transboundary diseases, swine viral diseases, bacterial diseases, vaccine development, vector-borne diseases, epidemiology, and food safety and security. Faculty recognitions include a Regent’s Professorship, five faculty with the title of University Distinguished Professor, and seven have the honor of endowed professorships. The research activities and discovery strengths of the faculty in the program are organized and focused in Centers and Institutes, which include the Beef Cattle Institute (BCI), Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD), Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (CEZID), Center of Excellence for Translational and Comparative Oncology Research (CETCOR), Center for Outcomes Research and Education (CORE), and Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases (CEVBD). Many researchers from outside K-State are adjunct members of the program. Additionally, graduate students in the program have opportunities to work with federal research institutes, such as the Arthropod-Borne Animal Disease Research Unit (ABADRU), a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) institute in Manhattan, KS to study vector borne diseases and the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility), formerly Plum Island Animal Disease Center, a Department of Homeland Security laboratory to study foreign animal diseases in Plum Island, NY.

Program Description

The Pathobiology Graduate Program offers graduate programs leading to Ph.D. and combined DVM/Ph.D. degrees. Degree candidates may specialize in research areas represented by the research expertise of the members of the Graduate Group. Requirements for the Ph.D. degree include full-time study equivalent of at least 90 credit hours for students with a baccalaureate degree and60 credit hours for individuals with a MS and or DVM degree. The 90 or 60 credits must include at least 30 hours of research credit hours for the dissertation, a minimum of 15 credits of graduate courses (800 or 900 level), with the remaining credit hours determined by the supervisory committee consisting of the major professor and a minimum of three graduate faculty members. Requirements also include satisfactory completion of a preliminary examination, a written dissertation of conducted research, and a satisfactory defense of the dissertation in the final oral examination. Students who hold a MS degree may request transfer of up to 30 credit hours of that degree toward a Ph.D. The Ph.D. degree normally requires three to five years of full-time study.

The graduate faculty in the doctoral program is designed to achieve the following four student learning outcomes (SLO):

  1. Abilities to formulate and design a hypothesis-driven research project(s), independently carry out the research methodology, critically analyze the data, and disseminate the research findings in the form of presentations at scientific meetings and peer-reviewed publications.
  2. Professional and technical expertise in their chosen areas of study or disciplines.
  3. Abilities to apply knowledge through critical thinking, to interpret or analyze and integrate information, to respond and adapt to changing situations, to make decisions, to solve problems, and to evaluate actions, and
  4. Effective oral and written communication skills.

Program Requirements

Minimum admission requirements include a cumulative grade point average of 3.0/4.0 in the baccalaureate degree, DVM/VMD or in the M.S degree. In special circumstances, students with a 2.8 or 2.9/4.0 will be considered for a probationary admission. All applicants are required to take the General Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and submit the scores with the application. International students must demonstrate proficiency in English by earning a satisfactory score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A majority of the admitted students have a degree in Veterinary Medicine, but DVM is not a requirement. The most important considerations for admission are that applicants have documented academic achievement and an interest in continued study and research in the field of Pathobiology. Sufficient training and background in biology, molecular biology, and biochemistry are important requirements. A completed application will be evaluated by the Executive Committee and final approval of admission will be made in consultations with the Heads of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology and Clinical Sciences and the recommendation will be submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School by the Director of the Graduate Program.

Application Procedures

The Ph.D. program in Pathobiology is research-based and the program is driven primarily by graduate faculty with active research programs and grants. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact individual graduate faculty in the program to identify appropriate programs. A willingness to accept the applicant as a graduate student by a faculty is a requirement for approval of the application for admission by the Executive Committee. The major professor will offer a research project, laboratory space, and in most cases, a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA). If the professor does not have funding available to offer a GRA, the applicant could still choose to work under that professor if the student has alternate funding sources available (scholarships, fellowships, personal funds, etc.). An applicant with no major professor can still submit an application for consideration for admission.

Students seeking admission are encouraged to have the completed application submitted before the preceding semester. International students seeking admission for summer (June) or fall semester (August) should submit the application before January 1 and if seeking admission for the spring (January) semester should submit the application before August 1. Applications are submitted online through CollegeNet in the Graduate School Website. The applicant is required to create a CollegeNet account or sign in using an existing account. The CollegeNet account will allow access to a personalized Activity Log, from which they can edit their application.

Please review the following requirements before beginning the electronic online application

  1. Application fee
    The fee for U.S. citizens and permanent residents is $65. The fee for international applicants is $75. Fees are payable with a credit card through CollegeNet.

  2. Transcripts
    Official transcripts for each university in which the student enrolled in BS or MS training should be uploaded in CollegeNet. Submissions must include a copy of the 'Transcript Explanation,' which is usually on the reverse side of the transcript. Students whose transcripts are not in English must furnish a translation by an appropriate authority. Failure to list any colleges or universities attended may result in dismissal from the University.

  3. Statement of objectives
    A statement of objectives must be uploaded. The statement of objectives is typically several paragraphs that describes the applicant’s academic background, any relevant research, job, and life experiences, academic objectives, contemplated research areas, and career goals. The general intent of the statement of objectives is to communicate to the Graduate Program Executive Committee a commitment and desire to meet personal and professional demands of a doctoral degree.

  4. Three letters of recommendation
    The applicant should provide the emails of the three individuals writing the letters of recommendation in the online application. The CollegeNet will then email a request to each individual requesting to fill out an evaluation form and upload a letter of recommendation.

  5. Graduate record exam
    The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for admission. The applicant can upload an unofficial copy of the GRE scores in the online application and may also request the Educational Testing Service to send scores to Kansas State University (school code 6334). There are no minimum scores required for admission.

Additional Requirement for International Students

English language

An official report of score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) must be uploaded or sent to Kansas State University (school code 6334) for all applicants whose primary language is not English. Applicants with a degree in the last two years from a United States college or university are not required to submit a TOEFL score but must take an English proficiency test upon arrival.

iBT TOEFL (internet based) scores must have a minimum total score of 79 with no part score below 20 on the reading, listening, or writing sections.

Applicants submitting a paper-based TOEFL (PBT) test scores must have a minimum total score of 550 with no part score below 55 on reading or listening sections and a TWE (Test of Written English) score of 5.0 or higher.

Applicants who submit an IELTS score must have a minimum total score of 6.5 with part scores of 6.5 or higher on the reading, listening, and writing sections.

Applicants that do not meet the minimum proficiency standard will be required to complete specified courses offered by the English Language Program (ELP) at Kansas State.

Financial Support

Graduate Research Assistantships may be offered and funded by the major professor from research grants. Prospective students are also encouraged to apply for federally sponsored fellowships and traineeships from agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA), National Defense Education ACT (NDEA), National Institute of Health (NIH), and National Science Foundation (NSF).

Career Opportunities

A Ph.D. degree in Pathobiology prepares students for a number of varied academic, industry, and government agency careers. Because of the breadth and rapid growth of basic medical sciences, continued expansion of opportunities is expected. Doctoral and post-doctoral graduates find academic positions not only in departments of pathology, microbiology, immunology, clinical pathology, diagnostic laboratories, and clinical research, but also in departments of animal sciences, biology, chemistry, food sciences, food technology, medicinal chemistry, molecular biology, nutrition, pharmacology, physiology, and toxicology. Doctoral graduates find positions requiring independent work in federal and state agencies, and in industries such as animal health, biomedical, chemical, pharmaceutical, and food technology.

Research Facility

The College of Veterinary Medicine is comprised of three major buildings: Coles Hall, Trotter Hall, and Mosier Hall. These buildings encompass approximately 468,838 total square feet and provide space for outstanding instructional, research, clinical, and diagnostic activities. Three departments, Anatomy and Physiology, Clinical Sciences, and Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, the Veterinary Health Center and the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory are located in the college. In addition to numerous research laboratories within the departments, the college has several Core Laboratories, including the Flow Cytometry Laboratory, Confocal Microscopy Facility, Molecular Biology Facility and the Image Analysis Facility.


Faculty Contact

Dr. T.G. Nagaraja
Director, Pathobiology Graduate Program
Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology
College of Veterinary Medicine
Kansas State University
305 Coles Hall
1620 Denison Avenue
Manhattan, KS 66506-5800
Tel: 785-532-1214
Cell: 785-341-6342

Graduate Program Assistant Contact

Ms. Barb Turner
Graduate Program Assistant
Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology
Kansas State University
303 Coles Hall
1620 Denison Avenue
Manhattan, KS 66506-5800
Tel: 785-532-4500