Immunology PhD Programs: Requirements & Careers

Jan 16, 2021

Pursuing a doctoral degree in immunology opens the doors to a number of careers, though these jobs will be focused in different parts of the medical field. The following are a few of the careers and salaries you can anticipate having access to with your degree. We'll also highlight some of the course requirements for this program.

Careers and Salaries with a PhD in Immunology

Job Title Median Salary (2019)* Job Growth (2019-2029)*
Scientific Writer $75,000 (2020)** 7% (for all technical writers)
Health Specialties Professor $97,320 (for all health specialties teachers, postsecondary) 21% (for all health specialties teachers, postsecondary)
Research Fellow $53,398 (2020)** 6% (for all medical scientists)
Clinical Immunology Scientist $88,790 (for all medical scientists) 6% (for all medical scientists)
Biotechnology Research Scientist $86,991 (2021)** 6% (for all medical scientists)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale

Course Requirements

Coursework in immunology is diverse and covers a range of topics related to the human immune system. The following are details regarding a few of the most common courses you might find in the program.

Clinical Aspects

Studies in immunology may involve an in-depth examination of the clinical aspects of the field. This course examines how a physical system responds to infectious agents. The course also focuses on what happens when the physical system is impacted and disrupted by immunodeficiency, disease and allergy. Finally, students are instructed in how a physical system can be addressed through various therapies.


Unsurprisingly, a program in immunology may include core coursework that examines the central issues and discussions occurring in the field. This course covers subjects such as immunoanatomy, cytology, innate immunity, and immunoglobulin structures. The central thrust of this course is to instruct students in the various parts of the immune system. Other topics may include cell trafficking, the immune response to infectious agents, autoimmunity, immunodeficiency, and the impact of genetics on these the immune system.

Infectious Disease

Coursework in this area looks specifically at how a physical system responds to pathogenic organisms. The course is framed as an examination of a host and parasite relationship, with humans acting as host. Also part of the course is an examination of both molecular and cellular mechanisms that facilitate the body's ability to respond to and resist disease. Other topics that a student might encounter include pathogenic organisms, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and unicellular parasites.


Scientific research and experimentation also requires individuals in the field to consider the ethical dimension of their practice. Coursework in ethics may combine discussions in both lecture and group form. The goal of the course is to instruct students in appropriate, professional behavior. Other aspects of the course may include a discussion of collaborative practice, team building, mentorship, responsibilities in data management, and the ethics of both everyday practice and animal research.

Genes and Genetics

Coursework in genes and genetics can cover broad topics from the principles of genetics themselves to the development of genetic experiments. Students can anticipate learning more about DNA replication, RNA catalysis, and the repair and recombination of DNA strands. Other topics may include protein turnover, genomics, RNA translation, and developmental biology. The course may also cover studies of epigenetics and functional bioinformatics while discussing the topic of human genetics.

Following completion of your doctoral program, you will find the door open to careers in research fellowship, biological research, scientific communications, and even academia. However, to achieve your degree, you will first need to complete coursework in areas such as infectious disease, genetics, and the clinical elements of the human immune system.

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