Field of Study

Program Description

The Department of Microbiological Sciences offers graduate study leading to M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Microbiology. Faculty in the department have expertise in microbiomes, microbial genomics, biotechnology, synthetic biology, molecular biology, virology, immunology, microbial physiology, and discipline-based education research. The M.S. in Microbiology emphasizes research methodology and laboratory techniques. The Ph.D. in Microbiology is an outcomes-based program focused on developing research project leaders.

M.S. in Microbiology

The master's program in Microbiology emphasizes research methodology and laboratory techniques. Student research and academic programs support a strong foundation of knowledge in microbiology and are individually tailored to meet the needs and interests of each student. Graduates are prepared for positions in research or commercial laboratories or for further graduate study. Students select a major adviser by the end of the first semester in residence. By the end of the first year in residence, the student and major adviser will select a supervisory committee. Students can earn an M.S. in Microbiology by completing a research thesis under the advisement of a research faculty member or by completing a comprehensive research paper in the program.

Graduating master’s students will be able to:

  1. Adhere to ethical and professional standards in Microbiology, including managing individual projects, engaging with the public, and being ready for the workplace.

  2. Display an essential foundation in knowledge in Microbiology and/or Immunology, including proficiency in a range of techniques.

  3. Critically analyze and write high quality technical documents. Contribute significantly (co-authorship) to scientific journal articles.

Ph.D. in Microbiology

The Ph.D. program in Microbiology encompasses many sub-disciplines, including plant-microbe and animal-microbe interactions, microbiome research, virology, vaccine development, soil microbiology, biofilm research, immunology, and discipline-based education research. The program trains students in the foundation of knowledge, process of inquiry, and philosophy of microbiology. It breaks with traditional programs by focusing training on seven well-defined learning outcomes that can be attained with or without supporting coursework. This includes outcomes for professional, ethical, and civic development Doctoral graduates are prepared for a variety of career paths including academic or industry research and academic teaching.

Graduating doctoral students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate professional and ethical behavior consistent with the expectations of the discipline
  2. Conduct scholarly inquiry relevant to societal challenges and the field of study
  3. Utilize and apply discipline appropriate knowledge, concepts and theoretical frameworks
  4. Demonstrate proficiency with a variety of classical and modern techniques
  5. Communicate scientific research results to diverse audiences
  6. Develop professional skills such as collaboration and personal effectiveness to be competitive in the job market
  7. Demonstrate civic responsibility, citizenship and inclusiveness

The program of study is customizable to each student’s training needs. In the absence of course requirements, the program holds students accountable for year-over-year progress toward the learning goals via annual assessments of student progress by the mentor and research advisory committee.