Dr. Jerri Bartholomew, Department Head, Dr. Kim Halsey, Chair Graduation Admissions, Dr. Martin Schuster, Chair Graduate Affairs Committee

The Microbiology Program provides graduate training leading towards PhD and MS degrees.  The Program supports broad interests in microbiology, including environmental and pathogenic microbiology, with studies that encompass a spectrum of approaches from the ecological and organismal to the molecular genetic and biochemical.  Faculty from several colleges and departments participate as major advisors.

The selection of the research project and the major advisor is a key step in a student's graduate career.  Prospective students are strongly encouraged to directly contact professors in whose research they are interested to discuss available research projects.

Students can enter the Microbiology Program in two ways:

1. Supported by a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) funded by the major professor, typically through a grant. Such an arrangement is the result of discussions between applicant and professor, and depends on grant funding.

2. Supported for the first 3 terms by a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA), which requires working part-time as a teaching assistant in undergraduate microbiology lab courses. This option allows a student to explore different labs/projects/advisors before making a decision for their thesis work. Students conduct 'rotations' by spending a term in different research labs; MS students should choose their thesis project no later than by the end of their second term, PhD students by the end of their third term. It is typical for grant funds to subsequently support students on GRA appointments.

Graduate Studies and Research

We train about 30-35 graduate students earning M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. Our research covers a broad range of subjects involving viruses, bacteria and parasites, and their roles in the health of the environment and humans, animals and plants.  Microbiology faculty are strongly multidisciplinary and also train graduate students enrolled in related programs such as Molecular & Cellular Biology, Soil Science, Fisheries & Wildlife, and Oceanography. Graduate students are major contributors to the research output of the department.

Learning Outcomes for Ph.D. and Masters' Students

Students in our graduate program will acquire the skills to:

1.  Conduct original research and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in microbiology.

2.  Demonstrate proficiency in current methods and techniques in microbiological research, including accurately reporting observations and analyzing results.

3.  Communicate scientific concepts, experimental results and analytical arguments to a scientific audience both verbally and in writing.

4.  Exhibit basic skills in teaching microbiology in a classroom and laboratory environment.

The most significant difference between Ph.D. and M.S. Degres is in the research component.   Original research conducted as part of a Ph.D. degree is more comprehensive in scope, requires a significantly higher time commitment, and may consequently have a higher impact on the respective microbiological discipline, compared with research conducted as part of an M.S.   Hence, upon degree completion, a Ph.D. graduate will be more proficient at conducting original research, and will have acquired a broader set of methodical and technical skills than an M.S. student.