There is a connecting thread to all the research in the Microbiology Graduate Program: the study of diverse microorganisms from the molecular level to the organismal and community levels in order to develop a complete picture of the role of microbial life in our biosphere. Since its formation, in 1953, the Department of Microbiology has enjoyed sustained growth and developed an international reputation in prokaryotic biology. Our faculty participate in several interdepartmental and multi-institutional research programs, including the Academy of the Environment, the Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, and the Institute of Bioinformatics. Research in the department is well supported by external funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and a number of private foundations and corporations.
Degree requirements include the successful completion of course work and comprehensive exams, and submission of a thesis or dissertation consisting of original, scholarly research in the field of microbiology. In the first three semesters, students take a core curriculum in microbial physiology and metabolism, molecular biology, and microbial diversity. Advanced courses in specialized areas are also available through the Department of Microbiology and the Division of Biological Sciences. Teaching experience is vital to careers in science, so we require all PhD graduate students in our program to teach a minimum of two courses at some suitable point while in our program. We take great pride in our graduate instructors and provide the necessary mentoring in instructional skills. The University also honors outstanding teaching assistants with various awards. The M.S. program is generally completed in two to three years, while the Ph.D. usually requires five to six years. The program of study is designed by the student and his or her advisory committee to provide a broad foundation in microbiology, preparing the student for a career in research and/or teaching in academia, industry, or the government.