Masters Programs in Microbiology: Degree Information

Students in a master's degree program in microbiology gain an understanding of the functions and roles of microbial life through the study of microorganisms and their biological processes. These programs usually focus heavily on research.

Essential Information

A Master of Science (M.S.) in Microbiology typically emphasizes the importance of research and prepares students to become professionals in the biological field or enter a Ph.D. program. A student working toward this degree may be required to demonstrate proficiency in molecular biology, immunology, microbial physiology and general microbiology. Students may also study human disease and cell reproduction. Prior to graduation from one of these two-year programs, students must submit a thesis.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in the biological sciences. Schools give admissions preference to prospective students who have prior research experience.

Master's Degree in Microbiology

Courses in a microbiology master's degree program span multiple disciplines, providing students with knowledge of the fundamentals of microbiology. Common course topics include:

  • Ethical research
  • Microorganism biology
  • Microbial physiology
  • Immunology
  • Pathogen microbiology
  • Genetics of bacteria

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of May 2015, the mean salary of microbiologists in general was $76,230 and that the highest levels of employment for microbiologists were in scientific research and development services, pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing and the federal government ( The employment of microbiologists is expected to increase by 4% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education

At the end of a master's program, graduates should be able to design experiments, conduct research, evaluate current scientific literature and successfully utilize techniques of microbiology. An individual may choose to enter into the field as a professional microbiologist or continue his or her graduate education in a Ph.D. program. Candidates for a Ph.D. may be required to present a dissertation prior to graduation.

Master's degree programs in microbiology allow students to take advanced coursework and conduct graduate-level research in the subject. Graduates can directly enter scientific jobs, or they can continue their research at the doctoral level by enrolling in a Ph.D. program.

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