Online microbiology courses typically are designed for undergraduate students or university graduates looking to complete prerequisites for advanced study in an allied health profession, such as nursing, physical therapy, dental hygiene, medicine, veterinary medicine or environmental engineering. Distance education courses in microbiology generally are open to students who've completed college-level courses in introductory biology, anatomy and physiology. Some schools offer standalone courses open to anyone with a personal interest in the subject or looking to bolster their education; these classes typically do not offer credit.
Online microbiology students might be required to purchase a lab kit, which often includes a microscope and oil immersion lens, for at-home lab assignments. Students may also need to purchase textbooks online or at university bookstores.
Online Microbiology Courses
The microbiology courses below are commonly offered online through various colleges and universities.
- Microbiology Fundamentals Course: This course offers an introduction to microorganisms as they relate to the human environment. Topics focus on the ecology, diversity, growth and genetics of microorganisms, as well as fungal, bacterial and viral infections; microbial anatomy; and the immune response. Laboratory assignments emphasize the isolation and identification of microorganisms.
- Microbiology with a Medical Emphasis Course: Students in this course explore microbial pathogenesis, molecular biology, immunology, epidemiology and mammalian host resistance. They often explore modules on diseases of microbial origin, with a focus on diagnosis, infection prevention and common treatment therapies. Lab assignments typically cover procedures or techniques for isolation and identification of pathogenic microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi.
- Microbiology for Allied Health Professions Course: This course covers microbiological fundamentals with an emphasis on preparing students for graduate-level microbiology coursework. Topics might include microbial morphology, physiology, genetics, ecology and bacterial metabolism. Microscopy and staining, molecular biology, serological techniques and biochemical testing typically are covered through lab assignments.
- Environmental Microbiology Course: Students investigate microbial processes as they apply to natural and artificial environments. They learn about enzyme and growth kinetics, microbial and environmental interaction, biogeochemical cycles, parasitology and metabolic regulation. In some cases, courses with an environmental emphasis also examine water, wastewater, industrial and soil microbiology.
- Engineering Microbial Systems for Biofuel Production Course: This course discusses the issue of creating a sustainable source of fuel in the wake of international oil reserves quickly losing their limited supplies of oil. Ethanol created from plant biomass produced by the sun's energy is potentially the most hopeful renewable resource currently able to be harnessed by mankind, and the class examines the creation process of this source of energy.