Microbiology PhD Degree Program Information

Students pursuing a doctoral program in microbiology gain the knowledge and practical experience needed to become scientists and researchers primarily by conducting lab research involving microorganisms.

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Essential Information

To acquire a Ph.D. in Microbiology, students research topics such as microbial genetics, as well as how microorganisms mutate and evolve. These graduate students explore the interaction between microorganisms and their environment through lab research. Interdisciplinary studies within microbiology include cell biology, genetics and neurobiology. Microbiology doctoral candidates focus on lab work and must complete a dissertation based on their original research. Experience as a graduate teaching assistant may be required as well.

Those studying microbiology at the doctoral level should already have a master's degree in microbiology. They will also need to have passed their Graduate Record Examination and may need to submit their master's thesis.


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  • Bacteriology
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Ph.D. in Microbiology

Once accepted into a program, doctoral candidates research topics affecting microorganisms and their habitats. This may require advanced research and participation in discussions on subjects relating to microbiology. Coursework could include:

  • Immunology and Neuroimmunology
  • Virology
  • Bacteriology
  • Microbial ecology and physiology
  • Parasitology
  • Genetics

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Microbiologists work in research and development in various industries, such as pharmaceutical manufacturing and scientific research and development services. A Ph.D. in Microbiology qualifies graduates for advanced research in colleges and universities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for microbiologists as of May 2015 was $67,550. The median salary for postsecondary teachers in the biological sciences was $75,320 at that time. Microbiologists overall were expected to see a 4% growth in employment for the 2014-2024 decade, while postsecondary teachers were expected to see a 13% increase.

A Ph.D. in Microbiology allows students to conduct their own research and specialize in various areas surrounding microorganisms. Graduates can expect positive job growth as microbiologists or postsecondary educators.

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