Microbiology, MS

At a Glance: program details

When you become an expert in microbes, you will be able to contribute to the greater good. Join us to learn how microbes impact human health and the environment, and receive theoretical and practical training in your chosen area of interest.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: MS Microbiology

The MS in microbiology is designed to prepare students for careers in bacteriology, virology, mycology, immunology and oncology in academic institutions, government agencies or commercial entities.

Students train broadly in microbiology, including microbial ecology and evolution, geomicrobiology, bacterial physiology and genetics, bacterial pathogenesis, metabolic engineering, immunology and vaccine development, and cancer biology. They receive advanced training in the study of microbes and their impact on humankind, disease and the environment. The tools they use range from nanotechnologies and genomics to mathematical models and satellite-based imaging.

Students receive training in teaching as well as in basic, translational and use-inspired research with world-class faculty and collaborative research partners. Faculty members are associated with the School of Life Sciences, The Biodesign Institute, The Translational Genomics Institute, Barrow Neurological Institute, and other area hospitals and research centers.

Application and admission information

Applications open September 1 for admission in Fall of the following year. The application deadline is December 1. We accept applications for Fall semesters only. We cannot guarantee that applications received after the December 1 deadline will be considered for admission.

All applicants must apply by filling out ASU's Graduate Admissions application. All application materials must be submitted through the application or to Graduate Admissions directly. Please do not mail or email any documents to the School of Life Sciences. 

Required materials and information include the following:

  • 1-2 page personal statement
  • An up to date CV or resume
  • The names of relevant SOLS faculty you have been in touch with who you might be interested in being supervised by
  • Unofficial transcripts and English proficiency test scores (if applicable)
  • The names and emails of at least 3 recommenders to write you letters of recommendation

Following the December 1 deadline, faculty will begin reviewing applications. Applicants should monitor their My ASU priority tasks to ensure there are no missing materials in their application. Admission decisions will begin in March, and applicants typically receive final decisions by April 1.

Minimum requirements for admission include the following:

  • Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • International applicants must satisfy university minimum requirements for English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo, PTE). There are other ways to demonstrate English proficiency beyond the tests, so please refer to ASU's English proficiency webpage to review how you might satisfy requirements.

Desired qualifications typically seen in competitive candidates:

Please note that the GRE is not required.

There is a unique process for eligible ASU undergraduate students to apply to an accelerated BS/MS program in the School of Life Sciences, involving a two-phase application process students initiate when they have about 75 credit hours of their bachelor's completed. Please see details about accelerated BS/MS programs and our application process by reviewing the Accelerated Bachelor's and Master's of Science webpage.

In the School of Life Sciences, there is no funding guarantee for students admitted to a master's degree. If admitted, master's students are able to request teaching assistant positions each semester. However, positions may only be assigned on a first come, first serve basis pending position availability. Research assistant positions are uncommon for master's students but ultimately depend on the student's faculty research supervisor. Teaching and research assistant positions for master's students come with a salary for the semester assigned, but do not include tuition or health insurance assistance.

Given the lack of position guarantee, master's students should ensure they understand the tuition costs they will be responsible for. Tuition varies depending on a student's residency status. To review anticipated tuition costs, please utilize ASU's tuition estimator.

Degree Requirements

Curriculum Plan Options

  • 30 credit hours and a thesis

Required Core (3 credit hours)
MIC 501 Foundations in Microbiology (3)

Electives and Research (21 credit hours)

Culminating Experience (6 credit hours)
MIC 599 Thesis (6)

Additional Curriculum Information
Students should see the academic unit for a complete list of approved electives.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in the biological sciences, biochemistry or a closely related field from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. academic record form
  4. personal statement
  5. curriculum vitae or resume
  6. three letters of recommendation
  7. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of their current residency.

Prior research experience is a desired qualification for admission.

Flexible Degree Options

Accelerated program options

This program allows students to obtain both a bachelor's and master's degree in as little as five years.
It is offered as an accelerated bachelor's and master's degree with:

BS - Microbiology

Are you fascinated by the incredible way the tiniest organisms can impact our lives? Are you eager to make a difference in science, health and medicine? Dive in and explore the wonders of microbiology, and set yourself up for success in your future career.

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BS - Neuroscience

Discover how the brain and nervous system function to produce behavior, cognition and emotion. Work alongside award-winning faculty in labs at the leading edge of neuroscience research. Spanning four foundational areas of neuroscience, this program will guide you toward a career in health and research-related fields.

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BS - Biological Sciences

Are you captivated by the variety and wonder of life? Are you curious about how organisms grow, interact and affect each other? Build a strong foundation of knowledge, critical thinking skills and key lab techniques that will launch your career in science, health care and research.

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BS - Biological Sciences (Genetics, Cell and Developmental Biology)

Are you fascinated by how genes can affect change in organisms at the cellular level? Are you curious about how genetic information is organized and transmitted across generations? Experience the excitement of scientific discovery and gain the critical thinking skills and key lab techniques that will launch your career.

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BS - Biological Sciences (Conservation Biology and Ecology)

Are you concerned about environmental challenges such as climate change and habitat destruction? Are you curious about how organisms interact with one another and their physical surroundings? Dive in and apply a biological approach combined with human perspective to develop a deep understanding of the complex problems threatening our world.

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BS - Biological Sciences (Biology and Society)

How does science shape the way we understand our world? Explore the social context of science while developing the skills needed to navigate the ethical complexities of scientific discovery. Discover how policy decisions are shaped by biological research, and investigate the significance of the sciences in understanding our complex world.

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BS - Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology

Are you fascinated by the interplay between biology and technology? Are you eager to make a difference through groundbreaking research? Dive in and explore the rapidly expanding field of biotechnology.

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BS - Biological Sciences (Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior)

Are you fascinated by animal behavior? Are you interested in making scientific discoveries at the laboratory bench and in the field? Dive in and build the strong foundation you need to launch your career in neuroscience, health care, veterinary medicine or biomedical research.

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BS - Microbiology (Medical Microbiology)

Are you passionate about understanding the way the tiniest organisms impact our lives? Are you eager to make a difference in science, health care or biomedical research? Build a strong foundation of coursework, competencies and critical thinking skills that will prepare you to take on the changing world of medicine.

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BS - Biological Sciences (Biomedical Sciences)

Are you passionate about health care and biomedical research? Are you eager to experience groundbreaking research and understand the process of scientific discovery? Build a strong pre-health foundation of knowledge, critical thinking skills and key lab techniques that will give you a valuable edge in your career.

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

Acceptance to the graduate program requires a separate application. During their junior year, eligible students will be advised by their academic departments to apply.

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Learning Outcomes

  • Able to carry out a research plan in an area of Microbiology under advisement of their mentors.
  • Able to review the scholarly literature associated with research questions in microbiology.
  • Able to communicate science effectively, both orally and in writing.

Career Opportunities

Professionals with tailored research training in specific directions, including microbial physiology, environmental microbiology, evolution and ecology, immunology, virology and various aspects of modern molecular genetics are in demand in diverse sectors.

Career examples include:

  • environmental scientists and specialists (including health)
  • lab managers in academic and industrial labs
  • medical and clinical laboratory technologists
  • microbiologists in diverse sectors including food service and health care industry
  • natural sciences managers
  • research technicians in academic and industrial labs

Program Contact Information

If you have questions related to admission, please click here to request information and an admission specialist will reach out to you directly. For questions regarding faculty or courses, please use the contact information below.