Microbiology program

Undergrad major Undergrad minor

Microorganisms impact our everyday lives.

Do you want to know how to diagnose, prevent and treat infectious diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites? Do you want to learn about using microbes to clean-up the environment, or produce food and beverages? Then become a microbiology major.

Career opportunities with a microbiology degree are wide ranging, and microbiology is excellent preparation for graduate school and professional schools such as medical school.

Microbiology at UWL is recognized statewide and nationally. The program offers a collection of courses not available anywhere else in the country.  Named a Universities of Wisconsin “Center of Excellence," the program is focused on providing students hands-on experience in labs using cutting-edge equipment. 

Microbiology jobs

A microbiology major provides a foundation for numerous employment opportunities, as well as excellent preparation for graduate school and professional schools such as medical school, veterinary school, dental school and pharmacy school.

Since microbes have numerous uses in biotechnology, microbiologists find employment in a variety of food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and environmental industries. In addition, the continued need to better understand, diagnose, prevent and treat infectious diseases fosters an ever-growing demand for medical microbiologists. Scientists also continue to discover new microbes with a wide variety of potential applications, suggesting that future opportunities in microbiology are almost limitless.

Entry-level positions

  • Environmental microbiologist
  • Food and dairy microbiologist
  • Fermentation microbiologist
  • Hospital and public health microbiologist
  • Research and development microbiologist
  • Pharmaceutical sales person
  • Research technician

Graduate study in

  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Molecular biology
  • Medical school
  • Dental school
  • Pharmacy school
  • Physician assistant programs
  • Veterinary school

What distinguishes UWL's Microbiology program?

Laboratory-focused education with cutting-edge equipment

Microbiology faculty have received more than $1 million in educational grants to ensure that teaching laboratories contain the latest equipment. Education in the program is focused in the lab setting, providing graduates with the experience and confidence to excel in their future careers. Graduates gain a breadth and depth of knowledge and laboratory experiences that they won't find anywhere else.

Unique program nationwide

The UWL Department of Microbiology is the only "Microbiology Department" in the nation located at a non-doctoral degree granting institution. Because of UWL's undergraduate and master's degree focus, UWL Microbiology faculty are dedicated to providing superb education and research opportunities for students at these levels.

"Center of Excellence" designation

UWL has been recognized as a UW System “Center of Excellence” for Microbiology, based on the exceptional quality of the undergraduate laboratory science education. The microbiology major has been in existence since 1984.

Student involvement opportunities

The Microbiology Club is open to all students (majors and non-majors) interested in microbiology. The club is dedicated to promoting education and opportunities in all fields of microbiology. 

Scholarships available

The Microbiology Department offers seven scholarships, totaling over $5500, to microbiology majors and clinical laboratory science students each year. Microbiology majors are also eligible for many other Science and Health Scholarships as well as General University Scholarships. 

Excellent job placement rate

More than 95 % of microbiology graduates interested in employment at the bachelor’s level, obtain jobs within the discipline. Strong laboratory competency is just one reason majors are highly sought after. Each year representatives from several regional companies visit the campus, providing future microbiology graduates with opportunities to connect with potential employers.

Research and internships

Microbiology faculty have active research programs providing abundant opportunities for undergraduate research. In addition, numerous internships are available with local and regional laboratories for microbiology majors.

Quality curriculum

The curriculum is based on the recommendations from the American Society for Microbiology, and is designed to ensure that graduates gain state-of-the-art experience in microbiology.

Choose your path

Students may major in microbiology, or elect a biomedical, environmental science, or business concentration, each with slightly different curricula. After completing a core of microbiology courses, students may choose electives that allow them to specialize. A large number of electives are available in areas of virology, parasitology, mycology, molecular biology, bioinformatics, food and industrial microbiology, environmental microbiology, plant microbiology, and research.

Modern facility

Microbiology teaching labs are located in the modern science labs building, the Prairie Springs Science Center. The use of high-tech research and teaching equipment prepares students for the skills required in the modern world.

Areas of study


Microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms, their activities and uses. Although small in size, microorganisms — viruses, bacteria, archaea, fungi, protozoa and algae — are almost everywhere and play an enormous role in the environment and in society. Microbes impact human health, disease, and medicine. They are integral to the food, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. And they are critical in global nutrient cycling and agriculture.

Undergrad major Undergrad minor View a sample plan for Microbiology Catalogfor Microbiology Learn more for Microbiology

Biomedical Concentration

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Business Concentration

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Environmental Concentration

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Sample courses

MIC 130 Global Impact of Infectious Disease A multifaceted examination of issues related to infectious disease throughout the world. The course will begin with historical examples of how infectious disease has impacted society, from plagues of centuries past to recent emerging diseases. After defining the types of pathogens and methods for their control, the interplay between infectious disease and global economics, health and politics will be evaluated. Additionally, the impact of public perceptions and misconceptions on the spread of infectious disease will be analyzed. Finally, the role of current human activities in shaping disease patterns of the future will be explored. Offered Fall, Spring, Summer.

MIC 310 Immunology Fundamentals of immune system structure and function. Includes response to infectious agents, as well as vaccination, allergy, autoimmune disease, cancer, organ transplantation, immune deficiency and related public health issues. Prerequisite: MIC 100 or BIO 105 with a grade of "C" or better; one 200 level or higher biology or microbiology course. Offered Fall, Spring.

MIC 380 Food Microbiology A study of environmental factors affecting the growth, activity, and destruction of microorganisms in food; principles of food spoilage; preservation of foods, including basic methods and their application to foods; food-borne intoxications and infections; indicator organisms; sanitation and microbiological standards in foods. Laboratory instruction includes quality control methods, sampling methods, techniques to identify important microorganisms in foods, and data interpretation and analysis. Lect. 2, Lab 4. Prerequisite: MIC 230. Offered Spring.

MIC 299 Introduction to Microbiology Research An opportunity to participate in laboratory or field research experience under the direction of a faculty member. Depending on the nature of the research project, study will involve participation in laboratory or theoretical work in addition to selected readings and instruction. A written report to the supervising faculty member is an expected outcome. Completion of safety training required prior to beginning research. Admission with instructor and department approval. Repeatable for credit - maximum four. Consent of instructor. Offered Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer.

MIC 350 Bacterial Diversity A survey of the bacteria. Lectures will cover bacterial classification and the structure, physiology, ecology, and applications of various groups of bacteria. Special emphasis will be on the more unique species and those of industrial, ecological and environmental importance. The laboratory will involve enrichment and isolation procedures for selective groups of bacteria. Lect. 2, Lab 3. Prerequisite: MIC 230. Offered Spring, Fall-Odd # Years.