Microbiology program

MUndergrad major mUndergrad minor GGraduate program

Do you want to better understand the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Do you want to know how to diagnose, prevent and treat COVID-19 and other infectious diseases? Do you want to learn about using microbes to cleanup 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 University of Wisconsin System “Center of Excellence," the program is focused on providing students hands-on experience in labs using cutting-edge equipment. 

What is microbiology?

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.

The Microbiology Department is incredibly dedicated to students’ future endeavors. They take the time to teach the details of valuable technical skills. These skills directly translate to competence in the workplace and are quickly noticed by employers.

Jacob Schmidt

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

Sample courses