Microbiology (MS)

Working in immunology lab

The UWL Department of Microbiology offers an intimate and rigorous MS program that produces highly sought graduates. Earning a MS degree in the biological sciences sets one apart from the numerous Bachelor's degree holders, and can greatly improve one's marketability for jobs and eligibility for promotion. The MS degree can also be a stepping stone to professional and PhD programs.

The MS program in the UWL Department of Microbiology is unique. Most institutions offering MS programs in Microbiology also have PhD programs which can overshadow the MS programs. As UWL does not have a PhD program, our faculty are focused on working directly with our graduate students, both in the classroom and the lab. We also offer courses not found at PhD-offering institutions and while our Department is smaller than microbiology departments at PhD/MS-offering institutions, our faculty have a wide range of research interests spanning medical, environmental, and industrial microbiology.

There are two tracks in the Microbiology MS Program;

The Microbiology track: The Microbiology MS is a traditional Master's program in which students focus on coursework and producing original research with a faculty mentor. For coursework, students, in consultation with a faculty committee, choose classes from a list of 28 courses. For the original research, students work with a faculty mentor in any aspect of microbiology, including environmental microbiology, microbial ecology, food and industrial microbiology, bacterial physiology, genetics, immunology, infectious disease microbiology and more. 

The Clinical Microbiology Emphasis track. The Clinical Microbiology MS emphasis is truly distinct - there is no other program like it in the United States. The Clinical Microbiology MS Program offers unique and specialized training in the fight to control infectious disease. In this program, there is considerable focus on diagnostics, but all aspects of human and animal infection by bacterial, viral, fungal and protozoan pathogens are covered. These include the epidemiology of infectious disease, the life cycles and behaviors of infectious agents, and the interactions of infectious agents with the immune system. The Program is a collaboration involving UW-La Crosse, Gundersen Health System, Marshfield Clinic, Wisconsin Diagnostic Laboratories and the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene. Students who complete the program can go on to receive American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) certification in Microbiology or Molecular Biology. Course work is at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse and the clinical laboratory rotations are conducted at:

  • Clinical Microbiology Practicum I - 6 weeks at Gundersen Health System (La Crosse, WI)
  • Clinical Microbiology Practicum II - 6 weeks, two possible locations; Gundersen Health System or Wisconsin Diagnostic Laboratories (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Clinical Microbiology Practicum III - 2 weeks, Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (Madison, WI) 

The combination of advanced microbiology course work, clinical rotations and research experience prepares students for a wide variety of career opportunities.