Microbiology - Master of Science

The Microbiology Master of Science Program 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, select and complete 30 credits of classes. For the original research, students work with a faculty mentor in any aspect of microbiology, including environmental microbiology, microbial ecology, food and industrial, bacterial physiology, genetics, immunology, infectious disease microbiology, and more. 


Individuals accepted into the graduate Microbiology Program must have:

  1. A minimum course of one introductory microbiology course (MIC 230 Fundamentals of Microbiology or equivalent). Students lacking an introductory microbiology course may be conditionally admitted contingent on remediation of this prerequisite. Remediated prerequisite courses do not count toward the M.S. degree. Additional courses in microbiology and a strong chemistry background, including biochemistry, are highly recommended.
  2. An overall undergraduate grade point average of at least 2.85 on a 4.00 scale, an average of at least 3.00 in the last half of all undergraduate work, or an average of at least 3.00 for no less than 12 semester credits of graduate study at another accredited graduate school. Some programs have higher grade point average admission requirements.
  3. (Optional) Completion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required, but scores may be considered if available. To submit scores, select UW-La Crosse (code 1914) when taking the GRE.
  4. International applicants for graduate study who are not native speakers of English must meet the English language proficiency requirements in the Graduate Admission Policy.
  5. Information about the application process can be found on the program's application process page. Applicants are also encouraged to review information regarding graduate assistant positions in biology and microbiology, available on the program's financial aid page
  6. Three current letters of recommendation should be sent under separate cover.
  7. An application letter which details:
    1. Academic and professional goals
    2. Previous relevant experiences
    3. Reasons for selecting program
    4. Intent to pursue thesis or non-thesis track or undecided
    5. Research interest(s) if there is a desire to pursue the thesis track
    6. Possible faculty mentor(s) for research if pursuing the thesis track and if known

Completed applications must be returned to the Admissions Office by January 10th for US students and January 3rd for international students. Early applications can be considered prior to the deadline. A review committee will assess all submitted materials and a letter of decision will be sent to the applicant. An interview may be required in some instances. Acceptance or non-acceptance is based upon a comprehensive review of all elements of the completed application. Late applications will be considered if enrollment objectives have not been satisfied. Late applications will be considered if enrollment objectives have not been satisfied. Consideration for fellowships is extremely unlikely with late applications.

The graduate Microbiology Program has further application and contact information online.


The Master of Science in Microbiology requires:

  1. Completion of a research thesis (Plan A) or seminar paper (Plan B) in an area of microbiology (including an oral defense of the thesis),
  2. Passing a written comprehensive exam and an oral comprehensive exam, and
  3. Completion of 30 credits of graduate course work with at least 22 credits from the following list. The remaining credits are selected by the student and the advisory committee.
Plan A - Thesis
MIC 751Graduate Seminar 12
MIC 799Research: Master's Thesis 6
Elective credits from the list below14
Remaining electives 28
Total Credits30
Plan B - Seminar Paper
MIC 751Graduate Seminar 12
MIC 761Research and Seminar in Microbiology2
Electives credits from the list below18
Remaining electives 28
Total Credits30

Graduate students are expected to attend a graduate seminar during their first four semesters. For the first semester, the student must enroll in BIO 700 (includes seminar) or audit MIC 751. The student must register for MIC 751 for two of their last three semesters, enrolling in the class during those semesters in which they present a seminar.


The remaining elective credits are selected by the student and the advisory committee.

Electives for Plan A & B
MIC 507Pathogenic Bacteriology4
MIC 510Immunology Laboratory2
MIC 516Prokaryotic Molecular Genetics4
MIC 520Introductory Virology3
MIC 521Virology Laboratory2
MIC 525Bacterial Physiology4
MIC 527Industrial and Fermentation Microbiology3
MIC 528Fermentation Microbiology Laboratory2
MIC 534Aquatic Microbial Ecology3
MIC 540Bioinformatics2
MIC 542Plant Microbe Interactions3
MIC 554Mechanisms of Microbial Pathogenicity2
MIC 560Symposium in Microbiology1-3
MIC 714Advanced Genetics3
MIC 721Directed Studies1-2
MIC 730Biodegradation and Bioremediation of Environmental Contaminants2
MIC 753Epidemiology of Infectious Disease2
MIC 755Advanced Immunology2
CLI 540Clinical Parasitology1
CLI 584Laboratory Management2
BIO 506Parasitology4
BIO 512Mycology4
BIO 513Medical Mycology3
BIO 535Molecular Biology3
BIO 536Molecular Biology Laboratory1
BIO 549Advanced Microscopy and Biological Imaging3
BIO 700Biology Graduate Program Orientation2
BIO 701Communication in the Biological Sciences4
PH 755Epidemiology and Public Health Issues3

Microbiology graduate student requirements:

All graduate students in microbiology must meet the following requirements:

  1. Students must complete and submit a plan of study prior to the midterm of the first semester of residence.
  2. Ideally, students should submit a written thesis or seminar paper proposal to the advisory committee prior to the midterm of the second semester of residence. Failure to submit a thesis proposal prior to the fourth semester will result in the student being shifted from thesis track to seminar paper track. 
  3. Enroll in MIC 751 Graduate Seminar (1 cr.) the first four semesters of residence. Two of the semesters must be taken for one credit each; the other two semesters will be taken on an audit (no credit) basis.
  4. Students are encouraged to complete an appropriate graduate course (numbers 500 and above) from outside the department of microbiology. Upon approval of a student's advisory committee, a student may be permitted to take a maximum of 10 graduate credits in other departments.
  5. Pass a preliminary oral examination covering the student's area of specialty and advanced course work.
  6. Complete at least 15 credits of 700-level course work.
  7. Consult this catalog and the department's graduate student guidelines for additional policies pertaining to graduate students in a microbiology program.

University graduate degree requirements

After being admitted to the program of one's choice, candidates for a graduate degree must:

  1. Complete any preliminary course work and deficiencies.
  2. Complete all courses and other program requirements, including residence requirements prescribed for the degree desired in the respective school or college within a seven-year period from the date of initial enrollment, with the exception of students enrolled in the Student Affairs Administration and Leadership Ed.D. (SAA Ed.D.) graduate program. SAA Ed.D. students must complete all degree requirements within ten years from the time of initial enrollment in the graduate program.
  3. Earn a minimum of 30 credits for a master's degree; 54 credits for a doctorate or post-master's degree. Earn at least one-half of the minimum number of credits required in the program in graduate-only level courses (700, 800, 900, and non-slash 600 level courses). Some UWL graduate programs require more than 30 graduate credits. Please review the individual program requirements listed in the catalog for the exact number of credits required.
  4. Earn a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00.
  5. Satisfy dissertation, thesis, seminar paper, terminal/graduate projects and internships, or comprehensive examination, where applicable. A dissertation or thesis approved by the committee must be submitted to Graduate & Extended Learning for editorial review and approval by the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. The recommended initial submission date for review is two weeks before commencement. Ordinarily, a seminar paper or project report does not have to be approved by the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. However, if the seminar paper or project report is to be archived in Murphy Library, the student must follow the same rules as they apply to the dissertation/thesis requiring approval from the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. For further research/dissertation/thesis guidelines, see Graduate & Extended Learning.
  6. File a completed "Intent to Graduate" form online via the WINGS Student Center immediately following registration for the final semester or summer term in residence. December graduates and winter intersession should file by May 1. May and summer graduates should file by December 1.
  7. Pay the graduation fee and remove all other indebtedness to the university. Payment of graduation fees does not imply readiness for graduation and does not take the place of applying for graduation.
  8. Complete all requirements within 30 days after the official ending date of a term in order for a degree to be awarded for that term. (See #5 above for separate deadline for written capstone experience.)