Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Degree Programs 


Department Overview

K357A Health Sciences

Microbiology is a natural science that deals with microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa, algae, and viruses. It is concerned with the nature and properties of these organisms, their effects on humans and the environment, and how they can be exploited to provide useful products.

Undergraduate Program

K-357A Health Sciences, Box 357735
(206) 543-5824

The Department of Microbiology offers the following programs of study:

  • The Bachelor of Science degree with a major in microbiology
  • A minor in microbiology

Bachelor of Science

Suggested First- and Second-Year Courses: PHYS 114, PHYS 115, or PHYS 121, PHYS 122; one of the following: MATH 112, MATH 124, Q SCI 381, or STAT 311.

MICROM 410, the first microbiology course for majors, is taken after completion of BIOL 200 and organic chemistry (CHEM 223 or CHEM 237). To graduate in four years, a student must complete introductory biology and organic chemistry before autumn quarter of the junior year.

MICROM 301, and MICROM 302, offered to non-majors, serve as introductory courses, but cannot be used to fulfill graduation requirements for a major in microbiology. MICROM 301 is a prerequisite for students applying to nursing, physical therapy, or dental school.

Department Admission Requirements

  1. Minimum 75 credits applicable to graduation, with a minimum 2.00 overall cumulative GPA.
  2. Completion of the following prerequisite courses with a minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA: BIOL 180; BIOL 200 (minimum 2.3 grade); BIOL 220; either CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162; or CHEM 143 and CHEM 153; either CHEM 223, CHEM 237, or CHEM 335

Major Requirements

Minimum 90 credits (including microbiology courses) in the biological, physical, and mathematical sciences, as follows:

  1. Minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA in courses required for admission: BIOL 180; BIOL 200 (minimum 2.3 grade), BIOL 220; either CHEM 142, CHEM 152, and CHEM 162, or CHEM 143 and CHEM 153; either CHEM 223, CHEM 237, or CHEM 335
  2. Core Courses (8 credits): MICROM 402; MICROM 410; MICROM 496
  3. Distribution Groups and Electives (28 credits): Minimum one course from each of the following four distribution groups; minimum two laboratory courses. Remaining credits from additional courses from the distribution groups or from an approved list of electives. See adviser for approved list
    1. Medical Microbiology: IMMUN 441, MICROM 442 MICROM 443, MICROM 460, or both MICROM 460 and MICROM 461
    2. Virology: MICROM 445 or MICROM 450
    3. Diversity and Ecology: MICROM 412 or MICROM 435
    4. Genetics and Molecular Biology: MICROM 411; or MICROM 431; and either GENOME 361 or GENOME 371
  4. Either PHYS 114 and PHYS 115; or PHYS 121 and PHYS 122 (PHYS 116 or PHYS 123 recommended)
  5. Either MATH 112, MATH 124, MATH 144, Q SCI 381, STAT 220, or STAT 311
  6. Either BIOC 405 and BIOC 406, or BIOC 440, BIOC 441, and BIOC 442
  7. All required courses taken for a numerical grade unless course is offered credit/no-credit only. Minimum 2.25 cumulative GPA; minimum 1.8 grade in all MICROM and IMMUN core and elective courses applied to the major
  8. Transfer students must complete at least 20 required and elective microbiology credits through the UW.

Continuation Policy

All students must make satisfactory academic progress in the major. Failure to do so results in probation, which can lead to dismissal from the major. For the complete continuation policy, contact the departmental adviser or refer to the department website.


Minor Requirements: 29 credits as follows:

  1. 14 credits to include BIOL 200; one of CHEM 152, CHEM 155, CHEM 162, or CHEM 165; one of CHEM 223, CHEM 237, or CHEM 355.
  2. 15 credits from the following: MICROM 410; one from MICROM 302, MICROM 402, MICROM 431, or MICROM 443; and approved 400-level, graded microbiology courses to reach 29 credits. See adviser for approved list.
  3. Minimum cumulative 2.00 GPA for all courses counted toward the minor

Student Outcomes and Opportunities

  • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: The department's objective is to provide a major with the best instruction possible in broad areas of microbiology so students qualify for a wide variety of positions with a terminal BS degree or qualify to pursue advanced degrees in graduate or professional schools.

    Microbiology offers students an excellent education in the biology of microorganisms, namely bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. Through learning about the biology of these microorganisms and viruses, students more fully understand the pivotal position they occupy in establishing and maintaining our biosphere, their effects on human, animal, and plant life, and how the biological properties of certain microbes are exploited for certain purposes. Microorganisms are important in drinking water, wastewater and sewage treatment, production and spoilage of foods, production of antibiotics, bioremediation of toxic compounds, and genetic engineering of organisms having unique characteristics. Students gain insight into strategies used by microorganisms and viruses to cause disease and the mechanisms used by their host to defend themselves.

    Graduates have found research positions in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, as well as in state and government positions hiring microbiologists. Students interested in a health profession or graduate program benefit from this program.

  • Instructional and Research Facilities: Microbiology courses are taught using state-of-the-art facilities in the teaching wing of the Health Sciences building. Research labs are located in the Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, NW Regional Primate Research Center, and UW Rosen building.
  • Honors Options Available: With College Honors (Completion of Honors Core Curriculum and Departmental Honors); With Honors (Completion of Departmental Honors requirements in the major). See adviser for requirements.
  • Research, Internships, and Service Learning: MICROM 499, undergraduate laboratory research, is offered for credit. See adviser for details.
  • Department Scholarships: The department offers four awards each year. More information is available at the department's website.
  • Student Organizations/Associations: The Microphiles Club is open to all students. The club sponsors field trips to local biotech companies, speakers on topics such as research and career opportunities, graduate school, and peer teaching.

Graduate Program

Graduate Program Coordinator
K357A Health Sciences, Box 357735
(206) 543-2572

The department offers a graduate program leading to the doctor of philosophy degree. Students interested in graduate work should obtain the necessary application forms from the department.

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements

Background in any biological science discipline. Selection based on evaluation of a student's undergraduate record for indications of ability to excel in independent, creative research. The department strongly recommends that undergraduate preparation include courses in biochemistry, physics, general and organic chemistry, microbiology, molecular biology and cell biology. Prospective students are strongly advised to seek opportunities to carry out undergraduate research.

Required background courses (generally satisfied prior to entry into the graduate program):

  1. Biochemistry (equivalent to BIOC 440, BIOC 441, and BIOC 442)
  2. Classical and molecular genetics (equivalent to GENOME 371 or GENOME 372)
  3. General microbiology (equivalent to MICROM 410)
  4. Medical microbiology and basic immunology recommended for those considering research in the area of medical microbiology or virology.

Degree Requirements

90 credits minimum, as follows:
  1. Conjoint (6 credits): See department website for specific courses.
  2. Virology and Bacteriology (6-7 credits): See department website for specific courses.
  3. Faculty Research Presentations for first-year students: MICROM 599
  4. Laboratory Rotation: MICROM 500, minimum three quarters
  5. Journal Club: MICROM 522, continuous enrollment
  6. Seminar: MICROM 520 seminar series or attendance at Fred Hutchinson seminars, where students are also encouraged to attend the Microbiology seminars. To be taken every quarter unless a conflict with teaching exists.
  7. Additional requirements:
    1. Teaching assistant in at least two laboratory courses for undergraduates (usually satisfied in the first and/or second year).
    2. Minimum two formal lectures given in an undergraduate course (third or fourth year).
    3. First author on multiple papers related to thesis research published or accepted for publication in refereed journals. Under some circumstances, one first-author publication satisfies this requirement.
  8. General examination, dissertation, final examination