- Offered as:
Microbiology is the study of organisms and viruses too small to be seen by the unaided eye. Microbiologists study all aspects of these organisms, including what they are, their lifecycle and metabolic capacity, their distribution in nature, and their relationship to each other and to other living things. Microbial engineering uses our current understanding of these organisms to develop new species with applications in (for example) bioremediation, alternative energy production, or pharmaceutical science.
A microbiology major prepares you to work in many different settings, including in the field sampling ecosystems, in the laboratory, or working for an agency specializing in public health.
A subspecialty of microbiology, medical technology, uses microbiological techniques to diagnose diseases and pathologies related to human-microbe interactions. The microbiology major at WSU also offers a specialization track for pre-medicine students.
Specialization tracks available
- Medical technology
An option in medical technology is earned by completing one required laboratory course, Biology 418 (parasitology), and both MBioS 411 (Diagnostic Medical Bacteriology) and MBioS 430 (Combined Immunology and Virology Laboratory). A minor in medical technology is available.
An additional one-year program in an accredited school of medical technology is required after graduation for those interested in becoming certified medical technologists.
- Strengths of the Program
- The prestigious STARS program helps ambitious, high-achieving students get an early start on research and earn their Ph.D. in biochemistry, genetics and cell biology, or microbiology up to two years faster.
- You can join a math, science, and engineering community residence hall at WSU Pullman—share classes with your neighbors, study together, get free tutoring, and use the hall’s computer lab.
- Individualize your course of study within the School of Molecular Biosciences.
- Learn research techniques and operate advanced equipment.
- Undertake a research project of your own under a noted faculty researcher.
- Receive a solid foundation in the basic properties of microorganisms in a program that focuses especially on medically related aspects of microbiology.
- Requirements and core courses
Bachelor of science in microbiology
Microbiology majors take the following core courses as well as other university, college, and degree requirements.
Biol 106 & 107––Introductory Biology I & II
Chem 105 & 106––Principles of Chemistry I & II
Chem 345––Organic Chemistry I
Math 140––Math for Life Sciences
or Math 171 Calculus I
Math 212--Intro to Stats
or Stat 412--Statistical Methods in Research I
Phys 101 & 102––General Physics I & II
MBioS 301––General Genetics
MBioS 303––Introductory Biochemistry
MBioS 304--Micro/Molecular Biology lab
MBioS 305––General Microbiology
MBioS 404--Molecular Biology
MBioS 410––Medical Microbiology
MBioS 411––Diagnostic Medical Bacteriology Laboratory
or MBioS 430--Combined Immunology and Virology Laboratory
MBioS 450--Microbial Physiology
MBioS 494––Senior Project
One lecture and one laboratory elective course.
Pre-med students and those interested in advanced degrees should take a year of organic chemistry, which includes Chem 345 and 348.
Note: See the WSU Catalog for degree requirements and talk with your academic advisor about planning and scheduling your courses. All students must meet requirements as outlined in the catalog in order to graduate.
- Scholarships and financial aid
A variety of state, federal, and university-sponsored programs are available to help students with educational costs.
For all students at WSU
Washington State University awards millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships to students every year based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination of the two.
To get all the financial help WSU can provide, you'll need to do these two things:
- Complete the University's general scholarship application so you can be eligible for scholarship consideration.
- Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) so WSU can consider you for aid (scholarships, grants, loans, etc.) based on financial need.
For microbiology majors
- Facilities and technology
Microbiology students have access to the following outstanding laboratories and facilities:
- Equipment for ultracentrifugation, recombinant DNA techniques, HPLC, protein analysis and purification, DNA sequencing and synthesizing, and more
- Bioanalytical Laboratory
- Electron Microscopy Center
- Nuclear Radiation Center
- X-ray Crystallography Laboratory
- Owen Science and Engineering Library, the largest of its kind in the Northwest
- Suggested strengths, interests, and preparation
- Good high school preparation in biology, chemistry, and mathematics
- At least three years of sciences and math in high school recommended
- Strong reading, writing, reasoning, and computer skills
- Transfer students are encouraged to complete one year each of majors Chemistry and Biology, and Calculus I before arriving at WSU
Microbiology majors have wide and diverse career opportunities in the life sciences. The biological revolution is opening up new opportunities and linking laboratory science in microbiology to the worlds of business, law, and government.
Careers open to microbiology majors include research and production positions in food, pharmaceutical, water quality and environmental testing, and biotechnology industries; in private or governmental laboratories; and in nonprofit institutions such as clinical and hospital laboratories and institutes.
Graduates are also prepared to pursue advanced degree work in medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, and other fields. Advanced degrees can lead to teaching at the college level or conducting basic or applied research in the government, higher education, or private industry. Others have careers in consulting, management, or administration.