BS Degree Program Overview

Microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms, or microbes. This includes:

  • Bacteria
  • Archaea
  • Viruses
  • Fungi
  • and other microscopic eukaryotes such as algae and protozoa

Well-known microbes include Escherichia coli, a well-studied laboratory bacterium that can cause disease, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the yeast that makes bread and beer.

Why study microorganisms?

Microorganisms are the oldest life forms on earth and impact our lives directly every day. They are critical for the well-being of the planet. Microbiologists study all microbes, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The field of Microbiology has become even more important in recent years, as microbes are involved in current topics such as biofuels and bioenergy, infectious disease and epidemics, bioterrorism, biotechnology, food safety, and environmental biology.

What skills and knowledge will I gain by pursuing the Microbiology major

The UW-Madison Microbiology program is designed to prepare students for modern research in microbiology, with a heavy emphasis on practical laboratory experience. You will learn cellular biology, genetics, ecology, evolution, and physiology of microbes. You will gain an appreciation for current issues in microbiology and biology, learn to critically evaluate scientific data, engage in problem-solving and active approaches to learning, learn to plan and carry out laboratory experiments, gain expertise in common laboratory techniques, learn to communicate scientific information, and develop writing skills.

What can I do with a degree in Microbiology?

A degree in microbiology is excellent preparation for many careers, including:

  • medical, dental, veterinary and pharmaceutical careers
  • advanced biology degrees in any area of biology
  • public health
  • research in government, private or academic labs
  • environmental management
  • education
  • biotechnology
  • forensics
  • industrial quality control and testing
  • technical service and sales
  • science writing

Learn more about microbiology at the following places: