While some people like to work with large animals and beautiful plants, others are more fascinated by organism that can only be seen through a microscope. The study of these extremely tiny organisms is called microbiology.
Microbiology has been responsible for processes such as industrial fermentation for the production of vinegar, alcohol, and dairy products, antibiotics production, the production of biopolymers for drug delivery and tissue engineering, and the use of microorganisms for degradation of agricultural and industrial wastes.
What is a Microbiology Degree?
This is usually a 4-year undergraduate program with a focus in microbiology, after which you earn a bachelor’s degree.
The basic concepts of microbiology include the diversity and evolution of microbes, the structure and function of cells, metabolism, and the role of microorganisms in ecosystems. Courses can cover bacterial genetics and diversity, microbial physiology, virology, microbe-host interactions, and marine microbiology.
Often, students are also granted the opportunity to participate in modern research. The currently popular topics in this field include environmental microbiology and food microbiology.
Most of your work after graduation will be in a laboratory setting, so your education will also include developing a better understanding of how a hypothesis is formed and tested, as well as how to conduct experiments.
Many graduates continue with their studies by enrolling in graduate programs, and some go on to graduate from veterinary, dental, or medical school. But you may also want to find a job after graduation.
As a graduate of Microbiology, you can immediately become a technician in a laboratory. Private companies in industries such as pharmaceutical companies can use your expertise to help create drugs, while industrial manufactures may have you working on various products that involve microorganisms. Numerous biotech companies also employ microbiologists to help with their research.
Food companies may also have work for you as well. Various manufacturers of food products and supplements often use microorganisms in their products. Some of these products contain yeast and beneficial bacteria which help people become healthier.
Agricultural companies can also make use of your knowledge, as crops are often in danger when exposed to dangerous microorganisms, while beneficial microorganisms may also be used to improve farm production. Other employment possibilities include working in health care facilities, government agencies, and university research laboratories.
Top Universities for Microbiology Degrees
Whether you go on to a graduate program or start working immediately after graduation, it really helps if you graduate from one of the better schools in the country. Many schools offer only graduate programs in Microbiology (usually in their medical schools), but some excellent schools offer a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology. Others offer a bachelor’s degree in Biology or Molecular Biology with a strong concentration on microbiology.
The top schools you may want to look at are Stanford University, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California Berkeley, and University of Pittsburgh. Other universities that merit your consideration include University of Washington, Cornell University, University of Georgia, University of Alabama, and University of California Los Angeles.