Microbiology, MS

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Our Master of Science in microbiology degree program provides a unique environment where you will receive advanced training in the scientific study of microbes and their impact on humankind. 

One of our strongest attributes is our dynamic research environment. We partner extensively with 10 other departments, institutes, hospitals and research centers — something you won’t find as compelling at other universities.

You’ll have many opportunities to work with world-class faculty members and collaborative partners to conduct research in critical areas of global, microbiological challenges. Our faculty members are committed to training our graduate students to become scientific leaders with the necessary skills to address critical health and research issues facing our world today.

This graduate program encompasses a broad range of base, translational, and use-inspired research areas, as well as cutting-edge transdisciplinary training.  You’ll gain a broad understanding of the biology of microbes and their influence on disease and the environment.

We integrate many aspects of microbiology ranging from the molecular to global and planetary. In addition, we work with scientific tools ranging from nanotechnologies to genomics, and mathematic models to satellite-based imaging.

We also draw on the expertise of microbiologists from diverse research areas — an asset only possible in a large research institution such as ASU.

We especially welcome master’s students with non-traditional backgrounds who may be able to transcend these diverse research areas. Our graduates may find jobs as microbiologists, environmental scientists, natural science managers, medical or clinical lab technologists, biochemists or in science communications.

31 faculty
6 students
2 years to degree

Degree Overview

If you're looking for a career in teaching or conducting research in various aspects of microbiology, this program is an excellent choice. Many educational institutions, government agencies and industries are seeking highly-trained individuals in this field. 

This advanced degree will require 30 credit hours and the completion of a thesis. 

How to apply

The Master of Science in microbiology admits one group of students annually to start their program the following August. Before applying, we encourage you to read our Tips for Applying.

To apply, follow the Apply Now link.
You will be asked to:

  • review university standards, degree program timelines and application requirements
  • complete graduate admission application
  • send official transcripts
  • send language tests (international students only)
  • complete the academic record form
  • submit a non-refundable application fee

Application deadline
Applications are accepted Sept. 1 - Dec. 15. There is no guarantee that applications received after Dec. 15 will be reviewed.

In January, the top applicants will be invited to a recruitment event scheduled in mid- to late-February. We will notify you of your admissions status by April 15. 

Desired qualifications:

  • research experience 
  • undergraduate GPA minimum 3.0 (on 4.0 scale)
  • international students: TOEFL score of 100, or IELTS score of 6.5

All graduate students in this program will participate in cutting-edge research alongside award-winning faculty members who are leaders in their respective fields.

In this program, you can study a wide variety of exciting topics in microbiology. Research areas include microbes that shape the desert crust or thrive in Amazonian peatlands; biofuels that are created from bacteria; the gut microbiome; immunology and infectious diseases, and more! Students have many options after earning this degree.

–Professor Wim Vermaas, Microbiology faculty member


The Master's of Science in microbiology requires a total of 30 credits. Since there is only one core course, you will spend much of your time in the program pursuing your research interest through your research, elective and thesis credits. 


 Credit Hours

Core course


Elective courses






Total hours required


Courses and electives

Your program of study is designed by you and your supervisory committee, which consists of a professor in the major and three additional faculty members. In addition to the formal coursework in microbiology, virology, and immunology, which will be tailored to facilitate your individual research goals, you will receive training in science teaching and responsible research. A minimum of 30 credit hours, including 21 elective and 6 thesis hours, are required to complete your master's degree program.

  • MIC 501 Foundations in Microbiology
  • MIC 598: Advanced Immunology
  • MIC 598: Bacterial Diversity and Systematics
  • MIC 598: Bacterial Pathogenesis
  • MIC 598: Bioinformatic Analysis of High-throughput DNA Data
  • MIC 598: General Virology
  • MIC 598: Geomicrobiology
  • MIC 598: Immunology: Molecular & Cellular Foundations
  • MIC 598: Microbial Ecology and Evolution
  • MIC 598: Novel Models for Host-Microbe Interactions
  • MIC 598: Viromics
  • MIC 791 Seminar: Virology Journal Club 

Interdisciplinary Partners
Participating faculty members and researchers come from many departments, colleges, centers and institutes across the university, including:

Additional faculty members are based at partner institutions in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, including: