Learn how something seemingly so simple, a one-celled organism, is so instrumental in our daily lives.
And discover — through coursework, research and field experiences — how you can make a positive impact in the environment, industry or health fields through a microbiology education.
The Microbiology program is designed to provide you with an extensive knowledge of the field. As a basic biological science, learn how microbiology provides some of the most accessible research tools for exploring the nature of life processes. As an applied biological science, see how microbiology deals with many important practical problems in medicine, agriculture, bioremediation and food industries. To get that applied experience, you will have opportunities to participate in laboratory learning, independent research projects with professors, summer internships and co-operative education programs.
Depending on your interest, careers include food, industrial or environmental quality assurance technologist, lab research assistant, and clinical or veterinary medical technologist.
What Will I Learn?
Students majoring in Microbiology will understand basic principles relating to molecular, cellular and organismal biology. In addition to these, students will exhibit proficiency in selected empirical laboratory skills, develop knowledge of contemporary research using the scientific method and demonstrate competence in oral and written communication.
- Conceptual knowledge in microbial science: biology, genetics, physiology, diversity, ecology, human health impact and biotechnological applications
- Critical and independent thinking skills in scientific method: designing experiments, assessing validity of data, and performing quantitative analyses
- Communication skills: Ability to search literature for pertinent information, and discuss and present scientific information orally and in writing
- Collaborative skills: Ability to work effectively in teams and manage time and tasks to be done simultaneously by individuals and within groups
- Societal impact: Ability to describe the societal place of microbiology as a science and make informed judgments about microbiology in everyday life
Full list of Microbiology program goals can be found on the Hub for Teaching and Learning site.
Visit the University Catalog:
Learn about degree requirements and coursework for the Microbiology major and minor.
Learn which Dearborn Discovery Core requirements are fulfilled by taking Microbiology courses.
Making the Most of Your Major
There are opportunities to develop skills and connect with others interested in geological sciences beyond the classroom. Check out the Microbiology Major Map to get a more detailed, year-by-year view of how you can learn, engage, network and transform your community and prepare for life after graduation.
Join a professional Microbiology organization, such as the American Society of Microbiology. Present a research poster at the Michigan Branch of the American Society of Microbiology, Meeting of Minds or the CASL Research Showcase. Explore UM-Dearborn student organizations on VictorsLink.
Get Real World Experience
Plan for Life After Graduation
Students who graduate with a degree in microbiology typically follow various pathways as they launch their post-baccalaureate careers. Our graduates have found jobs in several areas of microbiology. Many of our students choose to pursue additional study in graduate school or medical school. Several enter MS programs; however, it is not unusual for students to undertake Ph.D. studies.
Career Services offers assistance with job searching, resumes, interviews, or graduate school applications.
Career Paths for Microbiologists
Every microbiologist has a unique set of skills. Fortunately, the career opportunities in the microbiology field are as diverse as the people who work in the industry. Depending on your experience and education, positions in a laboratory can range from Laboratory Assistant to Director of Research.
Whether you’re a college student who enjoys microbiology but isn’t sure what path to take, or a microbiology veteran looking for a new challenge, our list of microbiology careers has something for everyone:
Biotechnologists work in the agriculture, environment, food, and clinical industries. They manipulate the genes of a microorganism. An environmental biotechnologist might develop microorganisms that clean polluted water. A medical biotechnologist could produce medicines using techniques such as cell culture.
2. Clinical Laboratory Scientists
Clinical Laboratory Scientists (also called Medical Technologists) work in many areas including clinical, veterinary, and state and national health laboratories. They analyze blood, urine, tissue and other body specimens in order to determine the cause of an infection in a patient and what antibiotics are effective in treating the infection. This field is evolving as genetic and mass spectrophotometry techniques become common.
3. Food Scientists and Technologists
Food microbiologists test food and beverage products for pathogens such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes and for spoilage microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria. Food microbiologists help their company meet standards for product safety and food quality.
Immunologists investigate how a body defends itself against disease. Research areas include biodefense, biofilms, genetics, HIV/AIDS, immunologic mechanisms, respiratory pathogens (including influenza) and vaccine development.
Mycologists study disease-causing fungus and fungus that produce antibiotics. Mycologists often work in clinical, pharmaceutical, and research laboratories. Mycologists also work in environmental laboratories that analyze indoor air for mold spores.
Parasitologists investigate how parasitic microorganisms infect living hosts, reproduce and cause disease.
7. Personal Care Product and Cosmetic Scientists and Technologists
Personal Care Product and Cosmetic Scientists and Technologists are responsible for ensuring the safety of products like shampoo, eye shadow, and baby wipes. They test products for disease-causing microorganisms such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
8. Pharmaceutical Scientists and Technologists
Pharmaceutical scientists and technologists are responsible for ensuring the safety of pharmaceutical products. Technologists test raw materials and finished products for disease-causing microorganisms such as Staphylococcus aureus and Burkholderia cepacia. Scientists research and develop new drugs and therapies.
Some microbiologists find sales to be a rewarding career. Because of their strong background in science, they are able to help customers choose the best microbiology product for their situation. They also have the opportunity to travel throughout the world visiting customer and distributors.
10. Science Writers
Readers appreciate well-written articles on current developments in microbiology. Recently, for example, there have been several excellent articles and broadcast reports about Zika virus. Strong communication skills combined with a background in microbiology can be the foundation of a successful career as a science journalist or blogger.
11. Teachers and Professors
Teachers and professors share their passion for microbiology by educating high school, university, and post graduate students. They are responsible for creating and executing lesson plans that teach students the characteristics of microorganisms and the latest developments in the field of microbiology.
12. Technical Support Specialists
Technical Support Specialists provide technical assistance to customers using a manufacturer’s products. The technical support specialists can help customers choose microorganism strains, instructs customers on the use of products, and helps with hands-on customer and distributor trainings for example.
Virologists study viruses that affect humans, animals, insects, bacteria, fungi, and plants in community, clinical, agricultural, and natural environments. They develop vaccines for influenza and other diseases.
14. Water Quality Laboratory Technicians
Municipalities, water treatment plants, and state and local agencies need technicians to test drinking water, treated water, and recreational water. Often the laboratories are testing for E. coli, an indicator of fecal contamination and a warning sign that water-borne pathogens such as Salmonella and Shigella may be present. An excellent way to learn about microorganisms is to use them in the laboratory.