M.S. in Microbiology

With the growth of the biotechnology industry, and the increase in technology and specialization in applied microbiological sciences, there is a significant regional and national need for highly trained microbiologists. The Master of Science degree in Microbiology provides an excellent opportunity to meet these needs. The M.S. in Microbiology gives students the opportunity to carry out research in the laboratories of world-renowned microbiologists and opportunities to interface with industrial and governmental partners through internships.

Application deadline for admission for Fall 2022: June 1, 2022.

DEGREES

We offer two Master of Science degrees in Microbiology that are tailored to the student’s individual career goals.

The first is a one-year non-thesis M.S. degree that entails formal coursework, with no research requirement. This one-year professional degree is designed to prepare students for careers in biomedical sciences in universities, industry, and government, and to provide an in-depth educational experience to improve the probability of admission into a postgraduate professional school, such as medical, dental, or veterinary schools.

The second is a thesis M.S. degree that requires significant laboratory research, and a written thesis. The research option helps students develop scientific research skills for improved preparation for entry into PhD programs, or for direct employment in research laboratories in academia, government, and industry.

Summer internship opportunities are available for either degree to help students explore career options, and to support job placement.

REQUIREMENTS FOR ADMISSION

Applicants should have completed an undergraduate degree in one of the life sciences, with at least 3 semesters of Biology, including Microbiology, 4 semesters of Chemistry, including Organic Chemistry, 1 semester of Biochemistry, 2 semesters of Physics, and one advanced Mathematics course beyond algebra and trigonometry. Applications from students lacking any of the general requirements will be considered, but any deficiencies must be resolved before completion of the program. Qualified students are admitted to the Microbiology M.S. program under the non-thesis option.

For consideration, applications should be received by June 1.

Submit online in the Texas A&M University Graduate CAS application portal.

In addition to the online application, you will need to submit the following:

  1. A Statement of Purpose: The statement of purpose should then explain why you want to pursue graduate studies, why you are applying to our department, your research interests, and a description of your previous research experience. In addition, applicants should visit Faculty Research Interests to identify labs of interest for rotations, and include this information in the Statement of Purpose.
  2. Transcripts can be sent directly to the Texas A&M Office of Admissions (address below). You can upload unofficial transcripts to CAS; however, if you are admitted to the microbiology program, you must have official transcripts sent to the Office of Admissions.
  3. Two letters of recommendation should be submitted through CAS.
  4. TOEFL/IELTS scores: Have TOEFL scores (for international applicants) sent to the Texas A&M Office of Admissions. The Institute Code for Texas A&M University is 6003 (there is no department code needed).
  5. C.V.: Upload your resume or C.V. to CAS.
  6. Letter from Faculty Member: For student’s applying to the thesis-option program, please upload a letter from the faculty member with whom you will work that states she/he will be your primary advisor.
    1. Applicants should visit the Faculty Research Interests page to identify the most suitable labs and contact the faculty directly.

Please do not send any materials directly to the Department of Biology. Everything should go to the Office of Admissions or uploaded through CAS.

FUNDING

Microbiology Master’s students are required to find their own funding source for the duration of their studies. More information on funding options can be found on the Financial Aid page.

DEGREE PLAN

One Year Non-Thesis Masters: Requires 36 credit hours of course work. Six hours of internship can substitute for 6 hours of course work in the summer. The final exam is a written final paper.

Thesis Masters: Requires 32 credit hours, including at least 8 hours of research (or 6 h of research and 6 h of internship) and 20 hours of coursework.  It is possible to complete the degree in one year, but most likely will take 2 years.

NON-THESIS OPTION

First Fall Semester Courses for Non-Thesis Students

Full Time Students should be enrolled in 14 hours total, and Part-Time Students enrolled in 6 hours of the following courses (5 hours of required courses and 9 hours (3 courses) of electives).

Required Courses

Course Title Credit Hours Description
BIOL 622 Microbial Physiology 3 An area of microbial physiology will be explored at the molecular, cellular, and genetic levels through reading and discussion of classic and current research literature. The area of focus may change from semester to semester.
BIOL 609 Molecular Tools 3 Interactive lecture course in molecular biology for beginning graduate students; introduction to tools and methodologies used in prokaryotic and eukaryotic molecular labs; choosing the appropriate experimental technique for a given scientific question; virtual experiments will reinforce the applications and introduce useful bioinformatics tools.
BIOL 683 Experimental Design 3 Design of scientific research projects in the field of biology; a wide range of biological experiments designed with the appropriate statistical technique for analysis; design biological studies that are statistically tractable and perform basic statistical analyses using the statistical programming language R
BIOL 651 Bioinformatics 3 Introduction to applications related to information processing in biological research with practical training exercises; includes internet databases, sequence alignment, motif prediction, gene and prometer prediction, phylogenetic analysis, protein structure classification, analysis and prediction, genome annotation, assembly and comparative analysis, and proteomics analysis
BIOL 681 Department Colloquium 1 Tuesday Seminar
BIOL 681 Journal Club 1 Please pick one of the microbiology journal clubs

First Spring Courses for Non-Thesis Students

Non-Thesis Students: Full Time Students should be enrolled in 14 hours total, and Part-Time Students enrolled in 6 hours of the following courses (6 hours of required courses and 9 hours (3 courses) of electives).

Required Courses

Course Title Credit Hours Description
BIOL 606 Microbial Genetics 3 Basic understanding of microbial genetic systems and how genetic analyses can be used to investigate fundamental biological processes in bacteria.
BIOL 613 Cell Biology 3 Consideration of the eukaryotic cell as a functional, integrated unit in living organisms including structure, composition, function and biogenesis of subcellular components; dynamic processes and interactions of cells, including division, communication, and death; experimental approaches in modern cell biology and selected applications of experimental cell biology to problems in medicine
Electives 6 Please contact your committee chair about electives
BIOL 661 Antimicrobial Agents 1 Understanding of microbial agents, limitations of use, biosynthesis and regulation, and challenges in development as new therapeutics
BIOL 681 Department Colloquium 1 Tuesday Seminar


Possible Electives

Course Title Credit Hours Description
BIOL 601 Biological Clocks 3 Introduction to the formal properties of biological rhythms; cellular and molecular bases for rhythmicity; temporal adaptations of organisms using clocks. Prerequisite: Graduate classification or approval of instructor.
BIOL 608 Light Microscopy 3 Provides biologists, material scientists and students from other disciplines with the theoretical background and practical techniques of sample preparation, operation of light microscopes as well as image acquisition and processing; individual instruction which facilitates the completion of their research projects involving light microscopic techniques
BIOL 647 Digital Biology 3 Obtain, organize, process, and analyze genome and genome-related data; learning to ask and answer biologically relevant questions by designing and performing experiments using computers.
BIOL 650 Genomics 3
VTMI 6445 Microbial Pathogen of Human Disease 3 Principles of microbe-host interactions at the molecular level; selected medically important infectious diseases serve as paradigms for understanding how multiple pathogenic mechanisms contribute to disease. Prerequisite: Approval of instructor. Cross-listed with MPIM 601.


Summer Semester Courses for Non-Thesis Students (Final Semester)

Course Title Credit Hours Description
BIOL 685 Directed Studies 8 Enroll in 8 hours of Directed Studies with your committee chair. During this time, you will complete the paper for your final exam. You will want to communicate with your committee chair on their expectations for the course.

THESIS OPTION

First Fall Semester Courses for Thesis Students

Thesis Students: Enroll in 9 hours your first semester and talk with PI about research expectations.

Course Title Credit Hours Description
BIOL 609 Molecular Tools 3 Interactive lecture course in molecular biology for beginning graduate students; introduction to tools and methodologies used in prokaryotic and eukaryotic molecular labs; choosing the appropriate experimental technique for a given scientific question; virtual experiments will reinforce the applications and introduce useful bioinformatics tools.
BIOL 622 Microbial Physiology 3 An area of microbial physiology will be explored at the molecular, cellular, and genetic levels through reading and discussion of classic and current research literature. The area of focus may change from semester to semester.
BIOL 683 Experimental Design 3 Design of scientific research projects in the field of biology; a wide range of biological experiments designed with the appropriate statistical technique for analysis; design biological studies that are statistically tractable and perform basic statistical analyses using the statistical programming language R

First Spring Semester Courses for Thesis Students

Thesis Students: Enroll in 9 hours your first semester and talk with PI about research expectations.

Course Title Credit Hours Description
BIOL 606 Microbial Genetics 3 Basic understanding of microbial genetic systems and how genetic analyses can be used to investigate fundamental biological processes in bacteria.
BIOL 613 Cell Biology 3 Consideration of the eukaryotic cell as a functional, integrated unit in living organisms including structure, composition, function and biogenesis of subcellular components; dynamic processes and interactions of cells, including division, communication, and death; experimental approaches in modern cell biology and selected applications of experimental cell biology to problems in medicine
BIOL 661 Antimicrobial Agents 1 Understanding of microbial agents, limitations of use, biosynthesis and regulation, and challenges in development as new therapeutics
BIOL 696 Ethics & Responsible Research 1 Instruction on what constitutes fraud in science, how to recognize it and avoid committing fraud; includes basis of ethics and plagiarism; negotiation techniques and conflict management; regulations and ethics covering animal and human experiments; record-keeping; data management; peer review
BIOL 691 Research Hours 1 Enroll in 1 hour of research with your research advisor (PI).

First Summer Semester Course for Thesis Students

Thesis students should refer to their PIs for any additional course work and summer credits.

Second Fall Semester Courses for Thesis Students

Course Title Credit Hours Description
BIOL 651 Bioinformatics 3 Introduction to applications related to information processing in biological research with practical training exercises; includes internet databases, sequence alignment, motif prediction, gene and prometer prediction, phylogenetic analysis, protein structure classification, analysis and prediction, genome annotation, assembly and comparative analysis, and proteomics analysis
Elective 3 Please contact your PI about an elective to take
BIOL 681 Journal Club 1 Please contact your PI about the journal club you should take
BIOL 681 Department Colloquium 1 Tuesday Seminar
BIOL 691 Research Hours 1 Enroll in 1 hours of research with your research advisor (PI).

Possible Electives

Course Title Credit Hours Description
BIOL 611 Developmental Genetics 3 Major paradigms of eukaryotic gene regulation in terms of the role of gene expression during ontogeny and the effect of dysfunction in these processes on the neoplastic state.
NUTR 632 Nutrition in Disease 3 Human nutritional requirements in health and disease, emphasizing effects of disease states on intake, digestion, absorption, metabolism and excretion of nutrients; relationship of diet to development of certain diseases.
VTMI 636 Bacteria in Health and Disease 3 Discussion of the mechanisms utilized by important commensal and pathogenic bacteria in humans and animals, in their respective roles; focus on innate and adaptive immune mechanisms and antimicrobial chemotherapy against bacterial pathogens
VTMI 649 Immunology 3 Cellular basis of the immune response; relationships between inflammation and acquired immunity, MHC and cell activation; the role of cytokines in immunoregulation and hypersensitivity, vaccines, and the mechanism of immunity to viruses, bacteria and parasites.

Second Spring Semester Courses for Thesis Students

Course Title Credit Hours Description
Elective 3 Please contact your PI about an elective to take
BIOL 681 Journal Club 1 Please contact your PI about the journal club you should take
BIOL 691 Research Hours 5 Enroll in 5 hours of research with your research advisor (PI).

Possible Electives

Course Title Credit Hours Description
BIOL 601 Biological Clocks 3 Introduction to the formal properties of biological rhythms; cellular and molecular bases for rhythmicity; temporal adaptations of organisms using clocks. Prerequisite: Graduate classification or approval of instructor.
BIOL 608 Light Microscopy 3 Provides biologists, material scientists and students from other disciplines with the theoretical background and practical techniques of sample preparation, operation of light microscopes as well as image acquisition and processing; individual instruction which facilitates the completion of their research projects involving light microscopic techniques
BIOL 647 Digital Biology 3 Obtain, organize, process, and analyze genome and genome-related data; learning to ask and answer biologically relevant questions by designing and performing experiments using computers.
BIOL 650 Genomics 3 Modern genomics as a tool for understanding biological systems; review of gene structure and organization and the history of sequencing technologies; focus on transcriptional, translational and functional genomics.
VTMI 6445 Microbial Pathogen of Human Disease 3 Principles of microbe-host interactions at the molecular level; selected medically important infectious diseases serve as paradigms for understanding how multiple pathogenic mechanisms contribute to disease. Prerequisite: Approval of instructor. Cross-listed with MPIM 601.

Second Summer Semester Course for Thesis Students

Thesis students should refer to their PIs for any additional course work and summer credits.