The graduate program in microbiology, offered through the Department of Biological Sciences, includes the MS and PhD degrees. The program offers specializations in cellular and physiological microbiology, microbial genetics and molecular microbiology, and environmental microbiology. The program encompasses a wide variety of disciplines, including bacterial physiology and metabolism, pathogenic microbiology, carcinogenesis and cancer cell biology, immunology, microbial genetics and genomics, microbial ecology, and environmental microbiology. The overall goals of the program are to develop scientists with strong interdisciplinary skills in research design, critical thinking and communication in microbiology, as well as expertise in a specific research area.
See a complete list of graduate faculty advisors in Biological Sciences and their research interests.
More information can be found in this graduate handbook.
MS: The MS degree in Microbiology is usually completed within two years and requires coursework and thesis research. The first year of the program emphasizes general coursework, formation of an advisory committee, and proposal development. The second year focuses on research and thesis preparation and defense. Each student’s program of study is supervised by his or her advisory committee and is tailored to the student’s needs and aspirations. Coursework generally includes courses from at least three of the following areas: Genetics, Physiology, and Metabolism; Pathogenic Microbiology; Environmental and Ecological Microbiology; Technology; and Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Statistics. However, there is no specific coursework required other than participation in a reading group and attendance in the weekly seminar series. A course of study appropriate to each student is designed by the advisory committee in consultation with the student.
The MS degree in Microbiology prepares students for further graduate training or careers in many areas such as industry, pharmacology, biotechnology and medical laboratories, and state and federal agencies.
PhD: The PhD degree in Biological Sciences is usually completed within four years. The program requires an approved plan of study and research (second year), successful completion of the comprehensive written and oral exams for candidate status (third year), and research and dissertation preparation and defense (second through fourth years). Coursework generally includes courses from at least three of the following areas: Genetics, Physiology, and Metabolism; Pathogenic Microbiology; Environmental and Ecological Microbiology; Technology; and Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Statistics. However, there is no specific coursework required other than participation in a reading group and attendance in the weekly seminar series. A course of study appropriate to each student is designed by the advisory committee in consultation with the student.
The PhD in Microbiology prepares students for a career as a research scientist in academic institutions; in research laboratories; and with state, federal, and private agencies.
The Department of Biological Sciences has over 65,000 sq ft of research space, spread over several buildings, including the new Life Sciences Facility, Long Hall, and Jordan Hall. All of the buildings house faculty from multiple departments and colleges representing a truly cross-disciplinary group ranging from genetics, biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, ecology, and evolution to chemistry, bioengineering, computing, and physics. A wide array of instrumentation is available as core departmental equipment or is hosted in individual investigators’ research labs. The University also maintains state-of-the-art core facilities for imaging and genomic analyses. The University Palmetto Computing Cluster is ranked in the Top 5 of university-owned supercomputers in the United States.
Recent graduates are employed in basic research; in industrial, hospital, public health and pollution control laboratories; with state and federal agencies; and in teaching positions in colleges and universities. Others are pursuing continuing graduate or postdoctoral studies in various institutions throughout the country.
The first, and most important, step in applying to the MS or PhD Microbiology graduate program is to identify and contact a faculty member with whom you have similar research interests and discuss potential opportunities in his or her lab for graduate research. Students are not admitted without a faculty member having indicated willingness to serve as the Faculty Advisor. See this list of our graduate faculty, their research interests, and contact information to get a better perspective of our program.
Applications are due on January 5th of each year. Admission is based on academic performance, standardized scores, reference letters, the personal statement (see next paragraph), and availability of space and resources in the proposed Faculty Advisor’s lab.
The online application asks for a personal statement that 1) addresses why the applicant wants to pursue a graduate degree in Microbiology and 2) describes previous research and other relevant experiences in this or related fields. It also asks the applicant to describe why he/she wants to pursue research with the particular Faculty Advisor that the student indicates on the application.
Graduate students accepted into the Microbiology graduate program are either awarded support through the Department of Biological Sciences as Graduate Teaching/Laboratory Assistants (GTAs) or from individual Faculty Advisor’s sponsored grant funds as Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs).
GTAs are available through the department to support teaching in undergraduate laboratories. These assistantships may be renewed annually up to three years for MS and five years for PhD students pending satisfactory progress toward the degree and positive teaching evaluations. All GTAs are 9-month appointments with a base rate of $19,000 for MS students and pre-candidacy PhD students. Stipends for PhD candidates are $21,000.
GRAs are awarded by individual Faculty Advisors from funds available on research grants upon acceptance to the program. Individual stipend amounts and conditions of renewal are determined by the individual Faculty Advisor, but currently funded GRA stipends range from $19,000 - $25,000 depending upon status (MS or PhD) and tenure of student (years in program). GRA support is negotiated by prospective students with individual Faculty Advisors.