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Our Curricula

The Biological Sciences and Microbiology MS and PhD programs require coursework and independent research performed with the guidance of a faculty member. Most students also teach at least one semester during the program.

Details of the requirements for the MS and PhD in Biological Sciences and the MS and PhD in Microbiology can be found in our Graduate Student Guide.

Class offerings within the department reflect the breadth of expertise among our faculty, including microbiology, molecular biology, cell biology, developmental biology, neurobiology, physiology, ecology, environmental toxicology, and evolutionary biology. Additional courses are available from a number of departments on campus, including Biochemistry and Genetics, Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Forestry and Environmental Conservation, and Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The following courses are required of all graduate students in Biological Sciences and Microbiology.

Seminar. The Department of Biological Sciences hosts a weekly guest lecturer as part of the Departmental Seminar series. A wide variety of topics from across all disciplines of biology is presented. Ph.D. students are required to take the course associated with the seminar, BIOL 8120, for their first 3 years; M.S. students for their first 2 years. Exemption from this policy requires approval by the Graduate Programs Coordinator.

Reading Groups/Journal Clubs. One of the most profitable and enjoyable aspects of the graduate training program is the student’s participation in one or more Reading Groups. Such discussion groups will teach, develop and perfect a student’s ability to critically read, interpret, discuss, and present scientific literature and results. Graduate students in both Microbiology and Biological Sciences degree programs are required to take the Reading Group course (BIOL 8070 or MICR 8070) both Fall and Spring semesters for their first 3 years; M.S. students for their first 2 years. Participation includes attendance as well as leading the discussion at least once per semester. Although the format may vary among the various sections of BIOL 8070 and MICR 8070, each involves a meeting of the faculty and students working in areas of mutual interest to discuss recent developments, findings, and techniques that relate to their research interests. Exemption from this policy requires approval by the Graduate Programs Coordinator.

Graduate Teaching Assistant Colloquium. This course (BIOL 8130) is designed for graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) during their first year of laboratory instruction. It covers a variety of topics designed to prepare GTAs for departmental instructional duties, as well as information concerning safety and professional ethics in the laboratory classroom.

In addition to these courses, all Microbiology students are required to take graduate coursework in 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.