Microbiology is the branch of biology that studies the smallest living things: bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, and viruses. It also studies immunology—how higher organisms respond to foreign substances.
This is an excellent major for undergraduate students who want a good general education with an emphasis on an important and interesting branch of biology. It also is an excellent major for students who plan to pursue advanced degrees in medicine, dentistry, or another health profession.
Examples of what microbiologists do include:
- Environmental microbiologists who identify organisms and conduct research on their uses, such as cleaning up oil spills and hazardous wastes. They also develop genetic probes that can detect microbial contaminants in the water supply.
- Agricultural microbiologists who work to develop disease-resistant crops or produce vaccines to protect livestock from disease. They also identify organisms that can reduce dependence on chemical pesticides.
- Medical microbiologists and virologists who identify and study the microorganisms that cause diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Lyme disease, and toxic shock syndrome.
- Immunologists who contribute to a better understanding of the immune response and to the development of vaccines.
Students in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
You may join the Microbiology Undergraduate Student Association (MUSA), which supports microbiology students. Each year several MUSA members attend the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college.
Course work for the BS degree in microbiology includes:
- Biological sciences
- Chemistry and organic chemistry
- Biochemistry and molecular biology
- Biostatistics or calculus
You'll be encouraged to conduct research for credit, and you also might take additional course work in subjects such as statistics, physical chemistry, or computer science, depending on what you plan to do after graduation.
All students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who wish to earn a bachelor's degree must complete the requirements of the GE CLAS Core.
See Microbiology in the UI General Catalog to learn more about required course work for the major or minor and graduating with honors.