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Master of Science (M.S.) in Microbiology

The intent of the Microbiology M.S. program is to produce scientists with the ability to conduct independent research and to be fluent in the scientific literature. As a terminal degree, the Master of Science in Microbiology qualifies students for technical research positions in academia, industry, and government research facilities. It also prepares students to progress into doctoral programs in Microbiology and related areas.



Acceptance to the Microbiology M.S. program requires that a faculty member agree to serve as the candidate’s advisor. Candidates must have at least a 3.0 GPA for all upper-division credits taken in the previous degree program. Scores in the verbal, quantitative, and analytical portions of the GRE must be submitted; scores in the 35th percentile or higher are required on the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE. If either the GPA or GRE requirement is not met, the Graduate Programs Committee may choose to admit the candidate to “Classified (w/PR)” status.



It is expected that applicants to the program will have a broad scientific background and will have completed coursework at the undergraduate level in the following areas:

  • 1 semester of Calculus (Calculus through Multivariable Calculus recommended)
  • 1 year of General Chemistry (+lab)
  • 1 year of Organic Chemistry (+lab)
  • 1 year of Physics (+lab)
  • 1 semester of Quantitative Analysis, Analytical Chemistry, or Inorganic Chemistry (+lab)
  • 1 semester of Statistics
  • Genetics (lab recommended)
  • General Microbiology (+lab)

The Microbiology M.S. program will be tailored to the requirements of the student’s program of study (as determined by the student’s Advisory Committee), and will include coursework to rectify any deficiencies as determined by the student’s Advisory Committee.

Coursework taken at the undergraduate level to satisfy deficiencies does not count toward the graduate degree; however, such coursework must appear on the student’s Planned Program of Study. Coursework taken at the undergraduate level to satisfy deficiencies must be taken for letter grades, and the grades earned must be “C” or better.


Graduate Coursework in the Microbiology M.S. program

The M.S. program requires a substantial, original research project that culminates in a thesis; a minimum of 30 credits (including research and thesis) earned in graduate courses and seminars and expertise in one or more conceptual areas of the major sub-disciplines of Microbiology. The student’s Advisory Committee will direct the student to specific course offerings to satisfy the coursework guidelines.

The three core areas in the Microbiology M.S. program are:

  • Biochemistry, Genetics, Molecular Biology, and Physiology of Microorganisms
  • Immunology, Virology, and Medical Microbiology
  • Microbial Ecology and Applied, Industrial, and Environmental Microbiology

Thirty total graduate credits approved by the Student's Advisory Committee and the Graduate School are required to complete the Microbiology M.S. degree program. At least 15 of these credit hours must be earned at the 6600 level. Students must take a minimum of 3 credits of BIOL 6648 Graduate Problems and 3 credits of BIOL 6650 Thesis. During the second semester of their first year in the program, students in the Microbiology M.S. program will present their research proposal in a public forum as part of BIOL 6695 Seminar in Microbiology. Students in the Microbiology M.S. program will also take 2 additional credits of Seminar in Microbiology (BIOL 6695).


Course Requirements for the M.S. degree in microbiology*

Course number

Course title


BIOL 6690

Careers in Life Sciences (fall semester of first year)


BIOL 6605

Biometry (spring semester)


BIOL 6691

Seminar (second semester)


BIOL 6648

Graduate Problems


BIOL 6650



BIOL 6695

Seminar in Microbiology


Other course work       To be determined by committee approval


*BIOL 6648 and BIOL 6650 may be repeated for a total of 9 and 6 credits, respectively.



Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee consists of a minimum of three faculty members who are members of the Idaho State University graduate faculty. The student, in consultation with the major advisor, selects at least one additional faculty member from the Department of Biological Sciences. An additional faculty member from outside the Department of Biological Sciences, designated as the Graduate Faculty Representative (GFR), also must serve on the committee. The GFR is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School, who is open to recommendations from the major advisor. The GFR need only participate in the thesis defense but may be involved throughout the student’s program. The initial committee meeting should be held during the first semester of the student’s graduate program.


Written Proposal, Proposal Seminar, and Proposal Defense

During the second semester of the first year in the program, Microbiology M.S. students must submit a research proposal to the student’s Advisory Committee two weeks before a formal seminar presentation of the proposed research. This proposal will:

  1. be at least five pages in length, with citations appended,
  2. be retained in the student’s departmental file.

Students will present a seminar on their proposed thesis research as part of BIOL 6695. At least one week before the seminar, students must submit an abstract to the seminar organizer. Immediately following the proposal seminar, the student will defend the proposal in a closed session with their Advisory Committee. A revised proposal addressing questions raised at the defense must be approved by the advisory committee by the end of the semester in which the seminar was given.


Thesis, Thesis Seminar and Thesis Defense

Each Microbiology M.S. applicant must submit a thesis embodying the results of original and creative research. The thesis must demonstrate the student’s ability in scientific investigation. The thesis must include a comprehensive review of the literature on the topic, and must demonstrate an organized, coherent development of ideas, with a clear exposition of results and creative discussion on the conclusions. The form and style of the thesis should comply with the format prescribed by the national or international-level journal in which the student intends to publish the material and must meet the requirements of “Instructions for Preparing Theses, Dissertations, D.A. Papers, and Professional Projects,” which is available from the Graduate School. Within the framework of these constraints, however, the format of the thesis can vary in the number and arrangement of chapters. After the thesis has been approved for format and content by the major professor, and not later than two weeks before the date of the final examination, the student must deliver a copy of the thesis to each member of the advisory committee.

Following completion of the written thesis, the student will present the research findings in a public seminar. The thesis presentation will be followed by an oral defense conducted by the Advisory Committee. The student is responsible for scheduling the defense with the Graduate School and advertising the thesis seminar, with notices posted in the Life Sciences Building and in the Department newsletter or email, at least one week in advance of the seminar date.

Please refer to the manual, Instructions for Preparing Theses, Dissertations, Doctor of Arts Papers, and Professional Projects, for thesis clearance instructions.


Residency Requirements

The equivalent of at least two years of full-time study is required. Part of the work may be completed elsewhere with the approval of a student’s Advisory Committee, but two consecutive regular semesters of full-time study must be taken in residence at this university.