Microbiology, B.S.

Program Code: MICRB_BS

Program Description

Microbiology is the science of the "simple" forms of life and of the response of more complex life forms to their presence and activities. Students in the Microbiology major will

  1. complete a comprehensive study of life processes at the molecular and cellular level, with particular emphasis on prokaryotes, and
  2. perform basic and advanced techniques in laboratory methodology.

Through advanced course study, the many subdisciplines of microbiology such as molecular genetics, immunology, and virology may be explored more fully. Ample opportunities exist for participation in faculty-initiated research projects. Extensive laboratory experience is a particular strength of the major. Courses in such applied areas as industrial, medical, and food microbiology help prepare students for careers in the pharmaceutical, biotechnical, and agricultural industries.

What is Microbiology?

Microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms and how they interact with other organisms and the environment. Topics in microbiology include how microbes benefit and harm human health, the role of microbes in the environment, and how microbes can be used in medicine, agriculture, and engineering.

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You like learning by doing experiments.
  • You are fascinated by the diversity and interconnectedness of life.
  • You are interested in learning about the interplay between infectious disease and the immune response.
  • You want to pursue a career in genetic engineering, medicine, public health, or environmental studies.

Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to the Microbiology major, a student must have:

  1. attained at least a 2.00 cumulative grade-point average and
  2. completed and earned a grade of C or better in each of the following courses: CHEM 110, CHEM 111, CHEM 112, MATH 140.

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology, a minimum of 125 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Requirements for the Major 95

15 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 9 credits of GN courses; 6 credits of GQ courses.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits

Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)

  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement    

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Requirements for the Major

To graduate, a grade of C or better is required in 9 credits of any BMB, or MICRB 400-level course except BMB 443W, BMB 445W, BMB 448, BMB 488, BMB 496, MICRB 421W, MICRB 422, MICRB 447.

To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn a grade of C or better in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
BIOL 322Genetic Analysis3
BMB 400Molecular Biology of the Gene2
BMB 401General Biochemistry3
BMB 402General Biochemistry3
BMB 428Physical Chemistry with Biological Applications3
BMB 442Laboratory in Proteins, Nucleic Acids, and Molecular Cloning3
CHEM 113Experimental Chemistry II Keystone/General Education Course1
CHEM 210Organic Chemistry I3
CHEM 212Organic Chemistry II3
CHEM 213Laboratory in Organic Chemistry2
MATH 141Calculus with Analytic Geometry II Keystone/General Education Course4
MICRB 201Introductory Microbiology 13
MICRB 202Introductory Microbiology Laboratory2
MICRB 251Molecular and Cell Biology I 13
MICRB 252Molecular and Cell Biology II 13
MICRB 421WLaboratory of General and Applied Microbiology3
PHYS 250Introductory Physics I Keystone/General Education Course4
PHYS 251Introductory Physics II Keystone/General Education Course4
PSU 16First-Year Seminar Science1
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
CHEM 110Chemical Principles I Keystone/General Education Course3
CHEM 111Experimental Chemistry I Keystone/General Education Course1
CHEM 112Chemical Principles II Keystone/General Education Course3
MATH 140Calculus With Analytic Geometry I Keystone/General Education Course4
Additional Courses
Select four of the following:11-12
Microbial Physiology and Structure
Principles of Immunology
Medical Microbiology
General Virology: Bacterial and Animal Viruses
Microbial/Molecular Genetics
Select 3-4 credits of the following:3-4
Laboratory in Molecular Genetics I
Model Systems and Approaches in Cell Biology Inquiry
Medical Microbiology Laboratory
Laboratory in Molecular Immunology
Select 6-7 credits of the following: 26-7
Instructional Practice
Communities of Practice in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Independent Studies
Food Microbiology
Any other MICRB 400-level course
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Select 8-10 credits from department list8-10

Note: A student enrolled in an ROTC program may, after consultation with the head of the microbiology program, substitute up to 6 credits of ROTC in the categories of Additional Courses and Supporting Courses and Related Areas. 

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.

READ SENATE POLICY 32-00: ADVISING POLICY

University Park

Jennifer Keefer
Academic Adviser
Address 1: 239 Ritenour Building
University Park ( UP)
814-863-5487
jls227@psu.edu

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2021-22 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contain suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Microbiology, B.S. at University Park Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PSU 161MICRB 20113
CHEM 110*#†3MICRB 203 or 202 (Consult with an academic adviser for options)2
CHEM 111*#†1CHEM 112*#†3
MATH 140 or 140B*‡#†4CHEM 1131
ENGL 15, 30H, or ESL 153MATH 141 or 141B‡†4
General Education Course3CAS 100A, 100B, or 100C3
 15 16
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
MICRB 25113MICRB 25213
CHEM 2103CHEM 2123
PHYS 250 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)4CHEM 2132
Department List C (Consult with an academic adviser for options)3PHYS 251 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)4
General Educaiton Course3BIOL 3223
 16 15
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BMB 40022BMB 40223
BMB 40123BMB 4423
MICRB 401 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)23MICRB 412 or 415 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)23
MICRB 421W3MICRB 422 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)2
General Education Course3General Education Course6
General Education Course (GHW)1.5 
 15.5 17
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
MICRB 450 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)22MICRB 400-Level Selections (Consult with an academic adviser for options)23
MICRB 400-Level Selections (Consult with an academic adviser for options)25MICRB 410 or 415 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)23
BMB 42823MICRB 447 (Consult with an academic adviser for options)1
Department List C (consult with an academic adviser for options)4ENGL 202C, 202A, 202B, or 202D3
General Education Course (GHW)1.5Department List C (consult with an academic adviser for options)2
 General Education Course3
 15.5 15
Total Credits 125

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and replace both ENGL 30H and CAS 100. Each course is 3 credits.

 

Microbiology, B.S. at University Park Campus (MATH 22 Start)

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
BIOL 1104CHEM 110*#†3CHEM 112*#†3
MATH 2213CHEM 111*#†1CHEM 1131
MATH 2613MATH 140*#†14 
ENGL 15, ESL 15, or ENGL 30H3CAS 100A, 100B, or 100C3 
General Education Course3General Education Course3 
 16 14 4
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
MICRB 20123BIOL 230W†24PHYS 251 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)4
MICRB 2022CHEM 2123 
CHEM 2103CHEM 2132 
MATH 141†14PHYS 250 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)4 
General Education Course3General Education Course3 
 15 16 4
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits 
BIOL 22243BMB 40233 
BMB 25223BMB 4423 
BMB 40133MICRB 412 or 415 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)33 
MICRB 421W3MICRB 422 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)2 
General Education Course3General Education Course3 
 15 14 
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits 
BMB 42833BMB 40032 
MICRB 401 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)33MICRB 410 or 415 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)33 
MICRB 450 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)33MICRB 447 (Consult with an academic adviser for options)1 
MICRB 400-Level Selections (Consult with an academic adviser for options)33MICRB 400-Level Selections (Consult with an academic adviser for options)33 
ENGL 202C, 202A, 202B, or 202D3General Education Course (GHW)3 
 15 12 
Total Credits 125

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and replace both ENGL 30H and CAS 100. Each course is 3 credits.

Microbiology, B.S. at Commonwealth Campuses

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
CHEM 110*#†3BIOL 230W†14
CHEM 111*#†1CHEM 112*#†3
MATH 140*‡#†4CHEM 1131
BIOL 1104MATH 141‡†4
ENGL 15, ESL 15, or ENGL 30H3CAS 100A, 100B, or 100C3
General Education Course (GHW)1.5General Education Course (GHW)1.5
 16.5 16.5
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
MICRB 20113BIOL 322 or 22233
MICRB 2022CHEM 2123
CHEM 2103CHEM 2132
PHYS 250 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)4PHYS 251 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)4
General Education Course3General Education Course3
 15 15
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BMB 25213BMB 40223
BMB 40123BMB 4423
MICRB 421W3MICRB 412 or 415 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)23
MICRB 401 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)23MICRB 422 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)2
General Education Course3General Education Course3
Department List C (Consult with an academic adviser for options)1Department List C (Consult with an academic adviser for options)1
 16 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BMB 42823BMB 40022
MICRB 410 or 450 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)23MICRB 412 or 415 (Consult with an academic adviser for alternative options)23
MICRB 400-Level Selections (Consult with an academic adviser for options)23MICRB 447 (Consult with an academic adviser for options)1
ENGL 202C, 202A, 202B, or 202D3MICRB 400-Level Selections (Consult with an academic adviser for options)3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
Department List C (Consult with an academic adviser for options)1Department List C (Consult with an academic adviser for options)3
 16 15
Total Credits 125

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

Career Paths

Penn State students with a BS in Microbiology are prepared for jobs in industry as well as government, medical and university research laboratories. Many students also decide to continue their studies by attending graduate programs or professional schools including medical, dental, business and law school.

Careers

A BS in Microbiology prepares students for a wide variety of careers, including health related professions, professions in academia, government, and industry. Examples of microbiology related careers are:

  • Agricultural or Environmental Scientist
  • Biological / Media Illustrator
  • Biomedical Researcher
  • Biosecurity and Biodefense
  • Brewery Scientist
  • Clinical Microbiology Lab Director
  • Drug Development
  • Food Safety Expert
  • Genetic Engineer
  • Health Professions – e.g. Dentist, Optometrist, Pharmacist, Physician, Physician Assistant
  • Industrial Microbiologist
  • Patent Attorney
  • Pharmaceutical Sales
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Professor
  • Public Health Scientist
  • Research Technician
  • Science Policy Expert
  • Science Writer / Editor

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT POTENTIAL CAREER OPTIONS FOR GRADUATES OF THE MICROBIOLOGY PROGRAM

Opportunities for Graduate Studies

Many Penn State students with a BS in Microbiology will pursue graduate education (MS or PhD) in microbiology or other related disciplines (biochemistry, biology, bioinformatics, cell biology, chemistry, genomics, geo-microbiology, immunology, neurobiology, toxicology, pharmacology, plant pathology, and others). A BS in microbiology will also prepare students to pursue higher degrees in the health professions. Opportunities for graduate studies include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Graduate Studies (MS or PhD)
  • Dental School Medical School (MD or DO)
  • Optometry School
  • Pharmacy School
  • Physical Therapy School
  • Public Health (MPH)
  • Veterinary School

In addition, graduates with a Microbiology degree may decide to pursue further education in law or business.

Professional Resources

Contact

University Park

DEPARTMENT OF BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY
108 Althouse Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802
814-863-5487
bmbundergrad@psu.edu

http://bmb.psu.edu/about/copy_of_contact