Online Master's Degrees in Microbiology

Microbiology involves the study of bacteria, viruses, and fungi to understand how these organisms interact with the environment. Microbiologists identify causes of diseases and develop drugs to combat them through laboratory experiments and research projects.

Students with a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related field can apply for a master’s program in microbiology. This advanced degree explores many fundamental topics in microbiology and infectious diseases. It can open up several lucrative opportunities for graduates in medicine, pharmaceuticals, and other industries.

The curriculum of an advanced microbiology program focuses on topics such as clinical microbiology, parasitology, immunology, and mycology. Students can also explore a wide variety of subjects such as infectious disease, bioinformatics, genetics, virology, metabolic regulation, and immunology. Many of these programs are also aligned with specialty training programs in infectious diseases such as the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board (JRCPTB) and the Royal College of Pathologists (RCPath).

Upon completion of a master’s in microbiology, students can continue their education in medical, dental, and veterinary schools. They can also choose to work in agriculture, the pharmaceutical industry, research institutes, biotech firms, public health laboratories, and government organizations. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for microbiologists in 2017 was $69,960 per year.

The following guide covers five reputable online master’s programs in microbiology and three distinguished faculty members who teach them.

Featured Online Masters Programs in Microbiology

George Washington University

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences at GW provides an online master of science in health sciences (MSHS) in clinical microbiology. The program is ideal for students who wish to get certified in microbiology. It prepares them for positions in diagnostic medical laboratories as well as the national certification exam in clinical microbiology. Applicants to the program need a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

The 36-credit program comprises 20 credits of medical laboratory science courses, nine credits of graduate research courses, and a four-credit practicum. Along with theoretical knowledge, students gain hands-on experience in clinical microbiology and take a deep dive into medical laboratory topics such as microbial pathogenesis, advanced clinical parasitology, mycology, advanced molecular diagnostics, and advanced laboratory management. The graduate research courses include research ethics and scientific integrity, epidemiology for clinical and translational research, and biostatistics. While all of the didactic courses are taught online, the clinical microbiology practicum is completed at an approved hospital or laboratory.

Other than the MSHS program, GWU also offers a 20-credit online post-baccalaureate certificate in microbiology, which covers subjects such as clinical bacteriology, parasitology, mycology, immunology, and lab management and operations. Upon successful completion, students go on to pursue careers as biotechnologists, clinical researchers, clinical microbiology instructors, and microbiology laboratory directory.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Format: Online with one in-person practicum
  • Tuition: $925 per credit
  • Program length: 24 months

University of Florida

The University of Florida houses the largest microbiology department in the country. The school’s online masters program in microbiology, with a concentration in medical microbiology and biochemistry, can be completed within a year, with no campus visit requirements, making it ideal for working professionals who wish to enhance their skills and knowledge. What’s more, online students enjoy the same facilities, faculty, and quality education as their on-campus counterparts.

The 30-credit program combines courses from departments such as molecular genetics and molecular biology. This sets the degree apart from other microbiology programs. Other topics include genetics, bioinformatics, DNA and RNA viruses, virology, infectious diseases, and metabolic regulation. The program also includes a unique introductory track with two courses on the basic biology of microorganisms and the fundamentals of biochemistry and molecular biology. Overall, the program provides students with a thorough understanding of microbiology and cell science.

The online master’s in microbiology program prepares students for dental, medical, and veterinary schools. They can also pursue opportunities in pharmaceutical companies, agriculture, and government organizations.

  • Location: Gainesville, FL
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $535 per credit
  • Program length: 12 months

The University of Edinburgh

The clinical microbiology and infectious diseases (CMID) postgraduate program offered by the University of Edinburgh is available online and can be completed in three years. This program is designed for junior doctors interested in infectious diseases. It is open to trainees worldwide.

This entirely online and part-time program provides students access to a world of research and critical texts about infection and microbiology. They learn subjects such as introduction to immunology, the biology of bacteria, fungi, parasites, and prions. In the second year, students take a look at immunopathology, molecular diagnostics of infection, infection prevention and control, and HIV infection. They also gain a better understanding of bioinformatics, emerging infectious diseases, and infection medicine. The interactive nature of the program offers students an opportunity to learn from classmates, clinicians, and scientists from around the world.

Students who wish to further their career in academic medicine will find a lot of valuable information in the courses offered. The degree also involves training in JRCPTB and RCPath and helps trainees and specialists prepare for FRCPath Part 1 and other hospital-related practices.

  • Location: South Bridge, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: £4,900 for the full program
  • Program length: 36 months

Johns Hopkins University (Related Program)

Johns Hopkins University offers an online master of science in biotechnology degree. Applicants must have a GPA of at least 3.0 and a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Though the program can be completed online, laboratory experience is preferred for biology, chemistry, and organic chemistry.

The ten-course program provides students with an in-depth view of applied science, basic science, and laboratory science. Students conduct research, develop decision-making skills, and implement their investigation into large projects. The concentrations offered include bioinformatics, biodefense, drug discovery, and biotechnology enterprise. They delve into topics such as bio-organic chemistry, molecular biology, communication for healthcare professionals, cell culture techniques, and marketing aspects of biotechnology.

One of the highlights of the program is that it makes students eligible to apply for a fellowship at the National Cancer Institute. The fellowship offers an opportunity to gain valuable experience and knowledge in the field of cancer research and provides a nominal stipend.

On successful completion of the MS in biotechnology program, students have several avenues open to them in biospace and the biotech industry. They can also pursue opportunities at upcoming biotech startups.

  • Location: Baltimore, MD
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Format: Online with recommended in-person labs
  • Tuition: $4,322 per course
  • Program length: 36 months

Georgetown University (Related Graduate Certificate)

The online 12-credit graduate certificate in biohazardous threat agents and emerging infectious diseases is offered by Georgetown University Medical Center. The program examines threat agents, specifically in areas such as bioterrorism, response, biodefense, community resilience, homeland security, and capacity to CBRNE threats.

The fully online program offers full-time as well as part-time options. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be accepted. Credit hours that students earn in this program are also transferable to the master’s and doctorate programs offered by the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

The program explores microbiology threat agents such as smallpox, anthrax, Ebola, plague, and tularemia. Online students enjoy the same experienced faculty that teaches the biohazardous threat agents master of science program at Georgetown University campus. They also have access to Georgetown’s other online resources and get a chance to interact with classmates and professors.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $2,065 per credit
  • Program length: 24 months

Professors to Know in Online Masters in Microbiology Programs

Dr. Bellanti serves as director of the International Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Immunology at Georgetown University Medical Center. He teaches courses in pediatrics and microbiology-immunology, and his research efforts are focused on antimicrobial research, evaluation of new vaccine strategies, and developmental immunology. Along with teaching, Dr. Bellanti has also directed programs in developmental immunology and allergy. His research has appeared in prominent journals such as Annals of Allergy and Pediatric Research, and he currently serves as editor-in-chief of Allergy & Asthma Proceedings. In recognition of his contributions to his field, Dr. Bellanti has received several honors such as the E. Mead Johnson Award for excellence in pediatric research and the Outstanding Educators of America Award of the William Peck Society from the American College of Allergy and Immunology. He completed his doctor of medicine from the University of Buffalo.

Dr. Marcia Firmani teaches clinical microbiology and molecular diagnostics at George Washington University. She is director of the medical laboratory sciences program and assistant professor in the integrated health sciences department. She has ten years of teaching and research experience under her belt. Before she joined the GW, she served as the principal investigator at the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC), where she managed multiple projects on health intervention and disaster response, translational health sciences, military-affiliated programs, and medical laboratory science. Her work has been published in prominent journals such as Infection and Immunity and the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. Dr. Firmani has authored several textbook chapters on infectious diseases. She completed her doctorate at the University of California in Berkeley, her master’s in public health from Tulane University, and her bachelor’s degree from Marist College.