Microbiology is transforming our world more than ever before, from creating vaccines to driving new technological breakthroughs that impact our everyday lives. If you’re interested in careers in research and laboratory work, or pursuing medical school or graduate studies, the degree in microbiology is excellent preparation.
As a microbiology major, you’ll examine microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoa, with an emphasis on microbial structure and function, as well as interactions with humans and other organisms. Our program is distinguished by opportunities to engage in translational research that can impact human health and move swiftly into practice. We also offer innovative course formats that emphasize discussion and active collaboration among students and faculty.
labs and field sites studying health and ecology
million acres of wilderness surround UM for biological and ecological research
estimated average salary of UM microbiology bachelor's degree graduates
What can you do with a microbiology degree?
With so many innovations being driven by microbiological-based work, there is high demand for microbiologists in a variety of fields — from food science, to medicine, to engineering and biotech.
Many of our microbiology majors go on to medical school and other types of graduate study. Others complete their bachelor’s degree and go directly into careers in health, biotechnology, quality control, food safety and other industries. Our students have also found employment with government or other regulatory agencies such as the FDA or the State Pathology or Coroners Offices.
- Clinical lab technician
- Laboratory director
- Food technologist
- Research scientist
- Biology teacher
We estimate that graduates of our bachelor’s degree in microbiology earn an average of $87,520 per year. However, your earning potential will depend on many different factors, including the specific type of work you pursue and your level of education and experience in your field. Example microbiology salaries, based on data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, include:
- Microbiologist: $84,400
- Agricultural and food scientists: $68,830
- Clinical laboratory technologists: $54,180
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“My time in the microbiology program at the University of Montana has provided me with both an exquisite appreciation of the molecular mechanisms that guide bacterial interactions with host defenses and an in-depth appreciation of the role that genetics and evolution play in shaping biological systems”.
- Devin Hunt, UM microbiology and biology major
Experiential learning in the microbiology degree
Engage in hands-on research in the areas of microbial genomics, evolution and genetics to answer important questions related to microbial ecology and host-microbe interactions. If you’re interested in conducting research that translates from the bench to the bedside, you’ve come to the right place.
Our faculty have research interests that span environmental microbiology to viruses to pathogenic bacteria. Many are also affiliated with the Center for Translational Medicine here at UM, offering unique opportunities for our students. Areas of research expertise include:
- Cellular biology
- Molecular biology
- Microbial ecology
- Molecular evolution
Career development in the microbiology major
One of the advantages of earning your degree in microbiology at UM is that we’re big enough to offer all the opportunities of a major research university, yet small enough to provide the personal attention and mentorship to help students succeed — in their careers as well as in the classroom.
Our microbiology program has a strong focus on advising, including career-specific advising for microbiology majors who are planning for specific pre-professional programs (such as medical or veterinary school). You’ll also find a variety of active clubs and student organizations that are ideal for making new connections and building expertise in your field.
Most of all, you’ll have the expertise and support of our amazing faculty who, in addition to being internationally recognized leaders in their fields, our faculty are caring, dedicated and accessible teachers who are here to help.
Get additional help paying for your degree in microbiology. We offer a variety of departmental scholarships you can add to your financial aid to help cover tuition costs and more. Explore scholarship opportunities for biology majors at UM.
Microbiology degree requirements
Coursework for the bachelor’s degree in microbiology at the University of Montana explores areas such as microbial genetics, microbial physiology and biochemistry. The program also includes required coursework in mathematics, physics and chemistry.