Jul 14, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Microbiology, M.S.

College of Arts and Sciences  
Department: Molecular Biosciences


The M.S. in Microbiology is administered by the Department of Molecular Biosciences (MBS). The mission of the Department is to prepare graduate students for various professional careers in academia, government or industry in the areas of Cell Biology, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology. We pursue excellence in the following programmatic research areas: Bacterial Pathogenesis, Genome Integrity, Molecular Biophysics and Systems Biology, Biomedical Sciences and STEM education. 

Due to the interdisciplinary aspect of most research projects, faculty and graduate students often work together on broad ranging research projects that bring together many of the traditionally separate areas of biology.

Major Research Areas: Applied Microbiology, Pathogenic Microbiology, Cellular Microbiology, Molecular Microbiology, Ecological Microbiology

Admission Information

Must meet University Admission and English Proficiency requirements as well as requirements for admission to the major, listed below.

  • Submission of GRE scores is not required, but is strongly recommended for international applicants. 
  • It is expected that candidates for the M.S. degrees will have completed courses equivalent to those required for the B.S. in Microbiology at USF.
  • At least three letters of recommendation from professionals who can speak to your potential success in graduate school.  These are submitted via electronic submission by way of the online application portal and NOT via direct mailing in a sealed envelope.  The email requests for a letter of recommendation can be initiated via online admission portal or uploaded.  Please do not send hardcopy sealed letters directly to the Department of Molecular Biosciences (MBS).
  • A brief essay stating your intended field of research and professional goals. Please indicate your specific research interests, in order that the application may be referred to appropriate faculty members. In the essay, it is required to list two to three (2-3) MBS faculty members that you would like to have review your file.

Applying to the Department of Molecular Biosciences (MBS)
Students interested in attending graduate studies within the MBS Department should visit the MBS website that can be accessed from the main USF site and review the current MBS faculty. It is recommended that potential students consider at least two to three (2-3) MBS faculty that they would be interested in working with and communicate this information in their letter of application. It is also recommended that potential students contact the individual faculty members they are interested in working with via email. Such communication will facilitate the assignment of the laboratory rotations that MBS students will participate in during their first semester of residency and allow the applicant to determine whether the desired faculty member has positions available in the laboratory.

General Information - All students admitted to the Masters in Microbiology must establish a supervisory committee. The supervisory committee shall constitute the major professor and at least two additional credentialed faculty. (Refer to the Academic Policies  section for more information on composition requirements).  Supervisory committee must be formed within two semesters after matriculation. The MBS Graduate Director and Chair must approve the Supervisory Committee. Once a major professor has been assigned and/or a student occupies or utilizes significant space or facilities for research or analogous scholarly activity directly pertinent to the generation of a thesis, the student shall enroll for a minimum of two (2) hours of research credit each semester (other than summer semester), until eligible to enroll in thesis credits.

Because of the many undergraduate courses that require hands-on experimental laboratories, MBS support many graduate students as Teaching Assistants. MBS values high quality teaching at all levels of support. Research Assistant positions may also be available to support research with specific faculty members depending on an individual faculty members funding. Numerous scholarship opportunities are also offered on a competitive basis through the USF Office of Graduate Studies.

Curriculum Requirements

Total Minimum Hours: 30 Credit Hours

  • Core Requirements - 6 Credit Hours
  • Additional Required Courses - 3 Credit Hours Minimum
  • Elecctives - 7 Credit Hours Minimum
  • Thesis/Non-Thesis - 14 Credit Hours

Core Requirements (6 Credit Hours)

Additional Required Courses (3 Credit Hours)

Electives (7 credit Hours Minimum)

Select from the following or other graduate courses approved by the supervisory committee:

Lab Rotations

Where appropriate, students must complete three laboratory rotations during their first semester of residency.

Comprehensive Examination

A final comprehensive oral examination is required for all master’s students. This examination is open to all departmental faculty. Students must take their comprehensive exam within two years of matriculation and the exam is normally taken after the completion of all formal course work. For non-thesis students, the comprehensive qualifying exam is taken after all course work has been completed at the end of the program of study.  Thesis students must take the examination at least one semester before the thesis is presented.   The examination is administered and evaluated by the student’s graduate committee.

Non-Thesis Option (14 Credit Hours)

Students in the non-thesis option complete an additional fourteen (14) hours of electives.  

For students enrolled in the non-thesis option, 21-hours of elective courses (7 hours of electives and 14 hours of additional electives) and a review paper of a topic approved by the supervisory committee are required, as well as successful completion of the comprehensive oral qualifying exam after all course work has been completed. For non-thesis master’s students, this exam will occur at the end of the program of study.

Thesis Option (14 Credit Hours)

Thesis students are required to take the following (2 Credit Hours):

  • Credit Hours: 1
  • Credit Hours: 1

  • All thesis students must present a seminar to the Department and must be enrolled in BSC 6935, during the final semester. The seminar should be a concise summary of the research completed to satisfy the requirements for the M.S. Degree. The seminar is open to the general public and must be announced two weeks prior to the presentation. Upon completion of the seminar, the general public will be invited to ask questions. At the discretion of the student’s graduate committee, members of the committee may continue to question the graduate student after the general public has departed the seminar room. Each student is expected to defend his/her research to the unanimous satisfaction of the graduate committee.  Students should present posters or oral presentations based on their thesis research at national/regional professional meetings.


  • And complete the Thesis (12 Credit Hours minimum)

  • Credit Hours: 2-19 (12 Credit hours minimum for this program)

  • Submission of a thesis proposal and approval by the major professor, graduate committee and graduate director is required. A minimum of nine (9) thesis research credit hours (BSC 6971 Thesis: Master’s   ).  Thesis research should be publishable and students are encouraged to submit their findings to a peer-reviewed academic journal.