MS in Microbiology from USA: Top Universities, Programs, Requirements, Cost & Salary

by shishant.kumar

A master’s degree in microbiology is a two-year course offered by more than 80 colleges in the United States. The average tuition fee charged for the course is around $25,000 per year. Popular course related job titles include microbiologist, biotechnologist, a medicinal chemist and food technologist.

Microbiology is a Life Science discipline which studies small living things that cannot be seen without the assistance of a microscope. It examines microorganisms such as bacteria, virus & algae to improve human lives and the environment in multiple ways. The program is very popular among international students wanting to study in USA.  

Why Pursue a Master Degree in Microbiology from USA?

According to the 2018 QS World Ranking by subject, 6 out of the top 10 colleges/universities offering Life Sciences degrees are from the USA.

Although countries such as Germany, France, England, Australia, Japan and India are considerably advanced in the field of microbiology, the United States remains top priority for students with international academic aspirations in bioscience courses.

Pursuing a Master’s in Microbiology from USA comes with a number of perks which include:

  • Opportunity to learn at the world’s best colleges
  • Access technologically advanced laboratories
  • Access some of the world’s best research programs
  • Immense possibilities in professional and personal life
  • Exposure to diverse population and culture

Over the years, America has produced many notable figures that conducted ground-breaking research in the field of microbiology. Selman Abraham Waksman, a Jewish-American microbiologist, who finished his higher education from Rutgers University and University of California, Berkley, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1952 for his contributions to the field of medical science.

Top 10 Universities in USA for Microbiology

The table below shows top 10 American science colleges offering microbiology programs. The rankings have been recorded by US News & World Report and are based on reputation and research work in the field of microbiology.

RankCollege/University nameSubject Score (out of 100)
1Harvard University100
2Massachusetts Institute of Technology86
3University of California, San Francisco78
4University of Washington77.7
5University of California, Berkley74.7
6Duke University74.6
7Washington University in St. Louis74.4
8University of Pennsylvania74.3
9University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill72.7
10Rockefeller University72.4

The table above depicts top science schools in USA offering microbiology programs for students. Not all colleges mentioned in the table offer a Masters in Microbiology. For instance, UC Berkley has top level undergraduate programs in Microbiology but doesn’t offer a master’s degree in the same. Michigan State University and Arizona State University are a couple of the top American universities offering programs in microbiology at post-graduate level.

Masters in Microbiology- Specializations

The core subjects taught during the Masters of Microbiology program include:

  • Ethical research
  • Microorganism biology
  • Microbial physiology
  • Immunology
  • Pathogen microbiology
  • Genetics of bacteria

Microbiology can broadly be divided into two parts: Pure Microbiology & Applied Microbiology.

Pure Microbiology: It refers to the branches of microbiology in which a specific group of microorganisms are studied with the purpose of gaining a deeper understanding of their behavior and life. Some fields of Pure Microbiology are:

  • Bacteriology
  • Immunology
  • Mycology
  • Protozoology
  • Virology
  • Parasitology
  • Nematology

Applied Microbiology: Applied microbiology refers to the application of microorganisms and their study for the creation of products beneficial to human beings such as medicine, food preservatives, vaccines etc. Some of the applied microbiology specializations are:

  • Industrial Microbiology
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Agricultural microbiology
  • Pharmaceutical Microbiology
  • Microbial Ecology
  • Biotechnology

Masters in Microbiology- Requirements

International students planning to pursue a master’s degree in Microbiology from USA need to comply with the requirements and eligibility guidelines of different colleges that they wish to study in. While applying to a college in USA, you will usually be asked to submit the following documents:

  • Passport/ National Identity Card
  • Grade records (school and college)
  • Copy of past diplomas and degrees
  • Resume/CV
  • Recommendations (at least two)
  • Writing sample/Personal essay.
  • Letter of intent
  • Language test score (IELTS/TOEFL)

As a foreign national with a first language that isn’t English, all candidates applying to any field of study in American universities need to take up English language proficiency tests such as IELTS and TOEFL. Depending on the course that a student wishes to pursue, he/she might be asked to submit other test scores such as SAT, GMAT, GRE, ACT, MCAT, LSAT etc. Pursuing Master’s in Microbiology in USA will broadly require students to meet with the following prerequisites in most colleges:

  • Undergraduate GPA minimum 3.0 (on 4.0 scale)
  • Research experience
  • GRE scores: 50% Verbal and 70% Quantitative
  • Minimum TOEFL score of 80, or IELTS score of 6.5 for International students

Masters in Microbiology in USA without GRE

The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a standardized test which judges the analytical, verbal and quantitative skills of students seeking admission into masters or doctoral degree programs in the United States. GRE score is extremely crucial for students that want to pursue science and math related degrees in America. However, there are some colleges in the US that exempt students from submitting GRE scores if:

  • their cumulative GPA is exceptionally good
  • they possess substantial work experience
  • they have undertaken significant research work in the past

Although top level colleges in USA mandate a minimum GRE score for admission into a master’s degree program, flexibility in the weightage provided to GRE scores is observed widely. For instance, Arizona State University mentions GRE scores (verbal: 50, quantitative: 70) under ‘desired qualifications’ for applicants of MS in Microbiology but encourage students with a lower GRE to proceed with the application process.

Masters in Microbiology Online

Students can also pursue a master’s degree in Microbiology online. The college of Agriculture and Life Sciences at University of Florida provides Microbiology and Cell Science M.S. degree online. International students that want to apply for this course should preferably have a bachelor’s degree in one of the following subjects:

  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Biology
  • General Chemistry

In addition, international students seeking admission into this online degree course are required to send transcripts of their formal education at college and high school level. As mentioned earlier, students also need to submit their IELTS or TOEFL score and meet the minimum required score to gain entry into the course. Students who have finished their previous education from nationalities other than US need to submit their GRE scores. Some of the Top American colleges offering Masters in Microbiology online degree are:

Masters in Microbiology- Salary & Future Prospects

Someone with a master’s degree in Microbiology can pursue the jobs mentioned below or opt for higher studies (doctorate degree) in the same field.

JobAverage salary (per year)
Biomedical Scientist$90,000
Biotechnologist$70,175
Clinical Research Associate$58,656
Food Technologist$65,000
Healthcare Scientist$96,408
Medicinal Chemist$67,447
Microbiologist$49,282
Nanotechnologist$99,250

Cost of Pursuing Masters in Microbiology (USA)

Pursuing an M.S. (Master of Science) degree in USA can be expensive for international students. For instance, a graduate from India planning to pursue their Master’s degree from the United States would not only have to pay the tuition fee, but also accommodation charges. In addition, international students need to take up tests like TOEFL and IELTS to pursue higher studies in the USA. Total cost incurred by an international student would include application fees, test fees, flight charges etc. Given below is a table that roughly mentions the type and amount of costs an Indian student planning to pursue a Masters in microbiology in the USA would have to undertake.

CostPrice
GRE$250
TOEFL$180
Admission Applications (roughly 10)$1220
Visa$360
Flight (one way)$1300
Tuition (per year)$25000
Accommodation (per year)$12000
Books and utilities$1500

The total cost incurrent amounts to around $42,000. International students can avail merit based scholarships if they are eligible for the same. Every college comes with their own scheme of scholarships and students should thoroughly browse the college’s official website to be aware of all scholarship programs.

International students can also apply for financial aids and educational loans.

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