Program Overview


State-of-the-art research opportunities for graduate students in the heart of the Pioneer Valley.

The Department of Microbiology at UMass Amherst offers programs of graduate study leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in microbiology. The general requirements for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in microbiology are those of the Graduate School. By the end of the first semester, if not before, the student should select a research area. For those students pursuing a Ph.D. degree, a comprehensive examination is administered between the third and fourth semesters of graduate study. It consists of both written and oral parts and is designed to evaluate the extent to which students have acquired a working knowledge of the principles of microbiology.

The department also offers a special Fifth-Year Master's Program designed exclusively for its undergraduate microbiology majors.

All graduate students are required to take the Departmental Seminar (also known as the "Graduate Seminar") as part of their course load.

The graduate program in microbiology offers broad training which provides our graduates with the flexibility and depth necessary to compete effectively for research positions in universities, industry and government. The following research fields are represented in the department: microbial physiology, genetics, immunology, parasitology, pathogenic bacteriology, molecular biology, microbial ecology, and environmental microbiology.

Faculty in the department also participate in a number of other graduate programs at the university.

Financial Aid Information

Financial aid is available in the form of University fellowships and teaching assistantships. Research assistantships are available for advanced graduate students. All awards include a waiver of tuition.

Current Graduate Students

Our graduate enrollment is usually between 25 and 30 students. Most of our Ph.D. graduates during the past ten years have been awarded postdoctoral fellowships at leading academic institutions. A high proportion of the earlier graduates are either faculty members in highly rated university departments or hold senior research management positions in industry. In recent years, our Ph.D. graduates have had multiple offers of postdoctoral fellowships prior to or shortly after graduation. ASM meetings provide excellent opportunities for our graduates to secure postdoctoral positions or jobs in industry. Graduate students participating in national conferences as first author or first presenter are awarded departmental travel funds to the meetings.

Curt Thorne Carry On Award

Curt ThorneEach year the Microbiology Faculty award the "Curt Thorne Carry On Award" to a student in the Microbiology Graduate Program.  The award was established in 2008 to honor former Microbiology Faculty member Curt Thorne.  The student is chosen based on contributions to the Department and their discipline and for serving as a role model to other students.  Past winners of the award are as follows:

  • 2022 Emily Bechtold
  • 2021 Emily Melzer
  • 2020 Srishti Kashyap
  • 2019 Kathryn Rahlwes
  • 2018 Bryan Salas-Santiago
  • 2017 Begüm Topcuoglu
  • 2016 Jennifer Hayashi
  • 2015 Lucy Stewart
  • 2014 Mostafa Elfawal
  • 2013 Amy Biddle
  • 2012 Jeniffer Concepción
  • 2011 Zarath Summers
  • 2010 Helene Ver Eecke
  • 2009 Katir Patel
  • 2008 Nicholas Renzette

Microbiology Graduate Student Handbook