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How do I declare the Microbiology Major?

You will need to schedule an appointment with a Microbiology Major advisor to declare the major. Please schedule with the advisor assigned for your last name. Appointments are made via Starfish in MyUW.

Why would I want to declare the Microbiology Major?

The Microbiology Major is great for students who are interested in:

  • Microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses
  • Disease, pathogens, or health
  • Solving big problems
  • Gaining hands-on laboratory experience
  • Tackling today’s biggest issues
  • Analyzing problems with a global perspective
  • Science communication and science-related policy
  • Engaging with others in the STEM community and beyond
  • Healthcare, academia, industry, and other careers
  • And MORE!

What college is Microbiology in?

You would complete the Microbiology major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). All new students to the major will declare with CALS.

Studentss who declared Microbiology before Summer 2023 may be housed in the College of Letters & Science (L&S). An option between a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) has previously been offered. Students who already declared Microbiology in L&S will have until 2027 to complete their degree.

Can I graduate in four years with a Microbiology Major?

The Microbiology major and other degrees are designed so that you can complete all university, college, and major requirements in four years. Regardless of if you came in with credits from high school (i.e., AP, IB, Dual Enrollment, CLEP, transfer credits from another instituion, etc.), or you have zero incoming credits your first year. See an example Four-Year Plan here.

To talk about a Four-Year Degree Plan specific to your requirements and interests, please meet with your major advisor once you have started at UW-Madison – you can work together to create a degree plan!

Is there a Microbiology Student Club I can join?

Yes! Learn more about this organization on our Microbiology Club page.

Can I do research in this major?

Yes! We encourage undergraduate students to participate in research. You can find more information about getting involved in research and enrolling in research credit on our Research page.

What careers can I do with a Microbiology Major?

The Microbiology major offers a very broad and foundational education that sets up graduates to find success in various fields and professions. Our alumni have found employment in various areas in and out of the field of science. Some of those fields include, but are not limited to: Research, Biotechnology, Public Health, Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare, Education, Manufacturing, Information Technology, Government, Environment, and Consulting.


If you’re interested in talking about the unlimited pathways and careers Microbiology can take you, please meet with one of our career advisors!

Can I do another major or certificate alongside the Microbiology Major?

Yes! There are many majors and certificates offered at UW-Madison you can pair with you Microbiology major! It is great to do a science-adjacent or science-complementing certificates and second majors. Please work with your advisors early on. This allows you to formulate a degree plan and ensure all requirements can be reasonably met within your timeline.

Some of the most popular additional majors are Global Health, Chemistry, Life Science Communication, Statistics, and Spanish. A few common certificates include Global Health, Life Sciences Communication, Data Science, Health and Humanities, Statistics, and Environmental Studies.

Here are tools to explore additional certificates and majors: https://guide.wisc.edu/explore-majors/ and https://www.wisc.edu/academics/majors/#majors

Can I study abroad in the Microbiology Major?

Yes! Some programs may even be able to fulfill major/degree requirements. You can start with the Study Abroad Major Advising Page (MAP) for Microbiology. If you know you want to study abroad, please work with your advisors early on to plan out your classes and ensure all requirements can be reasonably met within your timeline.

Can I apply for scholarships and awards as a Microbiology major?

Yes! The Bacteriology Department offers a number of awards for undergraduate and graduate students in Microbiology. To learn more about the awards and apply, visit the Scholarships & Awards page.

Current and incoming students can also apply for campus-wide or college-specific scholarships and awards through the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WiSH) at: https://wisc.academicworks.com/.

*Many scholarships open in November and close in early February. Apply early!

What are the math and chemistry requirements?

Review the major requirements on the Guide page.

The Microbiology major requires Calculus I (MATH 221 or MATH 117 & MATH 217) and an introductory Statistics course (STAT 301 or STAT 371).

The Microbiology major also requires General Chemistry (CHEM 103 & CHEM 104 or CHEM 109 or CHEM 115 & CHEM 116) and Organic Chemistry (CHEM 343 & CHEM 344 & CHEM 345).

How can I check my progress in the major?

Once you have started at UW-Madison, you can submit a request and review your DARS report under the tab “Degree Audit (DARS)” in Course Search & Enroll via MyUW. You can also request for programs, majors, or certificates that you have not declared but are interested in declaring.

How can I plan out my courses to graduation? What courses should I take this semester?

The Degree Planner online tool can be accessed by logging into your My UW > Course Search and Enroll > Degree Planner. In this tool, you can add your future courses to each of your remaining semesters. You can find your remaining requirements by running a DARS report or meeting with your Microbiology academic advisor. Once you have completed your Degree Plan, you can then run a “what if” DARS report on your planned courses. Doing this regularly will allow you to confirm your current and plan courses meet all requirements to graduate.

You can also meet with your assigned major advisor to create a degree plan together!

How do I get permission to enroll in a MICROBIO course?

Please check the prerequisites on Course Search & Enroll – you may already qualify to enroll!

Otherwise, please contact biochemmicrobio-advisor@wisc.edu.

What is MICROBIO 551?

MICROBIO 551 is the capstone course for the Microbiology major! A capstone course is intended to be a final culmination of all you’ve learned in your undergraduate experience so far and give you hands-on experience with experimentation.

MICROBIO 551 has two options – the in-class projects (Sections 1 and 2) or the faculty mentored projects (Sections 3 and 4). The learning outcomes are the same for both options. Students will study a unit on scientific / research ethics and will complete a semester-long project with written and oral communication milestones along the way. 

  • Sections 1 & 2 (In-Class Projects):
    • Will meet at listed time slots and location. 
    • Students will work on a project in class, under the direction of instructional faculty. 
  • Sections 3 & 4 (Faculty Mentor Projects): 
    • For students conducting their independent projects in a faculty research lab – which typically means you are already in a faculty research lab. Students must also spend approximately 5 hours per week in their research labs working on the projects.  
    • Will meet in class only one hour per week, as listed. 
    • NOTE: students cannot receive additional credit or payment for the 5 lab hours they devote to MICROBIO 551. If you work more than 5 hours a week on the MICROBIO 551 project, you can be compensated for the additional hours.  
    • by permission only.*


*Need Permission to enroll in section 3 or 4? Please email biochemmicrobio-advisor@wisc.edu:  

  1. Your campus ID number 
  2. Whose research lab you are in (and which department)
  3. A brief description of what work you would be doing for the MICROBIO 551 project 
    • Your project must be at least related to Microbiology and have a hypothesis. If you have questions, please email the instructor. 

What Microbiology elective courses can I take this semester?

Review the major requirements on the Guide page.

About half of the accepted Microbiology electives are offered each Spring and Fall semester. Generally, we try to schedule them as listed below:

Microbiology Electives from the Set A list:

  • Summer: MICROBIO 525

Microbiology Electives from the Set B list:

  • Fall: BIOCHEM 601, BOTANY 330, CHEM 565, COMP SCI/BMI 57, F&W ECOL/SURG SCI 548, MM&I 301, MM&I 554, ONCOLOGY/PL PATH 640, PATH-BIO/MM&I 528, BOTANY 655
  • Spring: BIOCHEM 570, BIOCHEM 575, BOTANY 332, BOTANY 505, CHEM 565, FOOD SCHI 550, MM&I 341, MM&I 350
  • Summer: N/A

*At least 3 out of 6 required elective credits must be taken from SET A

I have a question not listed here!

Check out the Biochemistry / Microbiology Undergraduate Advising Hub FAQ.

Please email biochemmicrobio-advisor@wisc.edu or schedule an appointment with your advisor with any questions. Expect a response in 1-5 business days.