Microbiology, Bachelor of Science

Department of Biological Sciences

College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

Ever since Van Leeuwenhoek described the “cavorting wee beasties” seen through his simple 1670s-style microscope, scientists have been fascinated by tiny life forms. This degree allows students to join those who explore the world of bacteria, viruses, mitochondria, neurons, and genetic material. A strong core of biology and chemistry anchors the program, which offers flexibility through a generous selection of approved electives.

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's diversity, liberal studies, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • 72 - 80 units of major requirements

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements.

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA C
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 125
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Research Optional
University Honors Program Optional
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

Purpose Statement

The Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology consists of a series of Life Science foundation courses followed by advanced courses that survey a range of microbiological sub-disciplines. These include courses focused on the interaction between microorganisms and human disease, such as infectious diseases, medical microbiology, and immunology but also courses that investigate the role of microbes in the environment including environmental microbiology, microbial ecology and industrial microbiology and biotechnology. From bioremediation to virology, students will develop an understanding of biological and chemical systems of microorganisms — and develop a foundation for a career in a range of professions that involve microbiology.
The Life Sciences Core is designed to provide the student with a strong grounding in biology, chemistry and mathematics. The student, in consultation with an academic advisor and using a basic course schedule as a guideline, may select from elective microbiology courses relevant to a range of disciplinary areas and career fields, such as Immunobiology, Medical Microbiology, Microbial Ecology, Bioinformatics, and Virology; or design his or her own set of electives approved by one of the program academic advisors. 
Numerous undergraduate research opportunities involve you in the process and application of science in research areas at NAU’s research centers and institutes, such as the Pathogen and Microbiome Institute (PMI) and the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (EcoSS). Due to the rigorous nature of our program, our graduates are well prepared for medical schools, careers in government agencies, or graduate programs.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Identify, describe, and understand the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, and empirical findings in microbiology including:
    • Describe fundamental principles of biology e.g., central dogma, diversity of life, inheritance and how these principles relate to microorganisms.
    • Describe unique microbial genetic systems (i.e., prokaryotic and viral genomes, lateral gene transfer, plasmid structure and function, etc.).
    • Know the biological diversity of microbial forms, and understand that this diversity results from evolutionary processes.
  • Apply scientific and quantitative reasoning to data analysis and interpretation in microbiology.
    • Collect, analyze and interpret scientific data, including developing a familiarity with microbiology laboratory techniques and safety procedures. (Bio 205)
    • Develop proficiency in the quantitative skills necessary to analyze biological problems (e.g., arithmetic, algebra, dimensional analysis, and statistical analysis as applied to biology).
    • Apply the scientific method as a demonstration that they understand its application.
  • Effectively communicate evidence-based findings in microbiology to technical and non-technical audiences. 
    • Communicate scientific information effectively.
    • Find and critically evaluate appropriate sources for scientific articles, proposals, and a variety of outreach and public materials regarding microbial organisms.
    • Develop oral and written skills for communicating science to expert and non- expert audiences.
  • Synthesize breadth and apply depth of general microbiological knowledge through civil discourse and application of concepts in microbiology.
    • Synthesize material from lower division courses across a biological sub-discipline and apply this to advanced course material (i.e., a Capstone experience); specifically, students will draw from their learning experiences in the fields of microbiology as related to the topic of their capstone course.
    • Demonstrate familiarity with the role microbes play in genetic modification technologies and industry.
    • Demonstrate familiarity with the role of microbes in human disease, the human immune response and medical interventions against microbial infection, or the role of microbes in the context of ecosystem function.

Major Requirements
  • All prerequisite coursework must be completed with a Grade of "C" or better.

  • Students enrolled in this plan may not enroll in or pursue the following due to the number of overlapping units:

General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit.

    You may take these remaining courses from any of the academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. You may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.

    We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you.

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.