What is Microbiology?

Microbiology is the study of the properties, characteristics, and interactions of microorganisms and their affects on other organisms and the environment. Microbiology has been and continues to be at the forefront of those fields and technologies that contribute to human welfare and to our understanding of the basic mechanisms of life processes.

At UCSB, the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology offers students the opportunity to select one of three emphases within the Microbiology major: General Microbiology, Biomedical Sciences, or Genetic Engineering. General Microbiology: Provides students with a broad knowledge base regarding the fundamental principles and diversity of microorganisms. These studies emphasize the contribution of microbiology to our basic understanding of fundamental life processes and provide insight into how microbiology impacts our everyday lives. Biomedical Sciences: Provides general training in microbiology and specialized instruction in the fundamental principles of pathogenic microorganisms. Presently, emerging infectious diseases pose a major threat to world health and contribute to increased health care costs. Genetic Engineering: Provides general training in microbiology and specialized training in the methodology of recombinant DNA research. Students are exposed to state-of-the- art techniques in biotechnology, including DNA sequencing, gene cloning, and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Microbiology?

Microbiology majors are inquisitive. They want to know how and why things work and like to analyze how things are interrelated. This student will likely enjoy conducting experiments or reading about how things work. This student is capable of working independently and has good written and verbal communication skills. A strong interest in the sciences and mathematics is important.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the undergraduate advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

Cell Biology
Embryonic Development 

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.

General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?

Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be.  The following list provides only a handful of possibilities.  Microbiology majors with strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in many fields.  Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study options include:

Botanist Cell
Developmental Biologist
Environmental Consultant
Research Associate
Scientific Lab Director
To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
O*Net Online
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Come visit the Career Resource Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.
See what other UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn


Graduate and Professional Schools

This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

Click “Graduate School” for information on how to choose a grad school, how to pay for grad school, how to survive and flourish in grad school.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Experience Search Strategies

Finding Biotechnology jobs
Job listings, salary info, recruiters, employer profiles, resume help, everything you need.

Good general info on bio-technology connections, see Career Network for jobs listed.

New Scientist Jobs
All types of biology jobs categorized by field, location, government/private, etc.

Lists biotech jobs, biology teaching jobs and bioscience jobs

Biotech Employment
Database of jobs in the biotech industry

Job board for those interested in healthcare, pharma, and science

UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers by Majors and Diversity.

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.

Professional Associations

The American Institute of Biological Sciences
The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association dedicated to advancing biological research and education for the welfare of society.

American Association for the Advancement of Science
“The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people.”

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
The organization helps shape advances in biomedical research policy.

American Society for Microbiology

Society for Industrial Microbiology

The Microbiology Network


UCSB Resources