Incoming or current students in good academic standing may declare the microbiology major at any time.

Schedule an appointment with a microbiology major advisor to discuss how to declare the major, appropriate coursework to take, and much more. Please see the Advising and Careers tab for information on how to schedule an appointment with a microbiology major advisor.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements

In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies, Science, and Capstone), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.

College Requirements for all CALS B.S. Degree Programs

Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.
Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.
First Year Seminar1
International Studies3
Physical Science Fundamentals4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biological Science5
Additional Science (Biological, Physical, or Natural)3
Science Breadth (Biological, Physical, Natural, or Social)3
CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "Major Requirements")

Requirements for the Major

Complete one of the following:5-10
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I
and Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
Complete one of the following:3
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
General Chemistry
Complete one of the following:5-10
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Chemical Principles I
and Chemical Principles II
Organic Chemistry
Complete ALL of the following:
CHEM 343 Introductory Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 344 Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 345 Intermediate Organic Chemistry3
Biology Foundation
Complete one of the following:10-13
Introductory Biology
and Introductory Biology 1
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
and Cellular Biology
and Cellular Biology Laboratory
and Principles of Physiology 1
Animal Biology
and Animal Biology Laboratory
and General Botany
Select one of the following:8-10
General Physics
and General Physics 2
General Physics
and General Physics 2
General Physics
and General Physics
Complete one of the following:3-6
Introduction to Biochemistry
General Biochemistry I
and General Biochemistry II
Microbiology Courses
Microbiology Core (all required):
Except where noted, all Microbiology Core courses are offered every fall and spring semester.
MICROBIO 303 Biology of Microorganisms3
MICROBIO 304 Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory2
MICROBIO 305 Critical Analyses in Microbiology1
MICROBIO 450 Diversity, Ecology and Evolution of Microorganisms3
MICROBIO 470 Microbial Genetics & Molecular Machines3
MICROBIO 526 Physiology of Microorganisms3
MICROBIO 527 Advanced Laboratory Techniques in Microbiology (FALL ONLY)2
Microbiology Capstone (required):
MICROBIO 551 Capstone Research Project in Microbiology (SPRING ONLY)2
Microbiology Electives
Complete at least 6 credits; at least 3 credits must come from Set A. Note that not all elective courses are offered every semester.
Set A:3-6
Food Microbiology Laboratory
Food Microbiology
Host-Parasite Interactions
The Microbiome of Plants, Animals, and Humans
Introduction to Disease Biology
Environmental Microbiology
Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry
Topics in Biotechnology (topics vary by semester)
Advanced Microbial Genetics
Prokaryotic Molecular Biology
Bioinformatics for Microbiologists
Microbiology at Atomic Resolution
Set B:0-3
Computational Modeling of Biological Systems
Biology of Viruses
Protein and Enzyme Structure and Function
Plant-Microbe Interactions: Molecular and Ecological Aspects
Biophysical Chemistry
Introduction to Bioinformatics
Diseases of Wildlife
Fermented Foods and Beverages
Pathogenic Bacteriology
Emerging Infectious Diseases and Bioterrorism
Vaccines: Practical Issues for a Global Society
Clinical and Public Health Microbiology
General Virology-Multiplication of Viruses
Plant-Bacterial Interactions
Biology and Genetics of Fungi
Total Credits64-88

Honors in the Major

Students admitted to the university and to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences are invited to apply to be considered for admission to the CALS Honors Program.

Admission Criteria for New First-Year Students:

  • Complete program application including essay questions

Admission Criteria for Transfer and Continuing UW-Madison Students:

  • UW-Madison cumulative GPA of at least 3.25
  • Complete program application including essay questions

How to Apply

The application is available on the CALS Honors Program website.  Applications are accepted at any time.

New first-year students with accepted applications will automatically be enrolled in Honors in Research. It is possible to switch to Honors in the Major in the student’s first semester on campus after receiving approval from the advisor for that major.  Transfer and continuing students may apply directly to Honors in Research or Honors in the Major (after approval from the major advisor).


All CALS Honors programs have the following requirements:

  • Earn at least a cumulative 3.25 GPA at UW-Madison (some programs have higher requirements)
  • Complete the program-specific requirements listed below
  • Submit completed thesis documentation to CALS Academic Affairs


To earn Honors in the Major in Microbiology, students must satisfy the Requirements for the Major (above) as well as the following requirements. All courses used for Honors in the Major requirements must receive "B" or better grades to fulfill requirements.

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Develop a fundamental understanding of the principles of microbiology and the necessary skills for a professional career in microbiology
  2. Apply the scientific method to questions. Formulate a hypothesis, gather data, and analyze that data to assess the degree to which their work supports the hypothesis.
  3. Demonstrate proficiency in the techniques used in microbiology and an ability to critically analyze data and integrate ideas for problem solving
  4. Access the primary and secondary literature and, in combination with their own findings, effectively communicate their ideas both orally and in written form.
  5. Learn about and demonstrate personal and professional ethics.

Four-year plan

Sample MICROBIOLOGY Four-Year Plan

General Chemistry14-5Gen Chem or Electives15
First-Year Seminar1 
 14-15 14-16
CHEM 3433CHEM 3442
Math23-5CHEM 3453
Intro Biology, Semester 145Intro Biology, Semester 245
 14-16 16
General Physics, Semester 154-5General Physics, Semester 254-5
MICROBIO 3051Research61-4
Research61-4Electives (for major or other)30-4
Electives (to reach 15 crs)30-4 
 11-19 11-19
Electives (for major or other)36-9Electives (for major or other)37-10
 12-18 13-19
Total Credits 105-138

This sample three-year plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it —along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools — to make their own three-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests.

Three-year plans may vary considerably from student to student, depending on their individual preparation and circumstances. Students interested in graduating in three years should meet with an academic advisor early and often to discuss feasibility, appropriate course sequencing, post-graduation plans (careers, graduate school, etc.), and considerations they might make in pursuit of a three-year graduation plan.

While there are many advantages to attending four years of college, including making the most of research and study abroad opportunities, exploring alternative majors, completing additional majors and certificates, developing skills and interests through student groups, and personal growth, students may have reasons for wishing to graduate in fewer than four years.

The example plan assumes that students will:

  • enter their freshman year with 20 advanced standing credits, including equivalency credit for MATH 221
  • declare their major freshman year
  • take two summer terms
  • enroll in at least 15-16 credits in the fall/spring semesters 
Courses taken the summer before arriving on campus
INTER-AG 140 CALS QuickStart: Foundations1
INTER-AG 141 QuickStart: Connect2Campus1
Total Credits:2
First Year
Comm A Requirement3BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  1515MICROBIO 3042
STAT 371 or 3013Elective3 
Humanities breadth3Humanities breadth3 
Social Science breadth3  
 16 16 5
Second Year
CHEM 3433CHEM 3453 
International Studies CALS requirement3MICROBIO 3051 
 Ethnic Studies3 
 16 15 
Third Year
PHYSICS 103 or 2074-5PHYSICS 104 or 2084-5 
Major Elective3Major Elective3 
 15-16 15-16 
Total Credits 98-100

 Students must earn 120 total credits to graduate, including accepted advanced standing or transfer credits.  The above charts reflect 100-102 total credits from six fall/spring semesters and two summer terms, including courses taken in the summer before the first year. 

Current UW–Madison students should use Starfish to schedule an appointment with an advisor in the Biochemistry & Microbiology Undergraduate Advising Hub.

Prospective/future UW–Madison students should send an email to the Biochemistry & Microbiology Undergraduate Advising Hub to set up an appointment, which can be conducted in person or via phone call.

Read about and explore possible microbiology careers at the American Society for Microbiology website.

Learn more about health-related careers through


Katrina Forest (Chair), Jean-Michel Ané, Cameron Currie, Timothy Donohue, Richard Gourse, Charles Kaspar, Katherine McMahon, Michael Thomas, Jade (Jue) Wang, Karen Wassarman, Jae-Hyuk Yu

Associate Professors

Daniel Amador-Noguez, Briana Burton, Federico Rey, Garret Suen

Assistant Professors

Karthik Anantharaman, Kerri Coon, David Hershey, Erica Lois-Wunderlich Majumder