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Degree, Minors and Certificates Offered

General Information


Undergraduate Programs

Colleges of Arts and Sciences Program Requirements

Professional Programs



College of Natural Sciences
Snyder 207
2538 McCarthy Mall
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8553
Fax: (808) 956-5339


*Graduate Faculty

*P. Q. Patek, PhD (Chair)—cellular immunology
*M. Alam, PhD—microbial physiology and biotechnology
*R. D. Allen, PhD—ultrastructure and cell biology
*S. M. Callahan, PhD—bacterial genetics
*S. Donachie, PhD—marine microbiology and microbial diversity
*J. T. Douglas, PhD—medical microbiology and infectious diseases
*T. T. Hoang, PhD—bacterial genetics and physiology
*P. C. Loh, PhD—animal virology and animal cell culture
*F. M. Robert, PhD—microbial ecology and bioremediation

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

D. Borthakur, PhD—molecular genetics of nitrogen fixation
S. P. Chang, PhD—immunology, molecular biology, molecular approaches to vaccine development
R. S. Fujioka, PhD—environmental microbiology
J. C. Leong, PhD—virology and fish vaccines
T. Lewis, PhD—comparative immunology and pathobiology, immunotoxicology, eco-genomics of reef organisms
Y. Lu, PhD—molecular virology
F. D. Miller, PhD—epidemiology
V. R. Nerurkar, PhD—infectious diseases
H. C. Turner, PhD—signal transduction in the immune system
G. Wang, PhD—marine microbial diversity, ecology & biotechnology
K. Yamaga, PhD—immunological mechanisms of diseases

Degrees Offered: BA (including minor) in microbiology, BS in microbiology, MS in microbiology, PhD in microbiology

The Academic Program

Microbiology (MICR) deals with microscopic forms of life and their activities. Bacteria, algae, fungi, protozoa, and viruses are included in this discipline. The field is diverse and concerns the nature of microorganisms, as well as their interactions—both advantageous and adverse—with other organisms and with the environment. Entire academic disciplines and commercial enterprises are based on what microorganisms do. For example, the very forms that may cause infectious diseases and epidemics may also support industries that produce vaccines or antimicrobial agents. Microorganisms play an essential role in the cycling of the limited supply of nutrients available on Earth’s surface by decomposing plant residues and animal remains and by being primary producers of food in the oceans. Many microorganisms or their products may be eaten, drunk, used as fuel, or carefully disposed of as undesirable. They may be used to clean up the environment or controlled only with great effort to prevent corrosive, obnoxious, or destructive activities that they may bring about. Microbiology also deals with the physiology, biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology of microorganisms. Many of the advances in DNA technology are mediated through bacteria, yeasts, and viruses; much of what we know about metabolism in general comes from their study.


Students can contact the department’s main office at (808) 956-8553 for information regarding advising services.

Undergraduate Study

BA Degree


Students must complete the following:

  • 18 credit hours in microbiology, including required courses:
  • MICR 351 and MICR 351L
  • Three courses from MICR 401, 431, 451, 461, 463, 475, 485, and 490, plus two associated laboratories
  • The following required related courses:
    • BIOL 171, 172, 275 plus labs
    • CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L; or CHEM 181A/181L
    • CHEM 272/272L and 273
    • MATH 215 or MATH 241
    • PHYS 151/151L, 152/152L; or PHYS 170/170L, 272/272L
  • 9 credits of approved major electives

BS Degree


Students must complete the following:

  • 23 credit hours in microbiology, including required courses:
    • MICR 351, MICR 351L, 401, 431, 461, 475; and
      one course from MICR 401, 451, 463, 485, or 490, plus three 400-level MICR lab courses
  • The following required related courses:
    • BIOL 171, 172, 275 plus labs
    • BIOC 441, MBBE 402 or CMB 405
    • CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L or CHEM 181A/181L
    • CHEM 272/272L and 273
    • MATH 215 and 216 or MATH 241 and 242/242L
    • PHYS 151/151L, 152/152L; or PHYS 170/170L, 272/272L
    • 6 credit hours of approved major electives

Major electives should be chosen with the assistance and approval of a department adviser to provide a well integrated and coherent program. Prospective majors should consult the microbiology advisers promptly, so as to design a curriculum that satisfies the major requirements.



Students must complete 15 credits, including MICR 351 and microbiology courses at the 400 level.

All prerequisites for these courses must be met. Persons wishing to complete the minor and graduate in four years should have completed CHEM 272, if possible, before the middle of the junior year.

Graduate Study

The department offers programs leading to the MS and PhD in microbiology with areas of specialization in microbial ecology, biochemistry, physiology, genetics, and ultrastructure; metabolic regulation and the regulation of gene expression; marine microbiology; medical microbiology; animal and environmental virology and viral pathobiology; and immunology, immunogenetics, and immunochemistry. In addition, an option is offered in cell biology that leads to the MS and PhD in microbiology. Research programs in interdisciplinary fields are possible. Graduate students in microbiology may join two interdisciplinary graduate specializations: the Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (EECB) Program, and the Marine Biology (MB) Program.

Applicants for advanced degree programs in the department must supplement the forms and transcripts required by the Graduate Division with three letters of recommendation and the official scores from the GRE General Test and the subject test in biology. These supplementary items should be sent directly to the department.

Complete details on the graduate program in microbiology and the availability of financial aid to prospective students are outlined in a departmental brochure available on request from the department, Snyder 207, 2538 McCarthy Mall.

Courses for the graduate programs are to be selected from the list below and from other graduate offerings in related disciplines as directed by the student’s adviser or advising committee. The following courses may be repeated: MICR 625, 632, 652, 661, 671, 680, 681, 690, 699, 700, 795, and 800. However, repeated courses other than MICR 699, 700, 795, and 800 may only be used for credit once per degree. MICR 690 is a required course.

Required courses for the cell biology emphasis (MS) are MICR 461, 641, 690, and 699, plus courses in biochemistry and biophysics.

Potential degree candidates are required to take a diagnostic exam (MS) or a qualifying exam (PhD). Course deficiencies shall be made up before admission to candidacy.

Master’s Degree

Intended candidates for the MS degree should present a minimum undergraduate preparation in biological and physical sciences including biology, genetics, microbiology, organic chemistry, physics, and calculus. Deficiencies in some of these areas do not preclude admission. Qualified students with undergraduate majors in fields other than microbiology are welcome.


The prospective MS candidate may select either Plan A (thesis) or Plan B (non-thesis).

Plan A Minimum Requirements - 30 credit hours

  • 2 units of directed research (MICR 699);
  • 1 credit of seminar (MICR 690);
  • 6 credit hours of thesis (MICR 700);
  • an additional 12 credit hours of coursework at the 600 level or higher; plus
  • 9 credit hours at the 400-level or higher

Plan B Minimum Requirements - 30 credit hours

  • 1 credit of seminar (MICR 690);
  • 6 credit hours of directed research (MICR 699),
  • an additional 17 credit hours of coursework at the 600 level or higher; plus
  • 6 credit hours outside the major.

For a more detailed explanation, refer to the departmental bulletin.

Doctoral Degree

The doctoral degree (PhD) is offered in microbiology in the various areas of interest represented by research programs of the department’s graduate faculty.

Intended candidates for the PhD degree are expected to possess the MS degree in microbiology or to be able to pass at least four sections of the MS comprehensive examination.


The PhD candidate must demonstrate the ability to do original experimental research and to produce an acceptable dissertation. A comprehensive examination, written and oral, is required, and the dissertation must be successfully defended before the faculty. At least one year of experience in teaching in a laboratory course is considered part of the training of the PhD candidate. The specific requirements for each of the joint degree programs are modified somewhat from those given above.

MICR Courses